by Metiria Turei
Todays performance in the House has confirmed that the Minister of Maori Affairs, Pita Sharples is being locked out by the National Government from answering serious questions concerning Maori.
My question today directly concerning Maori and their loss of rights under the RMA reforms was transferred by the government from the Maori Affairs Minister to the Environment Minister. When I took a point of order on it, Nick Smith responded but the Maori Affairs Minister stayed silent. And of course, before my question was the long debacle of Gerry Brownlee stopping the Maori Affairs minister from answering Labour’s questions about the foreshore review.
I agree that Labour have no cred on the foreshore issue. But the Minister should still answer questions within his ministerial portfolio even from Cullen. There is nothing that suggests that he will make any blunders like other National MPs have. So why is he gagged?
Pita Sharples did defend his reputation today but he should defend the right of Maori to hear from thier Minister. Why is he not standing up to his Cabinet colleagues and demanding that he answer questions about Maori issues? Otherwise Maori could rightly think that the National government is gagging the Maori Affairs spokesperson in an effort to lock Maori out of the public discourse, on Maori issues. That was the old bad Pakeha dominance of last century, why is a Maori Party MP allowing this to happen to them in the 21st century?