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Chris Ford: If the Maori Party walks from government then ACT becomes powerful

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Chris Ford
Chris Ford

This afternoon, the Maori Party has threatened to walk from its confidence and supply deal with National.

Now, while the National Party doesn't have (strictly speaking) a coalition deal with the Maori Party, having three MPs taken away from your working majority doesn't look good. Also, the party has finally woken up to the political damage that has been wrought to it through supporting National in government. While some would say within Maoridom that it has taken three years for this helleujah moment to happen, from others (including Mana) there will be calls of 'too little, too late.'

The Maori Party has reportedly (and belatedly) decided to take a principled stand against National. The Government has launched a section nine consultation under the State Owned Enterprises Act with iwi over its plans to partially privatise key electricity assets. Iwi leaders are finally putting their foot down in saying no sale without our approval. 

Yet this could be an attempt by Iwi interests to simply up the ante in the bidding war. The Nats could even conclude a deal (independently of the Maori Party) with some iwi to ensure that they get first option on any share floats. But this won't sit well with many National supporters, even those who favour privatisation, on the grounds of the racist 'one law for all' mantra.

So, for all these reasons, I can't rule out the prospect that National and the Maori Party might finally part company over this issue.

If that happened, then National would be heavily reliant on ACT. Forget United Future - this looks to be Peter Dunne's final parliamentary term and their stocks have corroded. The Nats know that Banks will at least be a two term MP before retiring for good. 

Hence ACT, if its nemesis the Maori Party departs government, will have more influence over the government. And that won't mean just partial asset sales - the Nats (at ACT's behest) will flog off all of its shareholding in Air New Zealand and the power companies. National, in doing so, will break its central election promise not to sell more than 50 percent of each of these enterprises.

And if that scenario transpires, then National's support will begin to (finally) collapse in Middle Zealandia.

I say to the Maori Party that if you're serious and not bluffing, bring it on...even if it means we have to endure a National-ACT Government for two years. The Nat's true agenda deserves to be exposed for all to see!

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