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Are NZ and Australia’s left wing establishments creating pushback on identity politics?

In brief
  • The left say the defeat of Labour in NZ, with their co-governance push, and Australia’s The Voice referendum, is “evidence” of disinformation and hate. 
  • Isn’t this just an argument and couldn’t it be that mainstream voters know all they need to and simply reject divisive policies? 
  • Have left wing leaders in both countries simply misread the room and galvanised the inherent resistance? 

Coping with loss

On the same day NZ’s Labour Party lost the general election, Australia’s referendum on The Voice to Parliament was voted down. Although the two votes were not related, do their respective results suggest the region is simply not as left-leaning as the left-wing parties (NZ Labour and Australian Labor) in each country would like on race issues?  

Left leaning commentators blame their respective losses on everything from racism, crony capitalism, homophobia, hate and (of course)  mis- and dis- information. NZ’s MSM even tried linking Russian propaganda to aspects of Labour’s collapse!

Are they correct?

There’s no compelling evidence suggesting far right radical extremism played a role in the two contests, just unsubstantiated accusations.

left wing establishments: the rising opposition to identity politics in New Zealand and Australia’s
The Voice to Parliament was rejected by Australian voters. The left asks Why?

Here in NZ in an interview with Moana Maniapoto, fresh off his ACT Party’s election triumph, leader David Seymour challenged Maniapoto’s accusation of divisive politics:  

“I don’t see how promoting universal human rights and inclusion is divisive. The fact that we’ve been continually accused of divisiveness, but when challenged none of the accusers can give us any examples… tells you all you need to know,” he said.

The left blamed mis- and dis- information for the outcome in both votes

In Australia, Yes campaigners blamed “lies” and right wing conspiracies. In New Zealand, so-called “experts” have long blamed “disinformation” for dividing sentiment on co-governance.

According to commentator Morgan Godfrey, Labour’s admitted failure in explaining co-governance to voters led to a “vacuum of misinformation or disinformation [rising] from the fringe parties who turned co-governance into something it wasn’t”. 

But many think it’s the left wing who have been dis- and mis- imformed

In discussing the left’s referendum defeat in Australia, commentator Rebekah Barnett says it was “grossly dishonest” of the leaders of the Yes side to run a duplicitous “motte and bailey” campaign.

She says the campaign leaders lost by “retreating to the motte (‘we’re only asking for recognition’) when the bailey (a permanent, ill-defined advisory body) proved hard to defend”.

Barnett says: 

“By doing so, they set up those Indigenous Australians who voted Yes to the Voice for a heavy sense of personal rejection should the majority of Australians vote No – which was always likely, based on Australia’s referendum history of what works (bipartisan support, long period of socialisation, clarity in messaging) and what doesn’t.”

There are parallels in NZ where co-governance and the Treaty “Principles” are also ill defined and not understood by many who apparently support them. Commentator Chris Trotter says “Labour made no case for co-governance because it couldn’t”. Labelling mainstream voters as racists for not going along proved unsuccessful. 

Which is it?

“Australians didn’t reject the recognition of First Nations people at the referendum. They rejected the double-barrelled proposition of recognition in the form of a Voice to Parliament enshrined in the constitution,” says Barnett.

Likewise, in New Zealand, co-governance (in relation to Three Waters) is best understood by voters who reject race-based policies.

Australia spends billions of dollars a year (the exact amount is hotly debated) on Indigenous programs while in NZ, the “Māori package” in 2023 is $825M. This is in addition to billions in Treaty settlements already spent and the too-many-to-count legislative and administrative Māori-centric concessions embedded nearly everywhere. The effectiveness of such long term spending on race-based rights and support is debatable in both countries.

Sky TV’s Andrew Bolt told audiences of the twin votes that, “This is a red-letter day for fighting against the race politics that has been splitting, not just us and not just New Zealand, but the Western world.”

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