- Accusations of sexism and racism against the new government are from those whose views lost at the election.
- Policy changes aim to eliminate artificially introduced bias, re-levelling the playing field, rather than discriminate.
- New Zealanders must consider whether they prefer competency over “diversity for diversity’s sake”.
- The left’s enthusiasm for diversity doesn’t extend to diverse viewpoints.
Sexism and racism or just not woke?
Recent rampant accusations of sexism and racism directed at the new coalition government by certain mainstream media seem like they don’t realise their views lost at the election.
In the mind of the passionate advocate, accusations of sexism and racism these days include any behaviour, no matter how trivial, that offends their idea of what is needed to improve the outcomes of their favoured groups.
The Government’s core stance seems to us to be what most people want. Namely, to prioritise competence and transparency in policy-making and focus on delivering positive outcomes for all New Zealanders, regardless of gender or ethnicity. It is not to hyper-fixate on promoting ideologically driven “equality of outcomes” through discriminatory policies and legislation favourable to specific groups.
The Government’s position primarily targets policies, which appear to have been devised without clear public mandates, and which were also shrouded in secrecy and deceit.
Some policy changes in question include the removal of Māori wards, scrapping the Māori Health Authority, the repeal of the Three Waters Co-Governance reforms, rolling back planned smoking reduction legislation, and scrutinising initiatives to increase the number of Māori doctors.
While some, like Joel Maxwell, argue that these policy shifts are “indisputably anti-Māori,” the other side of the argument is that these changes are aimed at eliminating bias that had been artificially introduced into the system.
Policies such as Māori wards and preferential entry to medical school for Māori students could inadvertently lower standards by removing accountability. Indeed, many of these programs are primarily on the chopping block because they’ve been hugely wasteful, divisive and, ultimately, don’t or are unlikely to deliver as promised.
Quality vs diversity for diversity’s sake
These policy changes prompt questions about the kind of country people want to live in. Diverse opinions are important in a diverse society. As long as there is a reasonable amount of diversity, which is impossible to define precisely, shouldn’t competency, another subjective measure, be most important?
The current Cabinet is 35% Māori, which is double the generally accepted Māori population of 17%. For many, this is proof that Māori individuals do not require preferential treatment to succeed.
Diversity in leadership
While concerns about gender diversity in leadership have been floated by the media, ACT’s deputy leader Brook Van Velden says it’s essential to focus on outcomes for New Zealanders rather than merely the gender of leaders. Besides, she says many women, including herself, hold Cabinet positions.
The last six years
In the previous six years diversity and inclusivity were celebrated. But how about outcomes? Many, on both sides of the political spectrum, feel the results have been exceptionally poor.
The left has a genuine compassion and commitment to prioritising representation and inclusivity. It remains important to recognise these concerns are not limited to the left alone. People from various ideological backgrounds share a common desire for better outcomes for all. The key difference lies in the approach to achieving these goals.
While the left has been pushing diverse identities in positions of leadership and influence, it is worth noting this does not often extend to divergent viewpoints.