The Maori Party are a very interesting party on the New Zealand political landscape. On the one hand they've got socialist activist and loose cannon Hone Harawira (son of veteran Maori activist Titewhai Harawira)... but on the other hand they've got the more sensible and straight talking Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples.
The party wants to see all beneficiaries in some sort of compulsory work or training scheme, to help "attack entrenched attitudes of state dependency".
Sharples admits its a hardline stance, but rightly points out "It's our people trapped in that whole benefit package idea. If we are going to break it, then that's how we do it." (Latest figures reveal Maori make up 36.5% of those on the unemployment benefit).
The current minority coalition Government has seen youth unemployment drop over the last few years. However there's still a massive number on the DPB, Sickness and Invalid benefits.
(The figures: Sickness beneficiaries increased by 569% since 1981, from 7,104 to 47,527 in September 2006; Invalid beneficiaries increased by 348%, from 16,961 to 75,988; and those on the Domestic Purposes Benefit increased by 155%, from 39,412 to 100,579).
Meanwhile, Blair Mulholland notes that the National Party's ideology of supporting private property rights is also looking shaky, as they prepare to back away from supporting the Maori Party's Foreshore and Seabed Repeal bill.
* NZ Herald: Make work-for-dole mandatory to break habit, says Sharples
* Mulholland Drive: Unbelievable!
* NZ Herald: National denies it's ready to help Turia on foreshore bill
Posted at 6:56 pm