Audrey on National Conference

Audrey Young blogs on the National Party conference:

After a few Billy T James – style Maori fella jokes, Sharples spoke seriously about the relationship with National. He talked in general terms about the personal and political hurt the Orewa speech (former leader Don Brash did not arrive until today) on separatism caused and about the new leadership “showing us a better way.”

He gave his perspective on the mana whenua seats proposed by the royal commission in the supercity plan and his take on the foreshore and seabed act which he actually got right – saying it was a theft of the right of Maori to go to court. (Makes a change from the nonsense often whipped up by the Maori Party that the law stole the foreshore and seabed from Maori).

He said the Maori Party was show “respect” by the National party – despite the Maori party voting against National on many measures.

“Our voice is listened to. People listen when we debate….that’s why I am here. I want you to know how authentic our relationship is.”

I missed the speech, but heard from many people it was great.

It was the first time in anyone’s memory that another party leader has spoken to a National Party conference. There is a more ethnic diversity here and a large number of young people than I recall in recent years. But of course a party is never in greater heart than the year after an election win.

It was younger and more diverse than I have seen.

Auckland Mayor John Banks – or Super Mayor as Key called him – has been here .

His quip has of course sent certain other Mayors sky high. They should be less precious. No one thought Helen Clark was backing John Banks, but she worked with him professionally.

There are also rumours afoot that Winston Peters might have a go at the super-mayoralty contest next year. Imagine Key having to work with “Sir Winston” as would surely become as Lord Mayor of Auckland after ruling out working with him in Government! That

Heh that would be a nightmare for John. But Auckland has never been a stronghold for NZ First, and Peters would not make double digits.

The conference is being held at the Trusts stadium in West Auckland. Among the apologies tendered last night was Richard Worth’s. A fun debate between politicians and personalities was cancelled by regional chair Alistair Bell because of the Worth issue. It seemed an appropriate decision in the circumstances not to be having a jolly old time when many delegates were feeling shell-shocked at recent events.

I remember the last time an MPs vs Young Nats fun debate was cancelled – it was at the conference held the day after Sir Robert Muldoon died.

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