This paper provides a rhetorical analysis of public policy development in a situation of minority government. In 2003, the New Zealand government, led by the Labour Party, was faced with the prospect of losing a parliamentary majority for itself and its existing allies over legislation its leaders believed was necessary to preserve its electoral support base and to secure national unity threatened by cultural/ethnic divisions arising from the issue concerned—namely the possibility of legal ownership by indigenous Maori of the country’s foreshore and seabed. The paper identifies resources of language and rhetoric which the policy designers made use of during the course of the formal policy development process in the attempt to ameliorate opposition and secure additional parliamentary support. Such rhetoric was far from the deliberative, openly democratic style hoped for by advocates of reform prior to New Zealand’s move in 1996 from a first-past-the-post electoral system to a proportional one.
|Keywords:||Rhetoric, Public Policy, Democracy, Indigenous Rights|
Senior Lecturer, School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand