In 1990 the incoming National government wasted no time
in getting rid of laws like the Pay Equity Act and the Labour
Relations Act. Within a year or so it rolled back most of the
late Labour government’s progressive social legislation.
Now, in 2008, the incoming National government has also
wasted no time in repealing a different set of laws. This
time they’re rolling back the green agenda. Or, to put it
another way, they’re giving the fingers to global warming,
resource depletion and all that namby-pamby nonsense
about saving the planet.
It is perfectly valid, actually, to ask what planet John Key
and his colleagues are on, because all the evidence so far is
that it’s not Planet Earth. They're talking up roading at the
expense of rail. They've ridiculed out of existence a more
(literally) enlightened approach to light-bulb use. They’ve
dispensed with the previous government’s requirement,
nugatory as it was, for petrol to contain at least a splash of
biofuel. They're allowing again the building of coal- and gas-
fired power stations. They've put the Emissions Trading
Scheme on ice.
Of course the argument is that we’re in the middle of an
economic crisis (how convenient) and that people’s incomes
and immediate fiscal welfare must come first. Fireman, save
that job! Can they not get it through their skulls that, if not
confronted now, the much more significant eco-crisis we’re
in will cost everyone far much more in the long run?
Goodness knows, the Clark government was scarcely an
environmental role model, but it looks positively deep
green compared with the Tories' business-friendly blue.
My heart sinks when I hear John Key boast that economic
growth is his 'No 1, No 2 and No 3 priority'. The Speech
from the Throne, which outlined the new government's
program was, as Rod Oram said in his Sunday Star-Times
column, a speech for 'a time and conditions that no longer
exist.' Brilliant. New Zealand has just elected a government
facing backwards. So we blunder into 2009, not greenly, as
it were, but bluely and Brownlee.