Monday, March 15, 2010

Some other group

You’ve got to love the guys affectionately known
throughout New Zealand as ‘the business community.’
They don’t mess around when it comes to letting you
know what they think, except perhaps in the few weeks
before a general election, when, like their political
representatives the National Party, they soften the
harsher outlines of their true agenda. Right now, they
grow more shameless every day, as evidenced by the
recent front-page headline of the appropriately titled
National Business Review:


Right. Got that. What follows, in a report written by
Jock Anderson, is in effect a briskly outlined manifesto
for privileging business profits over the voice of the
voting public. Getting rid of MMP and replacing it with
what longtime anti-MMP campaigner Graeme Hunt
calls a ‘majoritarian system’ would, it seems:

• restore responsible decision-making
• minimize political compromise
• bring certainty to future development
• bring stable, definite and decisive government

What’s more, says that other dedicated anti-MMPer
Peter Shirtcliffe, still smarting from losing the fight to
retain the first-past-the-post system in 1993, ‘if we
retain MMP as it is, or in any form, we do not have a
snowball’s chance in hell of getting up with Australia.’

Minimize political compromise? Good grief. Correct me
if I’m wrong, but minimizing political compromise is
what great democrats like Vladimir Putin do, and it’s a
short step from that to eliminating political compromise
altogether, which is what beloved leaders like Kim Jong-
il do. As for bringing certainty to future development,
Hitler and Mussolini thought that was a good idea too.

All the goals listed above are thinly veiled—actually,
bare-ass naked—arguments for putting as few checks
and balances as possible in the way of unbridled
capitalism and ensuring that, as Hunt so helpfully says,
‘business can plan without worrying about the Maoris or
some other group coming in.’

‘Some other group’—that’s you and me, folks. Us. The
people of New Zealand, the majority who don’t have
‘business interests’ or big money to protect.

The fact that NBR can give such notions oxygen tells us
that (a) its idea of the level at which debate over MMP
should be pitched is abysmally low and (b) business
leaders like Shirtcliffe have learnt nothing from their
defeat in 1993 and remain insufferably arrogant about
what they think is best for this country. Interestingly,
Alasdair Thompson, frequently sought by the media as a
spokesperson for Auckland business, was reluctant to
comment to NBR because, in his view, over-emphasizing
the MMP ‘bogey’ last time caused a pro-MMP backlash.
Perhaps we should be grateful that Shirtcliffe still has no
problem with over-emphasis, as that 'snowball' quote
shows; as we approach another referendum on electoral
reform, it might even be that he will again be the best thing
MMP has going for it. Keep up the good work, Peter.

NB: The actual ‘business community’ and the people
purporting to speak for it are not necessarily, or even, the
same thing.

1 comment:

Philg said...

Just discovered your blog Dennis. I'm loving it. I am not alone! Is it possible to establish a new media to present a counter balance to the NBR's strontium 90 that is filling the vacuum in the 'mainstream media'?