Monday, November 10, 2008

Meet the new boss

Power has passed from Labour to National as seamlessly as
a Piri Weepu pass to Dan Carter. No fumbles, no falls. Are
we surprised? Are we transfigured? Are we transformed?
No, because in a sense Labour still won the election. Helen
Clark’s final victory was to force National to fight on
Labour's ground—such has been her and Michael Cullen’s
success in moving government back towards the centre and
away from the right-wing adventure playground of the
1990s and 1980s. John Key denied jokingly on television
that he was Clark’s boyfriend, but as Steve Braunias
observes in a superb piece for the Sunday Star-Times, it’s
hard to tell. In order to get elected, Key has had to become a
more voter-friendly version of Clark. He certainly judged
correctly that there was no future in trying to be a voter-
friendly version of Don Brash, if such a beast is conceivable.

On the other hand, it is perfectly arguable that the main
reason Labour held power for nine years was its retention
of the financial reforms instigated by Roger Douglas and
supported enthusiastically by the right ever since. In short,
the difference between the two main parties is not so great:
they are almost identical, in fact, as far as the economic
fundamentals are concerned. Power has merely shifted
from one faction of Party New Zealand to another. And, as
entrepreneur Selwyn Pellett told Tim Hunter of the Sunday
Star-Times, the faction that has just taken over is a “tired
old party. Apart from John Key, what’s behind it is 1990s
thinking—and the world’s moved on.”

Sure has. New Zealand voters have made a timid, cautious
choice at this election. This may provide short-term
comfort but beyond that, it fails to address the ecological
credit crunch, a crisis far more urgent than the one putting
the global financial markets in a spin. Appallingly,
ecology barely got mentioned by any party except the
Greens during the campaign. Beyond the bubble of petty
politicking and ostrich economics, it was as if the Earth’s
atmosphere didn’t exist. The campaign was virtually a
planet-free zone.

And now we have Key lustily singing “What the world needs
now is economic growth.” Yeah right. Like it needs a hole in
the ozone layer.


Steve Withers said...

Not surprising the climate didn't get a look in during the campaign.

In Auckland, the NZ Herald did it's very best (and the rest) to play up the cost of addressing climate change while not printing a line (that I can recall) about the cost of NOT addressing climate change. The message implicitly was 9and is) that this isn't realy a problem at all. The ETS was portrayed almost daily as a luxury, a nice-to-have, that NZ should really do without. That we couldn't (and shouldn't have to) afford. The ETS (and climate change) was always framed as "Should New Zealand lead the world on emissions." and NEVER did they convey any sense of urgency about it.

Denial appears to be strong at the NZ Herald. They never asked:"Can New Zealand afford not to address climate change."

The EFA didn't quell the campaign so much as the NZ Herald's determiation to stick to the National Party talking points and all but ignore the minor parties. They ignored Labour's best news (dole numbers the lowest in 30 years, government debt reduced from $20 billion to $2 billion).

Instead - if they could - they protrayed good news as bad. CFLs wouldn't save Kiwis nearly a billion dollars all up. No. They were a danger to dimmer switches and chandeliers in Remuera.

Minor parties were largely shut out. In fact, the Herald declared them irrelevant early on in an apparent attempt to get the public used to thinking in terms of only two parties.....for the day the Herald launches its own campaign to get rid of MMP. Ooops....they already have.

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile, over at the disgraceful DomPost they seem to be running a major Climate Change denial piece every month or so - the latest being in the business section this week. From an engineer. No surprises there.

Anti-intellectualism is one thing, but anti-thought is a step too far for anybody's health.

Steve Withers said...

local reader: Anti-thought for profit is justifiable in their view. Anything justifies profit.

Anonymous said...

The environment wasn't discussed because it was beyond debate.