Apathy – At the People’s Peril!

Opinion by John McNab

Apathy is a major worry. In New Zealand too many don’t vote. In Fish and Game elections the same trend and in some cases in recent elections, not enough nominations were received to fill the council seats.
Consequently the world has become ruled by top-down, dictatorial, often arrogant governments. But one country stands as an exception – France. As political commentator Chris Trotter recently put it, “French governments are frightened of the French people.”
“Any perceived threat to their rights—is met by the French people, with action – on the streets.”
In the outdoors the 1972 New Zealand election – 43 years ago – was a landmark one for action. The National government wanted to destroy Lake Manapouri in the “people’s national park” to give cheap, heavily discounted power to a corporate foreign consortium. The people rose up in anger and formed “Save Manapouri.”
The government then wanted trout farming. Anglers rose up in wrath. The government did a deal with a rich American to sell public land in Te Anau’s Upukerora valley for a luxury lodge to exploit fishing and hunting and lock Kiwis out. The NZ Deerstalkers’ Association rose up in wrath.
The 1972 election saw  the National government dumped in favour of Norman Kirk’s Labour one. Kirk significantly loved fishing and hunting and the outdoors.
The Kirk government banned trout farming, Manapouri was saved from drowning and the Upukerorora deal collapsed.
Fast forward 43 years, to 2020.
Voter turnout for the 2020 General Election was estimated to be 82.5% of those enrolled. 
Eighteen percent did not vote – far too many. 
This compares with a final 79.8% turnout of those enrolled in 2017.
Chris Trotter ended his recent column with “it would seem the habit of revolution and the knack of frightening governments, are forgotten at the people’s peril.”

© Chris Trotter – governments should be afraid of the people

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