The Price of Apathy

by Ben Hope

Apathy is commonplace. Just think back to general elections where usually about one million New Zealanders did not vote or were just so disinterested they didn’t register as voters. Recent Fish and Game elections showed a minority of trout and salmon anglers and duck shooters were afflicted with apathy. On occasions some fish and game regions did not receive enough nominations to fill the council seats. Not surprisingly, the voting turnouts by shooters and anglers was woefully low.
Well the record of the public ever since 1984 (and the advent of Rogernomics) has been one of apathy and disinterest – and yes, selfishness and shortsightedness.
Apathy is a major worry. 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 once 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 47 years, to 2018.
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.”
Ancient Greek philosopher Plato said “The price of apathy is to be ruled by evil men.”
Evil? Well add mediocre, incompetent, even corrupt. 
You won’t get good competent management while apathy reigns supreme. That is the price you pay for apathy.

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