(or why don’t politicians listen between elections?)
Guest Post by Dave Rhodes:
This post is being written after the polls have closed on election day, so as not to be seen in any way as electioneering for any party or politician
Seems like the time spent between elections, the Government, no matter what variety, simply ignores the public and does just exactly what it pleases citing “We have a mandate”. Trying to dissuade them otherwise is a bit like herding cats.
Over the last 20 or 30 years, maybe longer, we have seen elected Governments become even more and more arrogant. Each iteration is more arrogant than the one before.
Starting perhaps even as far back as “Think Big”, through the “Mother of all budget” years we suffered. The switch to Labour and the Clark years started promising, but left-wing ideals and utter arrogance came to the fore with New Zealand pulled out of the Privvy Council without any consultation – the biggest constitutional change in 150 years but Kiwis just accepted it with barely a whimper.
Judges in New Zealand were getting fed up with more senior and eminently more experienced Pommie Law Lords finding fault with their decision making. Easy, eliminate the Privvy Council, and elevate those faltering Judges to a Supreme Court to continue making possibly flawed decisions with no chance of oversight.
Shame we don’t have Privvy Council available today to hear if the so-called “Partnership” being foisted on us was actually lawful or not. The slippery slope begins.
But worse came with Key introducing Big Dairy and selling off New Zealand in large chunks overseas. At around the same time, mass immigration was introduced to import wealth to support Key’s corporate chums. Major assets were sold off, and we were told New Zealand had brilliant fiscal management. Instead, it was a case of the Emperor’s New Clothes. New Zealand’s debt soared under the John Key government’s economic management.
Perhaps Key saw the writing on the wall and bailed out in late 2016 to join cushy numbers with his mates at Air New Zealand and ANZ Bank. Perhaps their personal decisions to make? Besides a director of the first and chairman of the latter. Nice work if you can get it – looks like a nice reward for services rendered – but that would be unkind (or would it).
During all this time, many in the advocacy arena noticed with dismay the gradual but continuous erosion of democracy in New Zealand. Be it through Parliamentary Select Committees, Territorial or Regional Authorities, consultation became more simply going through the motions rather than anything meaningful.
Written submissions that citizen and organisation alike had laboured hard over were given scant attention, and verbal submissions reduced to a meaningless joke – I know from first-hand experience appearing before such bodies is simply a charade compared to even 20 years ago. Back then you were afforded sufficiemt time to make your point verbally, now a national organisation is lucky to get 5 minutes – unless of course, they are known government supporters.
We now know Labour has been returned with a massive swing. The next three years will because of the majority for Labour be an interesting time holding them to account and adhere to what they promised at the hustings. Importantly will Labour’s big majority give further impetus to disrespect for democracy and arrogance. Arrogance unchecked will become a big potential danger for Labour in 2023.
But they need to stay aware the voting public has long memories, and at least one party – New Zealand First – appears to be history after reneging on just about every single promise they made in 2017. This despite Shane Jones spreading money like confetti.
Will Labour invite the Green Party into bed with them? The Greens have some good policies and some appallingly bad ideological ones such as the “anti-introduced” phobia of Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage. They say a week is a long time in politics, so waiting two weeks to see if Labour goes it alone, is gonna be interesting.
For the outdoor public, questions will be posed. Will Jacinda Ardern continue her obsessive crusade against lawful New Zealanders owning firearms for lawful recreation? Will Labour free from NZ First’s affair with corporate fishing companies, honour its 2017 election promise to review the Quota Management System corrupting sea fisheries management. Will Labour stop the sale of farms to overseas forestry corporate that NZ First championed?
Will Labour stop the senseless topdressing of public lands with an eco-toxin 1080 which many other countries ban. Ominously Ardern mentioned on election eve, the need for “pest management”.
Will she rein in the Department of Conservation for a much-needed review of the bureaucracy’s priories and competency?
Water ownership? Unbridled dairying expansion and excessive nitrate leaching into streams?
Even after Labour’s decision as to whether to govern alone or merge with the Greens, there are questions hovering.
Labour would be wise to shake off the delirious giddiness of its massive win and do some serious self-examination and discipline – if it wants to be returned un 2023.