Reading between the li(n)es of New Zealand politics


All countries have liars amongst their political ranks and New Zealand is no exception. Some of them are individuals, but collectively the parties or political factions that they are members of are sometimes no better. And as an observer of New Zealand politics, I have noticed that there are a few common li(n)es that come up with every Government. They are problematic in that unless trained to read between the lines, many New Zealanders do not pick up on them.

One such problem in New Zealand politics is the attitude of politicians to working for the greater good of the country. It is often brought about when New Zealand’s short comings are shown up by international media and the Government of the day is forced to react, lest it lose credibility over the issue. However they are always looking for the shortest, least painful way out of the situation and if that means a half cooked solution to a bigger problem, then so be it. So when they say “this is the best we can do”, what is actually being said is “this is the best we are willing to do”.

Both National and Labour-led Governments are guilty of it at some point or another.

Another problem is the interpretation of the word “visionary” (and “change”). To me it is about achieving something that will last for the rest of ones natural life time and maybe beyond. In 2005 before the election that year Colin James, a columnist whom I generally have not agreed with wrote a surprisingly accurate article looking at the then Prime Minister Helen Clark’s interpretation of visionary – a rather conservative one I thought upon reading Mr James’ column A couple years later as he prepared for the 2008 election, Prime Minister John Key said that his predecessor was actually a surprisingly conservative person in terms of vision for New Zealand. Seven years later, just as it did with Labour in 2005, any thought of this National led Government being visionary has long since worn off. Perhaps this is the product of the M.M.P. environment encouraging coalition Governments rather than ones with outright majorities, but it still does not excuse the notion that New Zealand politicians and political parties have vision when they most certainly do not – at least looking forward to the next election is hardly visionary.

Most questionable of all the lies and other deceitful behaviour going on among politicians in New Zealand  is the insistence that both major parties believe in democracy, when both have contributed to the gradual but steady erosion of our rights. Both National and Labour have passed laws that rightfully aroused concern, but both equally dismissed those concerns as unfounded. In Labour’s case, it was the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002, though much of the concern about the Electoral Finance Act was also justified. National for its part introduced the Crown Minerals (Crown Land and Permitting)Act, 2013, to be barrelled through Parliament with no referral to the Human Rights Select Committee which the Human Rights Commission found to be a breach of human rights law.

There is one more li(n)e that both have perpetuated over the years and that is that they are parties of the centre. Umm, no, you are not. Labour for all its claims is still the mainstream socialist party in New Zealand politics, though the Greens are making good inroads despite not picking up any more seats at the election, into the traditional Labourite part of the spectrum. National, despite Prime Minister John Keys efforts is definitely a conservative party. Most of its ministers are unapologetically conservative at heart.

So there you have it, New Zealand. These are the li(n)es of New Zealand politics laid bare for you to see.

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