Egalitarianism (noun): the doctrine that all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities
My interpretation is identical: egalitarianism is based on the premise of a fair go for everyone, with same access to opportunities and same responsibilities before the law.
This is how many New Zealand politicians believe New Zealand should be. This is how I believe New Zealand should be as well. Egalitarianism is not something that we should allow to die. It was once something we collectively took pride in before the politics of division, the idea that dystopia is somehow better began to creep in.
I see some dangerous distortions creeping into New Zealand society. They are mainly socio-economic, such as encouraging proverbial rat race conditions that make a few get very wealthy, whilst. These are aided by willful hindrance of justice by removing or undermining watchdogs such as the Human Rights Commission and Privacy Commission, and also deliberate dilution of Bills of Parliament to sit in legally murky zones.
It should not be like this. New Zealand is better than that.
We can address these distortions though. But to do so one needs to understand what they are and how they work.
- Justice – whilst some aspects of justice certainly need a kinder, more compassionate approach such as that which Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern espouses, failing to address the very weak “wet bus ticket” approach of judges when handing down sentences erodes confidence in the justice system
- Dilution of laws – the deliberate dilution of various Bills of Parliament regarding these mean employers can operate in legally grey zones; people on work visas can be exploited because there is not a strong judicial and enforcement component. The same can be said for environmental laws – the R.M.A. still works, but there is a lot of grey zone non-compliance because councils have been made to streamline their regulatory sections, which has contributed to the decline in fresh water quality
- Constitutional reform – whilst no politician has directly attempted to usurp key Acts of Parliament, the risk remains, and there has been attempts at tinkering around the edges, which is why I believe a light but robust constitution that checks the executive, legislative and judicial wings of governance, needs to happen
- Education about the legal system – some of the arrogance shown today by youth is down to a refusal by politicians to make civics compulsory in school, even though everyone deals with the law at some point in their life
When these are addressed I think much of the social injustice happening in New Zealand and loss of confidence in society, the marginalizing and isolation of vulnerable sections, as well as the perceptions of greed will disappear. It will not be an overnight job – the best time for constitutional reform would be when the Queen of England passes on and we are left to decide whether to accept her successor as a head of state. The distrust between some sectors of the community and law enforcement will persist until the judges become more consistent and all students are made to learn how the legal system works.
But it can be done.
The real question is does New Zealand have the will to do so?