Friday, 25 November 2011

#NZ #Elections - Vote Labour, Green, MMP

Yes, this is a blogpost where I - a foreigner who can't vote - tell you, NZ citizens and residents, who to vote for in tomorrow's general election and referendum.
  • Party vote Green
  • Candidate vote Labour
  • ...and of course, keep MMP
To be fair, I've lived here for 3 years, work and pay tax, and I'm not a million miles from being a resident, so I feel it's okay to have and share an opinion. That's what I do on this blog anyway.

To be brief:
  • National are almost certain to win this election, i.e. be the biggest party (but probably not a majority, for you foreigners - NZ hasn't had since a majority govt since introducing MMP. More on that below.) Labour are extremely unlikely to win, also I'm not even sure they're ready to govern again yet, and I'm not convinced Phil Goff is Labour leader material, never mind prime minister material.
  • However, having a strong opposition in Labour and the Green Party is not only healthy for democracy, it is the best hope for a check on National's "drill it, mine it, sell it" approach to New Zealand's future.
  • The Green Party will not win any electoral seats but they already have a significant presence in parliament. A party vote will help give them a strong presence in parliament, whether in opposition to the government or (less likely, but possible) working as coalition partners with National.
  • MMP is a great voting system, by which I mean, it's much less rubbish than the other ones. It represents the wishes of the country fairly, and gives smaller parties a place in parliament, and both of these things give voters a much greater choice. It also means parties have to agree and make decisions consensually, in agreement, rather than through argument and confrontation which the public don't need. MMP is a huge improvement on the shoddy outdated first-past-the-post system my country uses, and I urge everyone to vote to keep it.
Some issues:
  • State-owned assets - economic times are very tough, but they look set to be tough for years to come. National's policy of selling state-owned assets which provide income for the NZ state is worringly short-sighted, because you can only sell assets once - yet National's policy, like all right-wing parties, will always be to sell, even in 15 years when they've already sold everything.
  • Environment, drilling, mining - National have a similar short-sighted attitude to the environment - they've already tried selling off conservation land for mining, despite the fact that you can only mine land once. Not only that, but you cannot turn mined land back into pristine native bush, and it seems beyond belief that after BP & the Deepwater Horizon last year and the Rena wreck and oil spill this year, National want to drill for oil in the sea. For a country that relies and trades on its clean green reputation and its environment, these are short-term decisions with unnecessary risks which dump New Zealand with a poorer future.
  • Rivers - New Zealand's rivers and lakes are in a shocking state. It seems obvious that the Green Party has made it one of their policies, and maybe it's not a pressing issue for the country. But again, it seems insane that a country which trades and relies heavily on its clean green image has 1/3 of rivers too polluted to swim in. 1/3! It's not anti-business to get farms and industry to act faster in reducing pollution into natural waterways, it's responsibility.
There's way more than that to the election and New Zealand's next 3 years, but that's a brief summary of my verdict.

After being a fairly poor opposition party the last 3 years without Helen Clarke, Labour have run a surprisingly good campaign, and the issue of state-owned assets by itself gives a stark choice between the 2 main parties. Having seen a huge amount of privatisation in my lifetime, even under the British Labour party, I can happily say the only time to sell national assets is if it is right in principle and right in practice. Selling off New Zealand's assets at a time when it needs all the income it can get to provide for New Zealanders is a stupid decision - among other cheesy metaphors I could use, when you are in a hole, you don't sell your ladder - and something I sincerely hope National are not able to achieve.

Good luck progressives, and good luck New Zealand.

1 comment:

  1. I am super excited to vote tomorrow--my first time in NZ! Looking forward to the time when you too are a resident and can put your political values in action!