17 November 2011

Why I Won't Be Voting National

 
I won't be voting National at this year's General Election.

Now, this won't come as a great surprise to those who know me. My opposition to the National Party started in the Muldoon years and hasn't wavered since - so a government which is Muldoon 2.0, but with a friendlier smile, isn't likely to appeal to me. I live in Wellington Central, and for the record, I will be giving the Green Party my party vote and Labour MP Grant Robertson my electorate vote.

But I think I have got some particularly good reasons for not voting National this time - and ironically, perhaps, they date from before the 2008 General Election. At that time, I was the Convenor (and I'm still a member) of the Sustainable Energy Forum, and, much to my surprise, I was invited to a lunch with National Energy spokesperson Gerry Brownlee and a whole lot of energy company heads.

I felt like a fish out of water, but more to the point, Gerry felt he was among friends, and he told those energy company heads, in no uncertain terms, that when National came to power the shackles would be off. They could forget any concerns the Labour Government might have had about climate change or the environment. You dig it or drill it or mine it, Gerry said, and we'll back you up.

You could say many things about Gerry Brownlee, and I'd be happy to join you, but you couldn't say that he hasn't been true to his word. From the moment National came to power, they have shown a complete disregard for New Zealand's and the world's environment. While cynically promenading a "clean and green New Zealand" brand in international tourism markets, they have thrown the doors open at home to:

  • Mining in National Parks - yes, they lost the first round on that issue, but they haven't given up
  • Offshore oil drilling in waters even deeper and riskier than the Gulf of Mexico
  • The mining of massive quantities of lignite in Southland which would release billions of tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere
  • Fracking (hydraulic fracturing) to extract more oil and gas - a dangerous technique which has already been shown to lead to both groundwater contamination and localised earthquakes when used overseas, and which has been banned by France, a country not known for its environmental credentials
  • A massive and vastly expensive programme of motorway building to serve the interests of the trucking industry, which is also being served by National's downgrading of our rail system.

In other words, National are taking our economy back to the 1950s and massively increasing our dependence on fossil fuels.

And how do National propose to reconcile all this with New Zealand's international commitments to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions? They don't, perhaps because the Cabinet is full of climate change sceptics - as recently as 2005, John Key professed himself among them. They simply hope that the international audiences to whom they promise action on climate change won't notice what the Government is doing at home.

Now, there are lots of other excellent reasons not to vote for National. But New Zealand's environment is the foundation of New Zealand's wealth, and in turn, the liveability of New Zealand depends on the world having a liveable climate. John Key's Government has shown utter disregard for any meaningful action on climate change, either with New Zealand or internationally, and complete contempt for the New Zealand environment. That's why I won't be voting National.

7 comments:

Mike Crowl said...

I'm a climate change waverer, Tim, and I think some of those who are pro climate change are merely using it as yet another excuse for making big bucks out of little people. Nevertheless, I agree with much of what you say about National. I just wish there was a Party that actually could make a difference...I'm not convinced by the Greens, I'm afraid, even though they seem to be on the rise.

Tim Jones said...

Mike, on the science of climate change, I think the most interesting study recently was one *which was funded by the sceptics' big-money backers* and yet which came out in close agreement with climate scientists' findings - see

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/oct/20/global-warming-study-climate-sceptics

If a study funded and to some extent run by climate sceptics reaches such conclusion, I think it is hard to argue that the science isn't substantially settled.

Finally, while mitigating climate change will cost money, there is a great deal of money to be made (in the short term) by not acting - which is why companies like Exxon have poured so much money into backing climate sceptic organisations.

AJ Ponder said...

This whole election is making me feel sick. I want my card. I want to vote (and I will as soon as I get it). And then I want to stop worrying about what politicians say they're going to do vs what they actually want to do and whether they're capable of doing any of it.

PS Ban Fracking Now!
And what it is with climate skeptics? How hard is it reconcile "CO2 make hot." Are we frogs to stay in the water because the temperature doesn't rise sharply enough?

Tim Jones said...

Missed your comment earlier, sorry, AJ! Since you commented, news has broken that John Key took time out of his election campaign to meet with the head of Anadarko, the deep-sea oil drilling company heavily involved in the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster. I think that says all that needs to be said about this Government's attitude to the environment.

AJ Ponder said...

I think I've realised just how Green I am. In the past I've split it - but I'm McGillicuddy Serious - double greening - even though technically the green candidate vote is a waste at least it's sending a message - and I can't bring myself to vote for Mallard but neither can I handle the thought of voting for National. Like Mike I just wish there was a party that could make a real difference - preferably one that didn't have any politicians ;)

Brent Efford said...

Great stuff, Tim. Actually, my aversion to the National Party is genetic – ever since my great-grandfather stood for the Independent Labour Political League in 1905, or perhaps when he was involved in the working mens co-operative assn in England before emigrating in 1872!
Whatever ... my aversion is really to the conservative change-deniers (not just climate change but any change!) of this world, who, because they say that climate change etc isn't "absolutely, 100%, proven beyond any doubt whatsoever"refuse to recognise the simple principle of risk management (a normal business practice, even though most businessmen refuse to apply it to global risks) and won't countenance any departure from "business as usual" because it will disturb their greed/conservative mindset.
Get real – survival is the issue, not just your comfort.If you won't do it for your grandchildren you are morally no better than the most loathsome child molester, putting your gratification ahead of the needs of future generations.

Tony said...

Obviously, I'm not eligible to vote (even though some Australians think that NZ is one of our minor states!), but my view on climate change is that it doesn't really matter whether the science is right or wrong. Surely cleaning up the planet is worth it in its own right?