15 September 2014

Why I Won't Be Voting National - And Why I Will Be Voting Green

I live in the Wellington Central electorate. This election, I intend to give my party vote to the Green Party and my electorate vote to the Labour Party's Wellington Central MP, Grant Robertson. Here's why.

Why I Won't Be Voting National

Funnily enough, it isn't primarily because of the corruption and collusion revealed in Nicky Hager's Dirty Politics, or because of John Key's collusion with Warner Brothers (maybe over Kim Dotcom's extradition, but definitely over de-unionising the film industry), or because of NZ's participation in the "Five Eyes" spy ring - even though all of those reveal a contempt for democracy which reminds me strongly of Robert Muldoon era. (John Key is Muldoon with a nicer smile.)

It's because National's policies in areas I care about are very bad. There are many examples, but I'm going to focus on two:

Climate change and the environment: Everything we value as a country - including our economy, with its strong dependence on primary production - in turn depends on the quality of our phyiscal environment, and on a stable climate. Yet both are under threat from climate change, primarily caused by the burning of fossil fuels - with a substantial assist in New Zealand from the intensification of dairy farming.

The 1999-2008 Labour-led Government took some steps - inadequate steps, overcautious steps, but steps nevertheless - to address climate change and to better protect the environment. Among the first actions of John Key's incoming National Government was to strip away these protections, including weakening Labour's Emissions Trading Scheme so that it became entirely useless rather than merely inadequate.

And as National started, so they have carried on: bending over backwards to encourage coal mining, oil drilling, fracking, and seabed mining; opening conservation lands to mining - even when the Minister in question doesn't even know where they are; and meanwhile failing to take action on climate change at home, and serving as a roadblock to meaningful actions abroad.

And for what? As I have posted elsewhere, this recent quote from the mining industry journal NZ Resources sums up what the Government's pro-mining policy has achieved:

The National-led Government’s ambition to have the mining, and separate oil and gas sector, underpin economic recovery has borne little long term gains in its past two terms.

There are other, better ways to create jobs - ways that do not place our environment,. and the climate, under further stress. But National, acting on the behest of its donors and its corporate masters, is either unable or unwilling to change its approach.

Domestic and sexual violence: Both are at epidemic levels in this country. National's response has been to cut funding to Women's Refuges and allow Rape Crisis centres to close. This is an area where interventions can make a huge difference, yet National would rather waste money on motorways than make the necessary funding available.

I joined the march to Parliament on Monday calling for action on these issues. If you doubt how serious these issues are, check out the statistics at the end of this article.

Just above that, you'll find the amazing statue of Kate Sheppard. It was designed and constructed to stand at Parliament for three months - until the Speaker, National's David Carter, refused permission, apparently because it would make Parliament's precincts too cluttered. While the absence of this statue in itself is not a matter of life and death, this decision typifies the cloth ear and blind eye National has turned to cries for help from the abused, the poor, and the vulnerable.

Why I'll Be Giving My Party Vote To The Green Party

I don't intend to vote for National or for any party likely to provide support a National-led Government. That means there are three parties I've considered giving my party vote this election: Labour, Internet Mana, and the Greens. I've decided to give my electorate vote to Grant Robertson, the Wellington Central MP, who in my view has done an excellent job as an electorate MP and is an asset to the Labour Party.

I would like to see a Labour-led Government after this General Election - or, to be more precise, I would like to see a Greens-led Government, but that is less likely. However, in my view, Labour is still badly compromised in several areas. One is the influence of its Rogernomics-era holdovers on aspects such as its refusal to oppose the potentially disastrous TPPA. Another is its continued links with the oil, gas and coal industries. The stronger the Greens are, the more confident I'll be that a Labour-led Government would take serious, meaningful action on climate change and other environmental issues, not to mention other important social and political issues.

I have conflicting feelings about Internet-Mana. There are some very good candidates in both parties, with policies I support, but I'm not a huge fan of Kim Dotcom's disproportionate influence on New Zealand politics - even though I'm very grateful for the work he'd done on exposing the GCSB and its actions - and, given that the race for Te Tai Tokerua looks very close at the time of writing, it's not a given that Internet-Mana will end up with any MPs if it does not reach the 5% party vote threshold. I hope they do, and I hope their efforts to get young voters out to vote are successful, but I'd hate to see those votes go to waste.

Of all the parties, the Greens are closest to my own views. They have a track record of saying they'll do things and then achieving them, even in opposition; they have excellent MPs and some outstanding candidates, such as Marama Davidson, who need a good showing for the Greens to get into Parliament; and they would contribute high-quality Ministers, such as Julie Anne Genter, to a Labour-Greens Government. That's why I plan to give my party vote to the Greens.


Determinist said...

Amen to all that. I followed similar logic with similar conclusions.

The email reply I got about my protest about offshore oil exploration, even after threatening the very existence of the maui dolphin was yet another in a long line of epic fails in climate change positions National has taken. That's enough to get rid of them in my mind.

Tim Jones said...

I agree - unfortunately, the voters didn't! To paraphrase what Jeanette Fitzsimons said at the climate march in Auckland on Sunday, it was a great effort to get 62,000 climate voters in 2014 - but we need a million climate voters by 2017.