Is anyone else wondering whether the Government has a credible plan for the future of New Zealand? It seems to me that all the talk of John Key being a 'safe pair of hands' when it comes to developing a prosperous future for our country is wearing very thin.
Every other day another snippet of information hits the headlines that undermines the business case for selling off our energy companies. The National-led Government insisted that selling our national assets was vital to balance the economy, but this we all now know is nonsense. Only recently, Bill English was forced to admit that Solid Energy is in much worse commercial shape than we were led to believe and could not be sold. So we have to keep it and spend more taxpayer millions fixing it up so we can then sell it. It’s a coal company for goodness sake, one of the dirtiest fuels there is. It’s like selling outdated lead paint, its just wrong.
You can sign the referendum to Keep Our Assets here if you have not done so already.
At the same time much of the important laws that are supposed to protect our land, air and coastal waters are being gutted. Those pesky little protection clauses are being removed so that profit is king. We are indeed as Michael Sandel says, moving from having a market economy to being a market economy where everything, no matter how precious, is up for sale. We are selling the wrong stuff, our values and identity as a nation are being sold to a privileged few.
The safeguards that we should be putting in place to ensure that economic growth is delivered alongside environmental protection and a smarter, cleaner way of doing business are being rewritten as if simply making money was all the reason needed to give it the go ahead. Whether it is the dodgy new Exclusive Economic Zone (out beyond our 12 mile zone) legislation; the Resource Management Act changes or the toothless Climate Change Response (Emissions Trading and Other Matters) Amendment Bill, they are one by one being hollowed out.
Don’t get me wrong, I want a vibrant economy just like the next person. I want a decent standard of living and a job for myself and my kids but this government would have us believe that there is only one way to do this - to dig up coal, drill and frack for oil and gas, use every square inch of land and flowing river to intensify dairying. We risk turning our land in to no more than a factory.
It really doesn’t have to be like this.
Our greatest natural resource is our innovation and ingenuity. Our country is blessed a range of entrepreneurial, cutting edge initiatives that are built around our home grown expertise in cleaner, safer fuels such as biomass, geothermal, small scale wind management, or in new cleantech areas such as superconductors. The kind of enterprises that mean we can build solutions to our environmental challenges, rather than create more by hitching our future prosperity to the dirty old fuels of the past. We just need the Government to have just a tiny bit of vision and a bit more economic sense and get behind them.
I think New Zealanders would be willing to take a few risks with a different economic direction if it was one that built a strong economy around the values and reputation that we hold dear. The global clean economy race is underway and NZ is well placed to take a place at the forefront.