This first anniversary of the National-led government is also the fourth anniversary of the death of former Green Party Co-Leader, Rod Donald. With the many retrospectives being written about the “new” government, my thoughts turn today to what Rod might have thought about the developments of the last year.
There’s been commentary claiming the government hasn’t actually done very much in its first year. Rodney’s embarrassment aside, it seems safe to say that Rod wouldn’t agree.
First off is the long list of backward steps taken on environmental protection. National started the year as it is likely to finish it – under urgency. Under the guise of the collapsing world economy, legislation having little to do with the crisis was repealed, such as the act that set standards for sustainable biofuels, and one that established a renewable preference for electricity generation.
At the other end of the first year, we have the fiasco of the government’s 0-20% emissions target (for who knows where it will end up), and an Emissions Trading Scheme that will subsidise polluters by the billions at taxpayer expense, likely increasing our emissions rather than reducing them. I’d forgive Rod if what he might have to say about that wasn’t even printable.
The great worry is that this government has only just begun its programme of environmental negligence. The Resource Management Act part two reforms is an example of things still to come, with the government showing it will trade short term economic gain for long term economic and environmental sustainability.
And you can be sure Rod would be out there gathering signatures for the Green Party mining petition too.
One of the other early casualties was Rod’s beloved Buy Kiwi Made programme, ably implemented by Sue Bradford after Rod’s death. The Kiwi Diary 2009 notes today is the anniversary of when the Green Party won the battle to have the “Buy Kiwi Made” campaign restricted to goods and services manufactured and processed in New Zealand, 2006. Even Labour didn’t get it.
There are so many other examples. But most of all, I think Rod would be gearing up for the next public discussion on MMP, due to occur over the next two election cycles. Rod was a passionate advocate of the new system recommended by the Royal Commission and helped lead the coalition advocating change. Rod knew that MMP meant fair representation for all Kiwi voters and that it would lead to the current diversity we see in the House today. I think Rod would agree that there are improvements to be made to our MMP system. I’m certain he would be fighting hard on behalf of all citizens for its retention.
Greens across Aotearoa are thinking of you today, Rod.