by Kennedy Graham
Apart from the dutiful cabinet minister, I am the only NZ member of parliament at Rio de Janeiro.
Should I be here?
Days back, in the ‘80s, it was a rare thing for parliamentarians to front up to a UN conference. But that was when international diplomacy was confined to the diplomats, and the executive branch of government Decided for the People. The ‘80s was the end of that three-century era.
Now international diplomacy has become global discourse. The civil society has grown from infancy to adolescence, and it will grow in strength and confidence. The corporate world hovers around too these days. Through the ‘90s, with the global conferences that characterised the beginnings of the global community, MPs started to turn out, in numbers and with purpose.
The purpose is to hold our respective governments to account. An opposition MP can make cabinet ministers answer for their government’s policies with far more accuracy and credibility through having actually been there as well.
So, here I am, as I was at Copenhagen in ’09. And there is one Green Australian MP – an impressive woman Senator from Queensland with an environmental law background.
Why is NZ Labour not here? Don’t they care? I spoke with one very senior Labour colleague before leaving. He had wanted to go to Rio, but could not get away.
So why not send someone who could?
I believe that Labour is concerned for the environment. Helen Clark used to use the word ‘sustainability’ as if she knew what it meant. She will have far better insight on that now, after three years running UNDP.
Shame one of her former colleagues couldn’t tear themselves away – one responsible perhaps for climate change perhaps, or energy perhaps. Or oceans or even the environment. Just someone.