Some 115 heads of state or government assemble at the 3rd Earth Summit in Rio this week. They include France and Australia.
John Key, our erstwhile Prime Minister, is not among them. He has more important things to do. He has sent one of our more junior cabinet ministers, Amy Adams.
Amy Adams is a competent young professional and a promising politician. She has the Environment portfolio – so sending her exhibits the abiding illusion of this Government that sustainability is all about the environment. Amy is a potential leader. But it is not now. And the Earth Summit is not an appropriate training ground.
Rio+20 is the place for the current Prime Minister. New Zealand might as well have sent Helen Mirren for all the policy difference it would make.
The only person who has the public mandate to think and decide on one’s feet at a global meeting on critical global issues is the Prime Minister. Given his absence, we are effectively neutered in our ability to play a constructive role at the Earth Summit. That is a disgrace.
John Key yearns for the easy ops. Photos with the Queen during the Jubilee — stunning. Kneeling with the All Blacks – almost always a winner. Appearing on Letterman and memorising salacious and demeaning jokes – pays a net dividend.
But the real job? The task of understanding the complexity of global sustainability, empathising with the 5 billion less fortunate, divining how New Zealand fits in a dynamic and troubled global community? Skip it. Mr Key has no appetite for that which promises no easy return.
If we can just get the rest of the international community to regard the person there as our Prime Minister, perhaps not all will be lost.
So let us call the NZ leader there John Adams. This will resonate with the Americans – their 2nd president was an author of the federalist papers.
I can assist further. I shall try to supplement the movements of John Adams here in Rio by reporting to the voting public what John Key would have been doing, morning, afternoon and evening, had he been there. And I shall ascertain what he was actually doing instead.
That way, we can size up what extraordinary affairs of state kept our national leader from lending his talents to the common interest – seeking to achieve a sustainable planet for future generations.