The election, the G20, and the climate – very simply: a matter of priorities

In New Zealand, we observe the quaint constitutional custom of having the political leader of the nation decide the date of the next election.

This of course is done with the utmost objectivity.  Yesterday Prime Minister John Key chose 20 September.

The objective reasons he advanced were that a number of leaders of the G-20 have expressed an interest in visiting New Zealand, and that would not be possible in the midst of an election campaign.   He did not identify who the leaders might be – we are left to take him at his word.

The G-20 meeting this year is to be held in Australia, and it has invited New Zealand along.  Government ministers are beside themselves with excitement.  It is the first, and probably the last, time New Zealand will appear in the company of the economic majors.

Mr Key went further: “given the frequency of large international events like the G-20 and APEC in November, September elections should be the norm”.

So, through Mr Key’s worldview, in determining an issue that has constitutional implications for New Zealand – whether there should be a ‘norm’ or a ‘fixed date’ for each general election – we should have more regard to international meetings (some of which we are actually not, as of right invited to) than to what is best for the formal expression of our nation’s electoral opinion.

This reveals with a new clarity the political priorities of John Key’s leadership.  He pins it on a G-20 meeting.

In doing so, he is either oblivious or indifferent to the more important meeting taking place in New York three days after the election date he has announced.   This is the Climate Summit at the United Nations in New York.  If international meetings are the determinant, he got it wrong.

On 23 September, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is hosting Heads of State and Government along with business, finance, civil society and local leaders to the Summit.  He says:

I challenge you to bring to the Summit bold pledges. Innovate, scale-up, cooperate and deliver concrete action that will close the emissions gap and put us on track for an ambitious legal agreement through the UNFCCC process.”

The Prime Minister turns his back on the UN and the global climate and embraces the G-20 and economic growth.

The G-20 has no formal charter and lacks true legitimacy.  As Norway’s foreign minister observed in 2010:

“The G-20 is a self-appointed group. Its composition is determined by the major countries and powers. It may be more representative than the G-7 or the G-8, in which only the richest countries are represented, but it is still arbitrary. We no longer live in the 19th century, a time when the major powers met and redrew the map of the world. No one needs a new Congress of Vienna.”

But that is John Key’s worldview.  He enjoys posing with the big players, less so the total group.  And besides, climate protection is not exactly the key Government’s strongest visiting card.  We have arguably the worst track record on 1990-2010 emissions of all developed countries.

John Key’s worldview is mercantilist, and a rather cheap one at that.  He sees the world as a market, pure and simple.  He has no truck with the UN and with non-monetarised aspects of foreign or domestic policy.

Today in the House, his Justice Minister was questioned, yet again, over her endorsement of a milk product in a company in China in which her husband is a director.  Her shrill reply:

I will continue to do everything I can to support ‘New Zealand Inc’, especially when I am overseas”. 

14 thoughts on “The election, the G20, and the climate – very simply: a matter of priorities

  1. This is a country, not a corporation. Mistaking the two is National’s policy, it can never be ours.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 4 (+4)

  2. Thank you for making this known. If we feel a need to choose Election dates to please the world rather than out citizens then I agree a UN meeting is of greater importance.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2 (-1)

  3. “John Key’s worldview is mercantilist … He sees the world as a market, pure and simple.”

    In so many areas of our political leadership is this a truism. And it is that, that will win him the coming election.

    All the economic indicators we see published are positive and improving. There is a general excitement that we are coming out of the doldrums and picking up a fair wind to prosperity. Too few see that fair wind as a fickle wind, one that will peter out when the effects of peak oil and climate change are laid bare for all to suffer. Too late.

    To what extent are the Greens differentiating themselves as our future political leaders with a different world view, one focused on people first, people living and working in corporations within the country? The slogans “smarter, greener economics” and “Good Lives, Healthy Future” promise much. But I do not see the clear differentiation in policy that I desire.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2 (+2)

  4. And it is that, that will win him the coming election.

    Well, he’ll win the next election, no doubt about that. And the one after. But I’m not sure its because of “that”. The honest truth is that there is no other personality that voters feel “safe” voting for. Cunliffe for PM? About as likely and palatable as Winston. Welcome to the world of presidential politics.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1 (+2)

  5. @dbuckley: Yes for sure there is no real alternative to John Key’s winning personality.

    And yes, that will win him many votes. Couple this with his apparent competence (economic indicators that are on the up and up will make us all more prosperous) in economic matters and he is unbeatable.

    I am listening to Winston Peters on National Radio right now. Winnie has a winning personality that has kept him in a position of power for many a year. NZ First’s policies are, on the face of them, very desirable. They are clear, simply expressed and appealing as a matter of principle. But he is seen as a spoiler, of questionable trustworthiness and not a leader with economic credibility that will make us all more prosperous. So he and NZ First do not gain traction as a credible government.

    Perception is everything.

    How are the Greens perceived? And to bring this discussion back to the topic, how does the Solar Homes policy add to or take away from that perception?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0 (+2)

  6. To answer my own question, it seems to me that too many perceive the Greens as not actually saying anything important to them.

    But for the most part, I see the Greens’ policies being based on the reality of some alarming environmental, social and economic problems. Problems that our present political and economic systems are incapable of addressing.

    Because the solar homes policy is so full of economic, social and environmental holes it is dismissible thus the perception is reinforced.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1 (0)

  7. The electorate isn’t ready for the truth John. We know that much.

    If we tell them that a sovereign state has not just the right and the power but the DUTY to control its own currency we get laughed at.

    When we point out the inherent instability of fractional-reserve banking they tell us we’re economically illiterate.

    When we explain about the problems with misinterpreting the “comparative advantage” of Ricardo we get a blank stare.

    When we petition against asset sales, we get ignored.

    Much of this has to do with the media, but it is mostly a function of a faulty economic education at some levels and outright fraud at others.

    What the Greens want to do would dramatically alter the world. A redeemable currency based on energy? Carbon Taxes? Oh yes… but we can’t get any of them… so the dumbed down message is all that is left.

    I am not completely alienated, this is the only game in town after all, but with Key wrapping himself in the flag as a distraction we’re all going to pay. The man himself is someone I could not trust to give me the time of day. I know he is working for someone, and I am pretty sure it isn’t the people of New Zealand.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1 (+1)

  8. @bjchip: “The electorate isn’t ready for the truth” is true enough. Sadly. For me, I will have completed my resilience plan when a wind turbine goes up on the property later this year. It would then be easy to thumb my nose at those who do not see the implications of what Kennedy Graham has consistently put under the climate change spotlight. But then I still get a bit idealistic about what could be done to save people from themselves…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1 (0)

  9. And to bring this discussion back to the topic, how does the Solar Homes policy add to or take away from that perception?

    NO rural johnny, this post is about the timing of the election and Key’s priorities for deciding it. You and some of the other regulars have made a very long and rather boring thread over at the “future is brighter for solar” post, please leave it there!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1 (0)

  10. The fact is that elections are decided by about 20% of “swing” voters.

    Politicians know that they can safely ignore the majority and just use focus groups to appeal to that 20% of “swing voters”, about 12% of the population.

    Judging by the policies the two main parties emphasise, the 12% who “swing vote” are a bunch of unprincipled, greedy, self interested, a holes.

    We already know from research here and overseas that the majority, given policies to decide on, without a party designation, are much more realistic, “socialist” and sensible.

    Which is why “representative democracy” is a farce.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1 (+1)

  11. If climatologists are right, and I think they are, then historians will judge our generation harshly, and New Zealand will be among the worst offenders. This is embarrassing and sad, especially when we are just about the best positioned country to be completely greenhouse gas neutral. GHG neutrality would cost us relatively little and it would speak very loudly indeed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2 (+1)

  12. Pascal stated ““Justice without power is impotent; power without justice is tyranny.”

    We have our eyes on what is just for our future and our children’s futures. John Key has power. The contrast really is that simple. We must not dwell on our lack of power but turn to the task of patiently organizing and steadily building our power following the advice and techniques of organizers who showed us how.

    Yet we are horribly conflicted about the word Power. We associate all sorts of evil with it- authoritarianism, chauvinism, arrogance, conflict and disquiet. We shrink from it because to build it suggests we are interested in something other than an egalitarian, pluralistic society where individuals refrain from lording their power over others. But really the corruption is not in power but in our hearts. We believe in the power of love or the power of reason, or the power in our hearts to pump blood. The term simply means the ability to do something.

    We need not be timid about organizing the energy of collective citizen participation that binds people together with a unified strength applied to a common purpose. But it requires organizers who are willing to lay aside the indulgence of cynicism.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 (+1)

  13. They say ‘a day in politics is a long time’ well six months to the election is a much longer time.. fingers crossed that in the interim people wake-up to this crony capitalist Govt. & its selfish exploits. They only care about, the top few percent & those foolish enough to believe there political spin.

    2014.. time for a CHANGE !!

    kia ora

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1 (-1)

  14. Ah Zedd, it seems like ages, well three years, when we last aired this.

    Remember this, suitably updated:

    The big, big, big problem at the moment is that the only group of bunch with the credibility to run the country are those running the country today, however bad a job they are doing of it, and trust me when I say you ain’t seen nothing yet. Sickening. And frustrating.

    Carrying on the BTO theme:
    And said, You ain’t seen nothin’ yet
    B-B-B-Baby, you just ain’t seen n-n-n-nothin’ yet
    Here’s something that you’re never gonna forget
    B-B-B-Baby, you just ain’t seen n-n-n-nothin’ yet
    And you’re thinkin’ you ain’t been around, that’s right

    Just a few months till the real rogering starts, the FUCKING THIRD Term…

    Still, the good news is only six years to go. Six years…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1 (-1)

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