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A little exploration?

Written By: - Date published: 12:22 pm, January 23rd, 2014 - 23 comments
Categories: activism, democratic participation, Environment, greens, labour, Mining - Tags: , , ,

All parliamentarians prance to the tuneful pipes of corporate and financial overlords. Some, it has to be said, jig much too enthusiastically. Others have the decency, at least on the rare occasion, to be dragged to the floor somewhat reluctantly. Then sometimes, despite all the enthusiastic or apologetic jigging and swirling and twirling,  parliamentarians manage – I assume quite by accident – to serve the interests of democracy rather well.

That’s happening at the moment with Labour’s stance on deep sea exploration.

Had both Labour and the Greens backed the idea of a moratorium on deep sea exploration, then all the people currently organising and learning and protesting around the issue would have donned their hobbit hats and retired to their respective Shires to await a left leaning government.

That would have all been well and good in so far as there would be no deep sea exploration…until the next time parliament was controlled by those who jig too enthusiastically.

The fact is that when gains are casually granted by parliament, they are ‘soft’ and can be taken away just as casually as they were given.

But when we, ordinary people, invest our time and our energy to secure a gain, then it ‘belongs’ to us. It’s ours. It’s locked in.

So, well done Labour for rendering this small service to democracy.


23 comments on “A little exploration?”

  1. karol 1

    Agree, Bill.

    At least with the service to democracy of opening up the oil drilling topic to politcal discussion. But that is also one of the possibilities provided by MMP.

  2. Ad 2

    Mental and moral test:

    Much of Dunedin opposed the Aramoana aluminium smelter in the late 1970s and early 1980s with a substantial oppositional movement. New Zealand’s greatest series of protest art were produced from it – the Black Window series. The question could be asked about deep sea drilling: what would Hotere do?

  3. Not a PS Staffer 3

    Cunliffe has done the correct thing by backing more exploration under a stricter safety regime.

    A Moratorium is a cop-out: it is leaving it to the next generation to take the decisions and to shoulder the cost of the moratorium.

    • Bill 3.1

      Maybe and maybe not. But this post is about the impact, or potential impact of the Labour/Green positioning on any nascent grass/flax roots expressions of democracy on the matter by us, the citizenry.

    • Colonial Viper 3.2

      Looks like logic and argument is a weak point of yours.

      1) How is leaving these natural resources available for the next generation a cop out?
      2) How is giving the next generation full control and decision making, a cop out?
      3) How is using up the resources before the next generation get a share at all fair?

      Get a grip dude.

      • Not a PS Staffer 3.2.1

        We are using oil every day that is imported from the four corners of the globe. That is benefiting taxpayer and/or gangsters everywhere else but in NZ.

        Why not explore for oil here and get the jobs and royalty income (and the balance of payments) tilted in our favour? It does not change the amount of fossil consumed, it just changes its origin.

        Why a moratorium? All the arguments I’ve heard are based on the BP deep sea experience in the Gulf; and most of the arguments are comparing apples with oranges and ignoring the science.
        I believe the Green Party is pushing for a moratorium because they want no exploration: period! That makes the call for a moratorium a lie. That is why I call it a cop-out.

        • weka

          “Why not explore for oil here and get the jobs and royalty income (and the balance of payments) tilted in our favour? It does not change the amount of fossil consumed, it just changes its origin.”

          Environment. One, spills and the impact on NZ. Two, AGW. If we commit infrastructure and legislation to local drilling for local profit, then we are committing to not mitigating AGW. Some of us still hope to lessen fossil fuel use, believe it or not.

          There is a whole nimby argument of course, which I’m surprised hasn’t been made yet. The irony of the NZ oil-free movement. At some point, hopefully soon, we will have to also talk about how to use less oil in NZ. Maybe that is part of Bill’s citizen’s democracy.

        • Colonial Viper

          So are you in favour of leaving NZ’s energy resources in place, ready and available for the next generation?

          And why did you call giving the next generation control over their own destiny, a “cop out”?

  4. Philj 4

    Labour has to stand and deliver challenging and progressive policies. Or Stand aside, as they are in the way! There has to be hope and action for people to bother voting.

    • Bill 4.1

      Hmm. Again. The post is not about the policy position of Labour or the Greens per se. It’s about the potential for those positions to impact on the level of political engagement by and between people.

  5. fambo 5

    Philosophically speaking, this is in line with what Barack Obama said in an interview on The New Republic just after he was re-elected, to the effect that to get a change in law achieved through the Congress and Senate meant it was less likely to be discarded by a change of administration than in the case of a solely presidential decision where that option is also available. In other words, a broader consensus had been achieved and that gave it a greater chance of surviving long term.

  6. Not a PS Staffer 7

    “This post is about the impact, or potential impact of the Labour/Green positioning on any nascent grass/flax roots expressions of democracy on the matter by us, the citizen”

    Bill, gnarly policy, like deep sea drilling, is best made by those who have the most concerns/fears about the operation of such technology. A Cunliffe led government would develop better legislation than a Key (or Collins) led government.

    Breakthrough policy, like working for families and KiwiSaver needs a strong government that has both the selling skills and the implementation skills. Clark and Cullen (and Maharey) were at the top of their game when these policies were implemented.

    • adam 7.1

      Working for families is at best, broken. It is corporate welfare, dressed up as left wing policy. Or to borrow from the Americans – food stamps for the working poor. Again with kiwi saver, who gets to play with this money again?

      My goodness Not a PS Staffer, your an odd social democrat, you come across as an apologist. Your one of those labour people who ask working people to vote labour because they will only cut you off at the knees, rather than the hip, like national. What a sad position, what a sad, cynical view of politics, Hooton and co are laughing in your face because of your fears.

      Say what you like about anarchism.. But, at least it not spineless, wimpy, and lacking vision. At least we don’t live in the past and want to see people being sold down the river over and over. Labour supporters you seem happy to wallow in a tub half full, how about you have some courage and ask for the tub to be filled, so you kids/grandkids can have a chance at a life of freedom.

  7. Te Reo Putake 8

    I’m wondering whether this announcement is actually Cunliffe’s cleverly disguised offer of an Epsom style cup of tea to the Greens. He’s effectively ensured that Green voters who are motivated by energy/climate issues are actually going to vote. That shores up one leg of the coalition.

    Monday to similarly motivate Labour voters?

    • weka 8.1

      Not for the first time I’ve wondered that about Cunliffe too. Cunning plan or wool over our eyes, hard to tell.

      I think the cup of tea is also along the lines of Labour voters who would be turned off if Labour banned drilling, will still vote Labour, and it leaves the way open for the GP to speak strongly against drilling, both during the election campaign, and then in coalition agreements.

    • Anne 8.2

      My reaction was that Cunliffe et al decided to get the biggest bone of contention between Labour and the Greens – deep sea oil drilling – out into the open at the start of the year. I guess he’s hoping a political compromise to ‘agree to disagree’ (or whatever) can be forged well in advance of the official campaign period. Given the propensity of the MSM to misinform – or turn issues relating to the left of centre parties on their heads – it would seem to be a sensible move.

  8. Corokia 9

    I was really pissed off with Cunliffe when I heard this yesterday. Right I thought, voters who actually give a shit about about climate change must vote Green and I’m even more motivated to get out there and campaign for that. Yep Bill, I think I get it.

  9. Murray Olsen 10

    Wow, Bill, your post makes me look at Rogernomics in a whole new light as well. Sir Roger obviously knew that if Labour moved to the far right, a people’s movement would form to take control of the economy for the common good. In fact, Labour probably shouldn’t bother legislating for anything, or even standing for parliament, because any gains will be overturned by NAct. It should all be left to this wider people’s movement to make real democratic gains.

    Or maybe, just maybe, Cunliffe is just a neoliberal who’s learned how to say “Kia ora bro” while he stands on top of a bus. I had hoped for better, but I’m not seeing it.

    • Bill 10.1

      A few years ago I heard an interview with a retiring unionist on radio NZ. (Maybe the Seafarers?) Anyway, he made the valid point in my opinion, that the extension of holiday leave, although welcome, was a flawed or hollow piece of legislation. And it was flawed or hollow because the benefactors (us) had been reduced to passive objects by unions and government operating a series of deals behind closed doors. And he argued that when the inevitable roll back came it would be easier done because we had not invested any of our own time and energy to get the change. Meaning, we’d have little in the way of personal investment to tap into and gather strength from when it came around to protecting those gains.

      By the stroke of a pen and nary a murmer…as (sadly) tends to happen in NZ.

      • Murray Olsen 10.1.1

        Bill, you are taking two extremes in your argument. One is the social democratic dream, where an elected government does everything for us, while we happily wait for socialism to be legislated in. The other is where everything worthwhile happens outside parliament, through organised struggle. In the society we have, both of these are important and need to be combined. While we cannot rely on Labour, Greens, or even Mana unless the pressure is constant, I would ask what has happened to the Seamen’s Union? How much of a fight did they put up against Rogernomics?

        We need both. “Left” politicians need to be forced, grudgingly, to legislate in the interests of the mass of the people. They need to be held to account, but while they are there on the green leather, they should at least earn their pay. Hone Harawira seems to have no problem legislating as well as standing with the Glen Innes tenants. Why didn’t he say “It’s no use me helping you by proposing more state houses. You have to build them yourselves.” Why are Labour members like that nothing but a distant memory?

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