I’m updating the post with my impressions from the debate last night (replay video below).
I don’t watch a lot of political theatre and I’d forgotten how much I hate macho politics. The odd flash back to John Key punching David Cunliffe repeatedly on national TV and crowing about it was useful to see where the bottom of the barrel is and that we’re not actually there. Last night was still however a reminder that at least some of our leaders see the parry and thrust as more important than say the electorate being well informed about party policy and economics.
The key things that stood out for me,
National and Act’s response to the cost of living crisis is to cut government spending. Unfortunately for Act on the night, that would mean Queenstown losing funding for the big sporting and cultural events that are core to the area’s way of life and economy. Hugely ironic was hearing them talk about the current Labour government’s ‘overspending’ when Queenstown did very well out of government pandemic financial support. Overall, unsurprisingly, the right want business not government to lead the way.
Labour will tighten our belts for us. Nothing nearly as horrific as the ideological commitment from the right to take from most of us and give to the rich, but significant in that they are still largely trapped in the old economy and can’t see a way out. Robertson did well in terms of presenting the good things Labour has done and taking part in the on stage jousting.
James Shaw was sober compared to the rest. He seemed off his game to me, but then he’s not the Green Party finance person (Julie Anne Genter is), so perhaps he was underprepared. Nevertheless, he presented solid arguments rather than political theatre rhetoric or the badly done sophistry of Nicola Willis trying to fudge their tax policy fuck up. The Greens are of course focused on the green economy, and Shaw explains the concepts well.
I can’t also help but see the difference between Shaw and the others as him just being on a different planet, him being in planet earth, everyone else being on the planet where we actually ignore the planet and pretend that the economy is god. While Seymour, Robertson and Willis were in full orthodox performance, Shaw must have been acutely aware of the major study published the day before the debate showing that Earth is beyond six of nine planetary boundaries thanks to human action and inaction. From the Guardian coverage,
Earth’s life support systems have been so damaged that the planet is “well outside the safe operating space for humanity”, scientists have warned.
Their assessment found that six out of nine “planetary boundaries” had been broken because of human-caused pollution and destruction of the natural world. The planetary boundaries are the limits of key global systems – such as climate, water and wildlife diversity – beyond which their ability to maintain a healthy planet is in danger of failing.
Where everyone else is treating the climate and ecology crises as this discrete part of the economy, one of many things that need to be taken into account and certainly not the most important (make no mistake, both Act and National want to cut funding to New Zealand’s climate action), the Greens are saying no, our economy sits within and is utterly dependent upon the natural world, and thus we must consider the climate and ecology crises in everything we do.
The gist as I understand it,
Shaw didn’t get a lot of time to talk about that last night, but covered the basics. He also did well on a number of other topics, including pointing out that the Greens are offering better tax cuts than National.
Th ball is in our court right now. Instead of giving up, we have 4 weeks to fight with everything we have in order for the left to win this election. Willis demonstrated how badly prepared National are for running the economy but also the kinds of damage they will do even in one term. Act demonstrated the kind of hard right fuckery we can expect in any coalition deals. I don’t think it’s a done deal by any means. But I do think the rise of the Greens and taking climate seriously matters, not in spite of the cost of living crisis but because it’s yet another door opening to transition.
The Chamber of Commerce in Queenstown is hosting tonight’s debate from 7pm.
On Thursday 14 September, in partnership with ASB we’re bringing you an engaging debate between the current Finance Minister and Finance Spokespersons from the top four polling parties to help you make an informed and purposeful decision when it comes time to vote. The debate will be moderated by TVNZ’s Q&A and Saturday Mornings on Newstalk ZB host, Jack Tame.