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No debate for Hampden

Written By: - Date published: 9:35 am, August 5th, 2011 - 42 comments
Categories: accountability, democratic participation, election 2011, privatisation - Tags:

National pollster David Farrar wants scientists to debate a fake Lord climate change denier saying “Why should anyone listen to people unwilling to debate?”. Well, David, next time you’re giving your polling report to the Kitchen Cabinet, tell them that. Because National is refusing to participate in coming debate on their asset sales policy.

I mean, it’s one thing to not want to debate some crazy guy on his crazy ideas, it’s another altogether to be too scared to front up to a debate on an issue that is central to your economic policy. But that’s exactly what National is doing:

Time is running out for a team from the National Party to front up to a debate in Hampden in September to argue in favour of asset sales.

Hampden Community Energy, which organises the popular annual debate, has been trying since early this year to get the Government to enter a team, even writing in May to Prime Minister John Key, who declined the invitation and suggested an approach to individual MPs.

Debate organiser Dugald MacTavish yesterday said Hampden Community Energy took that advice and sent individual invitations to the 40 National MPs most likely to accept, asking for a response by the end of this month.

As of late this week, about half had declined, most of the others sending acknowledgments of receipt of the invitation.

“So, right now, things don’t look promising for a team of National MPs,” he said.

Hampden already had its team organised – Peter Hodgson (Labour Party), Chris Trotter (political commentator) and Kennedy Graham (Green Party) – to debate the affirmative of: “The sale of all, or significant proportions of, New Zealand state assets will create more problems than it solves.”

But if there is no National Party team, the organisers will have to make up a composite team of other political parties, organisations or individuals to debate the negative on September 17.

Hampden Community Energy faced a similar problem with its debate last year, with both Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean and Mr Key unable to field a team.

However, this year it hoped for a positive response because the Government intends to make asset sales an issue at this year’s general election.

Organising a composite team would not achieve what Mr MacTavish thought was important – “a probing exchange” with the proponents of asset sales.

“It is the National Party which will interpret a successful election result as a mandate to proceed with asset sales when, in fact, the issue could be obscured by other issues,” he said.

State-owned assets were “a commonwealth” inheritance that some people felt should be passed intact to future generations.

“To many of us, the wisdom of putting at risk ownership and control of our energy supply, the foundation of our national economy, seems highly dubious. We would love to hear more about the risks and opportunities,” Mr MacTavish said.

National’s unwillingness to front on Hampden tells us they are going to run a ‘small target’ campaign again, keeping everyone’s head down and exposure minimal – apart from their one asset, of course. It’s not a strategy you run when you are proud of your policies and think the public will embrace them. It’s the strategy you run when you want the public to be as unaware of your plans for government as possible.

42 comments on “No debate for Hampden ”

  1. I have located the perfect team to argue in favour of asset sales …

    • Jum 1.1


      Tsk, tsk, and here’s me thinking you meant the Roger Douglas from the 80s, the Roger Douglas from the Act Party and the Roger Douglas running the National’s thieving asset sale policy. Mind you, his ideas are as hairy.

  2. Does David Farrar also want scientists to debate the rather radical proposition that the Earth is a globe, and not flat, as common sense dictates?

    • grumpy 2.1

      Good call, that the earth was flat was also scientific consensus a few hundred years ago. Just as well that some sceptics turned up – eh?

      • Zorr 2.1.1

        uh… being able to amend incorrect hypotheses is key in what makes science so important… in my time around the “skeptics” community I have found more that tend to belief rather than reason.

      • rd 2.1.2

        Grumpy, do you understand what science is?
        Science has no problems with sceptics, in fact much of science development comes from scientists who don’t accept the current view BUT then get support for their theories (or not) by experimentation, publishing via peer review.
        I suspect there was little debate about the earth after Magellan sailed around the world.
        As far a common sense goes, have you ever watched a ship sail out across the horizon?

        • grumpy

          Grumpy does understand what science is. Grumpy also understands that robust science is not afraid of – and indeed welcomes debate to “test” the current position.

          Grumpy also feels uncomfortable when science claims a “consensus” as opposed to a provable indisputable position. Wishy washy things like “consensus” has no place in science – the very word implies uncertainty.

          • MrSmith

            Grumpy, sorry to be the one to break this to you, but science will never provide an indisputable position, there is no such thing, a consensus is as near as you will get to a scientific agreement. So you like many others are arguing about the color of black. 
            Grumpy calling things wishy/washy proves nothing.

        • Olwyn

          Eratosthenes calculated the circumference of the world within about 2% accuracy in 240BC.


      • Andrei 2.1.3

        Love that flat earth analogy but it only reveals a lack of education amongst those who make it.

        The knowledge that the Earth is in fact spherical was was well known to the ancients and the diameter of the spherical Earth was as it happens measured, to a remarkable degree of accuracy by Eratosthenes around about 100BC.

        • Lanthanide

          Yeah, I get so fed up with this stupid meme repeated by the ignorant.

          Now the average peasant farmer in the 1600’s may not have known that the world was in fact a globe (or may have denied it, much as ignorant peasants currently deny climate change), but the upper classes and scientists did, and had known for a long time.

          • Colonial Viper

            What do the upper classes know today that every body else does not.

            • Draco T Bastard

              Nothing. In fact, they probably know less which is why they have to hold on to the delusion and try and persuade people that they’re “special”.

          • Andrei

            Of course in the 1600s the upper classes and scientists also believed in astrology – in much the same way as some believe in the AGW theory today.

            Nobody denies Climate Change BTW – it is a given an unavoidable feature of life on this planet with its dynamics and chaotic weather systems

            • Colonial Viper

              Andrei continues to be full of shit. Pushing dope given to him by his corporate, capitalist, consumerist dealers.

          • Vicky32

            Now the average peasant farmer in the 1600′s may not have known that the world was in fact a globe (or may have denied it, much as ignorant peasants currently deny climate change), but the upper classes and scientists did, and had known for a long time.

            Well, my ancestors (unlike yours probably) were those very ignorant peasants of the 1600s (plurals don’t take apostrophes, not even in the USA) and they knew the earth was a globe!
            In fact, the ignorant peasants on the other side of the family were sailors, who most definitely knew better … so please, don’t be such a ponce! To quote Felix yesterday, “K, thx, bai”… 🙂

        • Olwyn


      • Blighty 2.1.4

        quite apart from the fact that it has no bearing on the science of climate change, the fact that the earth is a globe has been known to science since the ancient greeks. They even got the size of the earth right to within a few percent. Who do you think came up with the term antipodes?

        and it was known to anyone trying to travel by boat over any distance, say across the Med, well before then because you won’t reach your destination if you don’t realise you’re traveling on a curved surface.

        All you have to do it watch a ship disappear below the horizon at it sails away, or walk away from a mountain range, to realise the earth is at least curved.

      • “Good call, that the earth was flat was also scientific consensus a few hundred years ago. Just as well that some sceptics turned up – eh?”

        And that concensus was overturned by new scientific observations, which created a new concensus.

        Not because a few nutters postulated some weird conspiracy theory.

        A little while ago, I challenged a climate change denier/sceptic to provide some measure of data to back up his position that AGW was incorrect. He reposted that,

        “No one can win any science debate without proof, but like I said, this debate is not about science, it is political.[My emphasis] The very existence of AGW is based on a consensus. That’s not science… “

        And that about sums it up.

        The reason there is no “concensus” between science that maintains AGW and sceptics is that they are talking past each other; for science, it is about observation and hard data. For Sceptics, it is about politics.

        Not exactly a sound way to assess the bona fides of a hypothesis, is it?

        • queenstfarmer

          For Sceptics, it is about politics

          For some absolutely, but no less than for those on the other side. There are nuts on both sides – from the extremist deniers like Monkton on one side, to extremist alarmists like Al Gore & Greenpeace on the other. Both as political and ideological as you can possibly get, and not too worried about bending things to get “the right response”.

          Monckton’s just looking for a stage, to be a provocateur like Gore. Not choosing to enter into debate with such people is not any sign of admission or weakness, just not wanting to give them the spotlight.

          • Colonial Viper

            Not about politics, about corporate profits.

            Its the end of consumerism, both in terms of financial debt, income inequality and physical limits of the earth.

            But those who want the status quo consumerism to continue are trying to keep it alive for another couple of years, even if that makes the crash at the end is all the more horrific.

            • grumpy

              CV – “Not about politics, about corporate profits.”

              Whenever it’s about taxation it’s about politics…….

              • AAMC

                Skepticism is one thing, denial
                is another. The denial is peddled by corporates, look at the Koch bros to start and Alan Gibbs.

                Taxation may be political, and may be the wrong response. That’s a discussion we can have.

                But that doesn’t change whether ir not it’s happening. My suggestion, apply the precautionary principle. Would you really want to sit on the side of the fence that did nothing about such a serious issue because you believed in a conspiracy theory dreamed up by oil magnates. better to act and find it wasn’t quite as bad as hoped don’t you think?

                Isn’t the whole attempted response, cap n trade, ETS etc not an attempt to make it palatable to business anyway? ‘If we can create a “market” around it, people might get on board.’

                • Vicky32

                  Galileo is reputed to have said “Eppur, si muove” (he actually didn’t, that’s another urban legend, like the iggerant peasants who believed in a flat earth), but I am with, not what Galileo said, but what he is claimed to have said.

                  “But that doesn’t change whether ir not it’s happening.”

                  Er, no, I don’t believe it is. I have no axe to grind, to use a cliche. I can’t drive, and have neither interest nor desire to use oil, I think industralisation probably needs curbing, etc., and while I know that many people here are going to start lighting the pitch torches and readying the “RWNJ” scream, they should put it away now. What bothers me most about climate change alarmists, are their most oft-suggested solutions. These are in order of frequency,  nuclear power and stopping the third world from reproducing. The latter, as my son says, sounds like simple racism.

                  • AAMC

                    Whatever you think of the proposed solutions, still doesn’t mean it’s not happening.

                    I’m not proclaiming it is, I can’t say that 100%, but if it is, disagreeing with what is being suggested as a solution doesn’t change it.

                    Again, wouldn’t precaution be sensible.

          • MrSmith

            You said : 
            “but no less than for those on the other side”
            You are trying to balance the argument, even though there is no scientific balance to be found in this debate. 
            Then you say :
            “from the extremist deniers like Monkton on one side, to extremist alarmists like Al Gore & Greenpeace on the other”
            Just because you say they are extremists Queen,st doesn’t mean they are extremists, sorry, and where is the balance; one man (mockton), against one man (Al Gore), plus an organization (Greenpeace) with around 3 million members, that’s not balance.
            Then you carry on with the extremist analogy:
            “Both as political and ideological as you can possibly get” 
            Here you are trying to paint them as extremists again. These people and groups are responsible and law abiding, yes they chose to politicizes their arguments, but trying to paint them as extremists is false.

            • Vicky32

              (Al Gore), plus an organization (Greenpeace) with around 3 million members, that’s not balance.

              Al Gore’s ghastly film may have won a shedload of awards, but it’s not allowed to be shown in British schools, because of a mountain of inaccuracies.
              My son was induced by a charming woman  on the streets of Welly, to sign up a Greenpeace supporter, and not six months later, they were telemarketing him to death (he was visiting me here) and being hammered about climate change. The pertsistent man  actually made a sceptic out of him! That much hectoring is so counter productive, as is the angry superior tone, unwise indeed when asking for money..

              • KJT

                Funny that the much more inaccurate, and scientifically illiterate, Lord Moncton is given any space.

                The general idea of Gores film is correct and based on sound science. Despite some inaccuracies.

                AGW can be observed happening all around you on so many ways, just as can evolution and the fact the earth is round.
                Which was known to ancient civilizations many centuries before Galileo. Who was punished not for saying the earth was round, but for saying that the earth was not the centre of the solar system. This was considered contrary to scripture.

                • Vicky32

                  The general idea of Gores film is correct and based on sound science. Despite some inaccuracies.

                  Some inaccuracies? It was almost nothing but inaccurate!

                  AGW can be observed happening all around you on so many ways

                  No, it really can’t … If it could, there’d be no argument. 

                  Which was known to ancient civilizations many centuries before Galileo. Who was punished not for saying the earth was round, but for saying that the earth was not the centre of the solar system. This was considered contrary to scripture.

                  It’s not actually contrary to Scripture, and I know what he was punished for (legend says he muttered “eppur si muove” which means “nevertheless it does move”, but he wasn’t punished for that – that was simply the excuse. (The real reason was political) Sorry, that’s just me being a pedant again.

                  • lprent

                    Some inaccuracies? It was almost nothing but inaccurate!

                    bullshit: It was done by a filmmaker and a politician in a format (documentary film) that does not lend itself to being able to go into anything in depth.

                    But given that, then you’re incorrect. For the mid-2000’s (I think it was filmed in 2005 and released 2006), it was quite accurate from what I know of the field. I think that was the opinion of damn near everyone in earth sciences who saw it apart from a few skeptics – umm http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/An_Inconvenient_Truth#Scientific_basis. It glossed over a hell of a lot of the science, but that is the format of a documentary, and it wasn’t ‘inaccurate’ within that framework.

                    Of course there have been a lot of attacks on the stuff in the documentary. But most of them tend to reflect more on the critics ability to observe than anything else. For instance when he was talking about the greenland icecap and WAIS, he did not say (as has been claimed by the simple minded) when they’d melt (I think that they were getting confused with the northern sea ice). What he talked about was the consequences if those massive ice stores did melt. In other words, as a politician he was looking at the downside risk levels.

                    Quite simply it is hard to see how the science known at the time could have been presented in any better fashion given that it was being done in a 80 minute video format. That is 80 minutes to talk over a large facet of an entire area of science.

                    Incidentally I see you were talking about previous climate variations during human history. But recorded human history is less than 10,000 years old. Perhaps you should look at paleoclimatology over a wider timescale than human history? The last 10k years have been the most stable that we have on record in at least the last half million years or so.

                    The range of climate shifts that are very likely to have been triggered already are going to be far more extreme than any previous climate shifts that have happened in the entire human history. They are also going to carry on for literally thousands of years because of the residence time in atmosphere and oceans of CO2.

              • MrSmith

                Vicky32. You are cherry picking and misrepresenting what I said, so behaving like the very people you appear to be defending.
                This is what I said: 
                “Just because you say they are extremists Queen,st doesn’t mean they are extremists, sorry, and where is the balance; one man (mockton), against one man (Al Gore), plus an organization (Greenpeace) with around 3 million members, that’s not balance.”
                Maybe you only read what you wanted to into my comments Vicky32, happens a lot in this debate. 
                There are None So Blind As Those Who Refuse To See. 

          • mik e

            LoOney lord ton of mocking.Shows how low the right will sink to try and push a view That has no scientific backing . Just like their Chicago school rubbish destructive to the large majority of humans!

      • Vicky32 2.1.6

        Good call, that the earth was flat was also scientific consensus a few hundred years ago

        Ah. The pedant in me feels she has to point out that you’re wrong about that – it never was! Both ‘common sense’ and scientific consensus knew the earth wasn’t flat…

  3. D13 3

    But where does corporate end and politics start?

  4. The ‘refusal to front at Hampden’ issue is indicative of National’s strategy to fence-off all but the Key/Goff battle, and in the meantime inflict as much damage to Goff as possible, no matter what the reality.
    I’ve posted on that this morning, for anyone who cares to visit and on the Hampden challenge a few weeks back, again, for anyone interested.

  5. Aron Watson 5

    Perhaps Keys should have taken the 20 minute drive from Oamaru to Hampden yesterday when he was in town visiting local high-schools. Or was it those pesky Labour supporters holding up ‘no asset sales’ signs, and booing outside Waitaki Girls High that held him up.

    • Blue 5.1

      I’m sure he wasn’t bothered Aron, he was, after all in National country.

      • Colonial Viper 5.1.1

        National country? What a laugh. Waitaki was very recently Labour and it will be again.

  6. justme 6

    Isn’t it illustrative that someone’s stance on the AGW ‘argument’ is almost entirely able to be predicted by their political bent left or right – shouldn’t such ‘debate’ be a technical issue, unaffected by politics?

    Right wing people and politicians, almost to a tee in my experience, are all in favour of ‘teaching the controversy’ so to speak, or legitimizing the views of people like Monckton, who in real terms has about the same scientific credibility as a creationist. So why the warm reception from the right?

    It is the most classic case of political ideology destroying people’s capacity for reason.

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