Murray McCully has just used his recently acquired ministerial discretion to allow Fiji’s under-20 soccer team to enter New Zealand in transit on its way to a tournament in Tahiti. This is broadly at odds with the Labour government’s sanctions following the coup in 2006 (though they did grant the Fiji sevens team permission to play in Wellington last year).
Over the years, New Zealand has grown in stature on the world stage, in part as a result of having taken principled (and sometimes unpopular) positions on moral issues.
Yet I had to cringe last night at the incredulity expressed by a friend in the US that we should be pushing ahead with a select committee review on whether climate change is human caused. “We’re all excited that with Obama as president we’ll finally be moving forward on the issue” he said, “where the f— are you guys going?”. Silence.
Reputation and principle aside, it’s much easier to fight from the moral high ground. Key sounded decidedly under-gunned last week in his meeting with Gordon Brown. Key was meant to be appealing the UK’s decision raise departure charges on international travelers as a measure to help offset carbon emissions – a decision likely to impact heavily on the tourism industry here.
The best he seemed to be able to do was “it’s not fair“, “it’s not rational” and “it would be of significant concern to New Zealand“. It’s hard to make an argument based on New Zealand’s (until now) progressive climate change initiatives when back at home you’ve all of a sudden got a committee questioning the reality of the problem.
And presumably as worldwide momentum builds to address the issue things are only going to get more difficult for us down here in the bottom corner of the world. We’re going to face similar problems over food miles. I just hope Key’s got his arguments sorted – and ACT back in their box – before then.