Sunday, October 30, 2011

Elections - 2011 Fit the First.

I have a real problem at the moment.

Do I vote for the Jonkey, the Nats?

Or do I vote for the Gofer, the Labourlites?

Of the minor parties; ACT has self-obessessd on the occupiers; Winnie the Pooh has ressurrected for the third time; the Greens have taken a jump to the left; Maori will lose their Mana with the departure of Pita and Tariana; Tamahere is making a joke of the idea of mana; the rest are just lost in the wilderness.

The problem is this.

The Nats have not done anything that drastically changes the economy, personal rights or the general state of society. In other words, they have not done much atall at all. That is something that they want to change. After spending three years borrowing in excess (well in excess) of requirements for reasons that were hazy at the time and incomprehensible now they are now suggesting the sale of assets such as power supply utilities so that the proceeds are available for a National Infrastructure Fund.

I guess that makes as much sense as a long-haul carrier selling half his truck so that he can buy a car for the wife.

Labour has just one problem. The Gofer. He sounds too much like an earnest scout master trying his hardest to sell raffle tickets in the local pub. They have a new team. The old guard left with absolutely no regard for succession, or for the continuity of ideas. Bring Back John A!!! The ideas that have come forward thus far have merit. Well, there is only one that has not originated in the powerhouse of the FOL. The Gofer is right about one thing; the minimum age for national superannuation MUST increase to 67, and I would bring the idea forward by about ten years for what he is promoting. Give him credit for what is, so far, the most realistic policy plank put to the electorate.

The rest can be discounted. Totally. I can't even raise the energy to consider Maori for a protest vote. I know the Tai Tokerau Labour candidate and he is not a bad chook. The Nat candidate similarly, with the proviso that he has to support the sale of state revenue earning assets.

Indications at the moment are that public support is on the side of retaining MMP. This is a good thing. I am not going to lose sleep (yet) on that quarter.

Next weekend is for friends; the Monkfish and co have opened their door. Good food, good wine, good company; three that just can not be beat.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A sense of Justice...

...probably not intended for a moment, but I get a strong sense of appropriate justice from the exchange of 1 Israeli held by the Palestinians for the return of roughly 1000 Palestinians held in Israeli jails.

It is not just a passing, fleeting idea. It grows with thought and further threads attach.

Consider, and this is where I started, that the ratio is very roughly reflective of the number of Palestinians killed for each Israeli killed over the past 50 years.

Consider, and this was the second thread, the length of time the Palestinians have been in prison. Consider the opportunity that length of time that the Israelis have had to pursuade, condition, convince (thesaurus alternatives to "brainwash") the prisoners of the benefits of being part of Israeli society.

Consider also that if Israeli justice was right; that these prisoners are the murderers and terrorists that they claim then Palestine is deserving of having them back. I acknowledge that, as the Germans found out in France and other parts of Europe, the murderer and terrorist to an occupying force can be a hero to the oppressed.

As I said, there is a sense of appropriate justice.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Fare thee well, Simon...

At the age of 64 I am beginning to learn how to recognise those who are true politicians, and that vast majority who have not grown out of their kindergarten sandpits. Associated with those latter are the political groupies.

Let me illustrate.

Cactus Kate’s most recent item sings the praises of Tau Henare who in the past few days gave “…an hilarious speech in the general debate where after giving Stuart Nash a tickle up he manages to lampoon Charles Chauvel and his car…”

That has been the norm in our Parliament for as long as I can remember; even to the old man getting heated about Holyoake (the original “Sir Toothpaste”) burbling and pontificating at the perceived inadequacies of Her Majesty's Opposition. Both sides do it. These days all sides do it.

I heard – through the auspices of National Radio – about Simon Power’s valedictory. I have have a regard for him for some years now, in his occupation of both sides of the House. It is perhaps a reflection of his respect for government and the process that he is one fairly conservative MP that the political groupies like CK and the blubberman like to beat up on from time to time.

I want to quote direct from his valedictory

When I first came to this House, I was encouraged to be partisan, an aggressive contributor to the debate, and told that the most important thing in Opposition was to hold the Government to account. That was a view I passed on to others who came after me, and it remains, on one level, fundamentally correct.

Politicians must have a plan. A plan that is in place early, and one they are prepared to lead.

I believe that politics is 90% preparation and 10% execution. At a day-to-day level, politics, particularly at a ministerial level, can quickly deteriorate to the daily management of tasks - dealing with papers, the media, OIA requests, Question Time, Written Questions, expectations from colleagues and your Party; tasks that become all consuming, and tasks that in the end do not improve the lives of New Zealanders at all.

A formative experience in my last year in Opposition triggered a fundamental shift in the way I viewed politics.
As Chair of the Privileges Committee in the last term of Parliament, I had to chair the inquiry into the matter of certain donations to the New Zealand First Party. My view of politics, and how best to participate in it, was altered from that point on. This was a highly partisan issue in front of a parliamentary committee which had a history of being above politics.

I realised then that working with other political parties to reach consensus, where possible, was a legitimate way to advance legislation and to progress an agenda. Not everyone agrees with me on this approach, but I know I'm right.
My experience has been that expanding the decision-making mandate, without sacrificing the kernel of the idea, has improved the quality of the legislative product immeasurably. That means not being afraid to back down, not being afraid to reconsider a position after listening to an alternative view, and, in at least one case, not being afraid to amend a bill on the floor of the House in response to a high-quality debate.

So much of Parliament's time is spent attacking each other, trying to out-manoeuvre each other, and just plain loathing each other. It's an incredible waste of energy and time.

And so, as the current Parliament scraps its way out the doors to the lobbies (so that they can enjoy what is left of the RWC) we have the spectacular of legislation affecting the rights – fundamental rights – of every NZer being shovelled through the House under urgency. The attempts to legalise and authorise police actions that were not necessarily illegal but which ran well outside the running rails of acceptability were just rank. There was no thought given. There was no principle applied. The whole process was wrapped into the web of obfuscation that characterises the jonkey’s idea of politics and more particularly of government.

I have no doubt that Simon Power was absolutely instrumental in implementing the changes that emerged from the Select Committee. Those changes gave at least a nod to the niceties of statute law and proper legislative process.

Simon, you get thanks from me.

And I want to repeat one part of his valedictory for emphasis.
My experience has been that expanding the decision-making mandate, without sacrificing the kernel of the idea, has improved the quality of the legislative product immeasurably. That means not being afraid to back down, not being afraid to reconsider a position after listening to an alternative view, and, in at least one case, not being afraid to amend a bill on the floor of the House in response to a high-quality debate.

That is the fundamental behind the original pressure for the change to MMP. It is the fundamental behind the reason for retaining MMP. It is also the reason why those who oppose MMP want it changed.

When it comes to the vote in November, every elector should remember the Police Surveillance Powers legislation and how it could have happened under a different system of representation.