6 Jul 2008

Policy, Protest and Polls

The recent protest demonstrations seen on New Zealand streets are instructive, not because they are being read as being visible support for the National Party and discontent with the Labour Government but because they reflect the frustrations of interest groups when faced with issues beyond their understanding and instant solution. The Trucking Industry - because it cannot or does not want to understand how the global oil prices are beyond the ability of a single country's government to control and who refuses to recognise the need for all users, especially heavy users, of our roading to pay for necessary maintenance. The Asian Vigilante group - because it expects immediate arrests and police reaction when any crime occurs and, one would argue, a acceptance that all are guilty and deserving of arrest and trial until they prove themselves innocent. ..... a legal belief imported from certain Asian countries like China and Malaysia.

The incomprehension of the issues and concerns coupled with the lack of immediate, short term solutions in the face of problems that require long term, often global, action has allowed the National Party’s Crosby-Textor manufactured silence to be interpreted as possession of policies that will solve all.

The Trucking industry, the Asian Vigilante call group and others need to realise that National under John Key has no more control over the big international global trends than the Governments of Helen Clark, Gordon Brown, George Bush or Kevin Rudd have.

For the Truckies to believe that the costs of running their trucks on New Zealand roads will be reduced because John Key stands, Canute like on the present high tide mark of oil prices and road repair costs, and declares “I believe that big tax cuts are the solution to all social and economic problems so the cost of fuel and that of repairing our roads will now fall below all current costs” is to believe that Frank Baum’s Wizard was the possessor of real magical powers.

For Mr. Low’s Asian Vigilante Group to believe that because John Key stands, Canute like on the present high tide mark of public investment in Policing and social programmes addressing issues like criminal violence, and declares “I believe that big tax cuts are the solution to all social and economic problems so once they are imposed all the social issues you are worried about will go away” is to believe that a simple spell will immediately recreate the society he imagined existed when he migrated here.

Unfortunately for both groups, the Truckies and the Asian Vigilantes, promises of tax cuts, the reduction of present working conditions and silence won’t reduce “road user charges”, fuel prices, rising food prices or improve the quality of the policing of our communities or the provision of social services designed to alleviate current social problems. They will only add to the problems and allow those that are within the control of government to become worse.

A good question that should be thrown at any aspiring Prime Minister who offers a quick fix solution to any issue would be: “ How will an incoming New Zealand Government, under your leadership,act to limit the impact of the international drive to develop and secure bio-fuels by diverting land from the production of food crops into agri-industrial production on the price of food in our shops given that the World Bank estimates this has been the prime cause factor in pushing international food prices up by 75% plus?”

Another good question might be: “ How would increased tax cuts result in better policing and the provision of a well resourced and funded police force in our communities?”

One doubts if any coherent answer would be forth coming.

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