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Eco-Economy: The Green Party Vs Michael Cullen

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Eco-Economy: The Green Party Vs Michael Cullen


By Finlay Thompson

A new line has been drawn in New Zealand politics, and it is no surprise that the issue that has brought everything bubbling up to the surface is the Labour government's Super Fund proposal.

It seems inevitable if we think back to the last election. The Labour Party attempted to keep astride two divergent trends in public opinion. Eventually the gap was going to widen until something fell in.

We hate banks!

As we begin the 21st century many people in New Zealand have become disenchanted with New Right rhetoric. The old canon of "fiscal responsibility", "free market efficiencies", "user pays", "export led growth" and the over-arching importance of "foreign investment" at the expense of all else have started to sound hollow, unappealing and even menacing.

As a result the left wing of New Zealand politics increased its over all share of the vote in the last election by responding to this sentiment.

We saw the Labour Party campaigning on a platform that promised to repeal the excesses of New Right policy. Meanwhile the Alliance Party campaigned with the positively subversive idea of a "kiwi bank".

But the Green Party was the real winner. They won, for the first time, a sizable chunk of the electorate by daring to carry high the core aspiration of most young New Zealanders: an environmentally sustainable and socially just future.

Oops, not really

However the Labour Party was also riding another hobby horse, that just happened to be riding in the opposite direction. In order to pick up the center ground, Michael Cullen carefully projected the image of an old world statesman, and he promised the prudent management of our financial system.

While new Green Party heroes marched triumphantly up Parliament’s steps, the new Finance Minister continually reassured the "financial markets" that everything is all right: "don't worry, everyone doesn’t really hate you...."

The Alliance Party suddenly became very "government like", and essentially joined forces with the Labour Party. Together they formed a almost seemless new center-left (or is it center-right) government.

The problem was that they couldn't form a government alone. As we all know, the Green Party snuck in after the recount, and bit them on the bum.

Underlying all this political back and forth is the outstanding issue of whether we, the people, continue to believe in the New Right nonsense that has become the dominant NZ political paradigm. We cannot have it both ways.

As Winston Peters (bless his soul) has pointed out recently, we are broke.

New Zealand Inc. is by any reasonable measure of the national accounts bankrupt. Despite the unpleasant but allegedly, "financially necessary", hard times of the last fifteen years, we are still broke. Actually we are now more broke than we were at the beginning!

HeIen Clark reflects the sentiments of most of us when she declared that the New Zealand Experiment was a failure. Probably even Michael Cullen agrees?

Now the Super Fund has become the turning point in this debate. Michael Cullen has finally made his stand. He has put his feet down.

And he has decided to entrust our future into the hands of those very same financial sector architects who messed up last time!

The green future belongs to us

Meanwhile Rod Donald and the Green Party have decided to disagree.

Michael Cullen feels that the electorate will agree with him, and well they might. So let’s take the issue to the election.

The irony of all this is that the real loser will be the Alliance Party.

By standing behind Michael Cullen, in dark corporate suits and all, doling out corporate welfare, and paying lip-service to the economic orthodoxy, Jim Anderton is standing directly opposite the Green Party.

Unless there is a sudden change of heart inside the Alliance, the choice at the next election will be between an Alliance Party that has caved into Treasury and Reserve Bank boffins, and a brave Green Party standing up to our the international corporate overlords.

The political high ground of economic sovereignty – and remember it was the sale of the Bank Of New Zealand that led to the creation of the Alliance in the first place – will effectively be ceded entirely to the Greens.

And so we will have a choice as a nation.

We can follow Michael Cullen who wants to entrust our future to a morally bankrupt and economically incompetent finance industry, that answers solely to foreign capital markets.

Or we can follow the Green Party, which has made a stand for those of us who want to trust in ourselves, to start to reinvest and rebuild our nation and follow the road to a sustainable and just future.

In short, a future that belongs to us, not London and New York City bankers.

Finlay Thompson
New Zealand Banking Reform.
021 1179 149

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