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Stateside: 11 September 1: 27 July Nil

Stateside with Rosalea Barker

11 September 1: 27 July Nil

I cried when I watched Laila Harre's concession speech, and I'm not entirely sure why. I guess it's because she's one of the people I would have given an all-round Minnie Award to for her integrity, her hard work, her quick grasp of the business of legislating, and her potential, based on what I saw of her in action between 1996-99.

Since I moved to the United States at the end of 1999, I haven't really followed Kiwi politics in any detail, so I'll take it on faith that the comment on TV3's website that the cause of the Alliance meltdown was Jim Anderton's insistence they support the Labour government on sending troops to Afghanistan. I guess he got spooked by being the person who was at the helm on September 11 - a chance occurrence he apparently thinks is good reason for him to continue as Deputy PM, despite being one of only two Progressive Coalition MPs.

California is currently 19 hours behind NZDT, so your election coverage began at midnight Friday night here. The last time I remember watching election results live was back in the 70s and I wasn't about to stay up all night watching streaming video not so much stream as ooze through my skinny modem, so I waited till the next morning. When I awoke the Cartoon Fairy had left a drawing on my pillow - it showed a truck dumping a nine-lumped worm cast on the steps of Parliament.

On the New Zealand Herald election page a graphic of the seats in the debating chamber clearly showed who they had expected to win at the time they started making it - all the blues and their likely cohorts were on the right of Mr Speaker, despite the fact that NANZFUF didn't even make it to the halfway mark. I'm not sure who had written the "parties" pages for TVOne's Nzoom online, but the number of list members they chose to show was also instructive: Labour, National, the Greens, ACT, and the Progressive Coalition had 20 names posted; the Alliance had 10; New Zealand First, 5; and there were none at all for United Future.

My favourite posting is Nzoom's clip of Mike Hosking talking to Peter Dunne on election night, where Dunne says it seems a government can't be formed without United Future being part of it. "C'mon Peter, help us out, the nation wants to know..." purrs Hosking at one point in that way he has of charming the most ill-considered remarks out of politicians, who nonetheless think they're outwitting the interviewer. In response to Hosking's comment that Dunne's voting record shows he's more centre right than centre left, Mr Integrity replies: "I think that voting record, frankly, will become irrelevant."

Well, yes, I guess it will, now that Helen Clark has the purple rook square on to the Green pawn, and expedience is the order of the day. Clark is playing an abysmally stupid game, and completely unnecessarily. The Greens won't mitigate their party's stance over GE - they're not the sort to say their voting record is irrelevant. But they are a party for the people, and as such they should be willing to accept the outcome of a national referendum on the issue, held before the moratorium is due to be lifted.

If the nation says that the moratorium should be lifted, then the Greens should not withdraw support for money bills - and can still claim the high moral ground of voting in accordance with the people's wishes; if the nation says the moratorium should NOT be lifted, then Labour shouldn't lift it. How hard is that?

I'm sure the people of New Zealand would rather have a referendum than suffer yet another drawn-out poli-soap opera about who gets to sit in which seat.
Lea Barker
Sunday, 28 July 2002

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