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"Donald Principle" Legacy Of The Green Party

8 August 2002

"Donald Principle" Legacy Of The Green Party

Comment from Bluegreens website www.bluegreens.org.nz

It's many years now since Laurence Peter gave the commercial world his well-known "Peter Principle" which states: people tend to be promoted up to their level of incompetence.

This week, New Zealand, through Green Party co-leader Rod Donald, has given the world of politics the "Donald Principle" which states: political parties tend to rise to their level of irrelevance. In spitting its genetically modified dummy at the Labour Party, the Green Party has condemned itself to the irrelevance its backward, backwoods, Luddite policies deserve.

As the Greens slide back into the pan from which they have flashed ever so briefly, New Zealanders can begin to concentrate their attentions on the more important task of comparing the environmental and heritage policies of the two major players on the political landscape: Labour and National.

The Greens were always no more than touch judges; the real power of decision lies with the referee in the middle, currently the Labour Party. And, like the rugby analogy, it's the differences in interpretation which count. Labour's record in its first term seems to have been based on whatever touchie-feelie moves would appeal to the electorate, with the notable exception being its stance on the GM moratorium.

But it was poll-driven reading of public opinion, plus a need to appease the Greens for a majority in Parliament, which caused Labour to make the rumpled bed in which it was forced to lie in the recent election campaign. There would have been no moratorium to become the issue it did, if Labour had said clearly to the Greens:

"There, you've had the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification you asked us for; now live with its recommendations." But no, a moratorium was seen as a device to take D-Day well past Election 2002.This proved to be a tactical blunder by Labour because it gave the Greens the only issue on which it was able, for a time, to gain traction.

Labour, and its erstwhile Alliance coalition partner's actions in suspending the sustainable management of West Coast native forests (and, indeed, in abrogating its own 1986 West Coast Accord) strengthen the view that Labour's approach is not: what is right for the environment long-term?; but what can we sell short-term to a hoodwinked urban public?

National, on the other hand, has a record introducing rules for resource management (rules which that party is now the first to concede as being in dire need of amendment) creating marine reserves and of recognising the inevitable link between the environment and the economy. In its next term, National pledges to create an eco-restoration and sustainability fund through which, as the Government, it can become a partner with private owners in reversing environmental degradation; as well as addressing key issues of waste avoidance and disposal, and the quality of our water.

As is demonstrated by the report released this week by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Morgan Williams, in advance of the second Earth Summit to be begin in Johannesburg later this month, a majority of New Zealanders have yet to come to grips what is involved in the sustainable development of our unique New Zealand environment, and the part we must play in saving planet Earth.

Thanks to the emergence of the "Donald Principle", we can now recognise the Greens as irrelevant, leave them and their wacky ideas on the sideline, and look more closely at what the two main teams in the field, Labour and National have to offer.


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