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National Party again shies away from growth debate

National Party again shies away from growth debate

Hampden, North Otago, is still to hold its union debate on February 19 2011 on the sustainability of economic growth but it will not be with MPs from the National Party.

Organising group Hampden Community Energy first debated this subject in 2009, and for next year's event it again approached Prime Minister John Key to ask him to form a team to defend economic growth as a core Government policy.

That task was handed by Mr Key to local MP Jacqui Dean, but she has just withdrawn the team of herself, Invercargill MP Eric Roy and Selwyn MP Amy Adams because she felt organisers were suggesting her team would not meet the standard of the Hampden team and it was “not wanted”.

Hampden has arranged a "triumvirate of professors" for the debate - Australian adjunct Prof Richard Denniss, University of Canterbury Associate Prof Susan Krumdieck and University of Otago Associate Prof Bob Lloyd - and was hoping for a similar high-powered team from the Government.

After Mrs Dean withdrew, organisers last week wrote again to Mr Key asking him to organise a team because the debate had "been thrown into disarray" by their late withdrawal. Mr Key again declined, referring back to Ms Dean for any future such events.

Hampden Community Energy chairman Dugald MacTavish said they believed there was mounting unease about the idea that we can grow forever when it is quite obvious that resources like oil and water are limited. As economic growth is a central tenet of Government policy, this notion should be debated "with the greatest rigour at the highest level and with the best minds"

Organisers felt unfairly let down, as they had consistently requested at least one senior MP in the National Party team from the outset. This is because they have most power to review party policy. “We have been trying for 2 years now to have them stand up for this policy, and each time there’s a reason not to come – why?” he said.

The organizers are, however, delighted that Students from Waitaki Boys' and Girls' High Schools are still keen to debate the topic. Organisers are approaching other political parties to form a team as they think that the students deserve the opportunity to quiz leaders on an issue so vital to their future. “Surely that’s the least our generation can offer” Mr MacTavish said.


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