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Hampden Challenge Debate on Sustainable Growth

Hampden Challenge Debate on Sustainable Economic Growth

The Hampden Union Charity Debate on Saturday night posed plenty of questions and gave the full house many opportunities for laughter and much to ponder.

Hampden School pupils raised the first question with a presentation “Where have all the old skills gone?”, which explored the difference between the self-reliant village of a hundred years ago with where we source similar products today.

Te Radar knew the solution to the next problem – how to extract the succulent wads of flesh from around the gills of fish. Fleur Sullivan provided an ample and tasty meal from parts of the fish which are generally cut to waste in our conventional filleting system, and local grower Rod Philip donated asparagus for soup for the faint-hearted.

The highlight of the evening was the debate, arguing the question of whether continuous economic growth will provide a good future for our children. A celebrity team of Rod Oram (media commentator), Te Radar (“opinionist” and “wrong” writer??), and Susan Krumdieck (Associate-Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Canterbury University) took the negative, while the defenders of the economic faith were Bruce McNab (Federated Farmers), Paul Hansen (Associate Professor of Economics at Otago University) and Gerry Eckhoff (ex- ACT MP and regional councillor).

Notwithstanding the affirmative’s strong advocacy of economic growth as a means of preserving lifestyle, funding research to find solutions to our problems and jobs for our young and immigrants, the audience shared the anxieties of the negative team about how economic growth seems to have exacerbated rather than diminished our level of indebtedness (second only to Iceland in the developed world), the impact of growth on small local communities, and the fact that unrestrained growth is often at odds with husbanding of resources. Prolonged audience questions and discussion showed how much thought the debate had provoked. The negative team was eventually voted the winner by audience acclamation.

As he was leaving, one of the guests asked another question. “Why does it take a tiny little place like Hampden to seriously challenge one of the biggest political assumptions of our time?” And despite Paul Hansen’s claim he was Mr Key, and Gerry Eckhoff’s unnecessary explanation that he was not Jacqui Dean, the question that had overhung the evening remained - Why was no one from any level of the National government prepared to accept the invitation to defend the policy of undiscriminating growth it is so aggressively pursuing? Sad, because it was a special evening.

Photo Attachment: The two teams squaring off before the debate under the watchful eye of ref Mayor Alex Familton. From left to right Gerry Eckhoff, Bruce McNab, Dr Paul Hansen, Mayor Familton, Rod Oram, Te Radar, and Dr Susan Krumdieck.


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