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Robson On Politics - 30th October 2007

Robson On Politics - ENEWS
30th October 2007

Water, climate change emerging as campaign issues: From our Oz correspondent

During the week that the United Nations released its Global Environment Outlook Geo-4, in New York, revealing a scale of unprecedented ecological damage, with a prediction of 2 billion people likely to suffer absolute water scarcity by 2025, the ruling Australian Liberal-National coalition is debating its response to climate change challenges in public.

Leaks this weekend reveal that Environment Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, had tried in vain to convince the Coalition Government to sign the Kyoto Protocol at the beginning of the year. PM Howard, sounding inadequate and out of touch with the message behind the UN report and its dire warning that “climate change, the collapse of fish stocks and the extinction of species, may threaten humanity’s very survival”, is out campaigning that Kyoto is too costly for the Australian economy.

Australians across the board, including those at the coal face – or dust bowl - of the farming districts, might beg to differ after seven years of drought and more years predicted. Scientist, writer and Australian of the Year, Tim Flannery has given people a reality check with his statement that the lack of water here is no longer just a passing drought, it is now ‘the weather’.

Labor launched an A$1 billion policy for water on the weekend as a part of its election campaign, which is designed to help secure urban water supplies. Its promise to create a water fund would be the largest ever investment in water infrastructure. The detail of the plan is for 10% water tax credits and grants for major desalination and water recycling projects with two Centres of Excellence; one would be for desalination in Perth and one for water recycling in Brisbane. This plan will certainly have a greater chance of success, if the Kevin Rudd’s opposition Labor Party wins the election, because of compatible Federal–State relationships – all of Australia's States have Labor governments!

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Emissions Trading Scheme is cornerstone of NZ efforts to cut emissions
Because we have a Labour-Progressive government in New Zealand, and not a National-ACT one, our country is going to be a model for the next Australian Labor Government, which will probably be elected next month, as it moves to sign Australia up to the U.N.-based Kyoto Protcolol on Global Climate Change and as it belatedly withdraws those soldiers that it illegally sent into Iraq in 2003.

The Emissions Trading Scheme is the cornerstone of New Zealand’s efforts to reduce total greenhouse gas emissions. But, on its own, it won’t do enough to reduce agricultural emissions significantly, nor will it address how the land management sectors adapt to climate change.

What the new Australian Labor Party will find interesting is how the Labour-Progressive government in New Zealand is committed to working through these issues in partnership with the industry and how it is investing heavily on a plan of action on land management and climate change.

National says if it wins, it will behave not like a leader but more like "a follower"
I have been reading the words of National's spokesmen (they are almost all men) very carefully over climate change issues this past week.

National says that if it leads a government, "it will not aspire to lead the world" on climate change issues but would rather be a "follower". National's great leaders aspire to be followers, perhaps even "fast followers" of the governments of China, India, and the United States etc.

Try telling that to the European and Japanese consumers of New Zealand-made food and drink that would use any excuse at all to impose further unfair trade barriers on our primary exports.

National's position is so utterly divorced from the demands and expectations of the richest consumers in the world that it almost unbelievably stupid - like so dumb it almost takes your breath away. That is until you remember that it is coming out of the National Party - a party full of useless time-servers that do nothing but oppose progressive ideas when they are in Opposition and then do almost nothing at all when they do get into government, other than of course to put out the begging bowl in Asia and Europe to borrow lots of money to fund tax cuts for the already well-off.

National committed to asset sales
The National Party, other than standing for no leadership on climate change on principle and for pushing the Crown into higher debt to foreign lenders, is also committed of course to asset sales - selling the family silver of State Owned Enterprises that are currently owned by all New Zealanders to the highest bidder.

The National Party's ongoing commitment to asset sales, together with its mates ACT and UnitedFuture, is one very strong reason that explains why members of the Progressive Party are so committed to helping the Labour-Progressive government win an historic 4th Term in next year's election.

Would the Maori electorates survive a National-NZ First government?
The NZ First Party claims to be against asset sales, which is all fine and dandy, but those of us with a memory remember Mr Peters' actual record when he was Treasurer in the National-NZ First government (1996-1998).

And some of the comments made by the NZ First Party in recent days does make you wonder how long the seven Maori electorates would survive the election of a National-NZ First government.

No country has perfect race relations, but New Zealand has a lot to be proud of. One issue which would utterly ruin good relations would be the implementation of the policy that National took into the 2002 General Election (Remember its then leader, Mr One Standard Of Law - Bill English?).

Personally, I do not trust NZ First or National to not try and abolish the Maori electorates regardless of the wishes of a majority of electors in those electorates if those two parties between them ever manage to form a government again. It is the kind of divisive social policy that would excite the media and divert the media's attention from the real agenda of any National-led government (e.g. big overseas borrowings, cuts to essential social services, strategic asset sales).

When is National going to reshuffle its tired 1990s' team?
Talking of media reports, there have been a number about the very long list of outstanding Labour M.P.s that have the skills, talent and drive to be promoted as Labour considers a reshuffle within its ranks.

But that does beg the obvious question.
Just look at National's leadership team: Hon. Tony Ryall, Hon. Maurice Williamson, Hon. Bill English, Hon. David Carter, Hon. Lockwood Smith, Hon. Murray McCully, Hon. Nick Smith.
These are very same chaps that populated the miserably useless National-United-NZ First governments of last last Century (1990-1999). Does National not have any up'n coming people, like, you know, fresh faces?


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