Monday, March 7, 2011

Can Kiwis afford another imprudent National-lead government?

In the New Zealand Herald a couple of days ago, John Drinnan said:

The Government is set to abandon digital channel TVNZ 7 and the last remnants of public service television. A well-placed source said that - as expected - the Government would not be extending taxpayer funding for TVNZ 7 past June next year. Beyond that, it is expected the Government will no longer require TVNZ to deliver anything other than profits. The future of TVNZ 7 as a public service channel is dire and TVNZ is increasingly turning its attention to pay TV. TVNZ has made it clear that if taxpayer funding is not forthcoming, TVNZ 7 is toast.
(I include this excerpt because the links have a way of going dead...leaving a post like this unsubstantiated. History needs to be more robust than that.)

The big winner from the gutting of public service broadcasting will be SKY TV, reports Chris Keall in the NBR:
Beyond the anticipated demise of TVNZ7, and NZ on Air funds being made available to Sky TV programme makers, Forsyth Barr's Mr Mercer sees two other recent pieces of news as positives for the long term success of pay TV. One is that NewsCorp has got the nod to increase its bid in its effort to acquire 100% of BSkyB in the UK. The other is that, in Australia, Foxtel's owners (News and Telstra) seem in agreement to buy rural and regional pay TV provider Austar.
"Newscorp" is Rupert Murdoch. Rupert Murdoch is Fox News (and much else besides). Arguably, Rupert Murdoch has killed more people by distorting reality than any other media baron in recent times. In my opinion, the man should have been put in jail years ago for damage done to society through using his media to tell lies and half-truths for profit.  I don't knowing ly buy anything he owns a share of...and that includes SKY TV here in NZ.

Most puzzling of all is the National-lead government's open hostility to the only major media outlets in New Zealand not owned by foreign corporations: our very own TVNZ and Radio New Zealand. Clearly the National Party has no problems with Mr. Murdoch's media and the damage they have done to life and limb for far too many...and is downgrading our own media assets in favour of Mr. Murdoch's. Why?

Even worse, WE own these media as taxpayers and New Zealand citizens...and the National Party is trashing our public media assets  in favour of foreign-owned corporates. It's clear you can't trust them to look after our assets. This is not a prudent party and they are delivering deeply imprudent government - based on this one asset alone.

If you want public broadcasting in New Zealand then one obvious answer is you don’t vote for the National Party. If you think the corporate media campaign (Fairfax and APN) supporting tax cuts and the National Party from 2005 to the present was evidence of WHY we need a public broadcaster then, again, you don’t vote for the National Party.

Looking across a wider public policy front, we're being told there is a huge deficit accumulating. This deficit is being used, along with the recent earthquakes, as a justification for big cuts in spending across the board.

But isn't that big deficit in large part due to the tax cuts the National Party insisted were affordable?

Clearly they were not.

It appears the real agenda was to create the deficit to use as an excuse to cut the spending....and use that as an excuse to shovel money into the pockets of the "private sector". Is this a  prudent fiscal strategy? It strongly resembles what George W Bush and the Republican Party have done to the United States: cut the taxes, crash the Treasury....and then use that as an excuse to gut the government and hand it to the (electorally unaccountable) "private sector". It's a strategy that helped deliver us the hugely expensive invasion and occupation of Iraq and the financial crash of 2008.

With respect to prudence, I clearly remember former Minister of Finance (Labour) Michael Cullen saying tax cuts were a very bad idea because one day a rainy day would come and we would need the money. Well….it rained. It rained a LOT. The 2008 financial crash, a pair of devastating earthquakes in Christchurch…and National is still apparently oblivious (at least publicly) to their own role in ENSURING the resources aren’t there to meet the rising need due to their tax cuts.

If you think the tax cuts themselves were imprudent – at the very least – then you don’t want to be voting for the National Party…..

But this imprudence and apparent ongoing blindness to the consequences of their policies and actions goes well beyond the public broadcasting media we all own and our other public assets.

Here's another example. If you want a sane transport policy NOT geared to pouring taxpayer cash into the pockets of road building and bus/truck-owning corporates (Minister of Transport, Steven Joyce's, mates at Infratil do both)….then don’t vote for the National party. They planned 8 highways of "national significance".  The problem with that is evidence is mounting daily that the oil won't be there to make or power the cars to drive on them in a decade or two. These roads won't be completed for most of ten years. How much will petrol be by then? $5 / litre? Does this make any sense?

Maybe you're aware 'peak oil' (the year we pump as much oil in one year as we ever will....and ever after pump less each year as time goes on) actually occurred in 2006 (according to the Executive Summary of the  International Energy Agency "World Energy Outlook" report of 2010):
"Crude oil production reaches an undulating plateau of around 68-69 million barrels of oil / day around 2020, but never regains it's peak of 70 million barrels / day reached in 2006..." 
Meanwhile they forecast significant annual growth in demand. They also make the claim that Saudi Arabia will be pumping 14.6million barrels of oil / day in 2035 when it appears from Wikileaks cables recently released that Saudi can't pump even 12 million barrels / day today...and never will.  The IEA urges governments to begin taking steps to conserve oil.

As we can see, there are major, immediate concerns about the future of energy. We need to be planning now. We need to be building the infrastructure for a post-oil world now, while we can still do it relatively cheaply. That would be the prudent thing to do.

Is the National Party moving heaven and earth to build a national public transport infrastructure against the day many, if not most of us, will no longer be able to afford to drive private cars - whether oil or electric or whatever? They still refer to KiwiRail as a waste of money. Yet it isn't just transport that will be impacted by declining oil stocks. Everything we use oil for will be affected more and more as time goes on and the jobs that go with all those industries and uses. That includes agirculture, roading, construction, infrastructure....everything. Again, with respect to cars: How will we make cars when all energy and plastics (from oil) becomes expensive?

If you want a sane public transport policy for the oil-poor future (a future as certain as sunrises, whether you favour 2020 or 2035)….then you don’t want to vote for the National Party. They simply aren't prudent about risks. They appear to actively ignore or deny risk....which I suppose removes any need to deal with it. The problem is, reality always wins.

If you think climate change is something every person on this planet should be competing with each other to show leadership on….(instead of lolly-gagging at the back of the Reluctant Bus)….then don’t vote for the National Party. They - collectively - still don't believe there is a problem at all. Former Energy Minister, Gerry Brownlee, (now King of Christchurch, complete with dictatorial powers) has been a gung-ho coal backer for years.

I could go on……but the list is already long enough to make it screamingly obvious that people inform themselves and who appreciate these serious risks can't vote for a party as imprudent as the National Party.

OK. so a lot of people don't know any of this...and as is often the case with people, they won't listen and can't be told.

In this case, ignorance won't be bliss. It will instead mean they and their children will face poverty and confusion as the inevitable bears down on the unwitting like "two moons" on a highway-crossing hedgehog.


  1. Kiwis sure would be in trouble if they elected another "tax and spend liberal" government in. Talk about unaffordable, look at the hole Labour left.

    Liberals are always saying how new programs are needed to help these people or those people. They need to look at the effectiveness of the existing programs first. If the programs are not effective, they are a waste of $, regardless of how noble it made you feel.
    Truth Seeker? More like ideologue.

  2. capentaro: You must not be in New Zealand. The Labour government ran HUGE surpluses and paid off a lot of public dent. By comparison, National promised the tax cuts were affordable...and clearly they were not.

    So you have your facts exactly backwards in many of your other comments.

    Doesn't that bother you?

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Carpentaro: Interesting that you bring your own fact-defying and fact-denying prejudices here and call Truthseeker an ideologue. Every comment you have posted so far shows you haven't got a clue what you're talking about with respect to verfiable facts....though you're VERY clear on your ideology, whether or not it is supported by the facts doesn't appear to matter to you.

    If one of us has a problem where ideology without reference to reality is concerned, it can only be yourself.

    I won't argue with you that spending has to be effective. It does. I'd argue that a Trillion dollars invading and occupying Iraq was the largest waste of money in human history. Liberals opposed that. Conservatives proposed it, lied about it, made it happen.

    But please...don't let reality get in your way.


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