Things that National’s banned

We heard a lot from National before the election last year about the Green Party wanting to ban things. David Farrar even compiled a list, even though many of the things on it incorrectly stated Green policy or were standards or restrictions, rather than bans.

So when I saw John Key reported as wanting to ban pseudoephedrine in cold medicines, I thought I’d do a tally of the things National has banned or has proposed to ban in the six months they have been in office.

I got to 20. Additions to the list welcome.

  1. Public submissions on the Electricity (Renewable Preference) Repeal Act 2008
  2. Public submissions on the Bail Amendment Act 2008
  3. Public submissions on the Energy (Fuels, Levies, and References) Biofuel Obligation Repeal Act 2008
  4. Public submissions on the Education (National Standards) Amendment Act 2008
  5. Public submissions on the Employment Relations (Probationary Employment) Amendment Act 2008
  6. Employees in workplaces with less than 20 staff taking personal grievances if dismissed in the first 90 days of employment
  7. Employees in workplaces with less than 20 staff right to be told the reason for their dismissal if dismissed in the first 90 days of employment
  8. Public submissions on the Electoral Amendment Act 2009
  9. Gang patches in Whanganui
  10. Public submissions on the Local Government (Tamaki Makaurau Reorganisation) Act 2009
  11. Councils and local government organisations in the Auckland region from making ongoing expenditure commitments over $20,000
  12. Councils and local Government organisations in the Auckland region borrowing money for a period that extends beyond 30 June 2011
  13. Councils in the Auckland region refusing to co-operate with the Auckland Transition Agency’s local government reorganisation plans
  14. People in Auckland region having the right to a poll on local government reorganisation
  15. Appealing a resource consent application to the Environment Court unless they put up security for costs
  16. The Minister of Conservation from making decisions on behalf of the public on consent applications for restricted coastal activities
  17. The right to appeal a Council plan on other than points of law
  18. The ability of community groups “representing a relevant aspect of the public interest” to become party to an appeal if they were not a submitter
  19. Councils from creating rules that protect trees of a certain size or type
  20. Pseudoephedrine in cold medicines

Quite a tally for 6 months in office. Scarily, many on National’s list are bans on democratic participation, which is not something you would find on any Green list.

Bottled water 2

Normally my posts here are quickly ignored in favour of the more sensational and illuminating posts from Toad. And I’m happy with it that way. But Toad must be off doing green things away from his computer at present. So instead my comments yesterday about bottled water have unexpectedly attracted attention from WhaleOil and Kiwiblog. In WhaleOil’s case I really thought it would have been the earlier post about porn.

Butn then there’s nothing like a stereotype: Green wants to ban something. As it turns out I wasn’t so much supporting the ban as the fact that someone was doing something about the issue. I tend to agree with with the derision I have attracted over at the Kiwiblog comments section: If something is wrong with bottled water, let the market sort it out. Of course for that to work, as one of them noted, you need to price in the environmental externalities.

And this is where we part company. They seem to be implying that the market can sort out that bit too. That water bottle companies and their lobby groups, such as the one I linked to yesterday, will work collectively together to raise the price of the product they are selling to account for the oil depletion, waste and environmental destruction that their products cause. And they will then feed that money back into restoring the resources they have depleted and undoing the damage they have done. I am, how do you put it, some what more cynical about the market’s ability to deliver on this particular point.

See I tend to think for that to work you might need some kind of agency that would monitor the environmental externalities of products, assign an economic value to that cost, levy businesses accordingly and then redistribute that levy to restore the environment that has been exploited.  Sadly such an agency is known in common parlance as ‘bureaucracy’.  And ironically most kiwiblog commenters want to ban bureaucracy.

Actually, on the topic of banning, what is the difference between limiting the sale of bottled water on a university campus and limiting the sale of paint spraycans to young people, or limiting the right to wear gang patches in particular towns, or limiting the sale of party pills and drugs? It seems it’s not just one party that sees banning as an appropriate response to addressing behaviour that it doesn’t condone.  The major difference seems to be whether the proposed ban addresses recognised and widespread environmental problems or if it placates falsely held fears and biases.

Personally I think there is a time and a place for bans – not everywhere and not as the first measure to a problem, but occasionally – and I reckon anyone who follows the road code tends to agree with me, at least in part.  No Right Turn has what I reckon is one good example of somewhere the market isn’t going to work and a ban is needed. But sadly there are others too.

owGummy at Flickr

Photo credit: CowGummy at Flickr