Labour’s disgraceful greenhouse gas polluter backdown

I’ve been fuming for the last couple of days about National yet again watering down the Emissions Trading Scheme.

But today, I’m even angrier. But with Labour, not with National. Today, Labour’s Climate Change spokesperson, David Parker, released this media statement. The headline looked good, most of the rhetoric castigated National’s position, but buried in the middle of the release was this statement:

Although Labour believes National’s approach to industrial emissions is imperfect, we are willing to go along with it due to the desirability of settling across both main parties.

When Labour were in government, they were not prepared to give any concession to the Greens to strengthen their weak Emissions Trading Scheme.  But now, in opposition, Labour are prepared to cozy up to yet another National Party proposal to further subsidise greenhouse gas polluters, purportedly in the interest of “unity and certainty”.

Meanwhile, it is you and me as taxpayers who pay for this, rather than the polluters.

If there is ever a reason to vote Green rather than Labour or National on November 26, this has to be it.

Les mofos riches et les blancs

Chris Trotter opines on Phil Goff’s “Nationhood” speech:

To these New Zealanders he was saying: “It’s okay, you and I think alike on this. I’m not going to brand you a racist because, like me, you were offended by Hone Harawira’s obscenities; or because you were repelled by the dirty dealing between National and the Maori Party over the ETS legislation.”

Well, I too was offended by Hone Harawira’s obscenities – although no more than I was by Trevor Mallard calling Chris Finlayson “Tinkerbell” in Parliament – , and I’m certainly repelled by the dirty dealing between National and the Maori Party over the ETS legislation.

If Goff had confined himself to that, he would have been, to use Trotter’s words, “taking the first, and absolutely necessary steps towards Labour’s rehabilitation – and re-election”.

But he didn’t confine himself to that.  Goff found in necessary to dog-whistle to racism by regurgitating a thinly disguised version-lite of Don Brash’s “Nationhood” speech.  Even worse, he defended the status quo on the foreshore and seabed.

The Foreshore and Seabed Act is racist legislation.  It nationalised without compensation all foreshore and seabed for which the Court of Appeal found iwi or hapu had the right to make claim to customary title before the courts had even had the chance to consider one single such claim.  But it didn’t nationalise any of the over 12,000 parcels of foreshore and seabed in private fee simple ownership.  It deprived one specific group of New Zealanders of their right to have their claim to property rights determined by the Courts.  The fact that the group of New Zealanders so deprived were defined by race makes the legislation racist – pure and simple.

As recently as July we looked to be finally working towards a political consensus on the foreshore and seabed, with Labour Shadow Attorney General David Parker stating:

National’s change of heart has established an opportunity to revisit the Act, which we support. John Key said in April that our submission indicated ‘there could well be agreement between the three of us, National, Labour and the Maori Party, (in) which case you’ll get a much better solution and one that’ll achieve what we want…’ ”.
We hope this remains the case. Changes which need to be made include restoring the ability for iwi and hapu to gain a customary title to the foreshore and seabed.”

But now we have Goff’s shameful backtrack to again supporting that racist legislation:

But for all the criticism I have heard, most people accept that the current foreshore and seabed rules aren’t broken and they’re a good foundation for moving forward. They believe its good legislation for all New Zealanders.

It’s hard to see why the country should be put through all the grief just to put a new brand on law that’s working.

Trotter is right to remind us that a class analysis is required, and that Goff needs to return Labour to its egalitarian, socialist roots.  He needs to also recall that the Labour Party has some racist roots, exemplified by things like the Foreshore and Seabed Act and the lower rate of unemployment benefit for Maori that persisted through to the 1950s.  Trotter is wrong to assert that it is all about class and not at all about race.

The people who waged the wars and made the laws that alienated 63 million acres of Maori land and nationalised the foreshore and seabed without compensation were not just les mofos riches – they were also les mofos blancs.

Russel remembers the Bjelkemander

Sometimes it is an advantage to have been born an Aussie. Green Co-Leader Russel Norman grew up in Queensland. In Russel’s youth Queensland was ruled with an iron fist by the corrupt right-wing Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen.

Bjelke-Petersen retained power by a gerrymandered electoral system that gave his Country (later National) Party electoral representation vastly in excess of its votes. It became known as the Bjelkemander. An electoral map of Queensland under Bjelke-Petersen made extraordinary viewing – fingers and toes stuck out of electorates everywhere to advantage Bjelke-Petersen’s party and its allies and to disadvantage the opposition Labor Party.

And it worked – The 1972 Queensland election, when Russel was still a pre-schooler, produced this result:


The Bjelkemander remained in place, and continued to maintain Bjelke-Petersen’s corrupt rule with the support of the Liberal Party until 1989, by which time Russel was in his early 20s.

So where’s this all going. Well, yesterday Federated Farmers released a manifesto complaining:

…rural representation in local government has declined because of the Local Electoral Act which ‘requires strict adherence to a +/- 10% quota for the number of voters each councillor should represent’ (p.23).

Federated Farmers then goes on to say that it wants ‘Councils to be given the flexibility to decide representation arrangements’.

Russel, who grew up under the Bjelkemander, was quick to pick up on this:

What this means is that the Feds want a system in which Councils can decide to change their voting system so that rural wards have fewer voters than town wards or city wards. This will mean that a majority of councillors can be elected by a minority of voters. This is a kind of feudalism in which some people are more equal than others.

This is a fundamental attack on the idea that we are all equal and that town voters are worth the same as rural voters. It will entrench undemocratic minority control over regional councils and district councils.

Well said Russel.

Of concern is National Party Agriculture Spokesperson David Carter, who said:

… the policies and principles laid out in the manifesto largely reflect those in National’s 2008 agriculture and biosecurity policies.

The Nats need to come clean over the next two days and tell the public if a local version of the Bjelkemander is one of Federated Farmers’ policies that they support.