Last Thoughts for 2011, Climate Change on top.

There have been some insights into the issue of global responses to Climate Change during this year. The Durban round has highlighted that the rich nations, particularly the USA, want to keep denying reality, denying science, and continue with ‘business as usual’ until their activities constitute genocide for those who live in ‘less favoured’ nations. Good roundup at Hot Topic shows the inconsistency in the NZ Government position.

The resource wars have been going for nearly a decade now.
If there’s anyone left out there who thinks there really were WMD in Iraq when Bush invaded, now would be the time to check into that hostel for the delusional, and settle into the nice padded room with abundant security staffing and food service.
Iraq was a genocidal war to control oil resources, as is Afghanistan/Pakistan currently, as have been the insurgencies in the whole ME region.

We sit on our hands and ignore the rapacious and genocidal mania of the USA at our peril.
They have sunk, by means of their own economic policy of stealing from the poor, killing foreigners to gain resources, and lying to their own countrymen (and women) in order to extract the greatest profit from every human being within their sphere of influence, from being the great hegemony of the 20th Century to being a genocidal, imperialist facist state for whom surveillance and control of their own citizens is becoming a higher priority than any of the many wars they have engaged in on many fronts in the 21st C.

So as we roll towards NYE 2011, and New Years’ Day 2012, here’s my New Year’s plea:

To our neighbours in the Pacific Ocean, I pledge that we as citizens of NZ, and myself personally as a member of the Green Party, will do our utmost to reverse the decisions being made by selfish, greedy, over-consuming rich people in our country.

We will fight to get climate refugees from Tokelau, the outer islands of Fiji, Samoa, Rarotonga, Tonga, Kiribati (and other Pasifika nations who were not historically under the protection of NZ) some justice, some recompense, and above all, a safe haven to come to.

We in New Zealand have benefitted for decades from the willingness of our pasifika neighbours to come to our country, to work in our factories and fields, to do the jobs that our nice, pakeha, middle-class and educated children don’t want to do [because they’re ‘worth more’ to us working in corporations overseas, paying back their student loans] which is why we need a brown underclass to clean office buildings, work in biscuit factories, and pick fruit and vegetables during our harvest season while our office workers holiday at the beach.

In short, for all the racism and class warfare we have inflicted on our pasifika neighbours (and I’m speaking here as a university-educated pakeha, a seventh-generation NZ’er of predominantly UK extraction, so there’s a large ‘we’ who identify in that category, you know who you are!), we owe a future to those who have not been driving SUV’s and European sports cars around the car-obsessed suburbs of our major cities.

In 2012, when the argument comes up about bringing the inhabitants of Tokelau to NZ in one big block, I don’t want to hear about your petty racism. I don’t want to hear you say that it’s a huge drain on our country to allow in the elderly grandparents of Tokelauans who have worked here for decades.

Have some compassion, the islands are salinating to the point where food cannot grow, and even the racist fiction that keeping the old people in the islands where they are ‘comfortable’ and have ‘familiar routines of life’ isn’t going to wash any more.
Remittances from their children and grandchildren who work here in NZ for minimum wages are not going to compensate for the inability to grow food that has been engendered by our carbon-rich, resource-greedy lifestyles.

Why am I getting rude and angry about this now, you ask?

Because christmas in my extended family has been about these issues, as my son-in-law’s father has flown back to Fiji to visit the old folk who remain, while his wife stays here and works through the christmas period, caring for elderly white folk in a provincial NZ town.
She can’t get her own mother into the country to look after her, because our immigration laws are so strict for brown people with the normal conditions of infirmity of aging.

Before you ask, every member of my extended family who has moved here from Fiji is in work, as is my daughter.
It’s all minimum wage or deeply working-class work, but it’s work.
They are exemplary citizens, plugging their way through the paperwork loops from work visas to residency, and eventually to citizenship, and they are the most uncomplaining, grateful, and apolitical members of my family, including my blood relatives who are much better off materially!

So as you pop the cork on a bottle of bubbly this New Year, listen to music at a festival, or just relax on a beach with family and loved ones, count your privileges and acknowledge them, and consider the possibilities:

1) that a small reduction in your life consumption over the next twelve months might be achievable,

2) that sustainability in business and personal life is not only acceptable but necessary, and

3) that Labour wasn’t just stealing policy points from the Greens in the run-up to the election to score media points, but because the time has come when these things have to be faced, and the Greens have already thought it through, in excruciating detail, driven by members with a conscious and conscientious input to policy development.

Firstly, to all my paid and unpaid colleagues in the Green Party around Aotearoa/NZ, let’s leave behind the many tragedies of 2011, and work towards a better year in 2012. Because we’re worth it, and so is every single citizen of our country, and every single worker who is here propping up our low-wage economy without the benefits of citizenship that we so blithely bestow upon our children at birth.

Secondly, to the fourteen Green MP’s who were sworn in before christmas, thank-you for standing, for campaigning so strongly, and for stepping up to serve us for the next three years. I’ll try not to be on your office threshold every week, but you may be seeing more of me, lol.

Thirdly, thank-you to every candidate who stood, campaigned, and contributed to this historic rise in our representation in Parliament, your efforts all around Aotearoa lifted the water-level for everyone who got in. Some of you are now my especial friends, we will work together in the future on issues of importance, arohanui a koutou, you also know who you are.

Arohatinonui ki a koutou katoa.

See ya in the other side in January 2012, I’m going bush, don’t expect replies to comments. 😉

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Copenhagen Comments #3

Last night we had an honest 6 inches of snow here in Copenhagen, turning the city into a picture postcard. Most of it is still around this morning, and it is with great amusement that I watch the tens of thousands of bicycle commuters wend their way through the snowy streets.

All NGO observers but a lucky thousand have been kicked out of the Bella Centre at COP15. Many are annoyed that the stalls they have rented and the side events that they have prepared for and scheduled for months have been cancelled – there is no one to come to them. The Bella Centre is one big ministerial morass.

I cannot be sure, but I don’t think that Labour’s Charles Chauvel ever managed to enter the building. I know he stood in the freezing, outdoor registration line for 10 hours on Monday, only to have the desk close before he got to it. We haven’t heard from him since. This is a common story, even for people who registered to attend over a year ago. Fingers are pointing all around as to how 45,000 people were allowed to register for a venue that only holds 15,000. In this regard, it’s a shambles.

One also has to wonder about the Labour Party’s commitment to climate change issues, when their spokesperson had to make his way to Copenhagen privately (and good on him) and doesn’t manage to get in the door. Surely a commited opposition would make a commitment to front up to the biggest issue facing humanity. Oh, right. The Greens have done just that. 😉

One of the quiet successes at the negotiations has been accomplished by the various NGOs working on REDD. (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation.) Earlier this year, the European Union sabotaged the treaty text, taking indigenous people’s rights out and making the treaty one big party for logging companies. The REDD NGO’s have managed to restore the text almost to it’s original state. We’ll see if it survives the scrutiny of the Ministers. One can only hope.

The shame of the conference this week was our very own Minister Groser’s outburst. He called the Tuvalu chief negotiator an ‘extremist’ and obstructive of the negotiations for wanting a legally binding agreement at Copenhagen! He also called the United Nations process all sorts of names. This is not diplomatic or Ministerial behaviour in anyone’s book.

Oxfam has just accused Minister Nick Smith of trying to redefine the word ‘fair’.

For some more in depth comments on the goings on here in Copenhagen, hop on over to frogblog and check out what Jeanette Fitzsimons and Kennedy Graham have to say. Kennedy’s musings are a hoot!

It’s going to be an interesting couple of days!

Can I have one with a moat please?

Well, seems it’s not just Bill English rorting the system. The NZ Herald reports a number of Cabinet Ministers own residential property in Wellington, most of which are rented out, but choose to live in Ministerial homes.

I don’t begrudge Ministers the opportunity to move their families to Wellington so they can spend more time with them, and a small apartment may not provide adequately for that.

But renting out their own properties in Wellington, while the taxpayer is paying for the full cost of their Ministerial homes, is scamming it. Even though it is within the rules, surely Ministers should have exercised the restraint they are expect from the citizens they govern and offered to offset the rent they receive from their own properties against the costs of the Ministerial homes they occupy.

Here’s the list of those with their snouts in the trough:

Tim Groser: Ministerial Services paid $8937 January-June. Also owns $540,000 apartment in central Wellington, which is being used as an investment property.

Tariana Turia: Lives in a Ministerial home. Also own $520,000 property in Wellington suburb of Broadmeadows [surely that would be suitable for her family to live in]. Refuses to say if she rents it out.

Phil Heatley: Ministerial Services paid $24,607 January-June. Also owns $360,000 Wellington apartment that is being rented out.

Anne Tolley: Ministerial Services paid $22,045 January-June. Also owns $295,000 one-bedroom Wellington apartment, which is currently rented out.

Wayne Mapp: Ministerial Services paid $18,878 January-June. Also owns $285,000 Wellington apartment and rents it out.

Murray McCully: Ministerial Services paid $12,865 January-June. Owns a Wellington flat and rents it out.

Then, of course, there is Bill English, who is in a category of his own, receiving $23,673 from Ministerial Services between January and June this year to live with his wife and family in their own home.

Perhaps they should consider following this precedent – its not too late to pay back the money they have scammed.