Friday, March 19, 2010


Protests against the National Party-led government are starting, and no matter how much they may try to spin it, they have to be worried. Any government that has this much opposition ought to be worried. Ask Labour.

Today, “around 400” protesters condemned the closure of a free health centre for Christchurch's youth. The National Party knows that the people they’ve targeted are unlikely to vote National anyway, but they’ll be worried all the same: If mainstream New Zealand sees what the party is doing to ordinary New Zealanders, National will be in trouble.

This isn’t the only issue on which National is picking fights with ordinary New Zealanders, of course: They want to mine sensitive conservation land, they want to stick it to ordinary New Zealanders by raising GST, and there’s the National Party-led Government making a “pig's arse,” as the New Zealand Herald put it, of the Auckland “super city”. There are plenty of things that ordinary New Zealanders will hold against National.

We know that in a second term National will start to sell-off everything they can. In fact, they’re already working to ready state-owned assets for sale. Given the mistake after mistake after mistake, one must wonder: Does National seriously expect to be re-elected?


toujoursdan said...

I was under the impression that this version of the National Party was merely a slightly bluer version of Labour. But it sounds like they are trying to apply all the neo-liberal, trickle-down/Voudou economics that has been discredited elsewhere. Sad.

Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

Your impression is partly true: There's a "centrist consensus" in New Zealand, with Labour on the left and National on the right. But this is a subject I should address in a full post, so thanks for the idea!

liminalD said...

I personally worry that after nine years of Labour government and twenty years since the major neo-liberal reforms in New Zealand, a substantial percentage of the younger generation simply won't be aware that the Right's privatisation schemes have been tried before and found wanting, and that these things will seem like a great idea to get us out of the financial mess we're in, not realising that it was those very strategies that got us into our current mess in the first place :/

toujoursdan said...

I think you're correct and it's an issue we deal with in Canada too. These countries import trendy ideas from the U.S. and try to apply them in situations that are very different.

For example, the government privatized Air Canada and wanted to turn it into a regular and profitable commercial airline like Southwest or WestJet. But Air Canada has been mandated to fly to the many small towns, many in the Arctic which depend on air transport to survive. Some of these towns don't have roads that are connected to the North American highway system. These routes will never be profitable but they are necessary. You can't run a version of Southwest/WestJet AND meet the needs of small towns that must have air transport but will never be profitable.

I am not anti-capitalist, but I am against those who believe that the market is the cure for every disease. It doesn't work that way in the real world.

Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

liminalD: You're right, that IS a risk. But if Labour and its allies can point out in simple, easy-to-identify-with terms what the right's agenda will mean to ordinary people—what it will do to them—it may be possible to stop the right.

Personally, I think it won't be that but the Auckland reorganisation that will defeat National, if it happens, because NZ elections are won or lost in Auckland, and people in Auckland are angry with National/Act.

toujoursdanL You hit it exactly on the head: Capitalism cannot "cure every disease". Actually, that's not capitalism's function, nor is it the function of markets to be fair or just. That's partly why we have governments.

In New Zealand, the Labour Party is, mostly, a social democratic party, one that lets capitalism do what it does best, but which steps in to do what capitalism cannot or will not, or to take care of the inevitable collateral damage that capitalism causes. That's not anti-capitalist, just realist.

NZ's alternative in National/Act is to let "the market" alone and hope that it delivers, never understanding why it doesn't and why it can't.