I take more interest in politics than is good for me, but generally I keep it to myself. I like the theatre, and I listen to the debates with frustration. I have always enjoyed going to the polling place on the day of the election and casting my vote, and then settling in on the evening and watching the results roll in. We are lucky in New Zealand that elections are well run, and the number of voters is small enough that there are usually few hiccups.
I thought I would put this out before the results are available (but after the polls close).
I voted early this year, because it is advisable to avoid queues and mass gatherings. The precautions with hand-sanitiser, individual pens etc are likely to reduce the risk but gathering in places with lots of strangers makes me nervous. At alert level 1 it seems safe, but if more covid cases pop up then voting could have got more fraught.
This year is different for 2 reasons:
- Covid has added a lot of noise, but also made the outcome more significant. We know that the outlook for NZ and the world is going to be very uncertain, and we need to have people in charge that can be trusted to act decisively and take measures based on the evidence, but also not cause more distress.
- The world is getting to be a much darker place. We have been fortunate that most of the world has been moderately well run, and tolerance has generally been increasing. Lately we have seen an increase in intolerance, and a retreat into a dog-eat-dog mindset. The rise in anti-immigrant sentiment, authoritarian governments throughout the world, the ravages wrought by Trump on the US, BREXIT, withdrawal from international agreements etc all make me pessimistic for the continuation of the peaceful, benign atmosphere that we have perceived in NZ. We need a government that will keep us neutral, but be a voice for moderation and tolerance.
We have 2 referenda to vote on. i will not go into detail but briefly explain my votes.
- I voted for the end of life bill. I hear the arguments against it, and think some of them are valid. On the whole the safeguards in the bill make it unlikely that the most extreme negative consequences are real. On the other hand I think that if I satisfied the criteria to qualify for end of life assistance (a terminal illness, intolerable suffering and sufficient mental awareness to make a decision) then I would like the opportunity.
- I voted for cannabis legalisation. There is no difficulty obtaining cannabis at the moment, but to do so a consumer has to break the law, and support criminals. There are lots of people who are harmed by interactions with the police and the justice system. I don’t want people to smoke marijuana or tobacco. Both are harmful. Making cannabis legal and treating it as a health issue like tobacco seems the sanest way to deal with the issue.
For the party vote – I voted Green
I like Jacinda Ardern as Prime Minister.
The thought of Collins and Brownee being in charge of the country in February/March scares me. As we prepared for and reacted to the arrival of Covid-19 I think the decisive and calming statements made the situation much easier for us all. The wrecking ball approach that a National government would have most likely have followed would have been disastrous.
I don’t think the current government has achieved very much otherwise.
Dealing with Crises is important, and there Jacinda Ardern has been exemplary. The Christchurch massacre opened up many wounds, but with “they are us” Ardern found the right message to bring people together. After the White Island eruption, her version of calming and caring was exactly right. During the slow train wreck that has been the world’s response to Covid-19 Ardern has been at her best. It is no coincidence that NZ is universally acclaimed for our success, and that we are enjoying freedoms unheard of in many other places.
However there are slow moving crises that do not respond to reactive measures. They require analysis and planning. They require fearless actions to change people’s fundamental way of living. Such crises include
- Global warming
- Housing shortage / unaffordability
- Economic stagnation / slow productivity growth
- Infrastructure decline
- Mental health / suicide
- Incarceration rates
- Inequity and inequality
- Rural depopulation
- Environmental degradation / biodiversity loss / water quality
To be fair, NZ is not alone in facing these problems, and no previous government has had a solution. That might mean that it is unreasonable to expect the next government to solve them either. However there is a definition of “insanity” – “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result”. If we are to address these problems then we need change.
I don’t expect any party to suddenly fix them. We have tried low taxes and wages and the promised improvement hasn’t occurred. The parties with the policies most likely to effect positive change are TOP and the Greens. TOP is not likely to get enough support to make any contribution, so I have voted Green. The best likely government is to have the Labour party in charge, but with the Greens there to make sure they do actually achieve some change for the environment, and for the least well off.
So here’s to positive change over the next 3 years.
Update – Sunday morning
An historic win for Labour – The first time a party has achieved an absolute majority of seats under MMP. It is not clear how many the final majority (currently 64 from 120 seats) will be as special votes are still to be counted. Even some of the deepest blue seats now have Labour party vote majorities. This has been a very high turnout – estimated at 82% or 2,877,117 votes.
There were some interesting electorate contests, including Chloe Swarbrick winning in Auckland Central for the Greens, and the Maori Party’s Rawiri Waititi winning in Waiariki.
It also saw the end of NZ First’s representation in parliament. Will that be the last for Winston Peters?