The start of July was a great time if you believe in democracy and you happen to come from Australia, home of 2011 Tour de France winner Cadel Evans. The Australian Senate finally got to have its new senators and the Greens now have the balance of power in the Senate. To me it is a great thing in terms of checks and balances to have a functioning bicameral parliament where the two houses are not controlled by the same party. I also think it is great that the Australian Senate is reasonably proportionally representative (which the House of Representatives is not).
Hopefully the Greens will hold the balance of power in the Australian Senate for the next twenty years, making sure that decisions affecting Australians won’t be on the unilateral whim of the party in power in the lower house. It leads to consensus politics and means that the party in power in the lower house, that supplies the Prime Minister, can’t be so arrogant. With the current calibre of political leaders on both sides of politics in Australia, untalented party apparatchiks who floated to the top of a shallow talent pool, you can see how that might be important.
New Zealand has a unicameral parliament. It has no check or balance to unbridled party power except for MMP. MMP is the only thing standing between the party of this:
and unbridled power.
You’ve got to hand it to National. They know how to organise a sham public consultation. They’ve managed to piss off most of Kapiti. I don’t much agree with the Kapiti protestors, and their curious position of combating the Sandhills Expressway, with their scheme for the local Western Link Road, which would itself be an unnecessary road (with the exception of the 2nd bridge over the Waikanae River), but I do think that National used the NZTA to manipulate public opinion with their fake options so they could get community support for what they wanted to do all along. So I do think that the arrogance is pretty obvious for all to see.
And now National want to get rid of MMP. Then we could go back to first past the post, and then every electorate in the country will be a two horse race between Labour and National. Everyone will be forced to vote negatively, against the party they dislike more, holding their noses whilst they do so. It will lead to widespread disenfranchisement.
MMP isn’t perfect. It’s far from it. The ACT Party is just the little bit more nasty wing of the National Party, for instance. But MMP is way better than first past the post. It’s not as good as a bicameral parliament where one or both houses are truly proportionally representative.
National know that their natural support, or conservative support, is only about 40% of the population.Which isn’t surprising when half the population is below average just by definition. They know they can only govern in a minority without the aid of gerrymanders or other shenanigans. First Past the Post gives them the chance to govern unilaterally at least half of the time. And it takes years to get over all their policy mistakes, so the country can never get ahead.
So remember the arrogance of Steven Joyce and Nathan Guy this November. Remember they want to build flyovers for their beloved motorways across Wellington even though flyovers cause blight. Remember they want to spend over $1 billion on Transmission Gully which will return only 30 odd cents of benefits to the community for every dollar spent. Remember that they don’t give a damn about the pollution in the air you have to breathe. Remember they have cut funding to the already cash-strapped Department of Conservation. Remember they’ve taken money away from public transport. Remember them as the party who doesn’t want to build the Auckland Loop Railway, but build the Puhoi Holiday Highway to help their urban sprawl development friends instead. Remember they upped GST to 15%, killing off any chance of recovery for small businesses. Is there anybody better off under National? Or are we all finding it harder to make ends meet?
Tell your friends to protect themselves from National Party arrogance come this November. Don’t vote for the party of trucks. Vote for a party of bicycles. And keep MMP in the referendum.
Ok I am going to be the first to call it. The government will change in November. The Maori Party is dead in the water because they went against the interests of the people who voted for them by getting into bed with National. 2008 Maori Party voters will go to the Mana Party and drift back to Labour. The Greens and Labour will each grow their vote. Even the silly people in Epsom will realise that Don Brash is a bit of a dick (and why did he have to quit parliament last time, hey?) and Act won’t be left with any seats. National has a policy of privatisations that will come in in their next term, and we all know who that really benefits, and it ain’t us. People will realise that standing behind a smiling John Key are some pretty unsavoury characters, like friend of the trucking industry, Steven Joyce. A Labour, Greens, Mana coalition will be the government come November.
Regular bicycle programming will return soon.