Monday, September 24, 2018
Clive Bibby: “Hang on a minute mate” - Half time in the Provinces.Labels: Clive Bibby, NZ Politics, Provincial Growth Fund
I hope the late Barry Crump won't be too concerned if l flog the title of one of his best works. It seemed like an apt description of the current political scenario in this country.
Last week's public demonstration of unity (or lack of it) within the governing coalition gave indications of what we might expect during the remainder of this parliamentary term.
Most experienced political observers will say that the chaos was bound to occur given the lack of experience amongst those chosen to be in cabinet although they might have been surprised at how quickly the incompetency of some was exposed.
This is a partnership designed by a drover's dog and a clinical psychologist who have absolutely nothing in common except they both have experience dealing with rogue steers who don't believe in being team players.
So, when under pressure and the wagons are being circled, each party reverts to type. It is the only defence they know.
Anything to take the voters mind off the walking disaster has to be considered.
Consequently, we see the Labour Party PR gurus encouraging our compliant media to focus on "the PM and baby" as they tour the entertainment sectors of the US seizing on any photo opportunity to satisfy the infatuated American press and our own gullible local audience.
We might actually get a few clips of our Prime Minister attending the Heads of Government meeting in New York while she is over there but we should not be fooled into thinking that this was the main reason for the trip and more importantly, this expensive exercise will add little to the task of solving the real problems we face back here at home. It would appear the PM is happy to once again relinquish her governing responsibilities and transfer them to her deputy, the Rt. Honourable Winston Peters MP. She might think that it is only a temporary accommodation while away but l reckon the wily old fox has other ideas.
Having achieved most of what he wanted from the horse trading over future refugee numbers, Winston will spend most of his time in the top job consolidating his power around his own pet objectives that are all part of the long game he is playing.
Not surprisingly, out here in the provinces, the Government is gaining political capital by default. It is all because of the man in the pinstriped suit and the large dollops of cash being handed out by Minister Shane Jones from the Provincial Growth Fund.
I suspect this was all planned as part of the original coalition agreement but, make no mistake, it is Peter's plan and ironically, is probably the one strategy that could help them all retain the Treasury benches come election time. Labour and the Greens haven't put any runs on the board and are grateful that someone knows what they are doing. They should be!
Rural electorates like the East Coast, where I live, are ripe for the picking and it is possible that one or two of them will become NZ First's lifeline for a return to parliament after 2020. It certainly looks as if Winston sees it that way and you have to give him credit for seizing his opportunities. It is a brilliant electoral strategy for him and his colleagues in NZ First and is about the only thing going for the other coalition parties as well.. Remember, those guys didn't have a plan for being in Government because they didn't expect to be there. They still haven't got one!
Unfortunately, there is a down side to this single strategy method of governance. It does allow those senior Labour and Greens members of Government to roam uninvited into our territory and continue their pursuit of objectives that will do us much harm.
David Parker seems emboldened enough by the smoke screen of the PM's popularity and the flack cover generated by NZ First's activities in the provinces to continue with his partisan policies that put all the blame for our environmental pollution on to those of us who are sitting ducks. As each day dawns, he finds another reason for implementing the morally indefensible carbon tax that will be paid only by those selected vulnerable sectors who can't defend themselves.
Which leads me to the leader of the other Coalition Party - the Greens' James Shaw.
While the Greens struggle for air and political traction in order to remain relevant, they must make as much noise as possible about the need to reach the Paris Agreement greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets.
The problem for them is that nobody is listening anymore. It has become a lost cause.
The European Climate Change zealots are watching their own coalition crumble before their eyes.
Individual countries who signed up to this stupid, misguided agreement are being forced to abandon their commitments in an attempt to salvage what is left of their fast evaporating electoral support.
Energy policies that exclude coal fired generation but result in large increases in power prices are no longer affordable and are being watered down in a naked last ditch attempt to retain government. Australia have just been through this painful exercise and other signatories will inevitably follow. For all intent and purposes, the Paris agreement is dead!
Here in New Zealand, it might take more time for the Greens to suffer the same reduction in voter numbers, because our energy supply is less dependent on coal but it will happen. As much as anything it will take longer here because they are the one party that is totally ideologically driven. Their supporters are quite prepared to go down with the ship.
Their coalition partners on the other hand are perfectly happy to abandon ideological principles when it suits - "it seemed like a good idea at the time but we have to move on!"
Mind you, the PC attitude has never been a problem for NZ First because they don't adhere to any ideology, preferring to be seen as the knight in shinny armour coming to the rescue of anything with a pulse. Their electoral success has always been dependent on Winston's ability to identify a cause that has the potential to be turned to political advantage out where the "forgotten people" live. He is the ultimate ringmaster and enjoys letting his coalition partners know that, without him, they are doomed.
I'm picking that he has sniffed the breeze recently and it is telling him that his next move should be to bully Labour into abandoning the Government's commitments to Paris before they are the last ones left to turn out the light.
As l said earlier, Winston is playing a long game. His next innings may even see him batting for the other side again.
We might find him making overtures to the "Medusa" National Party now that it has shed one of the heads that supposedly offended Winston so much that it forced him into bed with Labour.
This guy is a modern day chameleon who will change his allegiances to suit his own political prospects without batting an eye but he is also unprincipled when it is convenient to be.
In the meantime, most of us country folk are dependent on his patronage for our own survival but there is a cost.
The trick to becoming a beneficiary of the Provincial Growth Fund is to make sure your projects are compatible with NZ First's own vision for the future even if, to do so may require they be renamed and restructured. Naturally, most local Councils, desperate for money to pay for long overdue R&M programmes, are happy to make the adjustments to keep everyone happy.
Consequently, much needed repairs to infrastructure that have been on hold for years, suddenly emerge re-branded as visionary economic development programmes. The fact that they are nothing of the sort doesn't seem to bother those who are prepared to adopt this delusional stance in order to get the money they desperately need.
While it may provide a temporary band aid to our current difficulties, it will do nothing to defend us against the threats we know are just down the road.
Clive Bibby is a commentator, consultant, farmer and community leader, who lives in Tolaga Bay.
at 10:57 PM