The question has long been whether basic stupidity has underpinned so much of our politicians’ and administrators’ decision-making – or something more insidious.
Parliament’s Maori Affairs Select Committee, for example, is distinguished by the aggressive rudeness with which it confronts those attempting to raise awareness of wrongful claims made by those with fingers in the till of racial preference. The contrast with the enthusiasm of most of its members when greeting Maori-identifying submitters, apparently often known to them – or with tribal affiliations – has become scandalous.
It is not just this committee. The 18,300 signature petition calling for the Marsden Point Oil Refinery to remain operational has been buried by Parliament’s Petitions Committee, dragging its heels in this typical failure of our democratic processes. No public submissions were called for, nor have groups knowing the importance of keeping the refinery operational been offered any opportunity to make submissions. Despite the volatile global oil market – with increasing costs and shortage of supplies – verbal submissions by two groups were not heard until six months after the petition was presented to Parliament. The refinery, with production stopped, is being dismantled. New Zealand is no longer able to process its own oil to keep essential services running – with a potential energy crisis worldwide.
Whether this is sheer folly – or basically a subversive government white-anting this country – is a legitimate question.
That we are in decline is obvious. With a nationwide shortage of doctors and many practices no longer able to accept new patients, some New Zealanders wait weeks for consultations. In the cities of Invercargill and New Plymouth, for example, those already not enrolled in practices cannot gain access to a GP.
Our hospitals are in a state of crisis; emergency departments past capacity; and people treated in corridors with no medication until they are placed in wards. Increasing numbers of staff report burnout and wait times are becoming longer. New Zealand has fewer intensive care hospital beds per capita than nearly every other country in the OECD. Pharmac, the government agency deciding which medications can be funded, is itself grossly underfunded. Eighteen anti-cancer drugs available in Australia are not available here.
The question of whether we have enough hospital beds is interesting. I recall two major Auckland hospitals being closed two decades ago. A partial rebuilding of Auckland Public Hospital by no means compensated for the loss of beds involved. I found this puzzling, given our growing population, but light was thrown on the thinking behind this decision when GPs were subsequently approached with extra funding to more closely analyse their patients – for example those smoking, or at risk with diabetes and other conditions supposedly treatable at primary level. The theory was that the more general practitioners’ patients were scrutinised for underlying health problems, the more these could be managed early – without recourse to hospital treatment. I found this quite incredible, as the more patients were investigated, the more chance there was of uncovering underlying problems – increasing the number needing specialist consultations and hospital treatment. In other words, the burden on hospitals was probably going to increase – not decrease.
And now, with the apparent prospect of a food shortage worldwide – although New Zealand should be well placed as an agriculturally productive country – the selling of prime agricultural land to those planting pine plantations to eventually replace fossil fuels is folly. So is the ridiculous, punitive decision to now tax farmers for the supposed contribution of their livestock to global warming.
Moreover, the fanatical Climate Change Commission and Ministry for the Environment have both confirmed that the current emissions reduction targets have been envisioned to go much further, requiring farmers to help offset warming produced by other sectors of the economy. The damage to this vital industry will very likely drive many out of business. Yet there has not been a single scientific model of agriculture’s warming effect made publicly available.
If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck? Revelations that close relatives of Minister Nanaia Mahuta – her sister and husband – have received government contracts, and are able to act in an advisory capacity have raised eyebrows, with the mainstream media preferring to not stir the pot on this issue – hardly new. For several decades now, handouts to the hierarchies of local tribes have regularly seen the money distributed among close relatives. I recall one brave Maori woman objecting that the money paid to her tribe for health-related issues ended up in the pockets of those buying themselves a farm. She was told her objection had no basis.
Meanwhile, the attack on free speech continues, with Ardern continuing to virtually rub fed-up New Zealanders’ noses into reminders of the appalling attack on the Muslim mosque in Christchurch. This has served her very well in relation to confiscating New Zealanders’ guns and promoting new legislation attacking hate speech. That it was an Australian who committed this atrocity is conveniently passed over.
Equally odd is the fact that although anyone with a tenuous connection to this country – and committing a crime in Australia – can be deported back here, the perpetrator of this attack has not been returned to his own country. Why not? The conclusion reached is because this has become useful political capital. That Ardern is also destroying her own is interesting.
Appointing the controversial Labour party speaker, Trevor Mallard, to a diplomatic post overseas has caused outrage. This is the same Mallard, viewed as a bully, who sprayed protesters outside Parliament with water and had songs played over a loudspeaker, and whose wrong accusations of rape had New Zealanders paying for his settlement. Equally problematic is Ardern’s appointing Professor Joanna Kidman of Victoria University to her new Centre of Research Excellence for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism that will ‘focus on understanding diversity and promoting social cohesion’.
Kidman is regarded as an extremist, with a left-wing blogger describing this appointment as ‘insane’. Foremost in numerous attempts to silence others, she recently tweeted about the statue of Sir George Gray in Auckland – ‘nice example of historian-as-bigoted-dick-head to add to the pile of sixty-twelve million reasons why 99 per cent of university historians should have a curfew and ankle tracker’. She sounds perfect for Ardern’s purposes.
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