Red Alert

Archive for the ‘growth’ Category

National Promotes Divide and Rule – One Size Fits All for Christchurch

Posted by on September 28th, 2012

The National Government appears to have adopted the age old tactic of divide and rule in Christchurch. Proposing sweeping education reforms of schools closures and merge options totally contradict the message that the Government will ‘consult with’ and ‘listen to’ the community. Yeah Right!

Unless you live in Christchurch it is very hard to comprehend the daily stress families cope with to carry on in a ‘new normal’ scenario. Many continue to wait for insurance claims to be confirmed, rebuild projects to commence, and for some greater certainty about job security. This is just a surface snapshot as there is so much more happening in peoples lives.

Instead of listening and working with the community constructively, the Minister of Education bowls her way though with an inefficient consultation process, questionable data and shallow analysis of submissions to justify broad sweeping changes. This is a trend that should worry any community.

There is no coherence to the network provision of education from early childhood options, through to schooling and tertiary pathways. This is a problem. The rebuild in Christchurch will be done over a number of years, if done well, the city will be an attractive place for business, to live, raise a famility and pursue tertiary education offerings. It doesn’t seem like the Minister has her eye on the future. Her short-sighted cost saving approach will lead to an educaiton network that is ill-equipped for 21st century learning or the prospect of coping with an influx of people prepared to rebuild and possibly live in the city.

What is particularly disturbing is the Economic Recovery Plan for Christchurch has not been revealed. It doesn’t make any sense to address the education issues without having a clear picture of the economic growth potential of Christchurch.

More cause for concern all the way around! The good people of Christchurch deserve more than political window dressing and opportunistic point scoring. Childrens futures hang in the balance. They need a well thought through system of education network provision.

Things can be done differently. The community want to be engaged in 21st solutions for the city rebuild. Parents want greater assurance that their aspiration to have a world class education for their child is not thwarted by the Government using the earthquake as an excuse to save money. Children in Christchurch deserve more – how different will the final proposal for Christchurch schools really be? Your thoughts?


The Dolphin and the Dole Queue

Posted by on June 27th, 2012

Last Saturday Labour Party members and friends gathered in Titirangi to talk about the environment and green technology. It was great that deputy leader and Labour’s environment spokesperson Grant Robertson was able to join us. (UPDATE, and Grant’s speech can be found here)

I gave a speech about the unbreakable nexus between economic development and environmental protection. It’s called The Dolphin and the Dole Queue and you can read it here or follow the discussion it’s generated at The Standard.

My speech contextualised clean-tech and renewable technologies and how these might meet some of the pressing environmental challenges. It did this by placing in context:

  1. The gathering storm clouds of major environmental trends, such as climate change, fossil fuel scarcity and population growth;
  2. Why a strategic shift to a green economy which incorporates clean-technology and renewable energy is required;
  3. A reality check on the remaining ‘gap’ – that fact that, even with prompt action, major risks and adjustments will still exist;
  4. Rules of thumb for navigating future choices – evidence and analysis, the precautionary principle, and resilience economics.

There is no longer a genuine debate about whether our climate is changing. Instead there is an overwhelming consensus of climate scientists versus the old vested interests of polluters and their curious allies on the conspiratorial fringe.

The truth is our planet is near – if not past – the point where our ever-increasing demands on resources will surpass the Earth’s ability to sustain our civilisation in its current form.

Too many politicians appear to have calculated that frightening people with the truth just makes things difficult for them. Maybe that was true. Perhaps it still is. But the time for short-term thinking must end because the facts are clear.

Do you want future generations to have much more difficult and conflict-riven lives than we do; is it acceptable to you that your descendents should look back at us and ask “How could you have known what you did and yet you did nothing?”

There is huge potential for New Zealand in clean-tech and renewable energy. We’ve already got Lanzatech capturing industrial waste exhaust and turning it into energy. We’ve got SolarCity installing solar panels on thousands of roofs in Christchurch. Living Earth is creating compost from waste which might have gone to landfill. New Zealanders are doing amazing things in the clean economy which matter, and which help us get a slice of the $6 trillion potential global market.

But a core part of my speech stressed that a more serious and sophisticated analysis of the potential and limits of clean-tech is required. Yes, we must ensure New Zealand isn’t left behind and that our country maximises both the ecological and economic value of our necessary transition to a clean economy. But we must also carefully guard against the risks of “green-wash” and being overly optimistic that a move to a low carbon future means business as usual. Because it doesn’t. It’s going to take cultural changes around consumption and stewardship of the things we own and the land we inhabit, and we’re going to have to meaningfully reach out to the developing world so that their rise doesn’t countermine our progress.

New Zealanders must work through the challenges now because the rest of the world is racing ahead of us. We need to deliver a broad public and political push for sustainable economic growth and enhanced environmental protections, and we need to start today because our “clean green brand” is already being questioned overseas.

This change is sharply at odds with National’s “milking and mining” plan of ever-increasing pollution and kicking business leaders who dare to speak out against their dead-end strategy. So progress is going to be a big challenge.

I concluded that, while the challenge is huge, community engagement and activism is necessary and change is possible.

What do Red Alert readers think? How can we get the most from clean-tech? Is enough being invested in its development? How are we going to change attitudes and work together so we can enjoy fulfilling lives today while still saving this planet for our grandkids?


Ten ideas for the Government

Posted by on June 26th, 2012

Yesterday the Government released a list of ten “ambitious targets”, and despite ballooning debt, declining exports and slow job growth, there were no new ideas.

In question time today, Bill English confirmed they have no targets for making superannuation affordable, no targets for wage growth, no targets to grow the economy and no targets to reduce overseas debt.

It is just the latest laundry list of vague ideas with no meaningful milestones or policies to achieve real outcomes. It is simply a stunt designed to take the attention off the unpopular asset sales plan and the Government’s botched attempt to increase class sizes.

This list exposes National for once again tinkering around the edges instead of making the tough decisions needed to create a long-term, prosperous future for New Zealand.

While the Government is wishing for rainbows at the end of every street, it has little credibility when it is not dealing with the big issues we are facing as a country.

Here is an example of 10 key issues that National is not addressing:

·         Job creation

·         Economic growth

·         Reducing overseas debt

·         Securing superannuation for the future

·         Reforming our tax system

·         Investing in research and development

·         Supporting our exporters

·         Cleaning up the environment

·         Being tougher on foreign ownership of our land

·         Giving Kiwis a reason to stay in New Zealand

Those are just my first ideas at some “ambitious targets” the Government isn’t trying to address. I’m sure the erudite readers of this blog will have plenty of ideas of their own, please leave them in the comments. I’d love to hear them!