Idealism’s got its mojo back


Exitus acta probat *

The greening of New Zealand politics under MMP is a triumph of idealism – something unimaginable only a few months ago.

Cognito notes that it isn’t the Greens at the apex of the movement, but the Prime Minister and other senior ministers of the Labour Party.

Underpinning the movement is Government rhetoric about avoiding a repeat of the upheavals of the 1980s.

The promise of a ‘just transition’ to a cleaner, greener, low carbon future is backed by union leaders and (on the face of it) by New Zealand First. And it’s music to urban liberal ears – keen for stronger Government intervention in social services, and a bridle on free market capitalism.

Environment Minister David Parker – a key figure in the coalition negotiations with New Zealand First – embodies the new idealism, letting Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage try to lock up the entire conservation estate to development – something Labour might rue later.

The proposed reforms – hot on the heels of banning future off shore energy exploration – must have officials in charge of the mineral estate reassessing their function now environmental goals trump economic ones.

The Productivity Commission thinks it’s possible to achieve the Government’s goal of a net-zero emissions economy by 2050, but at considerable cost.

This idealism is already rubbing against the reality of middle New Zealand, especially in the hinterland.

Voters over 40 will probably welcome the idea of carefully planned change versus the plaster-ripping reforms of Rogernomics, but not when it means their livelihoods or way of life are threatened.

Idealism is clearly back in vogue, but Cognito expects the tensions will start to grow among the coalition partners, as Labour and New Zealand First ministers start hearing the drums beating in the regions.

The result justifies the deed