Monday, September 22, 2014

Deep breaths, people

So, it's all over for another three years. We didn't get the government I would have liked, but we also didn't get the government I feared. What we did get was the government best equipped to run the country. Confused?

I would have preferred a competent government with compassionate social policies that could have carried this country forward to a better future for all its citizens. In some people's eyes that would make me a centrist or perhaps a centre-left voter. Unfortunately there wasn't a choice of voting in any leftward direction at this election. The left were united in only one thing - getting rid of John Key. There was absolutely no evidence that having achieved that goal there was any competency to run a country - the bickering and infighting that would have resulted would have paralysed New Zealand for the next three years (if they had lasted that long). New Zealanders didn't vote 'right' so much as they voted for stability - absolutely in line with the New Zealand psychi in my view.

As well as no demonstrable evidence that the left had any cohesiveness, or ability to manage NZ Inc. there was the spectre of Dotcom being behind at least a part of any government. As Dotcom admitted himself afterwards, the Dotcom brand had become 'poisoned'. I think it's a shame that we lost Hone Harawira in the process - I didn't often agree with him but he was a good voice to have in parliament. Shame.

Which brings me to the brokenness of our party political system. Elections should be about policies and the direction the country is headed in. This election had very little about policy; it was about getting elected and stopping other people getting elected - by fair means or foul. The policy debate, as little as there was, was lost in the noise of the bar-brawl. Indeed the little policy there was could have well been characterised as a series of election bribes (from both sides). I think it's time we demanded better of our politicians.

How about each political party being required to publish a couple of statutory documents three months out from an election. The first document is a brief ‘Vision’ document of where they would like to see New Zealand in 25 years time. Let’s set a word limit on that to discourage waffle and political BS. The second document should be the party’s 10 year business plan for NZ Inc., spelling out how they intend to move towards their vision. If we had those two documents we might have a chance of knowing what we were voting for every three years.

Of course coalitions would require compromises but an incoming coalition government  would need to identify which policies from each coalition partner were going to be pursued and publish a revised business plan and vision at the beginning of their term. It’s about transparency of intent and accountability of action. We, the people of New Zealand, need to know clearly what our politicians are going to do when we elect them and to be able to hold them accountable for their actions while in government.

Maybe there are other and better ways to achieve transparency and accountability but it seems to me that requiring our politicians to be clear about what they intend, provides a good basis for both.

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