In the last general election I stood as a candidate. I even managed to get around 500 votes.
This time round, for the first time, I’m an undecided voter.
A few days ago I attended the Maxim debate hoping to receive enlightenment. Unfortunately, the only thing it highlighted was that the party I once so feverently supported has lost my vote.
So what went wrong?
Fundamentally, according to this excellent site, I’m a centrist liberal.
I believe in personal responsibility. I believe I can make decisions better for myself than the government can for me.
I believe I can more efficiently spend my own money than the government can by taking it off me, and giving it back to me in the form of a ‘working for families’ package, or some other souped-up scheme.
My political views are closely aligned with the ACT party. Less tax, less bureaucracy, less bullshit. If I want to put solar panels on my roof, I shouldn’t have to spend over $5000 in permit applications (and then still be told I’m not allowed to put them there).
However, I also believe we have an underlying responsibility to take care of our environment, and ensure it is as habitable in 100 years time as it is now. Climate change is an undeniable fact. And although some people still dispute what level of influence we have, there is overwehlming evidence showing that increased C02 emissions from burning fossil fuels are the primary cause of global warming. I won’t go into the details (those were covered in this post).
So, it is our duty to ensure we do our part to reduce our carbon footprint. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
During the debate all candidates were asked the question “Global warming: man-made or natural?”. All candidates were in agreement that global-warming was at least in part attributed to human influence. All except for Rodney Hide whose answer was “Totally, unequovically natural”.
It was Rodney’s disheartening response that night, along with the ACT party’s relentless controversial views on the matter of climate change that lost my support.
ACT needs to recognise that climate change is a theory based on scientific evidence. It is not something you can choose to believe in depending on how it fits in with your policies.
In their most recent newsletter, ACT states the following about the Carbon Emissions Trading Scheme:
The ETS has the potential to cripple our major industry, farming. New Zealand emits .02% of world Co2 emissions
If New Zealand were to sink beneath the ocean it would not change the temperature of the earth by even one ten thousandth of one degree. Our effect on the temperature of the world is that small.
So we should scrap the ETS because it will not do a single thing to mitigate global warming.
This is a poor argument indeed, even more so for a political party. Yes one person can’t make a difference. Yes 0.02% is a neligible contribution. However, this philosophy violates the underlying principle that holds a society together. Society works by collective contribution. Without it we’d live in anarchy and chaos.
I feel compelled to write to Rodney and ask him to undertake my plight where I should be exempt from paying tax, because after all my tax contributions account for only about 0.02% of the new Zealand’s GDP, and therefore couldn’t possibly make a difference.
Yes, the ETS may not be the best way to reduce our our Carbon emissions. Yes, I believe a direct carbon tax would be better. But that’s what politics is about. The argument shouldn’t be whether we do, or do not attempt to cut our carbon emissions, but rather how we ensure it best gets done.
Yes, it may seem unfair to inflict this on our economy when the big players like the US are blatantly disregarding scientific fact. But, that doesn’t give us the right for any excuses. Just because someone else is following the incorrect path doesn’t mean we can do so as well.
It is perhaps ironic that as our global ecosystem is threatened by the effects of global warming, we are also facing the effects of hitting peak oil (covered here). The sooner we reduce our dependency on oil, and invest in renewable energy, the sooner we can profit from the relentlessly rising costs of fuel. And if we are the early adopters of alternate forms of energy we can only stand to gain in the global economy, and lead the way forward.
Unfortunately it is only the Green Party and to a certain extent Labour who really recognize this. National accepts the need for reducing CO2 emissions but seems uncommitted.
But, as the Green’s other left-wing socialist policies would severely hinder the economy, and Labour’s ideology will introduce yet more forms for me to fill out, I am unconvinced if either party is capable of pulling off a feasible energy plan, and I am stuck with a compromise and that is to vote National.