Lost in space

Matt McCarten reviewed recent political debate yesterday in the HoS, concluding that “our politics is rather sad and pathetic really, isn’t it?” He summed up:

“Despite the increasing challenge of oil running out and the impending environmental catastrophe, it seems our politicians would rather distract us with anti-tagging legislation, retracting KiwiSaver brochures, paying too much for hui and using women as a cynical election gimmick.”

Fair comment. Last week’s antics didn’t reflect well on politicians of any stripe, and the media continue to suck.

We should be debating how we’re going to secure our economic and environmental future, as well as cope with the recession in the short-term.

Issues such as our spending on research and development, both public and private, are infinitely more important than decisions by government officials to avoid anything that might be considered electioneering. (The latter actually reflects very well on the Government, if you think about it.)

The media have two defences. Firstly, their consumers have woefully limited capacity for serious stuff. If the media focussed on issues like R&D spending until the election, people would stop buying papers or turning on the tellie for the news. Arguably, the tiny minority interested in serious news has Radio NZ and the BBC on cable, so it’s well catered for anyway.

Secondly, there isn’t much policy to report and discuss at the moment. National are keeping their powder dry.

Let’s be clear. National are entitled to do this. And it may be to their advantage. But it has created an awful policy vacuum that short-changes the democratic process. Instead of debating issues and policy proposals critical to our future we are cast adrift in the thin atmosphere of policy outer space. And when I see reports in the news media about John Key being voted the sexiest politician and Nick Smith proposing in the sand, it feels like we are being forced to crap in our space suits.

[Update: Gordon Campbell helpfully sets out what he thinks National’s policies will be in the education, health, economy and lawn order areas, along with questions that need to be answered, based on speeches and announcements to date.]


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One Response to “Lost in space”

  1. MacDoctor Says:

    Imaginative stuff from Gordon Campbell – but his questions are a good illustration of why National is reluctant to expose its policies. They exhibit serious paranoia towards private enterprise and harp hypocritically on about cost as if that was the most significant question.

    But I wholeheartedly agree that it is very wearying to hear nothing but fluff and spite day in, day out…

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