Categories
government labour politics

Regional development

GrantRobertson-01

Pillaging the planet for every last ounce of resource in the hope that we can continue to live our lives exactly as we’ve always done is not sustainable growth.

Grant Robertson is the MP for Wellington Central. He is Shadow Leader of the House, he is Labour Spokesperson for Economic Development, Spokesperson for Employment, Skills and Training and Associate spokesperson for tertiary education, the SIS and Arts, Culture and Heritage. He grew up in Dunedin and was student president at University of Otago. He was visiting Dunedin wearing his Regional Development cap.

Talking points:

I think the legacy of this government will end up being around cronyism

No politician should ever feel that they are above the law

Willful blindness is not acceptable

I think I’ve got a good sense of right and wrong, and when I see something that is wrong I don’t like sitting by

(on Labour introducing student fees in the late 1980s as part of neo-liberal reforms) I wasn’t a member of the 4th Labour Party then and I wouldn’t have voted for them either – those things took New Zealand in the wrong direction…The Labour Party of today – and indeed the Labour Party of the Helen Clark government – is very very different. I recognise that we do have to re-earn the trust of those people, but I’m from a different generation. I opposed those things, I marched against them and I’ve done my best to undo them.

(Why don’t students protest so much now?) I think it is a self-fulfilling prophecy, education has become very commodified, the people that can afford to be there are there and the people that can’t afford to be there aren’t. Students are trying to get through in the shortest amount of time possible to incur the least amount of debt.

(As a staffer in Helen Clark’s government) Interest free student loans made a huge difference…
I felt a real emotional sense of having wound something back, we were able to bring it back to something better.

(On student allowances) We’re moving to everyone getting an allowance.

20 cuts to loans and allowances in this government, the most insidious cut is the cutting of post-graduate allowances… New Zealand needs more people doing post-grad study not less…mad!

We’ve created a situation where 37% of our population lives in Auckland, projected to get as high as 45%, there is no capital city or large city in the developed world that has that level of the country’s population. It’s not good for country, we’re seeing the problems today and they’ll just get worse.

we desperately need regional economic development…we need a spread across New Zealand in the way in which jobs are created.

Dunedin is an example of a city with huge potential and opportunity, it just needs some support to catalyse that.

The strategic advantages for Dunedin are education, ICT and health.

When you’ve got a regional development policy with a government as an active partner, then you’ll start to solve some of the problems.

(Coal on the West Coast) The Labour Party knows that we have to transition off fossil fuels…we have to go there, the world’s gone there already, its about timing and about phasing, it’s about saying how do we use the resources that we have available to us…we have to have a plan for transition, while the resources are there the Labour Party believes that we should use them but is has to be part of a planned transition.

(On differences with Greens) Resolvable tensions

I’m both cautious and doubtful about oil and gas…it’s being promoted as an amazing silver bullet…but they haven’t found anything. That’s because now they are having to desperately drill in places they never would have thought of drilling, depths they never would have thought of drilling because we’ve reached peak oil.

New Zealand needs to think very carefully about (oil and gas), we don’t have the response capability, and while accidents are uncommon, they are catastrophic. I’m not comfortable unless we have stronger regulation…a regime more similar to the RMA…improve the response capability…health and safety…with all of those changes it it possible for it to be done, but it’s by no means a blanket agreement that it should be. Seismically, areas around the east coast of New Zealand are not appropriate, maybe it is OK over in the Taranaki Basin. But I’m very cautious and very doubtful and it’s certainly not where I think the future of New Zealand lies.

Growth is possible but we have to rethink what growth means

Pillaging the planet for every last ounce of resource in the hope that we can continue to live our lives exactly as we’ve always done is not sustainable growth.

It is growth, but it’s not unfettered growth.

We can’t grow the economy on dairy alone. Paul Callaghan calculated that to keep out standard of living now based on growth in dairy alone, we would have to quadruple our dairy output – well we’re not going to do that we’d destroy our country if we did that. Primary industries have got a place, they’re very important to us, but he future well-being of New Zealanders is in other sorts of industries that are added value, that are lighter on the planet.

We can do so much better to capture value.

There’s a core to me, fairness, opportunity and spreading the benefits of economic development more fairly, more evenly in society…giving all people opportunity regardless of their financial or family background.

At the UN the principle of fairness was key…with the caveat of the Security Council…it is one country one vote, on the floor of the General Assembly Swaziland is as important as the United States – I like that.

It’s quite clear to me that Labour and the Greens will be able to work well together. The Greens have taken a different attitude this time around, they want to be in government…a big call for them but we know there is scope for negotition.

75% of voters who gave their electorate vote to the Maori Party gave their party vote to Labour. I have no idea what the Maori Party is doing on the right – they haven’t got much out of it, I think they’re part of a government that has potentially damaged Maori and Maori aspirations.

(on the Green’s Carbon tax versus Labour’s support for the ETS) I don’t think they are major differences, both of them are aimed at reducing emissions, both set a price on carbon, one’s a market based mechanism, the other is a tax…in end we can talk that through. we both want to do something, we both know that we urgently need to do something.

The current government has utterly undermined the ETS – failed to include the sectors that we needed to include to make it a real scheme…done terrible things to the forestry sector. we need a proper functioning ETS, but we can work on a climate tax.

Other differences (Labour and Greens) resource extraction issues – manageable but quite different policies, minor differences around taxation, but the spirit is OK, and I think the values of the party are ones that the Greens can look at, and say ‘we can work with these’, we are different parties…we work work with the people, more often than not we’re working closely with them, every day.

It’s coopertition, we are cooperating, but we’re also putting our own platforms forward and asking people to vote for them.

(On people not voting) We have to make politics relevant and making our campaign positive, our biggest problem in 2011 was we told people what we were against, not what we were for…we’re talking about the kind of country we want to be.

Non-voting is a global trend and it comes back to the nature of how we do politics…

Social media…is a conversation…it’s hard for politicians to make the time…but I’m keen for it to be me, not someone pretending to be me

The younger generation are interested in issues as opposed to parties (political!)…if you give young people issues that they care about, they’ll get involved.

Activist: Yes.

Challenges: child poverty, economic challenges around sustainable growth and jobs in the regions

Advice: Vote. It does matter.

Resources
Labour’s Policy Platform

Categories
climate change policy

Climate change diplomacy

adrianMacey_formal-01

 We have a target gazetted to reduce emissions by half by 2050, and if you look at projections, they’re way up, double by 2050.  How do you join those things up?  There’s currently no government statements around that.  The target was put in place in 2011 but since then it’s hard to find any mention in official government statements, or any action by government departments.

A New Zealand diplomat with postings including Bankok, TokelauParis and Geneva, Dr Adrian Macey was New Zealand’s first climate change ambassador Dr Adrian Macey.  He describes his proudest achievement as chairing the UNFCCC Kyoto Protocol negotiations during the critical year where it was established that there would be a second commitment period.   Dr Macey is currently with Victoria University’s Institute for Governance.

Talking points:

As a diplomat you follow the will of the government of the day but you always avoid closing options

You can see climate change as a moral issue – responsibility for future generations – you can also see it as an opportunity – if your city is using lower carbon, lower energy, that’s more money staying in the local pool.

Consumers have some ability to affect things, but it’s very hard in the absence of long-term central government policy

When you put together all the pledges that everyone has made, it doesn’t add up to what we need to do to keep warming down to 2 degrees.

Developing countries need money on the table to support their efforts on mitigation and adaptation.  The developed countries need to take historic responsibility.

The language used is important, “grave concern” was useful to change minds.

Three factors helpful in current rounds: greater certainty, plain language, mainstream estimates.  Still worrying, doesn’t mean complacency, but looks more manageable from a policy sense.

Perverse tendency, you can’t use the fear for too long.  There’re two levers civil society has tried to use, one is fear of terrible consequences and the other is guilt or shame – you should be doing more, it’s your duty to future generations or other countries – neither of those levers can be effective indefinitely.   We’re coming back to rethinking by civil society, using another register.  One example is Greenpeace’s report on the future of energy,  looking at the future of renewable energy – that’s appealing to a different part of government.  Governments have an interest in having sensible policies, and if something looks rational and achievable – and not constant hammering about guilt and shame – then maybe that’s going to prove a more effective way through.

We need massive changes in the energy system it’s not something the citizen as an individual has much control over…individual choices of consumers – buying something with a slightly lower footprint –  are not quantitatively all that important, though they are from a moral perspective, but the big shift we’ve got to do is get off fossil fuels.

The transport sector is the one we’ve got to deal with.  The difficulty is that our country is long, narrow and not very highly populated – but that’s the obvious area for gains.

Businesses that have a stake in our “clean green reputation” – those people are in a position to try to influence government.  If they think that where we’re heading is a bit out of kilter with that image we have of ourselves as we start to lag behind.

There’s no easy glib response, that if a few 10,000 of you do x, then you’re going to make a massive effect, we have to get at the energy systems.

Rich countries need to accept historical responsibility,