Categories
peace

Positive peace

Gray Southon

(Inability to respond, complexity of science, wickedness of problems yet he seems quite positive) To be effective you have to be positive. If you get negative – you get cynical – you can’t do anything.

Dr Gray Southon first worked in medical physics, eventually becoming a researcher in informatics. Now he is active on the Quaker Futures Committee and in the New Zealand United Nations Association.

Talking points:

The United Nations stopped the third world war – we fully expected it when I was young.

Working through the contrasts of different national interests, of social contrasts, different perspectives, different political interests

We’ve made enormous progress – not enough – but still enormous progress

Climate change is politically difficult. it can’t be too difficult because we can’t pack up and go to another home – we haven’t got another home to go to.

We’ve got to do the best job we can. It won’t be perfect

we have to work to improve understanding, to bring more parties together and to identify and remove blockages.

NZ is one of the slowest movers. The government gives the impression that we are contributing but we shouldn’t be sticking our neck out, but we’re nowhere near sticking our neck out

We’re ruining our reputation by being so slow.
The official policy is that we’re concerned but don’t want to disrupt the economy – they don’t want to sacrifice.

(on critics of UN) To reject a thing is fine is you’ve got a replacement, but there’s no replacement for the UN. We either negotiate or we fight. If you don’t want a world war then you need some way of bringing the nations together. We can work to make it better.

Can there be a just war? No. That level of violence is inherently evil.
The priority has to be to prevent that level of violence. To find ways of resolving conflict in such as way that violence is not required.

We have to learn from our past.

Why has the US got so many military bases around the world? That’s destabilising. Having arms around creates fear. And fear undermines cooperation.

The ‘war on terror’ is horrendous, a quite unnecessary imposition. It has vindicated the terrorists. The United States and its allies have completed the terrorists’ job by imposing terror on the rest of us.

The war on terror has diverted governments’ attention away from development as the main tool for preserving security.

We’ve gotten so tied up with arms as the basis of security, not the first millennium development goal – shared prosperity.

We don’t actually have food scarcity, we waste so much, we distribute it so poorly.

With carbon dioxide we’re polluting our common nest.

There’s no silver bullet, everything is complex, everything has a lot of different angles to it, we need to see it from all those angles and address multiple aspects.

For me at one time sustainability seemed to contradict ideas of progress, that we were putting the breaks on…it took me a while to realise that we’re burning our bridges, we’re destroying the ground under us. We’ve got to find different ways of thinking, different ways of working. People’s understanding of who they are, where they are and what progress is about, their relations to each other and to the world, to the future – these things can be very difficult to understand.

We reject violence in any form, physical including to the environment, emotional violence as well. Interactions need to be based on respect.

(Despite all the effort going into sustainability) we’re still a long way from doing what we need to do. How to people feel about this? How does this inaction affect people?

People have to see the light themselves.

(Inability to respond, complexity of science, wickedness of problems yet he seems quite positive) To be effective you have to be positive. If you get negative – you get cynical – you can’t do anything.

We know what we need to do, I hope we find a way of doing it. But to do that we have to know what the blocks are.

(Miracle question) that the fossil fuel industry has collapsed…investors pull out…we will have to act radically.

(Activist) Yes. Not large scale destruction. There’s an enormous amount that’s valuable, we’ve got to build on it. We’ve got to support the constructive…and try to move the others in that direction.

(Advice) Think carefully about what you do and how you can work together with others to impact policy. Commit to Generation Zero’s Climate Voter.

(What’s driving Generation Zero?) Survival. Our young people, they want to live a life

.

My generation has had the best life of any generation. It’s downhill all the way now.

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