Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The Next Labour Leader

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  • Bart Janssen, in reply to BenWilson,

    They have massive land and extremely rich soil

    China does not have extremely rich soil. It suffers from being part of a huge continent and much of its land is nutrient poor and particularly water poor. That said it still has vastly more arable land than New Zealand.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3108 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    If it involves reducing the competitiveness of the only industry that stands between us are the third world

    This is simply not true. There is no conflict between clean rivers and high yield dairy production. The conflict comes from being willing to change practices, different not less productive.

    Dr Joy at Massey says he has very little opposition to his suggested changes in practice from actual farmers once he can talk with them one on one. I kind of trust his assessment that both productivity and sustainability are possible.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3108 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    China does not have extremely rich soil. It suffers from being part of a huge continent and much of its land is nutrient poor and particularly water poor. That said it still has vastly more arable land than New Zealand.

    Yes, I guess I should be specific about the parts of China I'm talking about. The Gobi desert isn't it. The parts where there has been human agriculture for a long time are pretty rich, though. That's how they've got such a massive population. The place feeds 22% of the world's population with 10% of the world's arable land. They're doing something right. So far as milk production goes, the country has 266 million hectares of grassland. If they decided to dedicate even a tiny fraction of that to milk*, NZ is sunk.

    Their water problems are the more serious issue. They are, however, the kind of country that can engage in the kind of massive public works that can deal with such problems. I understand that there are plans for a massive canal from South to North. To supplement the numerous such canals they have already built.

    *ETA NZ has about 2 million hectares for dairy, for comparison.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8015 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to Isaac Freeman,

    ACT to be the low-tax party instead of… whatever the hell they are now.

    the low-life party :?)

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 808 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Dempsey, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Aw, c’mon. The Greens have done a lot to reshape their own image and that started when they chose Metiria as co-leader. Their election broadcasts were, as I noted at the time, Obama-esque in their language. They’ve played down cannabis reform and consciously made themselves appear less radical and less left-wing.

    None of which I have a problem with, but the shift in perception didn’t just happen.

    Fair enough. I should have gone on to explain Foucault's omnipresent power i.e. a power that is not simply transcendental (a public saying the Greens are this or that), but omnipresent in that it flows two ways - from the public to the Greens and from the Greens to the public.

    This suggests that political parties are co-created - between a public at large and political parties. As they should be, after all, we need political parties for specific social functions.

    Parnell / Tamaki-Auckland… • Since Sep 2008 • 635 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Which is the thing to say, and has been the thing to say for simply ages, but can you actually point to any recent example of the Labour leadership “trashing” the Greens and the Maori Party, over and above the normal electoral contest?

    @Russell: No, because I think even Trevor Mallard at his most over-caffenated got that Helen’s “haters and wreckers” blurt was a serious error of judgement. But I have sat in a room (with very few white faces and NO media) not long after the Maori Party joined the government and listened to Shane Jones go on the attack in terms that were well beyond a robust campaign debate and don’t bear repeating here.

    OK, you can say “harden the fuck up, be-atches, and deal” but the idea that there’s a lot of bad blood between Labour and the MP doesn’t come as a great surprise to me. And, of a kind of you don’t shake off overnight. What keeps politics interesting is the involvement of human beings - with their parchment-thin skins and near-Balkan abilities to bear a grudge attached. :)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11614 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    China does not have extremely rich soil

    IANAF, but nor does NZ, right? That's why we need the topdressing planes?

    Also IANC, but China is a bloody huge place. I'm sure some of it must have decent soil (and if a country is sufficently determined, it can make farmland out of poor beginnings. Look at all the Dutch farmland that used to be the North Sea).

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4209 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to BenWilson,

    Maybe making a national and believable green brand might actually work, enabling us to make high margin products, in sustainable way. Eventually, everyone's going to have to do this - it wouldn't hurt us to be one of the first ones.

    That was the last Labour government's position - though they hadn't funded it enough yet. Trashed immediately anyway by the incoming Nats at Copenhagen, embarrassing our well-respected public servants who had to explain the faith-based change to their peers.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15715 posts Report Reply

  • Isaac Freeman, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    My friends at work have long argued we should just form our own political party and call it “The real Greens” or something similar.

    It's been tried at least once.

    That is a reflection of our frustration with the difference between the party we have now and the green political movement which almost every one of my colleagues support.

    New movements tend to be united fronts populated by enthusiastic people who share common enemies. In the early stages, the enthusiasm is more important than the consistency. As they mature, they either collapse into infighting or they exhaust the available pool of disparate activists and start to present a more coherent position that can attract people who want to do more than just subvert the dominant paradigm.

    I voted Green because I feel they're growing up nicely.

    In the longer term, I think there are also generational cycles. Green politics has been through a couple in New Zealand, which nicely line up with the institutional Values and Green parties.

    That perhaps is the path that a Labour party could take.

    I'd propose that it happened for Labour in the thirties: by the time of Savage and Fraser, the party had shed a lot of its earlier activism and shifted to a social democratic platform. You could call it "moving to the centre", but I think it's more that people outside the movement finally had a clear idea of what Labour were for rather than just what they were against.

    What happens next probably depends on how successful the institution is. If, like Values, you don't gain enough traction, you collapse and reform later into a new institution that can have a fresh go at getting beyond the activist mode. If, like Labour, you do gain power, your struggle is between maintaining your coherence and dealing with the complexities of real governance. Then when you lose power, you either reconnect with your principles or you collapse back into disparate groups of activists.

    I think there's a common view that new political movements tend to be ideologically pure, but I suspect that's seldom the case in practice.

    But probably not, since it distracts from what is really needed which is a genuinely strong Labour identity that powerfully represents a smaller portion of New Zealand rather than weakly representing a larger portion.

    I suspect that if Labour were clearer about its values and platform, it would find itself attracting more people, not fewer. They did a great job of this in the election, but the campaign was short, and in the three years before it was rather unclear what Labour was about.

    Christchurch • Since Feb 2007 • 127 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Robertson, in reply to BenWilson,

    The place feeds 22% of the world’s population with 10% of the world’s arable land.

    IANAF either, but what they're doing right is mostly not eating meat. Plant calories are a lot more efficient to produce. Their food situation will get more difficult as more affluent Chinese consumers eat more meat and dairy, which is why they want to buy NZ farms.

    Most of China isn't well suited to dairy - it's less the soil fertility than water availability. Cows use a lot of water, and the water supply is already overallocated. Plus a lot of it is fossil water, which is being used up fast.

    Auckland • Since Feb 2011 • 5 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Isaac Freeman,

    I suspect that if Labour were clearer about its values and platform, it would find itself attracting more people, not fewer.

    My hunch as well. But it is a risk that more clearly defining the principles alienates some at the same time as it makes it easier for others to choose Labour ("that's the party that represents me").

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3108 posts Report Reply

  • Euan Mason,

    Craig, point taken. Apologies to anyone who was offended.

    Canterbury • Since Jul 2008 • 140 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Chris Robertson,

    Plant calories are a lot more efficient to produce.

    Yup, that's it. You're right Chris the thing that is different about NZ is the water. NZ soils are pretty good, certainly not significantly worse or better than anywhere else in the world. But we have water and lots of it. It's one of the two natural resources that can make NZ rich if we manage it right. That's part of Dr Joy's frustration (I think) with the polluted waterways. We have enough water to produce dairy without polluting we just need to do things differently.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3108 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    We have enough water to produce dairy without polluting we just need to do things differently.

    And the proposed $400m South Island irrigation plan being underwritten by the taxpayer – and asset sales to boot – pulls the middle finger at that. I thought that farm subsidies were so 1986.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 3897 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    making a national and believable green brand might actually work... they hadn't funded it enough yet

    Not being a neolib or anything, but I don't believe it's in the gift of government to build "a national brand".

    What they should be doing is ensuring we have a decent environment because its a Good Thing, and ensuring that we have a sustainable economy because it's a Good Thing *and* it will enable us to survive the onset of resource exhaustion and climate change.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4209 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to DeepRed,

    the middle finger

    That and the announcement of a pro-mining assoc. minister of conservation today suggests more than one finger.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3108 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    NZ already had a largely-undeserved international "clean green" brand worth billions. Investing in that is part of the current generation's role as kaitiaki, as well as sound sustainable economic development.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15715 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Aston, in reply to Deborah,

    Waitakere man = David Cunliffe What??!!! Best you explain that, Richard, because I don't see the connection at all.

    oops completely missed the boat on that one and Sacha had no idea Cunliffe was a
    Herne Bay millionaire - he's my local MP - don't like him much but had always assumed he was ... local .
    Bugger

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 421 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Robertson, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    We have enough water to produce dairy without polluting we just need to do things differently.

    Which is why the proposed South Island irrigation is so frustrating. We have plenty of water in most of the country (well, most of the time - if climate change keeps producing droughts in areas like Northland, things get scary), but they want to farm in the rain shadow of the Southern Alps as if they were in Taranaki.

    And, as you say, it's perfectly possible to produce dairy without polluting the waterways - even at current stocking levels, riparian planting and managing artificial inputs to reduce runoff would make a difference.

    Auckland • Since Feb 2011 • 5 posts Report Reply

  • Isaac Freeman, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    But it is a risk that more clearly defining the principles alienates some at the same time as it makes it easier for others to choose Labour (“that’s the party that represents me”).

    I think it depends how deep you go. People within the party, especially if it's been in government for a while, will tend to focus on policies. That's valuable, but the general public won't get as far as looking at your policies if they don't know what your fundamental values are.

    Basically, I am advocating that parties should be able to explain themselves to a three-year-old.

    We believe there should be a capital gains tax.
    Why? Because taxing some kinds of investments more than others isn't a good idea.
    Why? Because a diverse economy is more stable than a narrow one.
    Why? Because different people have different skills, and we're better off when everyone contributes.
    Why? Because we can do more when we work together than we can separately.
    Why? Because we're all in it together.

    When you can show how your policies are motivated by values everyone shares, then you really have something. You have a better chance of reaching people who haven't voted for you before, because they're more likely to share your values than agree with you on every point of policy.

    Man, I am explainy today. I am aware that I am talking about abstractions, and don't have to walk the talk of running a real political party.

    Christchurch • Since Feb 2007 • 127 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Aston,

    Or “stupid cliche”. The wild West is my digs, at least half of the people I associate with on a regular basis come from the surrounding hills. More than half of my extended family are in the lower foothills. The cliches don’t really work. They’re a complex brew. Every extreme. Every business, every race, every class, every sexuality. People engaged, and totally disengaged. Hard honest workers and criminals. Students, the unemployed, hobby farmers. Gangsters. Cops. Artists, poets, dancers, writers. Stoners and meth-heads, and party pill poppers. Extreme sports lovers. Factory workers, office workers, tradespeople, professionals, technicians, businesspeople. And thousands more sub groups.

    +1 Ben,
    I live in the west too - and yup it is way more diverse than the cliche - even Henderson or Te Atatu don't fully add up to the cliche .

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 421 posts Report Reply

  • Isaac Freeman, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Not being a neolib or anything, but I don’t believe it’s in the gift of government to build “a national brand”.

    When you get down to it, building a brand is nothing more than communicating clearly what you're about. The only reason it gets waffly is that lots of people either don't know what they're about, and try to build a brand anyway.

    What they should be doing is ensuring we have a decent environment because its a Good Thing, and ensuring that we have a sustainable economy because it’s a Good Thing *and* it will enable us to survive the onset of resource exhaustion and climate change.

    Perfectly good brand in there.

    Christchurch • Since Feb 2007 • 127 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Chris Robertson,

    at current stocking levels

    And that's a big problem - the govt-backed notion that doubling dairy herds is good for this country. And the accompanying nonsense about subsidising famers for their carbon pollution until technology comes to the rescue. Heaven forbid they should have to cut their expansionary ambition to suit the environment's current carrying capacity. Agri uber alles.

    Naturally the opposition were all over that for the last few years..

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15715 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Richard Aston,

    had no idea

    I'm sure that daughter of yours could have steered you right :)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15715 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    Grant Robertson has just announced (I saw it on Facebook) that he has decided to stand as deputy to Shearer. Wonder what this will mean to the race/conflict/situation?

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 1901 posts Report Reply

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