Question: What is the connection between David Benson-Pope lying to everybody again about the activities of his staffer, and rules to “enhance the transparency of campaign finance laws”?
Answer: On the face of it, nothing.
Except when you consider this.
The wonks are in overdrive coming up with this shit. Throughout the public service, sustainability has become the catch-word for more money. Leading the charge is the Ministry for the Environment, with all sorts of useful advice on how to be green.
But it is everywhere. The Ministry of Economic Development--those who never actually create any economic value--tell us how to run sustainable businesses .
Thus, tourism has to become sustainable tourism. Transport, the biggest single industry contributor to carbon emissions, is obviously fronting a big chunk of the work. MAF has come up with a big body of work to look at agricultural sustainability. The Ministry of Education has advisers telling schools how they should go about building “sustainable buildings”. Te Puni Kokiri now exists to promote Maori economic transformation in an environmentally friendly way. Research into sustainability has become a key theme. All in all, there are some 22,000 pages and policy documents on government websites discussing environmental sustainability.
Evidently, it hasn't occurred to anybody in government that government itself would be a whole lot economically, and environmentally sustainable if there weren't so many fucking civil servants blowing so much precious air talking about it.
The communications units of the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Economic Development are being beefed up this year in anticipation of outrageous levels of public spending in the second half of next year on reducing energy use and environmental sustainability. Huge advertising that will echo everything that Labour has said, but done nothing about, its biggest policy platform of this term.
Millions upon millions of taxpayers’ money will be spent by government departments preaching Labour’s dying gasps of office. As a voter, you simply won’t be able to tell the difference between a Helen Clark advertisement for Labour, and a Helen Clark advertisement for sustainability. You will be overwhelmed with so much crap on television telling you to turn off your lights, drive more slowly, wear warmer clothes, shit less often, and swimming to Australia rather than flying Emirates, that you will be oblivious to the noise of any other kind of advertising on television. Except for the one with Jonah, that tells you that you should keep on watching telly and rack up more energy use, and not pay your power bill.
Because the Government hopes that by making a whole lot of noise about what you should be doing to drastically change your lifestyle, you will lose sight of the fact that on sustainability issues, the Government hasn’t actually achieved anything. Transport emissions have flatlined because of rising international oil prices: not because Labour’s done some grand and brilliant thing to magically make people more efficient. Agricultural emissions have climbed. Industrial energy consumption has grown with economic growth. As the government has hired tens of thousands more civil servants to huff and puff their way through analysis, so too does the Crown’s carbon footprint now need a much larger shoe.
The Government also wants you to forget in election year that the one tool that industry has to mitigate its carbon emissions—planting trees—has been wiped out by a greedy, tax-addicted government that is not just confiscating forestry carbon credits from industry, but also penalises foresters for not planting trees in the first place. It is the great nationalisation of forestry by any other name. The result of it is that there are fewer new trees being planted now than in several generations.
You won’t hear that next year, because this Labour government doesn’t actually care about the reality. To ensure that you don’t hear about the reality of what is happening in the forestry industry, Labour, through Mark Burton, is introducing a piece of legislation banning the forestry industry from promoting its message next year, under the guise of restricting “third party advertising”.
You won’t hear from industry affected by Labour on its all-talk, no-action sustainability message. You won’t hear the contradictions, because only the Government, through its stupendous public information campaigns, will be telling you their side of the story.
The astonishing reality is that the reason David Benson-Pope and Helen Clark needed Madeleine Setchell out of her critical role at the Ministry for the Environment was not because they don’t trust her neutrality. On the contrary, they trust Satchell’s neutrality too much. The last person they need managing the Government’s biggest re-election spend-up is a person who might actually exercise a degree of impartiality and objectivity.
Not at all. For this kind of crusade, Labour needs somebody much more partisan.