Ears on the Wall Syndrome: El Nino predicted: An omen for political wisdom...

02 August 2012

New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) has predicted warmer than normal weather come spring time. And I must say the predicted El Nino weather pattern is an indication of what could be around the corner as far as government decision making is concerned, and the effect those decisions would have on the people of New Zealand.

Dr Featuna'i Liua'ana and author of Ears on the Wall syndrome

Dr Featuna’i Liua’ana

For instance, the icy tunnel-vision attitude displayed by John Key and his government in their insistence to push the sale of Mighty River Power without taking into consideration the more than 200,000 signatories objecting to the sale of Crown assets (Key threatening to legislate if efforts were made to stall or stop its implementation), has defrosted with an announcement by the government that it would consider a direction by the Waitangi Tribunal to stop any progress on asset sales until the Waitangi Tribunal’s full ruling on water rights claim is released next September.

It has been said that given time, and even delaying implementing a proposal or plan, can reap more positive outcomes than if it had been promptly implemented. The next two months should give those who fervently oppose the sale of Crown assets amble time to present their case not only to the government to reconsider but to the New Zealand public to see beyond the implications of selling off Crown assets.

For instance, the public should at least question again the wisdom behind the government’s loyalty bonus scheme. If the reason behind the partial sale of Crown assets is to create revenue to help bail New Zealand out of the present economic doldrums, then surely offering bonus shares, albeit to ordinary investors only, would only prevent the inevitable of Crown asset shares being sold off to foreign investors. And not only would the government lose money on bonus shares that would not be sold but given away for free, but after three years the shares will be worth a lot more than their face value. And if sold to foreign investors, it will be worth even more. Sadly, it won’t be the poor and low income earners nor the government, but the rich, who would be laughing all the way to the bank.

I take my hat off to John Key, therefore, for the wisdom to delay the process in selling Mighty River Power; it is a mighty powerful decision to make, especially now that NIWA has predicted El Nino weather come spring and summer, which means dry conditions, droughts, and, you guessed it, lack of water. I am very optimistic that the latest weather prediction by the government’s own research institution will be a blessing in disguise, or better still, an omen, not to be ignored, for some political wisdom.

And while we are talking about the idea of delaying implementing present proposals by government, perhaps it is also good political wisdom, at this time, for parliament to consider delaying any due consideration to Labour MP Louisa Wall’s private member’s bill which aims at legalising same-sex marriage. Everyone in parliament needs to take a leaf out of Winston Peters and New Zealand First’s assessment and advice – put it to the New Zealand public and let them decide.

I have mentioned how important wisdom is at this point of time when MPs are dealing with issues that not only affect the rights of New Zealanders as minorities, but also the rights of the majority of New Zealanders as a nation. I am a strong supporter of the belief that everyone has rights; and everyone has a right to demand that their rights, whatever those rights maybe and how minor they maybe, be recognised, even through legislation if it is warranted. However, I also believe the rights of individuals and small minorities must not supersede and prevail over the rights and expectations of the majority of the people of a nation to live in a society that its solidarity comes from believing in, and enforcing, moral standards that any sound minded and intelligent nation would expect as the primary foundation for sustaining a well balanced society.

We only need to look offshore to the eleven or so countries, and some six American states, who have implemented such laws to see the sociological and psychological aftermath. And despite President Barack Obama supporting same-sex marriages, the fact that forty-four other American states refuse to recognise it, speaks volume to what any sound minded society expects. Such delicate issues should not be decided by a few MPs, even if the few MPs in question are duly elected representatives of the New Zealand people. It is important to keep in mind that any discussion and decisions on issues, such as the institution of marriage, that has a natural and universal effect across diverse races, cultures, and even religions, it needs to be debated within a much wider and diverse forum with any impending resolutions and/or solutions to be the consensus of the majority of the society or nation; and the New Zealand First Party’s call for a referendum reflects that wider and diverse stage for a forum; even John Key admits that the controversial bill is an issue that involves only a small minority of New Zealanders.

What appals me the most, is the fact that many MPs are against Louisa Wall’s private bill on principle, and that includes many MPs from the National and Labour Parties, and yet they are still supporting it for the sake of political ‘wheeling and dealing’ and not because of political wisdom. Shame on those MPs who would play Russian roulette with moral threads that maintain and sustain the virtues and ideals our New Zealand way of life value most. And while its thumbs-up to Winston Peters and the New Zealand First Party’s call for a referendum, I am afraid they will also fail the New Zealand public if their MPs abstain from casting a vote; it’s just an excuse to sit on the fence and reducing the number of votes needed to pass the controversial private bill in its first reading.

But we should not place all the responsibilities and blame on our MPs; we as the New Zealand public should be more vocal and active in preventing such bills becoming laws because it will define the kind of society that we do not want to live in presently, and, most of all, it will redefine who and what we do not want to become. Our collective voice and solidarity in numbers can make a huge difference; a difference that I also believe can be achieved by our MPs if they all vote from their conscience and keep in mind their electorate’s stance on such matters, as the Prime Minister John Key admits doing when dealing with conscience and moral issues. This is the only way for political wisdom to prevail, and the majority of New Zealanders pray that the wisest decision to make would be to vote against Louisa Wall’s private bill. Think about the amount of tax-payers’ money, time and resources, that would not be wasted. Come to think of it, the money that is saved could be New Zealand tax-payers contribution towards funding the bonus shares scheme should the government go ahead with the sale of Mighty River Power.

Finally, lack of wisdom has affected some of our Pacific Island people lately; with an immigration scam involving many of our Tongan friends at the mercy of other Tongans. While the Police seems to be on top of the matter in apprehending some of the fraudsters, it is also a timely reminder to all of us of just how much the present economic slump has turned brothers against brothers, as greed and criminal activities fuelled by poverty, dysfunctional families, unemployment, and lack of respect for societal norms and morality finds a foothold within the poor and low income sectors of our Pacific Island communities. Meanwhile some of our MPs add to our burdens by trying to introduce a further cause for dysfunction in the same-sex marriage bill.

The immigration scam has shown just how gullible some people are, and yet, within this so-called scam, there seems to be an element of desperation that drives such people to criminal activities. Rumours that has filtered through the walls suggest such scams have become prevalent because the present government has failed to address the needs of the marginalised. There is an overwhelming belief, whether factual or not, that such desperate measures had come about because Immigration New Zealand has failed many of them, employment opportunities have dried up, housing has become unaffordable, welfare assistance has diminished, and the cost of education has turned many Pacific Islanders to ‘couch warmers’; and many Pacific Islanders regard all that has happened in the political, social, and economic sphere as a ‘kick in the butt’ for them. Such thinking spread like wildfire, even if it is unfounded; but it affects like-minded people in a society if their predicaments are not addressed.

But having said that, I reiterate once again the importance of not being complacent in exercising prudence and turning our awkward situations into a positive state of affairs that is conducive to sustaining moral and ethical standards within our own Pacific Island communities. Yes, life is tough enough as it is, but it has being said that “when the going gets tough the tough gets going.” And Pacific Island people are resilient and we have risen from the ashes of many similar situations before to fulfil our dreams.

Let us pray for political wisdom not to fail us now, and with our faith intact in the Almighty, we will survive all that the world, the government, our society, and even our own communities throw at us; and remember to fulfil our watch words: Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into…Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.



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