|Jacinda Ardern takes decisive action and discusses recording a duet with Pink.|
The failure of the Labour -led Government and its Green Party ally to respond to popular demands for meaningful action on climate change and economic inequality represents a failure of our so-called 'representative democracy'.
THIS EASTER Extinction Rebellion supporters have been out on the streets protesting about the Government's dreadfully inadequate climate change policies and the lack of urgency on display. Although there are mixed messages being transmitted by XR, no one can deny that the fledgling movement ain't happy with what the Labour-led Government and its Green Party ally are doing - or not doing.
Will the Government take any notice? Fat chance. While XR might want carbon neutrality by 2030, the Government will continue to sleepwalk to supposed carbon neutrality by 2050, as if we have got all the time in the world. It's been noticeable that while the Climate Change Minister was more than keen to be associated with the government- friendly student protest last month, James Shaw has stayed well clear of Extinction Rebellion.
Popular will has struck the wall of government conservatism and intransigence as far as climate change is concerned and it has been much the same over the capital gains tax . While the rich and propertied have applauded the Government for not introducing the tax, the dissatisfaction and outright anger within the general community continues to rumble on. Some journalists, like Bernard Hickey and Bryan Bruce, have wrote of the possibility of a new political party emerging. Even some of the usual Labour cheerleaders, under the misimpression that this Government would be 'transformative', have sounded half-hearted in their defence of the Government. I imagine they are just following orders.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's claim to be a politician of the people has been proven to be an hollow one. She is another figurehead for a representative democracy that is neither representative or democratic. That Ardern can slide away from her 'commitment' to meaningfully fighting economic inequality and climate change with little real consequence, exposes again how little influence that we , the people, have on the political process.
Democracy has to mean more than just voting every three years, especially since at our polling booths we are presented with a slate of parliamentary parties offering little more than more of the same. We can vote for anything we want, so long as its the 'free market'. No wonder so many us, like me for instance, no longer vote.
In the Danish fable “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” it was a little boy who pointed out what no adult dared expose: The king was naked; his court, a cast of pompous fools beguiled by tricksters. That's our representative democracy. That's our Parliament.
The failure of representative democracy has often been defined as merely a matter of political and theoretical debate, to be corralled into the safe waters of academia and away from the great unwashed. But the consequences of our political dysfunction will prove be disastrous unless we act now. The lack of any real and urgent action on climate change represents political failure at all levels of government. The failure of our 'representative democracy' to respond to the popular will is not one we should tolerate because our very survival is at stake.
Journalist George Monbiot writing of the British experience has observed:
'The political class, as anyone who has followed its progress over the past three years can surely now see, is chaotic, unwilling and, in isolation, strategically incapable of addressing even short-term crises, let alone a vast existential predicament.'
A similar observation can be made here in New Zealand too. When the demand should be for system change not climate change, voting every three years merely to rubberstamp the continued rule of the one percent is a sorely inadequate response to the crisis of climate change, not to mention deepening inequality.