I watched a lengthy interview of Paul Keating the other day. It traversed his time in politics with Bob Hawke Keating and Hawke are both ex Prime Ministers of Australia, with Keating serving as Treasurer to Hawke. The interview was candid and interesting, there was one thing that I found refreshing.
Australia had a recession, not as bad as New Zealand’s and the economic medicine that was prescribed was not as nasty as ours. The neo-liberals did not reign supreme over there. Some of this is due to the fact that there was a minerals boom in Australia that set a whole lot of other economic indicators in place, however they did have a recession.
In life and in politics it is very rare to hear people take responsibility for their actions, however it is both liberating and honourable to do so, all care and no responsibility seems to be the catch cry of many politicians and CEO’s. John Banks was on TV acclaiming his acquittal of electoral fraud charges as innocence, what a crock of the proverbial. A man who cannot remember a helicopter ride to the mansion of Kim Dotcom is hardly reliable. The defence of accepting someone else doing the paper work is disingenuous and morally bankrupt. More so because Banksie campaigns on morals and presents himself as above reproach. Banks made a fatal mistake, he forgot the cardinal rule and that is the piper has to be paid. When Mr Dotcom was languishing at the courtesy of her majesty on remand, he needed a kindness. Banks ran like a scalded cat, the rest they say is history. But enough of how he got into the situation it is how he got out of it.
I don’t like Banks or his politics, just to put it out there and I was not unpleased to see his grubby little arrangement become undone. However if he had smply come out and said I stuffed up, I got it wrong, I should have checked it is not good enough, I would have supported him. I would have had no choice because he would have been practicing what I preach. I would have supported him staying in Parliament and supported a discharge without conviction, because in doing so he would have been setting the right example. In doing so he would have provided the best defence and shut up the critics baying for blood, and set the example.
Back to Keating, you see Paul Keating said that in the end, no matter the outside influences, the policies etc he was Treasurer Minister of Finance when the recession struck and he was responsible. I don’t remember what he said at the time and revisionist judgements are not the best but he said it was my responsibility it happened on my watch, end of the story.
Contrast this to our present day pollies, they will do anything to avoid taking responsibility. The trouble with politics is that it is turned into a giant game of gotcha, which is driven by vested interests. Health housing, welfare education, all the same. We in New Zealand have tried to run with a budget approach to these things which are driven by the ideology of low tax and the neo-liberal mantra of privatisation and the nonsense of competition and market forces, which are euphemisms for corporatisation and the shifting of wealth from the bottom to the top. We cannot have world class education and low taxes, the same with health and even housing but nobody wants to tell the truth because that is the equivalent of a bucket of cold sick for breakfast so what do we get.
What we get is secondary taxation in the form of health insurance, ever rising school fees, and the commodification of basic housing just a tip of the iceberg. Those who cannot are cast onto the heap essentially, this is a short sighted approach that is costing us all dearly financially and in real terms. It is reflected in crime, abuse and many other negative social indicators, it is reflected in children living in poverty, short of food, clothes and above all else love and affection. It starts in my opinion in a very basic place and the answers begin in solving that. It is not solved by increasing benefits, more money spent on health and education the solution lies in housing, in my next blog I will explain why, as to Banks, Key, Little, Dot Com et al, learn to take responsibility and be accountable.