This was originally published on the Taranaki Daily News Online on 10/07/2012 and in the print edition on 11/07/2012.
When I first sat down to write a reply to Gordon Brown’s latest column in the Taranaki Daily News my heart dropped.
How can I refute so many factual errors, point out so many inconsistencies, and generally try and respond to the eclectic string of sentences most probably constructed by Mr Brown holding the keyboard upside down while jerking his knee violently against it?
The route settled on was to ignore most of what Mr Brown wrote and attempt to divine the general themes he was trying to get across and discuss those.
The first point is that a set-net ban up to 3.7 KM out from the coast is ridiculous.
Why are there only a few dolphins left?
It is because we have overfished our kaimoana and have used unsustainable practises to catch it.
The dangerous decline of dolphin species around Taranaki is a symptom of a wider problem.
A set net ban is a solution for the root cause of not only the near extinction of some species but for overfishing in general.
A set net ban means that my grandchildren will be able to enjoy fish on the table and might even get to see a Maui Dolphin.
Mr Brown’s second point seems to be that Greens are cold-hearted callous dolphins, in disguise as humans, who thrive on watching man’s misery.
I can pretty much guarantee that no Green celebrated the loss of employment of the 18 people Mr Brown cites. In fact, given the chance, I’m sure that most Greens would like to help them out.
Oh, and Greens are mostly homo sapiens. Mostly.
The third point Mr Brown attempts to make is that the Greens supposed silence on social issues means they do not care.
The best reaction to terrible crimes isn’t always to hop on a high horse and start screaming till one is blue in the face.
Silence does not equate to inaction.
Greens tend to look at, and try and solve, the causes of problems — not the symptoms.
Why do we have so much domestic violence? We know income inequality, poverty, alcohol, drugs, and a plethora of other big ticket social issues drive domestic violence. So while we may be quiet on individual cases — out of respect for the victims — the Greens have been the most vocal political party on these issues with the most practical solutions.
This brings us on to Mr Brown’s fifth point, that the Greens constantly shriek.
Tinnitus aside, I’m not sure what Mr Brown is getting at. The Greens and charities like KidsCan are not banshees any more than they are dolphins.
Evidence of the sizeable number of children in New Zealand who live in poverty is pretty well documented and researched.
KidsCan does an amazing job of providing children things that society fails to provide them: shoes, lunches, raincoats.
Spokespeople for charities such as KidsCan have repeatedly said that they wish the charities did not have to exist.
Moving along to Mr Brown’s sixth point: New Zealand should just mine the hell out of every piece of land we can dig a hole in so we can catch up economically with Australia.
Even without the sneaky racist dog whistle against Maori treaty claims in there this is a load of bull.
We can never compete with Australia when it comes to mining.
Have you looked at a map? Australia is about 29 times bigger than New Zealand. Most of it is sparse desert.
The places in New Zealand where people want to mine, drill, and frack are close to people, full of rare animals and plants, and are downright beautiful.
We simply cannot mine our way to prosperity. We’ve got to be smart about it.
The seventh, and penultimate point Mr Brown tries to make, is that the National Government is right (in a Cullen-esque ‘we won, you lost, eat that’ kind of way) about selling state owned assets.
Democracy is about the battle of ideas. Mr Brown alleges that National were elected in on a platform of selling state assets, therefore it is also logical the seats Labour, the Greens, New Zealand First, won were won on the basis that they opposed state asset sales.
Which is what they are doing now: using their democratic right to oppose the sale of state assets, which makes no economic sense and will leave New Zealand in a worse position financially than if we keep them.
Being smart about this would entail New Zealand keeping our state owned power companies and setting them a goal of exporting renewable energy technologies.
Actually there is no point eight because I’m still very confused as to what Mr Brown was trying to get across with the Ian Kirkpatrick quote.
The fact we have driven a couple of species of dolphin almost to extinction is a sure sign we are doing something wrong just as the prevalence of domestic violence, crime, and poverty show we doing something wrong.
Sure, kids and jobs are important, but without a healthy environment there is nothing to sustain us.
Jackson Wood is a dolphin-loving greenie who likes to read Mr Brown’s columns on a weekly basis. You can follow him on Twitter at @_jjw_.