New govt programme a throwback to the ’80s

Photo: file
It's depressing that the new government’s programme seems designed to increase the gross inequalities that have developed in New Zealand since the 1980s, and includes no obvious action to address the severe, chronic underfunding of health, education, and social services, not to mention the essential infrastructure needed to provide housing, public transport, clean water, sewage disposal and drainage of the increasingly heavy rainfall caused by global warming. Indeed, its plans to reduce public spending to fund tax cuts for the better-off suggest that such underfunding will be getting much worse.

For a government to pander to Tiriti denialism, and racism, doesn’t help. Last Tuesday’s protests are likely to be repeated on a much greater scale if it puts into effect the anti-Māori moves agreed to in the coalition documents — Mr Luxon will find he was right when, before the election, he described the ACT party’s policy of a referendum on Te Tiriti as "divisive and unhelpful". Nor does finding the government in (literally) deadly thrall to Big Tobacco; to hear Messrs Luxon and Bishop claiming, bizarrely, that there’s only one tobacco retailer in Northland (there are 35); or to realise that Nicola Willis, despite being the National Party’s finance spokeswoman when the 2023 Budget was published, apparently either didn’t read it or didn’t understand it.

But perhaps most worrying in the medium term, apart from the new government’s functional denial of global warming and the sixth Earth systems collapse, is the promotion by Winston Peters, deputy prime minister for the next 18 months, of conspiracy theories — recently, repeatedly, and ridiculously, alleging that mainstream media, the "4th Estate" vital to a democratic society, were "bribed" by the previous government’s Public Interest Journalism Fund (administered by NZ on Air with strict independence from government). Mr Peters’ conscienceless fishing for the votes of conspiracy theorists may have got NZ First over the 5% line and into government, but most New Zealanders don’t want, and the nation certainly doesn’t need, this deliberate, Trumpian, "Big Lie", behaviour from someone who will, at times, be Acting Prime Minister.


So let’s consider something remote from the stench of current New Zealand politics.

Has Simon O’Donnell ever suffered from the agonising pain of a cramp?

That name wasn’t known to Civis prior to an outburst from him last month about an incident during the recent Cricket World Cup (pyjama game version) semifinal between the Indian and New Zealand teams, but apparently he used to play for Australia in one-day internationals.

Speaking on an Australian radio station he criticised the actions of New Zealand players who assisted Indian captain Virat Kohli when he suffered from a cramp while batting in the dehydrating heat of Mumbai, checking on his welfare, helping him stretch his hamstrings, and picking up his bat for him — "Why would you go and help Virat Kohli when he had a cramp? When they’re heading for 400. In a World Cup final. Spirit of the game is playing within the laws. Virat Kohli is tearing your country apart and you want to go over and give him a hand?"

There are answers to that: sportsmanship and humanity.

Thankfully, New Zealander Daryl Mitchell, who made a century in the New Zealand team’s semifinal loss to India, said that the NZ side won’t change its approach, saying "We want to play cricket in a way that suits us as a country, and how we want to see our children grow up and play the game themselves. It’s something we’re really proud of, so we’ll just keep being Black Caps and doing what we’re doing."

Several New Zealand players congratulated Kohli, after his dismissal, on the century he scored, and after the game, won by India by 70 runs, captain Kane Williamson paid tribute to him and to the 50 ODI centuries he has scored.

That’s the real spirit of cricket, and, one hopes, of New Zealand.