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Horse Trading Scheme

November 30, 2009

New Zealand’s political/journalism system is terrible.

Case 1: Some sort of “Emissions Trading Scheme” passed the other day after some strange negotiations which meant that the only real difficulty National had in passing the bill was appeasing the Maori Party.  Never mind the massive disagreements on the most important parts of the policy, viz. whether the bill will actually reduce emissions enough.

At least the bill “strikes the right balance in protecting the future of our economy and our environment.” and “ensures that we should do our fair share on climate change without the pretence [stuff sic] that we should lead the world.”

Case 2: Private prisons are also coming along it seems.  The government and prison companies claim they are a great idea, the opposition says they are a bad idea.

Regardless, both these cases fit the pattern:

  • Policy proposed
  • Both sides lay down their arguments and the issue is forgotten for a while
  • Bill eventually passes essentially unchanged under urgency as both sides repeat their original arguments.

Probably leading, in a few year’s time, to

  • Policies turn out to be awful/great and a later government tries to fix them using the same process.

Useful steps such as

  • Discuss arguments for and against the proposal and alter the bill to make it better even if this is not required to get votes in parliament.


  • Have news stories that do more to determine how good policies are than simply repeating one-sentence statements from each party.

don’t seem to happen very often.  Every issue seems to have become a round of boxing, one side wins and one side loses and then it’s on to the next.  Also notice how the arguments of the opposition tend to be mostly useless too, such as “OH NO PRIVATISATION!” or “CATERING TO BUSINESS INTERESTS!” instead of a long detailed explanation of why specifically the particular policy is a bad idea.  Whoever is to blame for this, it sucks.

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