Earth to Labour: You’re in Opposition Now

by Jeremy Greenbrook-Held

Message to Phil, Annette and co: you’re no longer the party of Government so you don’t need to act like it any more.

With a comprehensive line of attack against the National/ACT RMA reforms (loved the Auckland Chainsaw Massacre, by the way) and growing understanding and opposition to what the reforms were actually going to mean to Aucklanders (especially in Waitakere), Labour had a chance to take a stand against the government. And, after loosing the last election to a “time for a change” party that had framed itself as Labour-lite, Labour needs to take every opportunity it can to differentiate itself from the Government.

But no. Labour had to be the party of compromise. Someone in the Leader of the Opposition’s office has been watching Obama and the health care debate and thought they’d be able to reach across the partisan divide. Labour agreed with the majority of the Bill so thought they’d vote for it, despite National refusing separate votes on the points which Labour disagreed with (such as the chopping down of trees).

So the headlines yesterday morning were:

  • National passes RMA reform with the support of Labour.
  • Nikki Kaye was the only MP who actually questioned Nick Smith on the proposals.

Sorry Labour, you got played.

National doesn’t need your votes, the legislation was going to pass regardless of how you voted, and you’ve just given a stick that you could have used to beat them with to them so they can beat you with it.

And as for Nikki Kaye, that was just to quell the upraising (something John Key has encouraged, no less) in Auckland regarding proposed changes – “yeah, Nikki Kaye is standing up for Auckland Central – she’s even questioning her own party’s Ministers!”

Not to mention that Labour should have voted against the bill simply on process – passing this under urgancy is an attack on democracy.

And then David Cunliffe states that the only way to stop this is to vote National out in 2011 and Labour will change the RMA back before it comes into law in 2012. Only, every Labour candidate at the next election who tries to use that line on the hustings will be reminded that Labour voted for the reforms. Checkmate.

While opposing government provisions for the sake of it is a little disingenuous, parties of opposition are supposed offer an alternative to the government – that’s what they’re there for. I suggest that Phil and Annette go have a cup of tea with the Greens – they’re proffessionals at being in opposition (being the only party currently in Parliament who have never been in Government).