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Richard Prebble: Logic versus emotion

Whether you have voted or not, the Herald Auckland mayoral debate is revealing.

Efeso Collins really does not know there is no such thing as free transport. Taxpayers pay for Gold Card holders “free” joyrides on the Waiheke ferries. Tourists will joyride “free” public transport. The cost to ratepayers will be conservatively four times Efeso’s estimate.

Wayne Brown sees everything as an issue with a rational solution. What is the problem? What are the facts? What the options? Wayne is right. It is logical to spend money to utilize the full potential of the existing roads before spending billions on new projects. No wonder successive governments have used him as a problem solver. It also explains why Wayne clashes with those who think emotionally. Auckland has no shortage of issues for a rational problem solver to fix.

Less emotion and some logic would have prevented our Prime Minister from giving a silly speech to the United Nation’s General Assembly. Major foreign policy speeches are usually carefully crafted. Events in the Ukraine caused Jacinda to re-write her address. The speech that is attracting ridicule on social media might be the result of jetlag.

The Prime Minister said in essence that free speech caused the Ukraine war. Free speech is preventing governments tackling climate change. Free speech is depriving citizens of their human rights. Free speech is now a “weapon of war”. Jacinda called for the United Nations to act. If that is not what the Prime Minister meant, what did she mean? Judge for yourself:

“This war is based on a lie… But what if that lie, told repeatedly, and across many platforms, prompts, inspires, or motivates others to take up arms?”

“This is no longer a hypothetical. The weapons of war have changed, they are upon us and require the same level of action and activity that we put into the weapons of old”

“After all, how do you successfully end a war if people are led to believe the reason for its existence is not only legal but noble? How do you tackle climate change if people do not believe it exists? How do you ensure the human rights of others are upheld, when they are subjected to hateful and dangerous rhetoric and ideology?

But we have an opportunity here to ensure that these particular weapons of war do not become an established part of warfare”.

It is emotional nonsense. Putin’s war is only possible because Russia does not have free speech. Debate and discussion is vital to combating climate change. What are our human rights worth if we can only express views deemed by governments not to be “hateful and dangerous rhetoric and ideology?”

The Prime Minister’s emotional “Christchurch Call” for more control over the Internet received a huge defeat last week. The International Telecommunication Union elected the American Doreen Bogdan-Martin secretary-general defeating the Russian former deputy minister of telecommunications. The 139 countries voting for Bogdan-Martin know America does not support the Christchurch Call. Just 25 countries, led by China, voted for the Russian candidate who advocates state control.

New Zealand’s foreign policy should be driven by our values, security, trade and a rational examination of our interests. When our foreign policy is promoting the celebrity status of a politician and her personal agenda the result damages New Zealand.

There were two big state funerals last month: The funeral of the longest serving monarch of Great Britain and the funeral of the longest serving Prime Minister of Japan.

Wikipedia lists the dignitaries who attended. New Zealand had twelve dignitaries at the Queen’s funeral. Wikipedia lists no dignitary from New Zealand at Shinzo Abe’s funeral. Actually we sent Megan Woods, the mister of energy, but no one noticed.

The Australians sent their Prime Minister and three former Australian Prime Ministers. Twenty heads of state, seven Vice-Presidents including Vice-President Kamala Harris plus fourteen foreign ministers, including the UK’s, were there. The Prime Ministers of India, South Korea and Singapore were among the dignitaries from 117 countries.

The UK is our seventh trading partner. Japan is our fourth.

When a minister I was astonished by the importance officials gave to invitations. Every decline is analyzed.

The Japanese will be wondering such low level representation? Is it racism? Is New Zealand offended at being excluded from the Quad, the security arrangement between the USA, Japan, India and Australia? Neither is the reason.

All the New Zealand televisions channels sent camera crews to cover the Queen’s state funeral. No channel sent a camera crew to Japan. No camera is why Jacinda did not go.

The Foreign Minister, Nanaia Mahuta could not go. Government departments keep giving her husband, without tender, contracts.

Scandal is an excuse the Japanese will understand. Shinzo Abe’s career was marred by a series of scandals.

We voters may not be so forgiving.

The Honourable Richard Prebble CBE is a former member of the New Zealand Parliament. Initially a member of the Labour Party, he joined the newly formed ACT New Zealand party under Roger Douglas in 1996, becoming its leader from 1996 to 2004.

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