|The Minister of Forestry's office says the West Coast's axed beech scheme is leading a few people to "extremism". However, Chris Perley points out that the Government's action has followed the form of that time-honoured tradition of scapegoat politics. He says that it involves a WHOLE COMMUNITY many of whom have effectively been condemned to what will be minimal welfare, WITHOUT trial (other than by media). That IS worthy of an analogy with dictators such as Hitler, because it fits.|
Subject: RE: media comment request
Date sent: Wed, 23 Feb 2000 15:57:06 +1300
I feel compelled to respond. For what it is worth, I do not believe it is an "extreme" statement to point out that the Government's action has followed the form of that time-honoured tradition of scapegoat politics. In that sense it IS analogous to Hitler. It promulgates - through propaganda - the view that one small group is deserving of pariah status (whether they be Jewish, or coloured, or from the West Coast, or managers of forests) while - using the same propaganda tactics - they portray themselves as being deserving and interested in (in this case) environmentally responsible management.
I am not na´ve enough to think this doesn't happen to various degrees by politicians all the time, but the blatant and dishonest propaganda from the Government and some of the most extreme preservationists in the world, and the subsequent canning of the Timberlands hearing, raises the stakes to another level entirely.
What makes this particular instant so disturbing is that the environmental credentials of those they condemn is the OPPOSITE - in my opinion - of what the propagandists suggest (i.e. it is Timberlands beech management plans that are representative of what we need in order to get a sustainable future, and it is the preservationists who are deserving of censure for their tactics), and it involves a WHOLE COMMUNITY many of whom have effectively been condemned to what will be minimal welfare, WITHOUT trial (other than by media).
That IS worthy of an analogy with dictators such as Hitler, because it fits.
It also raises propaganda, including the misinformation of what was effectively a smear campaign against Timberlands and anyone with enough courage to defend them, and ad hoc political expediency above the due process of which the Westminster system should be justifiably proud.
This includes not only the RMA and a consensus agreement (the West Coast Accord), but also the Magna Carta, which put law above the Crown and took away the rights of the King to disinherit "freemen" at the stroke of a petulant pen.
There is an added dimension in that the smear campaigns have continued against those who bother to speak out, with personal attacks designed to move the debate, which they must fear, away from the science and the logic. I'm sorry, but they are in my opinion the dishonest tactics of people I don't think are deserving of their position - but then, we are used to such quality, and the polls of confidence in Government (whoever it may be) reflect the fact that it is not a singular view.
In my humble opinion people ought to be very disturbed. I may "calm down" when politicians become more interested in common decency, process and community rather than power.
To suggest that I am motivated by some disappointment at the "axed beech scheme" also diminished our concerns to the level of the economic (i.e. the selfish), and to Timberlands alone (as compared to broader issues of sustainable forestry and sustainable land management than just Timberlands). Yet when individuals speak out it is usually at a COST to themselves. That should give pause for thought, though we have heard the "vested interest" claim for the last 15 years.
There are deeper principles at stake about which many of us care deeply - including the need for a sustainable future, the need for proper government, and the need for well informed decision making.
The Government deserves to be embarrassed for their abuse of all these principles - and they have abused them all (as have others before them).
-----Original Message-----West Coast Times story 23/2/00
The Minister of Forestry's office says the West Coast's axed beech scheme is leading a few people to "extremism".
Graeme Speden, spokesperson for Pete Hodgson the Minister of Forestry, said it was sad that "a few" people had allowed their disappointment over the axed beech scheme to lead them to extremism.
He was responding to a complaint being prepared for the United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) by the lobby group Coast Action Network (Can).
In a personalised comment Mr Speden said Can's chairman should be prepared to be: "judged on the results he gets rather than his rhetoric on these things."
"In the end what matters is what he achieves by it, he is seeking support from people on the West Coast in the end they will judge whether he is acting in their best interests based on what he achieves for them."
Mr Speden dismissed a suggestion by forest consultant, Chris Perley, that the Government used a Nazi tactic of engendering a majority against a minority as a justification for closing down the beech scheme hearings in December.
"It's time for Mr Perley to calm down and try and gain some perspective on things," Mr Speden said.
"Mr Perley has made comparisons with Nazis on more than this occasion, most people will find it ridiculous and some people will probably find it offensive," Mr Speden said.
But, Mr Perley's comments were yesterday echoed by Dr Brendon Moyle, a senior commerce lecturer at Massey University.
"One might recall the dogmatic attitude of the church to Galileo, Nazi attacks on Einstein's physics and Stalin's purge of Darwinians from the USSR," he said.
Dr Moyle suggests that as a political football the West Coast forest issue is now in play on a scale not seen before.
He said the defunct West Coast Forest Accord and the abused Resource Management Act (RMA) process had been crucial at limiting the extent to which native forest management could be exploited as a political card.
Under the MMP electoral system a few extra thousand green votes throughout the country were a crucial factor in determining who forms a government, he said.
"In short, destroying the old Accord and RMA system can deliver big electoral gains if most of the environmentalist 'chips' fall on your side," he said.
A similar political football had once existed with monetary policy in New Zealand, he said.
"While the long-term benefits of price stability are recognised, short-term periods of high inflation may prompt increased economic activity. This may create votes based on economic management and the inflation and high interest rates can be blamed on the foreigners and banks anyway," he said.
Dr Moyle said if long-term stable monetary policy is better than a series of short-term political expedients, then perhaps legalisation similar to the Reserve Bank Act was needed to ensure Native Forests were sustainably managed.
"Essentially, can we use legislation to prevent native forest management being up for grabs every three years? He said.