How Cyclone Gabrielle changes the NZ election


It’s a week now and we are getting a real appreciation of the catastrophic damage and how steep a climb we have to rebuild our grotesquely underfunded infrastructure resilience.

Turns out being carbon neutral by 2050 was as pathetic a solution as it sounded. If climate change is our generations nuclear free moment, Cyclone Gabrielle is Chernobyl with only $2 dollar shop plastic gloves from the novelty Halloween section for protection.

From the under regulated telecommunications industry who set up cheap internet networks to the under regulated forestry Industry whose slash magnified the damage to the under regulated trucking industry who were all allowed to be heavier to move those logs while potholing our roads to the under regulated disaster coordination.

Bernard Hickey argues that even if we agree to the neoliberal Wellington Consensus of 30% GDP debt, we could still borrow $60Billion and remain within that absurd ideological economic straight jacket so where should that $60billion be spent on resilience and adaptation?

We need future proofing ideas, we need a Ministry of Works to do it, we need big ideas and we need big new taxes to fund those big ideas, we need to build in self sufficiency, we need mitigation and adaptation.

Unlike Covid, whose worst was avoided, this Cyclone damage is real world and physical. The magnitude of what is required from the State politically resets National and ACT’s small Government agenda.

No one wants to hear about amputating the State when they are running to the State for protection.

This was the exact same mistake the Right made last time with Covid.

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The Rights usual slash and burn of the State simply isn’t sustainable in face of how invested the State is going to have to be in the rebuild.

Big ideas are needed, and Labour should use the MMP majority they still enjoy to force through some desperately needed regulation over the Forestry Industry, Trucking Industry, Telecommunications Industry, and the Industries who are emitting the gasses that are ultimately driving this catastrophic climate change.

We need to build resilience into a new infrastructure landscape that is urgently implemented with radical policies.

This is the age of consequences now, we will either chose our direction or be forced by the weather events themselves to blindly scramble.

There is the change for another Cyclone this season before April.

This election year is about State capacity.

National and ACT want to slash 14 000 public sector jobs, 5 Ministries and the Human Rights Commission. The political project of the Right is to strangle off State revenue so it doesn’t have the money to redistribute.

The Left’s response is universal services, a tax system that moves the yoke from workers onto corporations, Banks and the wealthy alongside a State with far greater capacity.

We don’t just need more Drs and Nurses, we need more hospitals and ambulances too. We need more teachers, more schools, more, prisons, more corrections staff, more military, more police, more universal free services.

Argue for a State that has the capacity to build our resilience while preparing us for a different world, economy and culture.


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  1. You know things are bad when simply asking to go back to the living standards of the 1950s isn’t supported by anyone in Parliament at all!

    There isn’t even solid support for reopening the same tramways that Auckland already had 100 years ago, and nobody even dares mention reopening all the other tramways, rail lines and trolleybus routes.

    Does anyone ever even mention the State Mines, or the Synthetic Fuel Corporation, or the State Refinery? Martyn is about the only person on television who ever mentions the Ministry of Works.

    Nobody has any plan for replacing all the high wage jobs that were destroyed, other than ridiculous slogans like “learn to code”.

    It’s pretty obvious that nobody within the labour movement currently is up to the job, or is even really interested in such things. There will have to be some brand new organisations created before any change starts happening.

    • And AI like ChatGPT can do some of the grunt work of coding and will only get better with time. Plus you can always outsource to India for cheap contract jobs, if you want. You want high paying jobs? You need to be good at something that can’t be outsourced or done by AI, something that requires rare skills or qualifications, something that is in high demand & makes money, something most people won’t or can’t do.

      The nature of work in the future is pretty uncertain, but one thing that is certain, many future jobs will be casual, low paying, service type jobs, and that doesn’t make for more stable societies or economic security for citizens, especially when you import additional “skilled” workers to exploit.

      Mining is good as it generates lots of export revenue, provides the raw materials that our modern world requires, generates a lot of high paying jobs for a range of people, from machine operators to university qualified graduates and mines can’t be moved overseas. Barista or miner? I know what I’d choose.

  2. A Hung Parliament. A referendum on Neoliberalism. Then an election based on that! A legally binding referendum on the extinction, removal of Neoliberalism from NZ as a economic system.

    Then reconstruct the economy to focus on what we need to build. Oh, and fuck off this bs climate change scam! Its just a fund raising scam for fringe nutjobs and groups who are mentally unstable.

    • Denny a referendum on neoliberalism would appeal to a lot of us. But which political party is going to make such a referendum happen, when all of our major parties accept at least some of the tenets of neoliberalism? (with the possible exception of NZF).

      • Yep. I get that PPII. I see it as a chicken and egg conundrum kinda thing. By using the ‘Hung Parliament’ situation as leverage; do not pass go until you get it kinda leverage. Meaning staying in the Hung-negotiations period indefinitely and/or until parties agree to a referendum or hold another election which again invites another opportunity to have another crack at it becoming a referendum matter.

        Fuck’em! “We” can play this card as long as we like!

  3. The idea of a large and capable state was killed in the 80’s and it’s not coming back. There is too much vested interest in the way things are. What’s more we have trade agreements which limit the changes a government can make before getting hammered by Investor State resolution clauses in those agreements.
    Overseas investors will be a handbrake to significant change but they won’t be the only one, the momentum towards low taxation and smaller government is built into the DNA of the major political parties and set in stone by the business and finance sectors who will not permit significant change to taxes or regulation.
    The Labour government will ensure that, what ever they do, it is vetted and approved by the keepers of the magic money tree and above all that no-ne in the financial markets has any objections.

    • Never say never in politics. Yes the neo libs, globalists and capital are deeply embedded in NZ legislation, people’s individualist thinking, and daily life. For profit companies running public infrastructure, contracting out, interns, managerialism, flybuys points etc. And even some govt. services have to make a profit, but sometimes events intrude into the cosiest of worlds.

      The Cyclones have exposed privately run power supply, tele communications, roading, water supply, food supply–the Emperor has no clothes!

      • Yep, Tiger. Absolutely stark naked. The cynic in me asks however who in the halls of power are going to call that? But then again, perhaps the intrusion into our cosy world might offer some new perspective.

    • Sadly I think you’re right. I live in Napier and we’ve been fuming about logging trucks, slash damage, wilding pines etc for years but even with an absolute majority the party who should be addressing the problems have been away doing something else that they consider to be more important. Even if Labour and our local MP and minister of forestry suddenly had an halelujah moment it’s probably too late to bed in any changes, National and Act will scupper them on behalf of the forestry owners and shareholders if and when they win the 2023 election.
      Labour’s best chance is to do a good job of the clean up and try to convince voters that they really have changed, maybe this disaster will help them win the next election against the odds.

      • Hit the nail on the head Daniel. All eyes are on the immediate response. With the election so close Labour could very well loose Tairawhiti and the Hawkes Bay if it pans out badly – afterall East Coast was blue for a long while. It’s the wider perception however. Across all electorates. Swing voters aren’t bound by ideological choice. They’re driven by other considerations. Tackling the wider issues of building resilience, implementing managed retreat and holding multinational forestry companies to account, in the face of increasing and more intense weather events, well …. we’ll see wont we.

  4. We didn’t have potholes to this extent when we didn’t have to import poor quality bitumen from overseas. Shell and the rest of the foreign owners of Refining NZ must pay for destroying our refinery.

    • Your wrong MK. Your National mates who dislikes Indians (Bridges) lifted the max weights truck could carry and increased axel loads – the axel loadings caused the pot holes and nothing else. The loads break up the foundations under the bitumen. You may want to change your views on the cause of pot holes.

  5. Even accepting your argument that the country needs more state capacity, there are plenty of government employees in Wellington that need to go. Public affairs, people in Human Resources and corporate communications whose sole activity is policing pronouns or writing statements on treaty compliance are an insult to the taxpayer. Direct those salaries to front line positions.

  6. Totally agree. This is the time for bigger Govt. Ministry of works and infrastructure, leaning on the profiteering bastards that have had it all their way for far too long, and the other measures described–Roads that can handle it, communication networks that can hang in there like radio did. But they have to act quickly now, and immediately after the 2023 General Election if Labour/Green/TPM are in office.

    How to break or at least marginalise the 39 year monetarist orthodoxy to achieve what Martyn suggests has to be factored in though. Kristoff R mentions the Labour Movement and boy do we need some fighting class left leaders in that area. Organised labour has significant power to pressure the Labour Caucus if only it was used!

  7. I think Hipkins and Gabrielle is the equivalent of Ardern and Covid: An opportunity to scare the hell out of the voters so as to get another 3 years in government.

    Hipkins is SO smooth that he doesn’t even appear smooth, whereas Ardern always looked fake to those of discernment.

  8. Some cynical opinions exist in regards to the regulation of a lot of the industries here in New Zealand but it really does take time to regulate, and to legislate, especially when industry has been, by and large, opposed to any major regulatory framework from Central government.

    • “Bigger Government has never been a sustainable solution.”

      which is another way to say that all good things come to an end.

  9. The last thing we need is a bigger state sector than the one under this govt. NZ simply cannot sustain more waste of money amd freeloading than what’s currently happening. As for the cyclone changing the election, in the next few weeks you’ll see a massive swing a way from Labour as the Hawkes Bay becomes the new Bronx. Run by criminals with Chippie and Coster standing by with no satisfactory answers for the poor folks down there. Labour and Chippie will he exposed badly.

    • Since you mentioned it Gararin: FDR – presided over the Great Depression until WW2 ended it.

      > The German economic miracle – read about Ludwig Erhard and his scrapping of regulations post WW2 to enable the ‘Wirtschaftswunder’.

      > The Japanese – read about the 1949 Dodge Plan imposed on the Japanese by the Americans

      The last two successes came about through reduced regulation and smaller government.

      • he helped to end the depression give people work and strengthen america with projects like the TVA
        without govt regulation of the zaibatsu the japanese car industry would have been strangled at birth…was it croney capitalism…you betcha but what do you think we have? just without the sociatal benefits
        as for the german economic miracle being discounted by one pollie the emergence of a vibrant social democracy pisses on that one..the EU started as a treaty between germany and france on steel production

  10. How will Labour fuck this clean up operation up?

    By hiring hundreds if not thousands of the managerial class to manage workers who’ll do the actual clean up mahi. The workers will be out numbered by the number of managers they’ll have!

    • Great article–could not make it much clearer–and Branko has the numbers on millionaires and billionaires and others blading around, not just repeating “tax the rich”

  11. ” National and ACT want to slash 14 000 public sector jobs, 5 Ministries and the Human Rights Commission. The political project of the Right is to strangle off State revenue so it doesn’t have the money to redistribute. ”

    ” Cyclone Gabrielle caused billions of dollars of damage, with roads, homes, and other infrastructure needing to be repaired, replaced, or moved. So how are we going to pay for it? The Greens have suggested the obvious: a windfall tax on those outrageous corporate profits. National leader Christopher Luxon has another idea: we should just borrow:

    Christopher Luxon says a flood tax is a bad idea but thinks the Government should borrow money for rebuilding regions severely damaged by the storm.
    The National Party leader told AM the Government has wasted too much money and inflation – running at 7.2 percent – was too high for another tax.

    Which is a stupid reason, because taxing the rich is anti-inflationary as well as fair. But its also a little repulsive to see a rich white dude in his peak earning years saying that he shouldn’t have to pay anything to fix the problem he helped cause (he used to run an airline, you know!), and that we should instead dump the cost on the kids. Its a perfect example of the generational selfishness which has ruined this country, not to mention the “I’ve got mine; fuck you!” attitude of the National Party and its rich arsehole supporters.


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