#New Zealand Politics Reach New Low:Its time for a Change

What has happened to Truth/Trust; Mercy Compassion; Justice and Peace in  Aoteraoa-New Zealand?

Kevin P Clements

I’m back in Dunedin . Fog is covering the harbour but the sun is trying to burn its way through, revealing patches of light and clarity on the way. There is a fog of confusion and deep distrust that is afflicting New Zealand politics at the moment.

We are discovering that all those involved in “dirty politics” learned many of their lessons from the American Tea Party. Instead of focusing on guns, gays and abortion issues our Right is focusing on ensuring that they dominate our small political system to their own personal advantage and the advantage of their friends.

Unlike other systems New Zealand has never bothered much with developing complex systems of checks and balances. The system has worked well most of the time because we trust our politicians. They are our neighbours and friends and subject to the same normative controls as everyone else.

Now we discover that some of our politicians are not working on these informal trustworthy connections. They are working on the rules of greed, driven by power and a desire to take all in our small electoral contest. Cameron Slater has just returned from an Israeli government sponsored trip to Israel-presumably aimed at ensuring he use his political and media influence to ensure that NZ does not get too critical of Israeli military policies.

Now there is an assertion that our ex Minister of Justice using the same Cameron Slater might have sought to pervert the cause of Justice in a Serious Fraud matter. Despite John Key’s assertions that none of these things have to do with him in fact he can no longer shirk Prime MInisterial responsibility. He is the CEO of the PM’s department which has been implicated in this dirt. He either sacks those responsible or approves of their behaviour.

This is not the New Zealand that I grew up in and it is not the New Zealand that I want my grandchildren to grow up in.

Let me be very clear …. dirty adversarial politics generates systematic patterns of inclusion/exclusion, power and privilege. Tea party tactics have no place in a small democracy like New Zealand. Yesterday I was talking about the values that generate reconciliation.

These are Truth/Trust; Mercy/Compassion; Justice and Peace. Which of our politicians and aspiring political leaders embody these? Where is Truth in the Dirty Politics saga and why should any of us trust this current National Administration and its political machinery? Where is mercy and compassion in this National Cabinet? It always gives way to selfishness and greed. Where is Justice when the ex Minister of Justice promoted a winner takes all approach to every exchange at every level of behaviour and where is the Peace in this land? It’s a peace of fog, confusion, dirt and squalor. If this country re-elects this corrupt and shameful government our future as a decent, caring , peaceful nation will be impoverished.

It is time for a change. We can no longer vote fpr business as usual when the business is so tawdry.


About kevinclements2012

Short CV Professor Kevin P Clements. I am the Foundation Chair of Peace and Conflict Studies and Director of the New Zealand Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Otago, Dunedin New Zealand and Secretary General of the Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy. Prior to taking up these positions I was the Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies and Foundation Director of the Australian Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Queensland, Brisbane Australia . I went to Queensland from International Alert where I was Secretary General from January 1999 to September 2003. International Alert is one of the world’s largest NGOs working on conflict transformation. It pioneered innovative policy and practical approaches to conflict prevention and transformation in Africa ,Eurasia and Asia . It has also made a major contribution to the mainstreaming of conflict prevention within European Foreign and Development Ministries, the EU and a variety of UN institutions. During his time there I was on the Board of the European Centre for Conflict Prevention and past President of the European Peace Building Liaison Office in Brussels. Prior to becoming Secretary General of International Alert I was the Vernon and Minnie Lynch Chair of Conflict Resolution at the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University Fairfax Virginia USA 1994-2000 and Director of the Institute from 1994-1999. My career has been a combination of academic analysis and practice in the areas of peacebuilding and conflict transformation. I was, for example, formerly Director of the Quaker United Nations Office in Geneva and Head of the Peace Research Centre at the Australian National University in Canberra .Prior to this I was Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Coordinator of Peace Studies at Canterbury University, Christchurch New Zealand . My first academic position was as a lecturer in Sociology at Hong Kong University . I took up this position from a Post Doctoral Fellowship at Oxford University where I worked on development issues with Paul Streeten and others. I have been an advisor to the New Zealand, Australian , British , Swedish and Dutch governments on conflict prevention , peace, defence and security issues and advised the German Government and the OECD on States and Violence. I was, a member of the New Zealand Government’s Defence Committee of Enquiry in 1985 and I currently conducting Problem Solving Workshops in North East Asia with high level participants from Japan, China and Korea. Iwas President of the International Peace Research Association (IPRA) from 1994-1998, President of the IPRA Foundation from 1995-2000 and Secretary General of the Asia Pacific Peace Research Association. I was Secretary General of the International Peace Research Association 2008-2010. I got my B.A, B.A Hon ( First Class) and Ph.D in Sociology from Victoria University of Wellington New Zealand. and held a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the University of Oxford from 1970-1971. I have been a regular consultant to a variety of non governmental and intergovernmental organisations on disarmament, arms control, conflict resolution, development and regional security issues and I have written or edited 7 books and over 160 chapters /articles on conflict transformation, peacebuilding, preventive diplomacy and development with a specific focus on the Asia Pacific region. Research Expertise 1. Peace Research Theory- Conflict and Conflict Resolution Theory . Preventive Diplomacy , Development and Peacebuilding 2. International and Regional Regimes-APEC, ASEAN, the ARF, ECOWAS 3. Political Sociology-International Organisations. Multilateral/bilateral negotiating processes. 4. Fragile States, Legitimacy and Political Hybridity 5. Alternative Defence and Security Policies-Peace and Security in the Asia-Pacific region. 6. The politics and ethics of international humanitarian intervention 7. Altruism and Compassion In my spare time I like to paint with acrylics or pastels, go to the theatre, listen to classical music, visit art galleries etc!
This entry was posted in Anarchist, Building Peaceful Community, Corruption, Israel, Trust. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to #New Zealand Politics Reach New Low:Its time for a Change

  1. Alistair McKee says:

    Thanks for these timely reflections and for telling it to the point so well. In the wake of President Nixon’s dirty tricks the USA had a kind of window of repentance. The FOI Act revealed the noxious meddling if the CIA against victims like Patrice Lumumba, and centres for business ethics emerged. I wonder how things may pan out on these wee motu after this season of Dirty Politics?


    • Yes I dont think we have seen the full extent of this dirty trickery yet. I am gob smacked though at how none of these unravelling scandals seem to affect John Key’s popularity or the polls for National. Are we all comatose?


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