Statistics New Zealand is reported in the DomPost as advising that our food prices have risen an average 8.2% since last June. Staples, like cheese (61.9%) bread (15.2%), and milk (22%) account for much of the rise.
Hardship is reported. The Greens demand benefit increases because "It’s terrible that children are going hungry in a food-producing country like New Zealand".
It is terrible, though when the average increase in weekly per person spending on those staples is still less than the cost of a packet of fags, we might look hard at more than just the price as the reason why kids are going hungry.
But the Greens are guilty of much more than opportunistic rhetoric.
They’re insisting on the passage of the law requiring that New Zealand fuels contain 2.5% bio-fuels by 2012, starting from 1 October this year. That Bill, now awaiting passage after the Select Committee report back, puts New Zealand among the countries bidding up the world price of bio-diesel.
Against the direct and unequivocal advice of our Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, despite the United Nations Food Agency plea for the millions now starving because of the conversion of food into fuel, ignoring Time Magazine’s expose of the Brazilian ethanol industry’s responsibility for destruction of Amazon rain-forests, despite the UK Chief Scientist’s description of the bio-fuels mania as a crime against humanity, the Greens are pushing the law through that makes New Zealand one of Brazil’s customers.
We are still a comparatively rich people. Yet we have food price tensions over an 8% average increase. Think of the desperation of mothers trying to feed their kids in the vast areas where green agitation for compulsory bio-diesel has doubled the price of their staple foods. Rice has gone up over 100%.
I’m often asked, usually by well-meaning middle aged women, whether I could work in Parliament with the Greens. "Of course" I can assure them. The first Parliamentary report I drafted was a minority dissent to the waka-hopping bill. Rod Donald co-signed it when we realised we shared the same views on it. I managed to change a number of Bills through joining forces with Nandor Tanczos and Keith Locke on matters to do with civil liberties. I respect Sue Kedgley’s energetic work against cruelty to animals, and I publicly supported her campaign against battery hen farming, and sow crates.
But it is very hard to stomach the common questioning from these naive would-be supporters, that assumes the Greens are virtuous, if a little too idealistic, and a necessary antidote to excessive National pragmatism. In my experience they are often deeply hypocritical, and contemptuous of the kindness and concerns of ordinary New Zealanders, as well as of science and any research that does not confirm their religious conviction that mankind is full of original sin and deserves to sacrifice and suffer.
Their ideological rigidity on bio-fuels makes them directly complicit in the starvation of millions.
I find Dr Nick Smith far more sincere, far more determined to insist on policies that will actually help protect our environment. And most refreshingly he lacks one quality shared by all the Greens - sanctimony.