Highly qualified forestry scientist Minister failed to weather storm
Members of Parliament of all stripes have discovered a common purpose in diverting public attention from the havoc wrought by Cyclone Gabrielle in Hawkes Bay.
The reason is that having touted climate change as one of the great issues of our time, even the greatest, they did nothing to implement the change needed for climate change- ---and continue to do so.
An example is the Helensville power generating site ardently sponsored by the government and which is scheduled to occupy a loop in the Kaipara River which flooded last year.
The site then flooded three times between January 27 and the Cyclone Gabrielle which completely inundated the site of the eagerly sought solar plant with its house-sized structures
Two other such solar generating sites on low-lying river land are scheduled for the Wellington region.
King Canute–like officialdom believes that words, the more pious the better, can turn back the climate change which they confidently assert is upon the nation, and compounding in force by the day.
One reason offered for problems associated with the Hawkes Bay response to Cyclone Gabrielle was that there had been a prediction that it would pivot westward drifting south of Hawkes Bay. This means that it was expected to cover the river land now under proposal for approximately 1000 acres of daily land scheduled for these same solar installations.
While politicians found themselves unable to utter more than a sentence without capping it with a climate change intonation their policies meanwhile were ensuring the utmost vulnerability to this same climate change.
Why exactly were forestry projects in the Hawkes Bay leaving in their wake extensive piles of debris which washed downstream and cluttered the beaches?
The Minister of Forests was Stuart Nash. He was one of the few members of the government cabinet with a technical education instead of the usual socio-political tertiary background. He is a highly qualified forestry scientist.
Did Mr Nash warn his colleagues of the danger they were inviting in the form of ignoring climate change by failing to implement and then enforce a regime in which foresters tidied up after them?
In the event Mr Nash found himself washed out of the cabinet with a velocity similar to the bridge-destroying water propelled timber deluges that became the trademark of this particular manifestation of climate change.
In the immediate aftermath of the Hawkes Bay disaster the Hawkes Bay MP found himself engulfed in a weird drama centred on long-ago emails dealing with contributors and the direction of cabinet policy.
The source and the timing of these disclosures had the effect of diverting public attention away from the aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle in Mr Nash’s own Hawkes Bay bailiwick. It had the quite extraordinary effect of rumour and innuendo trumping real news, disaster news.
Both parties Labour and the Opposition fell upon Mr Nash with, well, cyclonic force.
The multiplier was that Mr Nash from the start had been identified as prime ministerial material.
The politico media all-sides pile on was successful
Attention was diverted away from how Napier and Hastings became cut off, how the vaunted Heretaunga Flood Control scheme with its numerous pumps, stop banks, and deflection banks was washed away.
Also how public health and policing had become centralised in Hastings and was thus inaccessible to those in Napier .
There is here a detectable reverse ratio.
Politicians are ruthless in their cynical exploitation of the new urban professional voting class with its compulsion to be seen as greener than green
Yet the more they talk about climate change the less they are willing to implement the policies required to adjust to the main manifestation of climate change of which Cyclone Gabrielle was a stand-out example.
Mr Nash’s own transition can be seen now as a weather vane, a barometer for this all-party grab for the votes of this now so definable class with its inner-suburb roots.
One day his career needle was on Fair. Then it slipped back to Change. Another day or so of media drip-deed and it was on Stormy where the needle jammed.
In a political context it is hard not to consider Mr Nash as the first victim of climate change.