Climate politics bread and butter burning in bonfire

Newshub at 6 summarizes the ‘bonfire of policies’ announced by the Prime Minister this week.
Photograph: screenshot / on Newshub 6

Chris Hipkins gained media praise for his political strategy after scrapping or delaying some of the Labor Party’s policies in the recent policy fire, including those to reduce emissions. But a poll released just hours after its announcement showed that voters wanted more climate action, not less.

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins was well prepared when a journalist at his post-Cabinet press briefing asked the true cost of bread and butter.

“If you go to Pak ‘n’ Save in Upper Hutt to buy a loaf of Molenberg toast, you pay about $4, maybe $4.50. If you’re looking for a stick of butter, it’s about $7.2 quarts of milk: branded or plain milk. Depending on the price, you may be paying around $4.50 for two liters of milk,” he said.

“I do my own shopping to tell you about them”

Hipkins was taking this “gotcha” question because wheat and dairy products – at least figuratively – became a kind of north star for his government’s policy agenda.

When he announced his cabinet, the press release said it would focus on bread and butter issues. When he announced his cost of living package, it was bread and butter support.

Supermarkets’ relentless focus on staple foods hasn’t pleased everyone, especially in the media.

The newsroom’s national newspaper said, “This constant reference to the government’s ‘bread and butter problems’ will make me celiac… Find a new word! Please, I can’t hear that 100 more times between now and the election.” jobs editor Sam Sachdeva He begged on Twitter.

It is a tribute to Sachdeva’s optimism that she believes she will only hear these words a hundred times before the election.

Means “bread and butter” is Hipkins’ bread and butter. This phrase has appeared seven times in this article alone.

But bread and butter isn’t the only slogan repeated in the media this week.

On Monday, Hipkins abandoned a second slice of government initiative, including a cash for bulky car plan, which he calls policy “reprioritization.”

But the media came up with a much more exciting name.

1News described it as “a second policy bonfire with eight casualties.”

Newshub went even further, saying that “the bonfire of politics has become one big hell”.

Say what you want about setting your own politics on fire and watching them burn in a rising hell – apparently popular.

Just after Hipkins burned down the latest list of Labor’s old ideas, TVNZ 1News published a poll showing the party’s readiness to win a third term.

Despite the latest pre-bonfire poll, the Herald’s editorial staff confidently linked their results to policy sacrifice in an article titled “Hipkins’ bonfire of priorities gives Labor support in polls.”

On Today FM, afternoon host Lloyd Burr described the bonfire as a clever – albeit sarcastic – strategy.

“It’s a pretty clever policy from Hipkins, but I think some might argue it’s a bit of a sell-off policy. He’s selling what Labor believes just to keep power.”

Political commentator Bryce Edwards brought a different perspective to events, writing that the burning of politics marked a return to working-class politics.

“Under Jacinda Ardern, they were a party and government focused on the electorate and ideologies of liberal Gray Lynn and Wellington Central. Now under Prime Minister Chris Hipkins, the Labor Party, West Auckland and the Hutt Valley,” he wrote.

To illustrate this point, Edwards pointed to the results of the 1News survey, which showed that 48% of respondents listed cost of living as their number one issue, with climate change second at 12%.

The near unanimous conclusion of these commentators was that cutting climate initiatives is wildly popular with median voters.

But maybe Wellington Central and Gray Lynn have more populations than we thought, because other data from the same survey questions this consensus.

When 1News asked people if they wanted the government to act more urgently on climate change, 54% said yes, while 27% said the government should stick with its plans before the latest policy bonfire, which included a scrapped clean car upgrade. and the introduction of safer speed limits on most of the State Highway network.

In other words, the government that’s currently set fire to several of its most high-profile climate initiatives is rapidly gaining popularity among voters who say they want more climate action.

This apparent contradiction may be due to the fact that voters do not believe the shelved policies are effective.

There would be some grounds for reaching this conclusion.

Hipkins said plans like a clean car upgrade won’t make that big of a difference in emissions, and transport minister Michael Wood made the same claim in RNZ’s Checkpoint earlier this week.

There is also the fact that, as economists often say, transportation is included in the Emissions Trading Programme; this plan should reduce carbon production over time, even without subsidies and interventions, as Labor just got rid of.

Yet another reason may be the difference between how media-informed voters abstractly perceive climate action and how they react when the government proposes real concrete solutions.

Our media outlets love to talk about how seriously they take climate change by signing up with global initiatives like Covering Climate Now.

But when the tire meets the road and officials try to implement some of the emission-reducing interventions recommended by the IPCC and others, the comments often turn much more sour, whether it’s low-emission transport or dense housing within existing urban limits. or agriculture emissions.

Commentator Bernard Hickey on the Substack page The Kākā pointed to the gap between our climate goals and what is actually politically reasonable, arguing that the government is keeping its debt low to lure suburban property owners, even if it means doing less to reduce emissions.

It’s not just the government that prioritizes the concerns of the average voter. Despite regular declarations of the urgency of addressing climate change, so often the media.

There are some good intentions at the root of the bias towards the policy of bread and butter. It is especially nutritious during the cost of living crisis.

But if the world is slowly turning into something reminiscent of a bonfire and not the kind of thing made of politics, it can be difficult to fully enjoy food.