Where’s the Vision?

If there is a change of organisational leadership within a business, one of the first tasks of the new leader is to review what values the organisation stands for. New ventures must also begin with a vision as a foundational building block. So when a new government comes to power you would think that this would be a project of some urgency for politicians. But neither the National government nor its predecessor have ever made any attempt to articulate exactly what we stand for as a nation.

The net result of this lack of leadership has been that policy-making is driven by subjective advice at departmental level, but without any central overriding objective in mind. This environment is a fertile breeding ground for politically correct personal agendas and is the basis for much of what is wrong about our public service. And whilst it may be the case that public agencies retain the specialist expertise needed by Cabinet to make decisions, it is not their role to set aspirational goals for the nation as a whole. That is the role of our leadership in consultation with the wider community.

In a country such as ours endowed with considerable natural beauty and a rich diversity of culture it seems almost irresponsible not to have a clear vision on the way forward. Instead we are continually burdened by short term decision-making neccessitated by petty politics and regional self interest. The media circus in Mt. Albert and the lack of due process around the “super city” debate spring immediately to mind. In stark contrast, Pres. Obama seems to have taken the bull by the horns in terms of re-stating what America stands for in a global context. I hope Mr Key accepted some advice on the matter during their phone exchange last week.

What is your vision for New Zealand?

5 thoughts on “Where’s the Vision?

  1. And I love how you end this post on a challenge. It is, after all, so easy to criticise those in power. My vision of New Zealand would be a country that at least attempts to live up to the clean, green myth, where our west coast, at least, would be lined with offshore windfarms and our drought-prone eastern areas would have pv cells on every north-facing roof, and geothermal, wave, hydro and other renewable sources made up any shortfall. Intellectuals, artists and innovators would be given the same support and encouragement as rugby players. I could probably say more, but that will do for a start.

  2. As an aside the PM just opened some new windmills in the hills west of Wellington. Not a moment too soon. the Cook Strait power cable blew up last night so we are facing the coldest day of the year so far tomorrow and totally reliant on North Island power generation.

    Don’t get me started on intellectuals vs rugby players…

  3. Nice post Paul.

    “But neither the National government nor its predecessor have ever made any attempt to articulate exactly what we stand for as a nation”

    I think this is just a reflection of the process of politics in NZ (and to be honest in other parliamentary democracies). In fact we coould regard this as a weakness op parliamentary democracy. Why?

    Well simply people tend to disagree with each other so it makes sense for politicians to play safe and not express sweeping visions. Of course that may be a good thing since many “visionaries” have led countries down the path to genocide, war and starvation (Pol Pot, Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao etc).

    So they focus on small issues like number of police, how many new hospitals etc.

    Having said that I think it is still possible to express a vision and then work towards it. For a big idea to work it needs to be inclusive……no party can be excluded as has happened in too many revolutions (see above) where the state has used terror on a dissenting part of the population.

    I’m not talking a Utopia here because that doesn’t exist 9only in the mind of potential dictators) but perhaps a more networked and distributed system of governance. I think our main problem is that our political structures may be hindering our progress.

    So perhaps it’s worth asking what people want as opposed to personalising visions. What makes a decent society?

    I’d suggest a low crime rate would be a good start as that reflects the health of a society. NZ does poorly in that area.

    We don’t invest enough in our children (in schooling, safety, nutrition, parenting, etc) and then we reap the outcomes of that.

    We need a monetary system that works for us. Successive governments have turned a blind eye to tour appalling overseas borrowing.

    We need to build a distributed power system where we are all “the grid”.

    We should have a basic income for all and dump the pension nightmare once and for all.

    We should invest in our communities to make them safe spaces for all to enjoy.

    I’m rambling a bit but hope there’s something in there :-)

  4. Raf I must first apologise for my late response. I somehow missed the alert message for your post.

    A lot of points to consider, so I will focus solely on crime. I think it is clear to any thinking person that we are on the edge of a precipice that could lead us down the same track as America. Calls for the routine arming of Police are the precursor.

    Gun crime, drug abuse and violence against women and children has begun rising again. Whilst some of this is no doubt attributable to the recession, there is an uneasy feeling that the Police are losing the battle against really serious crime.

    I can tell you for a fact that huge amounts of Police and Crown resources are poured into prosecuting relatively minor offending because they know they can get convictions of soft targets and keep their stats up. In the meantime drug labs, drunk drivers and knife-wielding gang bangers continue to stalk our streets.

    If we aspire to improve our society, refocusing onto serious crime would seem like an obvious place to start. In fact, if we actually had a more aspirational approach, we would be teaching children more respect for others and building a healthier social framework for them from an early age anyway.

  5. Yes there’s alot to get through on the subject of vision.

    As for crime i would suggest that it is a function of poor/lack of parenting skills and frameworks. Of course that is related to poverty and general socio-economic status but not exclusive thereof.

    Now in the upcoming budget let’s have a $1bln pump into post-natal child care. parenting courses for all new parents, help with new children (plunket etc) and a real focus on getting it right at the beginning of life rather then spend the rest of it clearing up the mess.

    the best investment we can make is in our children……who are our future.

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