Dame Anne Salmond: A final, brief election thought

20 September 2017
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Distinguised Professor Dame Anne Salmond

This election has not been a contest between left and right, but between different generations and philosophies.

For the past 33 years, New Zealand has been gripped by neo-liberalism – a cult of naked self-interest, of the cost-benefit calculating individual, in which the only aim is success.

It's completely amoral – the ends justify the means. It's a brutal philosophy that has given New Zealand the highest rate of youth suicide, the worst rate of child poverty in the developed world; people living in cars or on the streets, babies dying of third world diseases.

A new generation is emerging that has lived through the neo-liberal experiment, and regards it as an abject failure – environmentally, socially and economically.

Jacindamania isn’t about personality at all – it's a collective sigh of relief that we might finally have a kind of leadership that reflects our core values as New Zealanders. A chance for a country that’s truly ‘clean and green;’ for honesty, decency and kindness in our public as well as our private lives.

National have run a classically neo-liberal campaign, based on cynical self-interest. It was sad watching Bill English in the last leader’s debate – a fundamentally decent man lying through his teeth to try and win the election.

We deserve better from our leaders than this kind of Faustian bargain.

The choice in this election is stark. Neo-liberalism has failed. It's time to hand over the reins to a new generation, and let them shape the future.

Dame Anne Salmond is Distinguished Professor in Anthropology and a Professor of Maori Studies at the University of Auckland, and 2013 New Zealander of the Year.

Used with permission from NewsroomDame Anne Salmond: A final, brief election thought published on Wednesday 20 September 2017.

This story was Newsroom's most read of the year. To see all of Newroom's top 10 stories of 2017, see the Newsroom article.