Environment not a Green Party priority?

There must be no doubt that the environment is important to the Green Party, but according to NZ Herald the environment is not included in Green policy priorities the environment.  This is from an Election 2014: Green Party – Norman + Turei  pre-election interview.

Greens: We won’t be shut out again

Green co-leaders Russel Norman and Metiria Turei want to be in a full coalition with Labour and have senior Cabinet positions that reflect their party’s priorities, social justice and the economy.

And they say that the possibility of sharing the role of deputy prime minister has to be on the negotiation table.

Mrs Turei has made child poverty her priority while Dr Norman has focused on the economy and green innovation.

While “green innovation” is related to the environment making the economy interests plus social issues their priorities looks like a significant shift in emphasis for the Greens.

However the environment is not left out in a comment from Norman in the interview:

We’re people that got into politics to do some good, and so we’re very clear we want progress on economic, social and environmental policy areas.

With ‘only’ two leaders one of the three has to miss out on their major areas of interest.

The final question: If someone hasn’t voted before, first time voter, what is the single, the single biggest reason they should vote Green?

Metiria Turei: Because we will put children and their families at the heart of every decision that we make in government.

Turei was unequivocal about that but Norman was visibly and verbally conflicted.

Russel Norman: Yeah yeah, I don’t know, the single thing, like you know when you get these questions, the single thing, it’s like it’s comp…like it’s complex.

You know obviously I’d say you know clean rivers and a smart green economy but, you know, that’s not one thing though, yeah, climate change is part of a smart green economy, um, yeah, so it’s hard to answer those questions that name one thing because it’s so much bigger than that.

It’s been said that the three most important things about an election are the economy, the economy and the economy. There’s some truth to that.

How our economy is run, especially in relation to business development and use of natural resources, has a significant influence on the environment. There are potential economic costs of mitigating adverse environment effects.

And if you want to give more money to the poorest people you have to have an economy that can afford that. If the country goes broke everyone will suffer.

As Norman says, it’s complex.

Norman associated himself with Rod Donald as a pragmatic idealist. That is also complex, and perhaps the Green Party’s biggest challenge if they negotiate a significant role in the next government.

Norman seems to get it, Turei seems tending far more towards idealism. Similar tensions are likely through the party ranks.

If any party deserves a shot at being a part of government it has to be the Greens. They’ve had a long build-up and look the best organised and prepared of all parties.

Government is a step up. Greens are relying on other parties to get them there. If they make it their top targets will be economic and social portfolios.

One could expect that the  environment would be their next cab off the rank – but next on the Green list is Kevin Hague who is more likely to get an associate health type role.

Number four is Eugenie Sage who is their spokesperson on environment, conservation, water and resource management., the nitty gritty of environmental portfolios. On current polling Greens deserve more than four Cabinet positions so should get something for Sage, but Greens may have to settle for pragmatic idealism in their negotiations.

Norman is right. It’s complex.

Greens condone dirty political hacking

The Green Party has condemned dirty politics including the accessing of a Labour computer (of unsecured data) but appear to condone the hacking of Cameron Slater’s computer for political purposes – this is at least as dirty as anything Greens have complained about.

This makes them look extremely one sided and hypocritical.

Green Farm: Data privacy is paramount unless it helps us score political hits.

The Greens reacted strongly to Nicky Hager’s book ‘Dirty Politics’ including making a police complaint over the alleged hacking of a Labour Party computer. But the Greens have not said anything about the hacking of Cameron Slater’s computer and the dumping of mostly vague insinuations into an election campaign.

While condemning some things they appear to be condoning or turning a blind eye to what looks obviously like illegal hacking of Slater’s computer.

Greens say they have lodged complaints with the police on number of issues – Green Party to lodge official complaints.

The Green Party will today lodge complaints with:

  • Parliamentary Service over John Key’s senior advisor Jason Ede’s alleged involvement in inappropriately supplying confidential information to blogger Cameron Slater
  • Police over the possibility that officials working for Mr Key corruptly used or disclosed any information, acquired by him or her in his or her official capacity, to obtain, advantage
  • Police over allegations of blackmail involving former ACT leader Rodney Hide
  • Police over allegations of unauthorised access to a computer system under Sections 249 and 252  of the Crimes Act
  • the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security over allegations that sensitive documents were declassified in order to be used as political smears.
  • the Privacy Commissioner over allegations that Minister Judith Collins leaked private information

Some of those are fair queries, although lodging complaints with the police seems to be a heavy hammer – especially as some of their complaints look like being premature as some have been are being or have been dealt with by those involved.

The “unauthorised access to a computer system” presumably relates to accessing a Labour server – Labour have deferred dealing with this until after the election, see Labour to wait until after election to pursue legal action over ‘Dirty Politics’ allegations.

Rodney Hide has strongly denied the claims about him – see Rodney Hide: Hager’s ‘explosive’ claim a fizzer.

It has been counter-claimed that the “leaked private information” was publicly available information.

But by failing to condemn the hacking of Slater’s computer Greens have taken a very one-sided stance.

Metiria Turei stated:

“John Key has degraded our democracy,” Green Party Co-leader Metiria Tūrei said.

“New Zealand prides itself on a clean and transparent political system and National has eroded that.

“The National Government is up to its neck in dirty politics and may have broken the law while smearing opponents.

“The New Zealand public cannot have any confidence in our democracy until these claims are investigated and offenders held to account.

I agree that Cameron Slater degrades our democracy – but that doesn’t excuse the illegal hacking of his private data as the Greens appear to be doing.

Greens have previously taken strong stands to protect the privacy of data. See

Internet Rights and Freedoms Bill

The Internet Rights and Freedoms Bill is designed to protect human rights in the digital environment.
The rights and freedoms in the Bill apply to both the state and private sectors as each have a responsibility to act ethically and in good faith towards Internet users.

The Bill proposes 10 rights and freedoms for the Internet:

  1. The right to access
  2. Freedom from search, surveillance and interception
  3. Freedom of expression
  4. Freedom of association
  5. Right to privacy
  6. Right to encryption technology
  7. Right to anonymity
  8. Right to a safe and secure Internet
  9. Freedom of innovation
  10. Freedom from restriction
Freedom from search, right to privacy and right to anonymity all appear to have been breached by whoever hacked Slate’s information and by Nicky Hager.
That the Greens seem to show no concern about this is disturbing. They are supposed be the clean Greens but they appear to be condoning dirty politics when it suits their own agenda.

Surprising poll result for Greens in Epsom

Colmar Brunton have polled Epsom voters on their electorate vote but perhaps the most surprising result was on party vote:

  • National 60%,
  • Greens 16%
  • Labour 14%
  • NZ First 3.3%
  • ACT 2.7%
  • Conservatives 2.1%
  • Internet-Mana 1.5%
  • Maori Party 0.6%

Greens are understandably very pleased.

Source: http://www.colmarbrunton.co.nz/index.php/polls-and-surveys/political-polls/q-a-colmar-brunton-poll

Small party priorities post election

Small party (and Green) leaders were asked in a The Nation debate what their priority policy would be in post election negotiations.

Summary:

  • United Future: Flexi-Super
  • Maori Party: Whanau Ora
  • Mana Party: the elimination of child poverty within the first five years
  • Act Party: economic growth
  • Conservative Party: binding referenda
  • NZ First: non-committal
  • Green Party: expect to have a very comprehensive coalition agreement that meets a whole range of objectives

    Details:

United Future

Right, I wanna talk about relationships in MMP, and I’m coming to Mr Dunne. I want to know that if you get into a confidence-in-supply agreement with the next government, what would be the one thing you would be pushing for in return?

Dunne: I think probably top of our list would be to make progress on our flexi-super proposal, which would see people being able to take a reduced rate of super from the earlier age of 60 or an enhanced rate if they deferred to 70, and with the standard age remaining 65. I think that would be the one thing we’d wanna push most strongly.

That’s a repeat of last election.Dunne negotiated a discussion paper on Flexi-Super with National after the 2011 election and that which was released last year but National are luke-warm on doing anything on it

UnitedFuture’s plan which would allow people to take a reduced rate of New Zealand superannuation from the age of 60, or an enhanced rate if they deferred uptake until 70. The rationale was to give people more choice over retirement income and to recognise that for some people 60 was the age to leave the paid workforce, but that they were currently unable to do so for financial reasons.

Māori Party

Te Ururoa, you say that you could go with either Labour or National, so what would be your top priority as a policy to get?

Flavell: …the major platform that the Maori party has always been on about is final order. We say that if we’re able to consolidate, not only just social—the MSD-

So you would be pushing that if you were with the next government, you’d be pushing to keep–?

Flavell: It’s an absolute must from our perspective that final order will be at the centre of our platform, our policy. It is right now, and it will be.

‘Final order’ is a mistake in the transcript, it should read ‘Whānau Ora’ which is the Māori Party’s flagship policy.

Whānau-ora: restoring the essence of who we are; putting the vibrant traditions from our people at the heart of our whānau

Whānau Ora begins with you. Whānau is the heart of our people, it is the foundation on which our country thrives. It is about reaffirming a sense of self-belief.

Mana Party

All right. Mr Harawira, Mr Cunliffe says that you’re not gonna be part of his government. But you say he’ll pick up the phone if he needs you. So if he rings and says, ‘Hone, I’m offering you confidence in supply, that’s it, no ministers’, what do you want from him?

Do you think he has the vision to lead this country?

Harawira: What I know is this – if the polls keep trending the way that John Armstrong of the NZ Herald says and hit 5% even before the campaign starts for Internet Mana, I’m guaranteed to get a call on the night of September the 20th. And if he asks us, is there one policy, if there’s one thing that we would want to see changed, it would be this – the elimination of child poverty within the first five years.

The ‘elimination of child poverty’ seems idealistic, especially when it is usually a statistical figure based on families below the median income and on that basis there will always be some ‘in poverty’ – below the arbitrary line.

I can’t find a reference to the five year target on the Mana website but they have a range of policy points addressing “economic justice’, for example:

Work towards implementing a Universal Basic Income where everyone in Aotearoa aged 18 and over would receive a minimum, liveable, tax free income after which progressive tax would kick in. This would eliminate the huge costs involved in administering the current shame and blame WINZ system, and do much to end poverty and address growing inequality.

Act Party

Jamie Whyte, if you had a confidence and supply agreement, what would you be after as your top priority policy?

Whyte: Well, almost all problems, practical problems, are remedied by becoming wealthier. And so economic growth is by far our priority. And so the policies that we’ve been promoting on – cutting taxes and reducing the regulatory burden, which would promote economic growth, those would be our priorities in a negotiation with the National party.

That’s straightforward.

Short to medium term goals should include reducing the level of government expenditure below 28 per cent of GDP and lowering the top tax rate to 24 cents.  ACT’s Regulatory Responsibility Bill should be passed.

Conservative Party

Mr Craig, your policies are almost the same as NZ First. You’re the doppelganger in this room, so why would people vote for you when we’ve got the real thing right here.

What would be your top policy that you’d be after?

Craig: We’ve said publicly that we think governments should not be able to ignore overwhelming vote in referenda. The anti-smacking law, tough on law and order, reducing the MPs, all right quite rightly should have been implemented by government, because there is a point at which people need to know they control this nation. It’s their country.

Craig has already stated a bottom line on binding referenda.

ON OUR WATCH REFERENDUMS WILL BE BINDING

At the heart of the democratic system is the principle of the citizens initiated referendum. It’s when a single issue is thought to be so important, all voters are asked to make their opinion heard.

No specifics are given on exactly what this would entail, Conservative ‘Issues’ or policies are brief and vague.

New Zealand First

Mr Peters, your bottom lines or things that you really don’t wanna budge on are no foreign land sales, no race-based parties, buy-back assets and keep the super age at 65. You’re gonna be on the cross-benches, aren’t you, with that list?

Peters talked about a range of policies but was typically evasive and vague.

Peters: Your assumption is that at six weeks out from the election, we’re gonna make decisions now and tell the public, ‘Forget about you, doesn’t matter what happens in six weeks’. Behind close room deals. Now, I’m gonna leave it to the public to decide who’s gonna be standing there at the election, and it won’t include some parties standing here right now.

Many alluded to but no bottom lines revealed before the election.

Green Party

All right, let’s go to Metiria Turei there. (asked about working with NZ First)

Turei: The Green party in government will be a very large part of that government, and we will have significant influence. We will expect to have a very comprehensive coalition agreement that meets a whole range of objectives – a cleaner environment, a fairer society and a smarter economy. And we will have—we won’t settle like other parties might for a single achievement. We want to see our whole plan, our whole agenda being rolled out.

Turei wasn’t asked specifically about a priority but her answer was more befitting of a medium sized party with potentially a significant influence in a coalition.

Greens are excluded from major party debates despite the chances of them getting half the votes of Labour, and they could be a quarter to a third of a left wing coalition so could reasonably expect to include a number of their key policies in negotiations.

Source: TV3 The Nation – Debate: Multi-party election campaign debate

Green blog spins off Dotcom abuse

The Green author at The Standard appears to be trying to leverage off the Dotcom abuse approach to politics  with her latest post  Fuck inequality! Fuck poverty! Fuck the Nat govt!

Some of Karol’s posts are virtual campaign advertising for the Green Party. This post uses an expletive headline to promote a generic “Vote Left” message:

For the good of us all, and especially, for the good of those doing it really tough these days, VOTE LEFT this election! We are all in this together.

But it is ‘poverty” focused and also Green inclusive:

A couple of days ago, Metiria Turei had dropped by the Mangere Impact, to see for herself what was happening. She posted on Facebook:

Just been politely but firmly thrown out of the Mangere WINZ office. Ive been at the advocacy Impact at Mangere WINZ, talking with the advocates about the extent to which beneficiaries are still not getting their full entitlements. Then on the advice from the Ministers office, management asked that I leave. Protocols and all that. But for just this one hour I was transported back 25 years when I was doing this work. Nothing has changed for the better for people in need of some help. And needing help should not be an excuse for being treated like a second class citizen.

We will roll back these cruel welfare reforms. We will restore the principles of decency and justice in social security. National is hurting families. We have to make them stop.

I’m not sure what the “protocols” are that govern such days of advocacy.  However, Turei seems to have accepted the request to leave.  But she did have enough time to see for herself the struggles and the compassion.

Turei and Buckingham, like many others, are calling for  change of government, and new policies to “restore the principles of decency and justice”.

Karol’s prior post had similarities, with a leading push for the Greens in Counting the cost – long time dying:

In this year’s elections:

The Greens have a raft of policies to bring about and maintain a fair society.

Labour have policies that focus on full employment and living wages, also aiming for a “fair and decent society”.

The Mana Party has a collection of policy statements, aiming to realise their founding principles:

to bring rangatiratanga to the poor, the powerless and the dispossessed.  It is they who carry the brunt of government by the rich and powerful for the rich and powerful.  We will lead the fight against welfare that punishes children, against greed that is rewarded by corporate payouts, against the damage to Papatūānku by pollution and oil drilling and against governments who fill the pockets of foreign companies at our expense. 

The Internet Party is developing policies to:

 to get an open, free, fair, connected and innovative society. 

Vote Left this election to change the government, a start building towards a fair society!

vote left 2014

Her post before that one was a straight Green Party promotion – Tertiary education – a “public good”:

The Green Party is launching their “Election Priority for Students” at Auckland University today from 2-3 pm in the Auckland University Quad.  Russel Norman and Metiria Turei will be presenting it together, indicating it will  most likely have a financial ficus, and considerations of individual, social and community well being.

Green Party election priority student 2014

The Greens have had strong tertiary education and support for students policies for a long time.  They describe education as a “public good and an economic investment”.  

I think it’s fair to ask how closely associated Karol is to the Green party and their campaign.  If Karol was open and honest she would have clear disclosure of her intent and any political associations.

Should there be Green Party authorisations on her posts?

Regardless of this a Green blogger promoting voting with a similar abusive  approach used by Dotcom and the Internet Party will surely raise some eyebrows. Greens used to have a reputation.

Greens promoting love, practicing hate?

While the Green Party is promoting love activists connected to the party seem to be continuing a campaign of hate.

The ‘nice Green’ image from the days of Rod Donald and Jeanette Fitzsimons are long gone as Green activists seem to be continuing a hate campaign against John Key in a spate of hoarding attacks.

The current Green slogan of ‘Love New Zealand’ doesn’t seem to apply to political opponents. I’ve seen and been on the receiving end of Green nastiness in social media. This arrogant attack streak in Green ranks seems to be prevalent this election campaign.

There appears to be a continued defacement campaign around the country and in Dunedin. Last Wednesday the Otago Daily Times highlighted hoarding hate with a National hoarding smeared with “casual Fascists – MP slams sign taggers:

A picture of the defaced billboard was uploaded on Facebook, with the first comment ”Vote Green not the fascist regime!”

Another post recommends another National Party billboard be defaced as it was ”gagging for a tagging”.

Mr Woodhouse said he was aware ”that there are some posts of this nature online”.

”While some online correspondents are apparently connected with the Green Party, I don’t think one can conclude there is official Green Party involvement.”

That was confirmed by Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei, who is also standing in the Dunedin North seat held by Labour MP David Clark.

”We don’t want people defacing ours, and we don’t approve others defacing other parties’.

“They are expensive and they are part of the democratic process to allow parties to put forward their policies,” she said.

She confirmed she knew one of the Facebook posters, but reiterated the party ”does not endorse the defacement of billboards”.

More National hoardings continue defaced in Maia in Dunedin and a Labour hoarding was also attacked, but the Green Party hoarding was untouched.

HoardingGraffiti1Side 1: “Please release me let me go” with an obscene image

HoardingGraffiti2Side 2: “I don’t love you any more”

It’s hard to pick up in this picture but a Labour hoarding showing David Cunliffe (just to the left of the lamp post) is also badly defaced.

There’s no evidence this was done by anyone connected to the Green Party but it doesn’t look good for the Greens trying to advertise ‘love’ while opposing party hoardings are attacked again with obscenities and cross references to the Green campaign.

Whale Oil shows that this isn’t isolated to Dunedin, similar attacks are happening in other parts of the country with examples in Christchurch and Wellington in The Nasty Party supporters are out in force.

Turns out it was an orchestrated attack. A number of hoardings in the area have been branded with similar diatribes.

One of them is so high it would of needed a ladder to deface, suggesting it was more than your average opportunist.

And it looks like the defacement campaign is continuing in Dunedin this election. It’s not a good look for the Greens to be associated with vandalism and obscenities. No party can be in control of radical activists but it’s unlikely to help Greens and is more likely to backlash against them.

Last election a nationwide hoarding attack campaign was orchestrated by a Green Party member whose partner worked in Russel Norman’s office and was very embarrassing for the Green Party – Election 2011: Vandalism links blow for Greens.

The man who co-ordinated the vandalism of 700 National billboards has resigned his Green Party membership and his partner has been stood down from her role as co-leader Russel Norman’s secretary.

Greens spokesman Andrew Campbell said fellow co-leader Metiria Turei lodged an official complaint about Jolyon White’s role in the orchestrated action on Sunday night.

When White was told today he faced an internal Greens process he offered his resignation.

Anne Hein, Norman’s executive assistant, was now the subject of an investigation by Parliamentary Services, Campbell said.

Norman announced this morning that White co-ordinated the campaign.

“I believe the defacing of the billboards is vandalism and condemn these actions,” Norman told reporters at Parliament.

“I am incredibly disappointed about what they have done.”

The Green campaign looks to be very well organised in general. It would be surprising if they haven’t issued instructions to party members about hoarding vandalism but obviously they can’t control the actions of all party activists.

After his vandalism campaign last election White seems to considered the possible repercussions of his actions.

Meanwhile, the Christchurch-based campaigner told The Press he hoped the billboard campaign would not hurt the Greens.

White, who did not personally take part in Sunday’s raids, said the stunt had cost $500, which he paid himself.

White said he had no association with Norman – rather, he was in a relationship with someone that worked for him.

”It would be a shame if it had blowback on any political party  I would really love this to stay about the issues rather than about personality politics,” he said.

That last statement is very ironic, and a bit late for vandal’s remorse.

No matter how closely related the current vandalism is to the Green campaign – it is most likely to be rogue activists rather than anything officially Green – it is more likely to damage Green campaign efforts rather than help them.

Greens versus Internet Party

The Internet Party is targeting green voters and this looks to be in deliberate competition with the Green Party.

Last year Russel Norman met with Kim Dotcom several times. He claims he was trying to talk Dotcom out of starting up a new party as he thought it would split votes on the left. That was an astute assessment, but Norman won’t have been aware of how much of a risk the Internet Party might pose to the Greens.

Norman wouldn’t have foreseen that someone working closely with the Greens on it’s campaign would have defected to lead the new party. Laila Harre was loaded with inside Green information.

And Harre has clearly positioned the Internet Party as another left of Labour party, which will have to compete with the Greens for votes.

What wasn’t known was how fiercely they would compete. We got an indication yesterday.

The Green Party announced it’s election priorities as scheduled – Green Party launches key election priority, rivers clean enough for swimming.

But several hours before the Green fanfare the Internet Party released it’s environmental policy – Internet Party to stop high-risk resource extraction -

The Internet Party wants a moratorium on fracking, the dumping of oil wastes, deep-sea and undersea extraction and other risky energy and mining industry practices.

In its final environment policy released today – its first full, digitally-driven democratic policy – the Internet Party also vows to restore the absolute right of Kiwis to protest at sea against deep-sea oil exploration.

This looks like it could be a virtual replication of Green policy. If you look at their full environment policy – Environment policy revised – the similarities are obvious.

Having very similar policies will compete for votes, but notably the Internet Party obviously tried to pre-empt the Green launch yesterday with their own green launch. It looks like they want to compete with the Greens head on.

One of the Internet Party’s main stated objectives is to remove National from Government.Elections are generally thought to be won and lost in the centre.

So it’s curious that the Internet Party has targeted the left of Labour vote, and clearly they are intending to compete strongly with the Greens.

They seem to be more intent on capturing as much of the left wing vote as they can.

This could suggest they are looking further than this election with bigger ambitions, perhaps to establish themselves as the dominant left wing party. That’s what Greens would like to become. It will be much harder for them to grow in the same space as the Internet Party.

And I wonder if there’s some payback going on for Norman not playing ball with Dotcom.

Greens make it more political

Greens are pushing politically on the handling of the Malaysian diplomat case. They have put out a statement:

McCully ‘should stand down while review considers his actions’

The Green Party is calling for the review into Foreign Affairs’ handling of allegations of attempted rape by a Malaysian Diplomat to be expanded to cover actions of Ministers, and for the Minister of Foreign Affairs to stand down while the review is being held.

The review also needs to be conducted by an external agency, not the Ministry whose actions and inactions need to be independently examined.

“The woman at the centre of these allegations, Tania Billingsley, last night called for Mr McCully to resign, saying he had failed to do his job and that she was still waiting for an apology,” Green Party Co leader Metiria Turei said.

“I’m not about to argue against Ms Billingsley’s call. If I was the Prime Minster I’d seriously take note of everything she said last night.

“It is astonishing that Ms Billingsley was still waiting for an apology from anyone in Government yesterday.

“Mr McCully has said he’d apologised, but an off the cuff apology over the TV doesn’t cut it, especially for a generation that doesn’t even watch it. Mr McCully would never have considered a TV apology good enough for the Prime Minister and it’s not good enough for Ms Billingsley.

“Our position is that the review of MFAT’s handling of this case should be expanded to include Ministers’ actions, and inactions, and that Minister McCully should stand down while this review is going on.

“New Zealand needs those in power to take leadership on the issue of sexual and domestic violence. What happened in Ms Billingsley’s case shows that they didn’t. If Ministers had shown leadership, it’s hard to see that the diplomat would have been allowed to leave New Zealand.

“Ms Billingsley has always said that she wanted him to stay to face trial in New Zealand. We still don’t even know if he’s coming back and that would be understandably distressing for her.

“The New Zealand Government has let Ms Billingsley down and the lack of leadership shown over her case should cause everyone to be concerned,” Mrs Turei said.

It’s not clear what Turei thinks the Government should have actually done. Taken over from the police or  MFAT?

If Greens overplay the politics of the handling of immunity they risk severely diminishing a far more important argument to more generally “take leadership on the issue of sexual and domestic violence.”

Holly Walker and parents in Parliament

Holly Walker has announced she is withdrawing from the Green Party list citing family reasons, although still plans on standing for the Hutt South electorate to campaign for the party vote.

This means she is withdrawing as an MP unless the unlikely happens and she beats Trevor Mallard and Chris Bishop against her wishes.

Green Party MP Holly Walker to step down from party list

Green Party MP Holly Walker has decided to withdraw from the party’s list in the upcoming election and will not seek a second term in Parliament. Ms Walker was number 12 on the Green Party list.

“Unfortunately, a recent unexpected change in my family life has made it very difficult for me to continue as a Green MP. Under these circumstances, I have chosen to put my family first and withdraw myself from the Green Party list,” said Ms Walker,

“It has been extremely rewarding to combine parenting and politics, and a challenge I have enjoyed. Unfortunately, a recent unexpected change in my family life has made it very difficult for me to continue.

“Even with great support from the Green Party and colleagues, changes in my family life meant I would not have been able to do justice to my role as an MP. Under these circumstances, I have chosen to put my family first.”

Walker makes it clear several times she is putting her family first. She had a baby last October.

Regardless of her specific family circumstances – I don’t know if there is any more to this than just the conflict in priorities – this isn’t surprising. When it became known yesterday that a Green MP was withdrawing she was the first one who came to mind.

When Walker became an MP she showed signs of struggling with the aggressive nature of Parliamentary politics. It will have been a major culture shock. Within the Green Party it is a very supportive team environment with a lot of mutual back patting and praise of their people and policies.

To then be exposed to combative politics where extreme criticism and personal attacks are not uncommon it would take some adjusting to. Some new MPs never do settle in and choose not to stay.

Add parenthood to that and any mother or father would question their priorities.

While praise has been heaped on Walker’s efforts as an MP it’s worth noting that she got into Parliament at 12 on the Green list – which was  a doubtful position, they only had nine MPs in the prior term – she was placed in the same position in this year’s list.

I got involved in some discussion yesterday on Twitter about the lack of support for working parents in Parliament. This was obviously seen as a factor in Walker’s decision.

The job of an MP is very demanding, as is that of a parent. I think most people considering a possible Parliamentary career will weigh up the likely impact on their family. And many will keep assessing whether Parliament is a place the want to be.

David Garrett , Act MP in the 2008-11 term, cites the exposure of his family to extreme media pressure as a reason for giving up his seat.

Labour activist Stephanie Rodgers raised the issue of lack of assistance for parents in Parliament.

@stephanierodgrs

What does @hollyrwalker’s resignation tell us about how accessible/accommodating working in Parliament is for parents of young children?

Shorter sitting hours. Greater flexibility for parents to not be in the House at all hours. A 24/7 creche

I suggested that there were no easy solutions. Rodgers accused:

I have the sense Pete has a fundamental opposition to change. Any change.

That’s wrong. If things can reasonably be made easier for MP parents I’d support that, but to what extent should MPs get special treatment? And would it make enough difference?

Many occupations are difficult to balance with parenting, especially where babies are involved. I doubt there are many workplaces that provide 24/7 creches. Airline pilots and stewards have no choice.

Shorter work hours can be  arranged in some occupations, but with many it’s difficult, for example doctors, nurses, police, fire, teachers.

Some can have job share arrangements but positions of elected representatives poses unique problems. There is no provision for being a part time MP.

And it’s not just facilities at Parliament that are a problem. MPs do a lot of their work outside Parliament. Travel around the country is often required.

There may be some things that can be changed to help Parliamentary parents but the options are limited.

When people put themselves forward to be elected they should know the demands of the job. If people plan to have a family while working they must know there may be compromises necessary. And sometimes, probably quite often, choices have to be made as to whether the work is compatible with parenting.

Walker has chosen to give priority to her family situation, as many parents do.

There may have been nothing that could have been provided to help her enough in Parliament to have changed this decision.

Greens would normally campaign for something if they thought it would make a difference. I don’t know if they have tried to make things easier for Walker’s dual responsibilities, or if they have simply accepted her decision.

Sometimes – often – parents simply put their family first when there are no easy alternatives.

From Facebook:

Donnelle Belanger-Taylor I’ve followed her posts about combining parenting a young child and the huge work demands. Good thoughts to her.

Tara Moala Gutted, but completely understand and appreciate putting Whanau first.

It was Walker’s choice to stand for Parliament, and her choice to stand down. Most will understand her likely reasons.

 

Are Labour’s tax plans bottom lines?

Labour has announced changes to tax in the their alternate budge, promoting it as Labour’s alternative Budget for a strong economy and fair society.

The tax increases are modest compared to Labour’s proposals in 2011 and won’t affect most people very much (until CGT kicks in).

The biggest unanswered question is whether these changes would be bottom lines for a Labour led government, or whether Labour would be prepared to negotiate changes with Greens or Mana in a coalition agreement.

Both Greens and Mana support a Capital Gains Tax but they also want to increase other taxes except for lower income earners where they both propose large tax free thresholds.

Are Labour’s tax proposals open to coalition negotiation?

Stuff reports that Labour softens its tax stance.

Labour leader David Cunliffe said the party would impose a new top tax rate of 36 per cent on income above $150,000 a year, a move that would cost someone on $200,000 a year about $30 a week.

It is a major softening of former leader Phil Goff’s 2011 plan to lift it to 39c.

However, a parallel rise in the tax on trusts to 36c would see it bring in about the same amount of extra revenue.

Parker said aligning the trust rate with the top tax rate would avoid trusts being used as tax-avoidance vehicles.

There’s doubt about whether it will bring in the amounts claimed as the company tax rate would remain at 28% which will encourage restructuring for those who can to avoid the higher personal and trust rates.

The change would favour those in business over wage earners, but because it’s just a tweak to the top rate for high income earners most people probably won’t be bothered by it.

The 15 per cent tax on capital gains, excluding the family home, would bring in $790 million a year by 2020.

That seems much as previously announced (2011) with a number of exemptions and still defers to an Expert Panel.

An Expert Panel will be established to deal with issues that are technical in nature and involve areas where a high degree of specialised knowledge is required before a final decision can be reached.

They also propose a ‘crackdown on avoidance’ (which in general is nothing new):

A crackdown on tax avoidance, particularly by multinationals such as Facebook and Google, would bring in $200m a year by 2018-19.

Inland Revenue would “embed” auditors in companies with a history of tax avoidance.

It’s highly questionable whether tax on multinationals can be increased significantly without international co-operation.

Green Party tax policy:

To promote greater equality, the Greens will enhance the progressivity of the tax system by introducing an income tax-free threshold and a comprehensive capital gains tax (excluding the family home).

To create incentives to move the economy in a more sustainable direction, the Greens will introduce a suite of ecological taxes on waste, pollution, and scarce resources.

The introduction of a comprehensive capital gains tax, new ecological taxes, and through better enforcement of current tax law, the tax base will be broadened and hence made more resilient.

Mana tax policies:

Remove GST from all food (and everything else), but introduce a tax on fast foods and soft drinks.

Significantly increase the tax take by introducing a tax on financial speculation, called the “Hone Heke tax” (chopping down GST and income tax), which will be designed using examples of similar taxes introduced overseas. Initially it will be used to replace the annual $15 billion collected by GST.

Reduce the tax paid by low income earners by not taxing the first $27,000 earned and introduce a more progressive tax scale where the wealthy accept the responsibility to pay the largest share of the tax income.

 

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