Greens on RMA

Green co-leader Metiria Turei has spoken up about National’s proposed Resource Management Act reforms, expressing concerns that ‘people’ and ‘neighbours’ won’t get to have their say adequately.

Greens: RMA reforms will ‘lock people out of having their say’

The Green Party has criticised proposed changes to the Resource Management Act (RMA), saying the overhaul would leave many people out of the consultation loop.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei says the changes will leave too many people without the means to voice their opinion on changes in their neighbourhoods.

“The major part [of the legislation] will be locking people out of consultation and having a say,” Ms Turei told the Paul Henry programme this morning.

She says even under the current laws, only a relatively small number of people are actually involved in the process.

“More than 90 percent of the consents that are issued under the RMA are not notified, there’s only a really small proportion where people get a chance to have a say about what happens in their neighbourhood and we think their right to have a say should be protected.

“There are people who are affected by the decisions that other people make, they should have the right to say [something] about that.”

“We’re talking about people’s neighbourhoods; there are big issues in Auckland at the moment about the nature of development in Auckland City – should Aucklanders be locked out of having a say about what happens in their city?”

Turei seems to be confusing two things – people having their say (there’s many ways they can do that) and potentially bogging down RMA applications because some people want to stop anything changing in their neighbourhood.

This is already a real problem here in Turei’s electorate of Dunedin North, where people oppose building on the other side of the harbour to where they live (and other places) because they don’t like the look of it.

And it could get worse.

The Dunedin City Council is currently proposing a ‘second generation’ district plan. A proposal in that is to designate large areas of the city above the 100 m contour as a ‘significant landscape zone’. And thatb will significantly restrict what you can do with your land if it’s above 100 m in those zones.

A lot of Dunedin is over 100 m.

I have a special interest in this because I own properties that straddle the 100 m contour.

Under the new proposals if I want to build a building larger than 60 square metres I will need resource consent.

If I want tp build a house higher than single story or with paint greater than 30% luminosity or plant particular species of trees or a number of other things I will need notified resource consent.

So neighbours and people on the other side of the harbour will be able to have their say. And if past experience is anything to go by people will oppose.

The local Green dominated council and the Green Party want everyone to be happy before anything is built, and if someone doesn’t like the look of something in the distance then they can do more than have their say – they can stop people doing normal sorts of things with their own land.

There’s a vast difference between environmental protections (important) and allowing neighbours to have their say and prevent people douing what is not out of the ordinary on their own land.

This illustrates a major problem many people have with the Greens.

Just about everyone wants to protect the environment as much as possible, so having someone sticking up for environmental issues is great.

But most people don’t want severe restrictions on what they can do with their own land and property.

And they don’t want extreme Greenies preventing them from doing fairly normal and reasonable things with their own property just because the extreme Greenies have what they want and don’t like the look of something else.

Jan Logie’s ‘many rapists are not always monsters’ comments

There is now a clip at One News of Jan Logie’s comments on rapists – ‘Rapists are not always monsters’ – Green Party MP


Logie: The problem is, and what makes it so hard to disclose in this country and anywhere else is we create the perception that rapists are monsters, that nobody could ever associate with them.

But the truth is that many rapists and sexual offenders are known to us, they’re our family members, they are people that were previously our friends.

So when the Prime Minister creates this impression that this is the absolute worst possible thing it is silencing so many survivors and victims of violence.

Interviewer: Isn’t it though for some people the worst possible thing?

Logie: It is truly an awful awful experience, and these are peoeple we know, and part of what makes it hard to disclose and to hold those people to account  is that we also know them, in many cases as people who are not always monsters.

Now I think I sort of get the point that she’s trying to make, but this is likely to dismay many peoeple who have suffered from rape and sexual assault. And others.

Yes, many people convicted of sexual crimes were friends or family of the victim. (Some are strangers).

And yes, there’s a wide variety of levels of seriousness of sexual crimes.

And yes, some sexual offenders don’t always act like monsters. They may have only once acted like a monster. And they have to live in society after committing their crimes.

But this is a very strange approach from Logie.

If John Key had tried to play down the seriousness or monstrosity of rape like this my guess is that he would have been widely and strongly criticised. He woulld have been hammered. He would still be getting a hammering.

Very odd comments from Logie.

UPDATE: Logie had also posted this the previous day:

The Government’s treatment of sexual violence survivors and history of cutting funding to sexual and family violence services stands in stark contrast to John Key’s tirade about rapists in Parliament yesterday, the Green Party says.

Prime Minister John Key caused widespread offence yesterday with his outburst claiming that members of the opposition were “backing rapists” when they questioned his Government’s unwillingness to challenge Australia’s record on human rights.

“John Key should ditch the playground abuse and turn his energy to backing the rights of sexual violence survivors who, by and large, have had a tough time under this Government,” Green Party women’s spokesperson Jan Logie said.

“Rape crisis centres, and other sexual and family violence services have been forced to cut services under the National Government, victims of sexual violence have been denied help because of ACC changes, and John Key backed decisions to shelve the Law Commission’s work on alternative trials for sexual violence crimes and gut family court protections.

“John Key himself has a history of publicly minimising sexual violence, once telling the young men known as Roast Busters, who got young girls drunk in order to abuse them, to “grow up”.

“My Select Committee inquiry into sexual violence services funding has highlighted huge problems in funding for services, including the need for secure, long-term funding.

“The fact remains, that only about one percent of sexual violence offences result in a conviction, but despite this, the Government has given the Law Commission an impossible time frame to come up with good solutions on alternative trials or other ways to improve the low conviction rate.

“The Government has corrected some of its mistakes lately  – including an emergency funding allocation to keep some services afloat, – but much more is needed before victims feel safe coming forward, and violence is prevented from occurring in the first place,” Ms Logie said.

Jan Logie on Key’s rape comments

Green MP Jan Logie was interviewed on Breakfast this morning.

Initial Twitter coverage:

“I’ve spent a huge number of years fighting against rape culture and have experienced sexual violence myself” – @janlogie

“I really hope the Prime Minister listened… and thinks twice about the impact of those comments”

“The Prime Minister’s comments were knowingly offensive and provocative.. he was using it to distract from a very real concern”

She made some odd comments about rapists, appearing to defend them. According to feedback some people are incensed by her comments.

It’s not online yet.

Video of a brief part: John Key’s rape comment was ‘deeply personally offensive’ – MP

Russel Norman’s valedictory statement

Russel Norman was not everyone’s cup of green tea but he believed strongly in what he stood for and he was a significant force behind the improvement in Green vote (but could also be responsible in part for it hitting an apparent Green ceiling).


There are a number of interesting and important points in his speech including:

  • Agitators are a set of interfering, meddling people…
  • The state of democracy in New Zealand
  • The fourth estate
  • A bad culture around dissent
  • Sustainability
  • There are too many cows
  • Justice and inequality and poverty

Some of these topics may be worth exploring separately.

Inthehouse video: Valedictory Statement – Dr Russel Norman – 22nd October 2015

Draft transcript:

Valedictory Statements

Speech – Dr RUSSEL NORMAN (Green)

Dr RUSSEL NORMAN (Green): I rise to pass a few comments and a few thanks at the end of my 7 years as a member of this Parliament and 9 years as co-leader of the Green Party.

I want to start with a little story from Queensland. Some of you may know that I was born in Brisbane—if my accent does not give me away. The thing about Brisbane is that, aside from having a very right-wing Premier for many years, who was very anti-democratic, Joh Bjelke-Petersen, who of course was a Kiwi expat, but I have never held that against New Zealand, it also had a terrible history of the treatment of Aboriginal people.

After the frontier wars, Aboriginal people were locked up in concentration camps, called reservations. There was a reservation near Cairns, called Yarrabah. In Yarrabah there was of course a lot of conflict between the Aboriginal people of the Yarrabah reservation and the white overseer, who also owned the store and sold rancid meat, amongst many other things.

The conflict developed between Percy Neal, who was a leader of the Yarrabah community, and the white overseer. Percy Neal, in his argument, spat on the screen door that separated the two of them and for this he was charged with assault and put before a magistrate.

The magistrate said he was an agitator. He said Mr Neal was an agitator. The magistrate sentenced him to 2 months’ jail, with hard labour, for spitting on the screen door. Percy Neal appealed to the Queensland Supreme Court, which in active injustice, increased that penalty to 6 months’ hard labour for spitting on the screen door.

Eventually the appeal went to the High Court in Canberra, the highest court in Australia, and was heard in front of Justice Lionel Murphy. The thing about Lionel was that he was a little bit of an agitator himself, and was appointed by the Whitlam Government on to the High Court of Australia. Lionel wrote a judgment about this case. I just want to quote a little bit of Lionel Murphy’s judgment.

He said, and I am quoting from Justice Murphy: “That Mr Neal was an agitator or stirrer in the magistrate’s view obviously contributed to the severe penalty. If he is an agitator, he is in good company. Many of the great religious and political figures of history have been agitators, and human progress owes much to the efforts of these and many who are unknown.

Agitators are a set of interfering, meddling people…

As Oscar Wilde aptly pointed out: ‘Agitators are a set of interfering, meddling people, who come down to some perfectly contented class of the community and sow the seeds of discontent amongst them. That is the reason why agitators are so absolutely necessary. Without them … there would be no advance towards civilisation.’ ”

Lionel Murphy finished with a very famous quote, where he said: “Mr Neal is entitled to be an agitator.”

I use this quote to tell a little bit about my story about Queensland, and growing up in Queensland, but it is also about the value of activists and agitators—people who challenge the status quo and people who have the courage to stand up against the established order and try to win other people to those ideas.

I believe that activists and agitators have a critical role in human progress. I have been very proud to call myself amongst one of them—one of the many. The other reason I bring it up is that democracy itself is never absolutely secure nor finished.

Joh Bjelke-Petersen was a deeply anti-democratic figure.

I believe that democracy is a lot more than voting once every 3 years. In fact, I think in some ways that is the least part of it. It is all the institutions and culture that sits around it.

The state of democracy in New Zealand

I want to use my remarks to voice my concern about the state of democracy in New Zealand. Democracy is not a black and white thing.

There are gradations of democracy. Putin has elections once every several years, or whatever, but that does not make Russia a democracy.

Some of the institutions I think we should be deeply concerned about: access to information, and Government information in particular, is critical to the functioning of a democracy. In my view, the Official Information Act is relatively moribund now in New Zealand. It is very, very difficult to get information from the Government that the Government does not wish to release. That is a problem.

There was the Jane Kelsey case recently, where the High Court found against Tim Groser, and the Chief Ombudsman, I mean, shamefully, supported Tim Groser in this illegal activity, under the Official Information Act, of suppressing information.

I think we have got a problem with access to information in this country, and that is a critical part of our democracy. Written questions—it is very difficult to get written parliamentary questions answered any more. It is hard to get straight answers. How do you have a proper democracy if you cannot access information?

Question time—let me try to be diplomatic. Lockwood Smith said that a straight question deserves a straight answer. I loved question time with Lockwood Smith. It was one of the highlights of my parliamentary career. He was electric. He made Ministers answer questions. Question time was answer time.

It is no longer answer time, and I think that is a big problem for our democracy because if you cannot access information, it does not work.

The fourth estate

The second institution that I think really matters is the media, the fourth estate. This is not a complaint about a status quo bias to the media. Sure the media does have a status quo bias.

Media institutions are large financial institutions, existing in the status quo, and no one should be surprised that they do tend to have a bias towards the status quo. That is not my gripe.

My gripe is the resources available to journalists. Journalists used to have to produce one or two stories a week in some cases. Now they have to produce four a day. It is very difficult for journalists to do their role in our society, to hold the Government and powerful institutions to account, when journalists do not have the resources to do their job. I think this is a problem for all of us, and I think it is a problem for our democracy.

A bad culture around dissent

I also think we have developed a bad culture around dissent. Look at what happened to Eleanor Catton, look at what happened to Nicky Hager, and what he is currently going through, after the police raided his house because he dared to criticise and get involved in the Cameron Slater issue—one of the Government’s favourites.

There is a bad culture around dissent, in my opinion, and it makes it difficult for people to speak out. The culture that exists matters in a democracy—whether we have a real democracy or not. That is important.

And finally there is the investor-State disputes settlement clauses. These are about placing restrictions on democratically elected Governments. That is why they exist.

So I would say we can fix this. Democracy is an evolving institution. It is a living institution. But it will take a concerted effort from civil society groups and those outside of this institution, I suspect, as much as those within in it, in order to make our democracy healthier than it currently is. That is the first thing I wanted to say.


The second thing I wanted to say was around sustainability. Finite resources, I think, is one of the key insights that the green movement brings to the world—that the small “g” green movement brought to the world. That is, resources are limited and the ability of the planet to absorb our pollution is relatively limited.

There is a connection between democracy and sustainability and that connection became apparent in what happened to Environment Canterbury. The reason why the elected councillors were removed from Environment Canterbury was because the people of Canterbury started to vote for councillors who wanted to restrict the dairy sector. It is as simple as that. That has been stated pretty publicly by the agriculture Minister at the time.

That in my opinion is very problematic because in order to protect our democracy and in order to protect our environment we need a functioning democracy. This is really important and I think that was a classic illustration of it.

But there is a bigger problem, and this came out in the environment report that was released yesterday, and that is around dairy intensification. We need to confront the fact that we have got a big problem now. It has been growing for probably 15 to 20 years but it is now an astronomically large problem around dairy intensification.

It is causing massive climate change emissions, water pollution, water abstraction, compacted soil as the Environment Aotearoa report said, biodiversity loss, and polluted aquifers.

When you think about the fact that if you take water from the Canterbury aquifer—parts of the Canterbury aquifer—and feed it to infants, that water is so polluted that those infants will die. The medical officer of health in Canterbury has said that and it should be a wake-up call that we have got a major pollution problem on our hands.

There are too many cows

It needs to be said that there are too many cows. We just need to say it because it is true. The world is finite. There is not infinite capacity to absorb our pollution. There are too many cows and I think we need to confront that fact and we need to deal with it if we are going to clean up our environment.

One of the great things about my job is that I went on this dirty rivers tour. You know, I went and paddled in lots of dirty rivers—dozens of them; not hard to find—and there are communities all around the country that are trying to protect their rivers.

There are courageous people in rural communities who are speaking out about the impact of dairy intensification on their rivers and their communities and we need to listen to the voices of those people.

I do not think that leadership is going to come from Government and I do not think it is going to come from the industry because there has been plenty of time to fix this problem and it is not getting any better—it is getting radically worse.

It is going to rely, I think, on the NGO sector and the community sector to speak out in order to save our rivers and to protect the natural environment of New Zealand, not to mention the climate change emissions that are coming out of the agriculture sector because, of course, the agriculture sector does not face a price on its greenhouse emissions, so what would you expect.

Justice and inequality and poverty

The third thing I just want to touch on briefly is about justice and inequality and poverty. We have said it 100 times but it has got to be said: there is too much poverty and inequality in New Zealand. Things got worse after the new-right reforms. The Gini coefficient got worse after the reforms of the 1980s and 1990s but things have not really got any better and that is a major problem.

People say the Government cannot do everything. Well, that is true. The Government cannot mend a broken heart; but the Government can fill an empty stomach. That is within our capacity. We can do those things and I think we should, and I think we have a moral obligation to deal with the issues around poverty and inequality.

Honestly, I think it strikes to the very heart of our democracy as well, because when you sit in a society that is highly stratified and you look below you and think “Goodness me, that could be me if I speak out, if I do the wrong thing. If I lose my job, I can’t pay the mortgage, feed the kids, that could be me next.”

It makes everyone very frightened and on edge and it does not give the peace of mind and the stability that a mature democracy needs in my belief.

A few thanks in my closing remarks

I would like just give a few thanks in my closing remarks. Firstly, I would like to thank my partner, Katya Paquin. Katya has not only been a tremendous personal support to me but also a real political support as well. Katya used to be the political director for the Green Party before she got a much more important job, which is looking after our three beautiful kids: Tadhg, Frankie, and Stella.

Aside from doing a fantastic job bringing up those beautiful kids, Katya has been a key political support for me and has provided me with enormous insight into politics. To Tadhg, Frankie, and Stella I would just like to say you have changed me in ways that I never expected—as having kids does to you. But it was only possible really to bring up those kids because of the community we lived in and I would like to thank the people at playcentre, and at kindy, and I would like to thank Katya’s mum, Mary, who has been very, very supportive of us, and also my mum, Ollie May.

My mum is one of those people who is very disrespectful to authority—still is—and I suspect that that was very, very helpful. I do think that those in power often have a vested interest in telling you lies. It is true—it is just true.

So I think it is very important that people look at people in power and do not believe everything they say, take it with a grain of salt, and think for themselves, because the people in power are not always going to tell you the truth.

I would like to thank my brothers and sisters: Linda, Peter, Richard, Alan, and Sandra. I come from a big family. I also thank my friends. You cannot do the kind of work we do here or have a great life without great friends, and I thank Helen and Steve, Rebecca and Steve, John and Paula, Jeff and Roddy, and lots of other people who have been great friends of mine and great people support to me during all of this.

In terms of my staff I have been really blessed with fantastic staff. I thank my assistants Jo Beaglehole, Anna Hynes, Izzy Lomax, Charlie Chambers, and Simon Tapp . You have gone beyond the call of duty.

To all the staff who have supported me over the years—there are too many people to mention. But I thank Ken Spagnolo, Robert Ash, Babs Lake, Andrew Campbell, Holly Donald, Paul Benzeman, Scott Compton, Katya Paquin, Michael Pringle, Sarah Holm—there are more and more of them.

The Green Party, I think, has been extremely blessed with very, very talented staff over the years. I would also like to thank the members of Green Party, and also the members of all political parties.

Democracy has survived only because people join political parties and get engaged in them voluntarily. So although I disagree with people who might be members of other political parties, I certainly respect the fact that they get involved in democracy. I think it is really important.

But I would particular like to thank the members of the Green Party, especially the Rongotai branch, who have been incredibly supportive to me. To the co-leaders I have worked with—Rod, who tragically died, Janette, and Metiria—and good luck, James—it has been great to work with you.

I thank all the Green MPs. It has been great to work all of you—those of us who are here, those of us who have come before. I think the Green MPs have made a huge difference. I would like to really thank the green NGOs, or the environmental NGOs.

Environmental NGOs often have to do the heavy lifting of protecting New Zealand’s natural environment on behalf of everybody else in the courts, day in, day out, and everywhere else. Really, they are often doing the job that the Government should be doing to protect our natural world. It is the environmental NGOs that end up doing it. So I would really like to acknowledge their work.

I would also like to thank the voters, the 250,000-plus people who voted for us at the last election. Thank you for your act of faith in voting Green. I hope you got what you wanted, and I hope that you continue to support the Greens.

I thank all the parliamentary staff: the cleaners, the messengers, the Clerk’s Office, all the people who provide the food and the security, but especially the Parliamentary Library.

Particularly when you are in Opposition it would be very, very hard to do your job without the Parliamentary Library. So I would really like to thank the library staff for all their hard work over the years.

In conclusion

In conclusion I would just like to say that my view is that humanity faces some really big challenges in the decades ahead, particularly around sustainability and climate change, and around inequality and poverty, but also around democracy. I think that democracy faces some big challenges globally, actually. But we also have huge opportunities.

The world is finite—that is true—but human creativity is infinite. Human generosity is infinite. Human courage is infinite. So we have access to some fantastic resources.

As well as facing these big challenges and problems we have inherited from the past, we have also inherited lots of great things from the past, and we have the opportunity to really create a world of abundance for everyone and for all of us living within the finite limits of the natural world.

I think that it is an opportunity that we really should grasp with both our hands, because our children deserve nothing less.

Finally, I would like to dedicate my time here to the people who stand up for a better world regardless of the cost. We are all entitled to be agitators, as Justice Murphy said, and we should exercise that entitlement frequently, and I intend to do so. Kia kaha.


Marama Davidson on The Nation

Marama Davidson will replace Russel Norman when he leaves Parliament at the end of October. She was interviewed on The Nation yesterday.

Lisa Owen asks social justice advocate Marama Davidson how she wants to broaden the Green Party’s appeal after she enters Parliament.

Interview: Incoming Green MP Marama Davidson


Lisa Owen: Well, Green Party leader Russel Norman is jumping ship to Greenpeace, paving the way for social justice advocate and Nation panellist Marama Davidson to surface as the party’s 14th MP. She joins me this morning. Good morning.

Marama Davidson: Kia ora.

Last election you said that you might need a thicker skin to be an MP, so how hard do you expect this job to be?

I think that as a public person and as an activist I’ve had to grow a thicker skin, but I also don’t think that being a politician or being anybody is any excuse for anyone to be rude to you, so I think it’s really good to stick to the issues and leave the rudeness completely out of it.

When you got the call-up, did you have a moment when you thought, ‘Ooh’?

As I was saying, I had to keep it completely to myself for quite some time, because, you know, even though we’ve known this was coming for a little while, when it actually came it, it was a little bit like a bus crash running me over, and so I just had to sit with it and settle it in my head a bit. There was both nerves and anxiety and, underneath that, some excitement as well.

All right. Well, you say that your passions are for Maori and environmental issues, so why do you think that the Greens are struggling to connect with Maori?

Yeah, so I hope to be able to help with that and support that. So traditionally I don’t think the Green Party has had a strong presence in Maori communities and in Maori politics, which is hard for me, because with our policies and with our kaupapa, we’ve absolutely stood next to Maori political aspirations, for example, foreshore and seabed, opposing Statoil and deep-sea oil drilling. So in my belief—

But you’ve not won those votes from the Maori or the poor, have you? Because, I mean, just looking, it’s four times— you’ve got four times more votes in Epsom than you did in Manurewa or Mangere.

Yeah, so I’m really pleased with the diversity work that we’ve acknowledged we need to do, particularly in Auckland at the moment, and we’ve got our membership in grass roots reaching out and making those connections, and we need to be present in communities. So, yeah, that’s one of my strengths, I think, is being present in the community.

Is the problem that if you are struggling to make ends meet now and put food on the table now, the state of the planet in 50 years’ time is not your top priority? It’s not a luxury that you can afford?

And what I’ve always said is that every decision we make at every level needs to put children front and centre, not just today’s child but tomorrow’s child. So, for example, the way that Housing New Zealand has held back millions of dollars and has neglected to fix up our state homes has a direct, direct impact on our most vulnerable, and our children have been dying and, indeed, sick from that decision.

Well, I’m wondering if you could ever see yourself as being part of a coalition with National?

So, what we’ve always done is worked across parties, and we’ve had good Green policy gains working with National as well, and insulating our homes was a direct score for what we want to uphold.

Yeah, but I’m asking you about a coalition. Could you see yourself in a coalition?

So, personally, at the moment National’s direction is far apart from the Green kaupapa and our own political aspirations. The membership at the moment, they decide that, and the membership at the moment have said it’s highly unlikely.

Okay, well, let’s take a quick look at some of your personal views so we can get a sense of where you sit. Um, girls under the age of 16. Should they need parental consent for an abortion?

I think that the ultimate decision has to lie with those young women, and everyone knows that I was in that position myself. But I do absolutely acknowledge that whanau… whanau have a right to be involved. I think the final decision has to rest with the young woman.

We’re gonna talk about taxes soon on unhealthy foods. It could save lives, but tax on food obviously hits the poor the hardest. Where do you stand on that? Tax on unhealthy food?

So our Fair Share tour around the country. People have been saying we have healthy food, less expensive than junk food. I don’t know what the exact answers are to make that that happen for our vulnerable families, but definitely our healthy food needs to be accessible.

Okay, are you opposed to all offshore and onshore mining in New Zealand?

For drilling for oil, even if we burn the stuff that we know about and that we’ve got, our planet and our future and our children are going to suffer. So we have to be really clear about that, and we have to not continue opening up new mines. I think that’s where we have to be clear about.

No to new mines but existing…?

The transition from existing mines has to be one that doesn’t hurt families even more.

And very briefly, should Maori be able to access New Zealand Super before the age of 65?

Uh, so the Greens don’t have a policy on that at the moment, and I just—

What’s your—?

Inequalities. The inequalities are that my own… Both of my own grandparents didn’t make it past 65, and so we need to look at how to make things more equal for those discriminations.

All right. Marama Davidson, thanks for joining us this morning.

Transcript provided by Able.

 I found that very ‘rah rag Greens’ parroting (like she has when she has spoken on Q & A panels) which gave little insight into how Davidson sees things but it’s very really days early days for her, she’s not even in Parliament yet.

She has already been very active in various political causes and will fit in with the Greens very well. Her impact beyond that is yet to be seen.

Green gender imbalance

When Russel Norman leaves Parliament at the end of October he will be replaced by next on the Green list, Marama Davidson. This means that the current 7/7 gender split will change to 8 female MPs versus 6 male MPs .

This shouldn’t be an issue but the Greens usually try hard to maintain gender balance.

To an extent it’s a quirk of a male MP resignig when the next on the list is female. But it could have been avoided by getting Davidson to stand aside to let a male replace Norman. There’s a precedent for this sort of list manipulation as two people on the Green list stood aside to enable Norman to replace Nandor Tanczos in 2008.

But Davidson is ambitious and is very keen to become an MP. She is rated highly in Green circles and they would have been expecting her to get into Parliament last year from number fifteen on their list, except that the Greens failed to improve their vote enough.

Davidson was understandable excikted by yesterday’s news.

was just stand up mighty for my ! I’m honoured up the wahzoo to be the 14th MP. Hugely thankful to so many of you <3

There has been a lot of excitement and congratulations.

Formidable wahine toa female MPs

So Davdson is highlighting her and their wahineness and Maoriness – I’m not sure that Delahunty would be thrilled with being separated like that.

And Marama Fox of the Maori Party might like to point out that Greens don’t have the only wahine Maori MPs.

Same for Nanaia Mahuta, Louisa Wall, Poto Williams and Meka Whatiri (Labour). And Paula Bennett, Hekia Parata and Jo Hayes (National). And Ria Bond (NZ First).

I don’t have a problem with this. Any party can have any mix of MPs they like. But for a party that makes an issue of promoting gender and race balance this seems to be a lapse of discipline.

Three wahine Maori MPs out of fourteen is 21.4% is about three times the population proportion.

There’s a total of twelve wahine Maori MPs (that are obvious to me) which is about 10% – about 15% of the New Zealand population is Maori so about 7.5% will be female.

Metiria Turei added her take on it:

Metiria Turei retweeted Alan

Or or or There will be 8 women in our caucus of 14 soon. All wahine toa.

So Turei is promoting them as representing strong, female, Maori, and seems to be applauding the female imbalance. This seems contrary to the Green ideal of equal female/male representation.

There are valid arguments for increased female and Maori representation to make up for past under-representation and to overcome entrenched non-Maori male domination.

But a party can’t be both gender and ethnically balanced and also promote and applaud imbalance without looking like their ideals can be bent when it suits some of them.

Green’s gender and ethnic imbalance is not a problem – unless balance is an ideal that mustn’t be compromised.

Russel Norman leaving Parliament

It’s not really surprising to see Russel Norman announce that he’s leaving Parliament. This is how he annolunced it via email:

I’ve got some news.

At the end of October, I’m going to be leaving Parliament. I am stepping down as a Green Party MP to take over as the Executive Director of Greenpeace New Zealand.

I am looking forward to the new challenges and the hard work I’m embarking on. But of course, at a time of change like this, I’m also finding myself looking into the past.

It’s sure going to be the end of an era for me. I’ve been a Green Party MP for over seven years (and was Co-leader for nine) and when I look back at what we have achieved over the last decade… crikey! Working with others, we not only achieved really practical things, like home insulation, rail electrification and bikeways, we also won many more people to the ideas of sustainability.

During my time with the Greens we have campaigned hard on issues that really matter to New Zealand. When I am an old man looking back I’m going to be proud of the part I have played in giving hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders a voice in opposition to asset sales, protecting our fresh waterways, shining a light on secret spying and the secret TPPA deal, and pushing for some desperately needed real action on climate change.

This is probably the last email you’ll get from me as a Green MP, and the only thing I want to say is thank you. Thank you for your support, your energy, your passion and your action. Thank you for the part you play in driving forward new ideas and solutions against the old headwinds of fear and inertia.

My work, and the work of all of us MPs, would have been nothing without your support and action – on the ground, outside of Parliament, in the real world.

It’s been a huge privilege to represent your voice. But it’s time for me to leave and step into a new challenge, with Greenpeace New Zealand.

My leaving, of course, also opens up a seat in Parliament for the amazing Marama Davidson, the next on the Green Party list. Marama will be a great addition to the Green team and will make a massive contribution.

So, for one last time, thank you and kia kaha.

Dr Russel Norman

Green Party MP

Parliament is a tough gig, especially at party leader level. Norman can justifiably be proud of what he has achieved.

Norman first stood for Parliament in Australia in 1990. He moved to New Zealand ih 1997.  He first stood here in 2002 and was placed seventeenth on their list. He didn’t stand for an electorate in 2005 but was placed tenth on the list. However that wasn’t enough to get him into Parliament.

He became party co-leader from outside Parliament in 2006 after the death of Rod Donald., defeating Nandor Tanczos. In 2008  when Tanczos resigned the next two on the Green list stood aside so Norman could take a seat in Parliament.

Since then Greens increased their number of MPs to fourteen in 2011 and held steady at that in 2014. Greens were kept out of power largely due to Labour’s failure to impress since Helen Clark lost and left.

Interesting to see that Norman is moving to lead Greenpeace in New Zealand,

“Dumbest, most awful people”…”National’s backbench MPs”

Danyl Mclauchlan has posted about what he wishes would be done about the Syrian refugee crisis in State of play, but then turns that into a bitter diss of the National back bench.

I wish we could do more. But I think this is better than last week’s response to the crisis, which was to do nothing. I also think Key is doing this against the wishes of the majority of his caucus.

Print and most broadcast media have called for action on this issue but if you listen to even a few minutes of talkback radio, the sentiment there is overwhelmingly opposed to it. These aren’t refugees, the argument goes: they’re welfare bludging terrorists.

And the dumbest, most awful people on talkback are a useful barometer of what National’s backbench MPs think on any given issue.

Nothing to back that statement up, no names, no examples, just a general diss.

Bryce Edwards recently pointed out in A tale of two Governments:

In general, Key appears to be aware of the need to combat third-termitis. His attempt to rejuvenate the party while in power has been unequalled.

Today’s Cabinet of 20 contains only 11 ministers who have been there since the start. Even more starkly, five of the six ministers outside Cabinet are new. And the wider caucus has been refreshed. More than a quarter of the caucus are new MPs elected last year. A large proportion of the MPs are under 45 and, although still rather “male and pale”, the diversity of National is expanding under Key’s watch.

So regardless of how dumb and awful Mclauchlan thinks they are, they are being replaced and replenished.

How does this compare to Mclauchlan’s Greens?

One MP from 2011 dropped out, Holly Walker. That allowed for one change in the Green lineup, with James Shaw being the only fresh face. Mclauchlan helped his campaign to replace Russel Norman as co-leader.

The Greens may not get much support from radio talkback – and it’s arguable how much National gets from there either, they tend to be unhappy with everything and every party – but I think it would be unfair to compare the Green MPs with some of the more vocal and extreme Green supporters in social media.

Greens reshuffle spokesperson roles

The Green party has announced a reshuffle of spokesperson roles following the election of James Shaw as new co-leader.

Shaw has taken on Climate Change, with Metiria Turei continuing her focus on Inequality.

Most notable is the promotion of Julie Anne Genter to the Finance role, taking over from Russel Norman. Genter has been one of the Greens’ most capable and prominent spokespeople in her previous role on Transport (which she retains).

Interestingly Genter is still only ranked ninth in the Green pecking order, having dropped a place from last year’s list after the promotion of Shaw.

New portfolio line-up for the Green Party

New portfolios
MP Portfolio
Metiria Turei Inequality

Building and Housing (inc. Social Housing, HNZ)

Maori Affairs

James Shaw Climate Change

Economic Development

Russel Norman Trade

Justice (electoral)

National Intelligence and Security (inc. NZSIS, GCSB)

Kevin Hague Health (inc. ACC, Sport & Recreation)


Rainbow Issues

Eugenie Sage Environment

Primary Industries

Land Information

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery

Earthquake Commission

Gareth Hughes Energy and Resources

Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment

Science and Innovation



Wellington Issues

Catherine Delahunty Education (inc. Novopay)


Human Rights

Te Tiriti o Waitangi

Kennedy Graham Foreign Affairs (inc. Defence, Disarmament, Customs)

Veterans Affairs

Senior Citizens

Julie Anne Genter Finance (inc. Revenue, SOEs)



Mojo Mathers Commerce and Consumer Affairs (inc. Regulatory Reform)

Disability Issues

Animal Welfare

Jan Logie Social Development (inc. Women, Community and Voluntary Sector)

State Services

Local Government (inc. Civil Defence)

Rainbow Issues

Dave Clendon Tourism

Small Business

Criminal Justice (inc. Courts, Corrections, Police)


Denise Roche Workplace Relations and Safety


Immigration, Pacific Peoples, Ethnic Affairs

Internal Affairs (inc. Statistics, Arts Culture & Heritage, Ministerial Services, Racing, Gambling)

Auckland Issues

Steffan Browning Organics




Food Safety

Greens confuse democratic process with democratic votes

Despite what some try to claim he number of submissions in a democratic process is not a measure of popular support.

Submissions are not votes.

A high number of submissions promoting one view has become common, but they often mean that one view has been organised and promoted with mass submissions.

Green co-leader Metiria Turei recently sent out an email that was predictably critical of the Government emissions target announcement but her argument is a bad example of the confusion of democratic process versus democratic votes.

Here are five reasons why this weak target should be a concern for all New Zealanders:

  1. This target undermines our democratic process. Back in May, thousands of New Zealanders participated in the Government’s climate consultation. An overwhelming majority (99% of those who specified a target) asked for a more ambitious target than what the Government is proposing. John Key’s administration has effectively ignored almost everyone who participated in the consultation, from doctors and business leaders to scientists and conservation groups.

For a start this doesn’t even give the total number of submissions, she just claims “an overwhelming majority (99% of those who specified a target)”.

How many submissions were there?

How many submissions didn’t specify a target?

But claiming “this target undermines our democratic process” is based either on ignorance of democracy (which is alarming from a party that claims to be more democratic than any other) or it is deliberately deceptive.

Submissions are an important  part of the democratic process, a means of giving the public a say.

But organising mass submissions has become common practice from parties like the Greens and also allied activists:

Like Generation Zero: Use our quick submission tool to call on the Government to commit to a pathway towards zero CO2 emissions by 2050 or earlier, and call for a global zero carbon target in the Paris deal.

This is our chance to call for a plan to Fix Our Future. Take a few minutes to add your voice by submitting below.

It’s easy to have your say. Just fill in your details and tick all the points you agree with.

Personalising your submission will really add weight to it so please add your own thoughts and comments at the end of the form.

In an open democracy like ours groups are free to organise mass submissions, a form of group speak.

But claiming that the number of submissions is some sort of democratic measure of support is an abuse of democracy, or ignorance of how democracy works.Metiria Turei

Either way a party leader should know better than to make claims like Turei has.

Are the Greens confused about democratic processes? Or are they deliberately trying to confuse?


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