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)

Conservation

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

ICT

Broadcasting

Wellington Issues

Catherine Delahunty Education (inc. Novopay)

Water

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)

Transport

Youth

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)

Musterer

Denise Roche Workplace Relations and Safety

Waste

Immigration, Pacific Peoples, Ethnic Affairs

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

Auckland Issues

Steffan Browning Organics

GE

Biosecurity

Pesticides

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?

Native Affairs political debate

There’s been a lot of controversy around Maori Television lately with accusations that Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell intefered with and was involved in the calling off of a political debate.

There has also been an exodus of Maori TV journalists.

Native Affairs has often been an interesting look at Maori orientated politics. Tonight the debate that was supposedly called off will air – 8.30 pm on Maori Television.

So it’s my last show. Thought I’d invite some politicians on and talk about some controversial stuff

The promo says:

On Native Affairs we host our first political debate of 2015. Our leading Maori politicians are live in studio to discuss all the big issues.

Whanau Ora. Kohanga Reo. First right of refusal. And Maori land.

I believe that Te Ururoa Flavell will be there as well as Metiria Turei (Greens), Winston Peters (NZ First) and Alfred Ngaro (National).

Party positions on medical cannabis

In DHB delays treatment application for teenager in coma Stuff  canvases parties to gauge their position on allowing the use of medical cannabis.

Labour MP Damien O’Connor wants action.

O’Connor is also calling for Parliament to debate the issue of access to medicinal marijuana, particularly in cases such as Alex’s, where all conventional medications have already been tested.

Peter Dunne (UnitedFuture, Associate Minister of Health):

If the application to the ministry is successful, the ultimate decision comes down to Associate Minister of Health Peter Dunne.

He would not comment on Alex’s specific case, but said he was already doing work around the possibilities of making medicinal cannabinoid (CBD) more readily available.

“While the evidence to date wasn’t strong … we have begun assessing from New Zealand what the situation should be.”

“I don’t know how long this process will take, but we are gathering evidence. I’ve had a series of meetings with officials around what it might look like and the process is ongoing.”

Labour leader Andrew Little…

…agreed with O’Connor that it was time for a debate, and would support a bill on the matter.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei…

…said Alex’s case was another example of the law not working.

She said the current process put up too many barriers for doctors and families, and it was time to consider opening up access to medicinal marijuana.

ACT leader David Seymour and Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox…

…were also open to a debate on the issue.

NZ First leader Winston Peters…

…said nobody could stop a debate in Parliament but he’d want to be sure all other legal options were exhausted before considering granting access to medicinal marijuana.

That’s five in favour of addressing medical cannabis and one who sounds reluctant.

Notably absent from that list is National.

But this may not need to go through Parliament. Dunne and the Ministry health are able to approve the use of drugs for medicinal use..

Greens use Dunedin to highlight major climate problem

The Greens have linked the heavy rain in Dunedin on Wednesday to climate change. In Question Time in Parliament yesterday Green co-leader Metiria Turei started with these questions.

1. METIRIA TUREI (Co-Leader—Green) to the Minister for Climate Change Issues : Does he agree that local authorities will face greater adaptation costs and find it more expensive to protect infrastructure and property as the climate changes; if not, why not?

A reasonable question – “as the climate changes” is debatable but most science suggests it may get warmer and with more extreme weather events.

Metiria Turei : Does the Minister agree with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change editor Professor Blair Fitzharris that as global warming continues, Dunedin is likely to face more extreme rainfall events, storm surges, and extreme winds, and that low-lying, densely populated areas, coastal communities, and major transport infrastructure, including Dunedin Airport, are particularly at risk?

These are important points that we would expect the Greens to raise.

Metiria Turei : Does the Minister agree with Dunedin City Council’s submission on New Zealand’s climate change target, which says “More effective mitigation could significantly reduce potential future adaptation costs” and that “the Government should consider investing more in climate change mitigation”; if not, why not?

The Dunedin City Council is fairly Green leaning so this is no surprise. But it’s highly questionable whether the Government can do anything that would significantly alter any effects of climate change – New Zealand’s emissions are a very small proportion of global emissions and reducing emissions here by 40% as the Greens want is likely to make a very small difference at best.

Metiria Turei : How does the Minister justify the National Government’s record on climate change, which shows a 13 percent increase in net greenhouse gas emissions, to the people of Dunedin and to the Mayor of Dunedin, Dave Cull, who said today “There may be some areas with sea level rise that we end up retreating from and not putting any more infrastructure in and actually taking the buildings out of. That is the challenge going into the future with climate change.”?

That would be a major for Dunedin, which has large flat areas – reclaimed swamp – that are inhabited. These include South Dunedin, St Kilda and St Clair, plus much of the Taieri Plains. If Dunedin “retreated” from those areas it would more than decimate the city.

Metiria Turei : Is the Minister taking into account increased adaptation costs for local councils when determining New Zealand’s emissions reduction target, given that the Dunedin City Council estimates that engineering options to protect private property and infrastructure in high-risk areas against a 0.3 metre rise in the sea level will cost around $10 million, and that protection against a 1.6 metre rise in the sea level will cost around $150 million?

If these “increased adaptation costs” prove to be necessary it is going to be regardless of what New Zealand does with emissions. We have a minute effect on world climate systems.

Metiria Turei : By not taking urgent leadership on climate change, has his Government not abandoned the Dunedin City Council and the people of Dunedin to pick up the cost of more extreme rainfall events like yesterday, when the city was swamped in 24 hours by 2 months’ worth of rain, causing flooding, electricity outages, sewerage overflows, the evacuation of rest homes and schools, the Otago Peninsula being cut off, and which left the side of State Highway 1 “looking like a canal”?

Now Turei is trying to emotionally use a single weather event to criticise the Government and promote Green policy on climate change.

Yes, parts of the city were swamped – large parts of the city used to be swamp and have always been at risk of heavy rain accumulation.

“24 hours by 2 months’ worth of rain” is overstating things. On Wednesday there was 150-170 mm of rain. While it’s common for Dunedin to get 40-80 mm of rain in a month it’s not uncommon to get much more. For example:

  • April 2014 – 144.8 mm
  • June 2013 – 195.2 mm
  • May 2013 – 141.8 mm

So only two years ago there was 337 mm in two months.

  • May 2010 – 207 mm
  • June 2009 – 158.4 mm
  • May 2009 – 163 mm
  • June 2002 – 137.4 mm
  • May 2002 – 205.4 mm

So it’s quite common to get heavy rainfall at this time of year. In a single month there was more rain than there was on Wednesday.

  • January 2002 – 251 mm

2002 was a much wetter year than this year has been so far.

  • October 2001 – 164 mm

Source: University of Otago Weather Station

So while this week there was an abnormal amount of rain in a day the total over a month. Including this week’s downpour Metservice shows that rainfall in Dunedin over the last 31 days is just over 200 mm, that’s much higher than usual but not uncommon.

Turei’s last question:

Metiria Turei : Is the Minister not confirming by his dismissive attitude towards the science of climate change that someone is paying the cost of his doing nothing on this issue, and that this week that just happens to be the people of Dunedin?

The present and past Governments haven’t done nothing. They have done far less than the Greens want them to do. But the reality is that even if we eliminated all our emissions, wiped out all emitting animals from the country and reforested the whole country it is likely to have a negligible effect on the world climate.

New Zealand reducing emissions is necessary but in the whole scheme of things it would be little more than a token change, and not weather changing.

As part of the international community New Zealand needs to do something, and should do more than at present.

But Greens have a major problem – if they overstate weather events, if they link single local weather events to world wide climate and if they try to shame other parties into adopting their climate targets then they are likely to find it difficult to get co-operation.

Their over the top claims are more likely to repel rather than attract support for their ideals. Like this One News report:

Climate change and Government’s ‘inaction’ to blame for Dunedin’s 100-year-flood, say Greens

One News have chosen that headline on a rolling blog on the rain in Dunedin that covers many topics.

The Dunedin flood is a result of climate change and the Government’s “inaction” on the issue, the Green Party says.

“The flooding in Dunedin highlights that the National Government needs to stop being the problem and start being part of the solution on climate change,” Green Party local government spokesperson Eugenie Sage said.

“Since National came to power in 2008, New Zealand’s net emissions have increased by 13 percent; the scientific consensus is that increasing emissions will cause more extreme weather events.”

Ms Sage said the Government should aim for an emission target reduction of 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.”Last month it was Wellington. Yesterday it was Dunedin. What region will suffer next from a lack of strong, cross-party leadership on the climate?”

“Strong, cross-party leadership on the climate” – Green-speak for ‘do what we want’ – would have had no effect on flooding in different parts of the country.

At a recent climate change consultatin meeting in Dunedin two Dunedin councillors spoke:

Dunedin City councillor Aaron Hawkins also stood up to speak, his voice cracking.

”I want to acknowledge the anger that’s felt by my generation and people younger … that the question of even having children is such a moral and ethical dilemma.”

Hawkins is not speaking for “my generation and people younger”, he’s speaking for himself and like-minded Greens, a minority.

Cr Jinty MacTavish said the target of a 40% emissions reduction by 2030 many people in the room were calling for – and which was criticised as being inadequate by Prof Bob Lloyd earlier in the night – was a ”compromise”.

So claims for a 40% reduction are seen as a minimum by some.

And their claims are not universally supported. The ODT reports:

Don’t blame climate change for city deluge, weather experts say

The flooding in Dunedin on Wednesday was not caused by climate change, a University of Otago climatologist says.

”I think this is just a weather event,” Dr Nicolas Cullen, of the department of geography, said.

The Green Party and Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull have been quick to link the downpour to climate change.

Dr Cullen cited a 1929 downpour of 220mm within 24 hours, and estimated Wednesday was a one-in-30-year event.

”This particular event is more related just to the weather patterns that developed over the period which allowed that frontal system to really hit Dunedin quite hard.”

”You tell me. It’s wrong,” Dr Cullen said when asked why it was called a 100-year event by the Dunedin City Council.

”I wouldn’t put this in the climate change basket too quickly.”

If the same rainfall happened every month for a year ”then we can start talking about climate change”.

The flood did, however, demonstrate the city’s potential vulnerability to sea level rise, he said.

So a climatologist disputes the claims of the Dunedin City Council politicians and the Green party.

Dunedin hydrologist Dave Stewart said his initial estimate of Wednesday’s flood was a one in 30-to-50 year event.

He had not had time to analyse the data, but rainfall at various sites ranged from 140mm to 180mm.

Mr Stewart was scathing about the DCC’s 100-year claim, saying he did not know how it arrived at the estimate.

He also dismissed the idea the event was linked with climate change.

And a hydrologist disputes the claims of the Dunedin City Council politicians and the Green party.

This highlights a major problem with climate change – exaggerations and unsupportable claims don’t help the Green case of action on reducing emissions. They make it easier to dismiss them as a bunch of extremist nutters.

Dunne on Shaw and the Greens

Peter Dunne has seen a lot of politics, a lot of parties, and he’s seen a lot of party leaders come and go. His latest blog post is on James Shaw and the Greens.

For a moment earlier this week I found myself in agreement with the Greens’ new co-leader James Shaw and his call for the government to work with other parties towards an agreed emissions reduction target as part of our approach to curbing the impacts of climate change. After all, Shaw seems such a sensible chap, and many other countries are moving in this direction, so it seemed a not unreasonable idea to try to work towards such a consensus in New Zealand. At last, I naively thought, the Greens are shedding their dogmatism and have worked out that the way to work with other parties is to co-operate with them, not to badger and harangue them.

But it was only a brief lapse on my part. The more Shaw pushed his ideas before a clearly uninterested Prime Minister, the more it became clear that John Key was not being asked to sit down and talk about a commonly agreed target, but to just adopt the Greens’ pre-determined target.

That seems to be a common problem with the Greens in general. Some Green MPs understand how to work across party lines and work on pragmatic solutions, like Kevin Hague. Others seem entrenched with their own ideologies.

The Greens, after all, as they smugly keep reminding us, are a party of principle, so can never be wrong. All of which explains why as the oldest of our newer political parties they are the only ones never to have been part of a government, and why both National and Labour have been extremely wary of working too closely with them. Their sanctimony would simply be too much to bear. Those who had hopes Shaw might be the circuit breaker will have been sorely disappointed by the outcome of his first foray. Nothing has actually changed, it seems, and the Greens are as isolated as ever.  

There has certainly been quite a bit of that, or at least it’s been a common perception of the Greens.

The big loser out of all this is the environment – the cause the Greens profess to care so passionately about. New Zealand needs an influential Green Party, but will probably now go in to the next round of climate change discussions with a very modest emissions reductions target. UnitedFuture and the Maori Party have shown some environmental credentials, as their stands on seeking to prevent National’s attempts to gut the Resource Management Act have shown, but with only three seats in Parliament between them cannot at this stage sustain the influence a mainstream environment party would have.

An interesting point. If the Greens worked pragmatically with UnitedFuture and the Maori Party then they would have the numbers to influence environmental policy.

Here is the problem in a nutshell. Many New Zealanders care passionately about preserving our environment and worry that successive governments have not been doing enough in that space. Yet these same New Zealanders do not want to put their heads above the environmental parapet, because some of the extreme (and often not-environment related) positions the Greens have taken over the years have attracted so much ridicule and scorn.

There is widespread sympathy on environmental issues – just not on the more extreme non-compromising stance that the Greens often try to maintain, and not with the far left social policies the Greens promote.

I think James Shaw instinctively understands this conundrum, and wants to change the perception, but I doubt the wider Green Party will let him.

That will be a real test for Shaw. Time will tell whether he does understand, or whether he becomes embedded in the Green bubble.

He has already discovered this week that the moral high ground is not always the place to be if you want to make real change in politics. It is fine if you just want to make a statement, and never be held to account for it, something the Greens have thus far been past masters at.

But if you want to achieve things in politics, you have to be prepared to get on the same ground as others, and work alongside them patiently, compromise by wretched compromise if need be, until you finally achieve your objective.

That’s something Dunne has a lot of experience with.

Moving the Green Party onto that space will be James Shaw’s biggest credibility challenge.  

If Shaw wants to move to where the Greens could have a real influence. And if he does, if the party allows him to.

And that may not be easy. Responding to something else written about the Greens Metiria Turei recently tweeted:

People write all sorts of bollocks about us. Nothing really new here tbh.

I don’t think the Greens are good at taking advice they don’t want to hear.

Dunne states reality on decriminalising cannabis – no chance

In response to Family’s desperate quest for cannabis oil Peter Dunne was engaged in a Twitter exchange. In this he made it clear there has been no chance of successive New Zealand governments decriminalising cannabis.

In response to

Good to hear
Decriminalisation!
Way to go

May I be very clear: decriminalisation is not on the government’s agenda.

It has been the policy of successive Labour & National led governments & is not about to change.

So any valid reform is a lost cause until a major party supports, eh? Change too difficult from the inside?

It’s more that is a government minister and the Cabinet has a position.

It’s also numbers – 61 votes is a majority in Parliament & Nats, Lab & even Greens oppose legalisation.

This the political reality. Dunne cops a lot of flak for nothing being done to change cannabis law but he has a small minority voice in Government and he has just one vote in Parliament. Dunne isn’t in Cabinet.

National look unlikely to try and do anything on cannabis in the foreseeable future. John Key swung significant support behind marriage equality but he looks unlikely to do anything on cannabis –  he recently stated “I just don’t agree with drugs”.

Prime Minister John Key has ruled out relaxing cannabis laws while campaigning for the Northland by-election.

In response to a question from a voter Mr Key said he did not support decriminalisation of cannabis.

The voter accused Mr Key of wanting to lock people up in jail.

“It’s not so much that, I just don’t agree with drugs,” the Prime Minister said.

So a National Government almost certainly won’t initiate anything.

The only other option is via a Member’s Bill and there are currently none on drugs in the ballot so no party is trying to change cannabis law.

Andrew Little sounds like he has no interest in doing anything. In March Duncan Garner asked:

SHOULD WE LEGALISE CANNABIS? GREENS AND LABOUR SAY LET’S THINK ABOUT IT

Garner: We’ve had this debate this afternoon around the legalisation of cannabis, we’ve got a poll up and man it’s been phenomenal, 86% replied (saying cannabis should be legalised), 2000 votes. We’ve had Kevin Hague on, he says it is actually time for this debate to actually occur given what’s happening in America, around four different states either decriminalise or legalised.

What’s your position on decriminalising cannabis?

Little: Yeah up to now I think we’ve, my personal view is I’ve approached it very cautiously. I mean I, when I was a union lawyer I did a lot of cases of the drug and testing in workplaces and all that sort of stuff.

The studies I did of it, the thing that came out of it for me was that a lot of the cannabis in New Zealand, that’s grown in New Zealand has such a high THC level it’s actually different to cannabis sold in other countries, so that’s an area of danger.

But having said that I’d be keen to have a look and see what the experience has been of States like you know Washington and the other states that have adopted decriminalisation more recently and just see what the experience has been and see whether there is something we can learn from it.

I’d never say no to it but I’d say we’ve got to approach this with considerable caution.

This sounds like Little has no interest in doing anything about cannabis.

Garner: Right, considerable caution because it could be politically not viable, it might make you unpopular? Or because you believe in it’s worth having a debate?

Little: Oh no given that my honeymoon’s over, I’m used to the unpopularity…

Garner: Yes it is over, you don’t want a long honeymoon mate, you don’t want a long honeymoon…

Little: I’m more concerned about the public health and safety aspects of it and given the conditions here. That’s the issue for me.

I think since i was up at the Auckland University quad yesterday, part of the ? week, I talked to some of the young folks there and that issue came up.

Unprompted just raised that issue with me. So there’s clearly a discussion going on out there though and you know we need to be part of it.

Garner: When you discuss these things obviously you get those headlines out, ‘Little supports decriminalisation’, I mean is that a fair headline or not?

Little: (pause) no that would be an unfair headline at the moment because I, I’m not, I don’t, I know there is an issue there. I’d like to look more closely at it. I’d like to  look at the experience of the American states that have decriminalised.

But I draw on my own personal experience and the research I’ve done when I was a union lawyer, to say there is an issue here that is not as easy just to say let’s decriminalise, let’s open it up.

So my approach is proceed with caution.

Garner: Proceed with caution but at least start to look at what’s happening in America.

Little: Have a look, and lets have the debate. Ah and lets get some facts, lets shine some facts on the issue. Let’s not just react emotionally but lets have the debate, get the facts and proceed with caution.

What debate? No party is promoting any debate, let alone any action.

Greens have supposedly been the pro-cannabis party but have been lukewarm on it. Leading into last year’s election Russel Norman:

“Decriminalisation has obviously been a long-standing Green Party policy, there has been movement on it internationally as well as domestically and it will be on the table in any post-election negotiation, like our other policies.”

Greens never got to negotiate policies after the election.

Speaking after her State of the Nation speech at Waitangi Park in Wellington, co-leader Metiria Turei said they wanted to see the law changed.

“I would like to progress a vast amount of our policy, actually and that would be one that would be very interesting,” she said.

Turei said they believed a drug-free lifestyle was the healthiest, but did not believe adults should be convicted of a crime if they smoked cannabis.

Decriminalising the drug was “the wisest policy,” however it would not be a bottom-line issue for the party in any post-election discussions.

Not a “bottom line issue”. Not an issue the Greens campaigned on. Not an issue the Greens have done anything visible about since. Not a visible issue in the just completed Green leadership contest. Not a visible issue in the Green conference this weekend.

James Shaw seems to have avoided the issue.

I’ve searched Parliament’s Hansard for this term (all MPs) and there’s barely a mention of cannabis or marijuana and no interest has been expressed regarding considering any law changes.

It came up during the Northland by-election – Winston Peters backtracks on marijuana referendum:

NZ First leader Winston Peters promised to hold a referendum on legalising marijuana while campaigning for the Northland byelection but rapidly backtracked on it straight afterwards.

Mr Peters was holding a street meeting in Kaikohe when a man asked whether he would legalise marijuana.

Mr Peters replied: “you want to legalise marijuana? I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I’ll give you a referendum and if the answer is yes, the answer is yes. I’ll give you a vote on the referendum and if the answer is no, it’s no. That fair enough? Wonderful.”

However, later he said he had no intention of putting forward a referendum and his comments were the shorthand required on a campaign trail. “I didn’t say ‘I’m going to give you the referendum. I said our policy is a referendum and if you want one, you’ve got to go and get one.”

So NZ First aren’t interested either.

That’s the reality of reality on decriminalising cannabis in New Zealand – politicians aren’t seriously interested in doing anything about it.

Reality missing from Greens and Turei

Metiria Turei is now the co-leader of Greens with substantial experience. She was introduced to the Green conference this weekend as “senior female politician in Opposition”. But she is showing signs of missing a reality quotient, and this could damage Green ambitions.

NZ Herald reports on her conference speech.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei says her party’s 25th year has been its most successful yet.

That’s highly debatable.

The party received the highest number of votes in its history, has enrolled record numbers of members, and raised more money than Labour.

But it got a smaller % of the vote than in the previous election, only just maintained the same number of MPs, just lost their and looks as far from being in Government as they have this century.

“If orange is the new black, then green must be the new mainstream.”

Greens are now well established as a major minor party but they are entrenched in a sidestream. Especially with Turei leading them – she appeals to a minority elite that is blind to her lack or reality.

“The longer John Key and his National Party sit in the Beehive, the more out of touch with the lives of New Zealanders they become.”

She may be right to an extent but five times as many voters are in touch with John Key and National than are in touch with Turei’s Greens. It’s hard to see how Turei is in touch with much outside her Green bubble.

“I have to say I feel a little bit like the Bachelorette,” Mrs Turei said. “It’s certainly been a while since I’ve had four men chasing after me to become my partner.

“And while they may not have the rippling abs and paleo diet toned bodies of the TV version, our bachelors are all political Adonises.”

Outside her conference speech Turei was interviewed by Lisa Own on The Nation. Turei was waffly and contradictory. Like:

We are absolutely moving forward with the change of co-leadership this weekend.

I think we’ll see who the new guy is and what changes he might want to make to our direction.

We’re open to what a new co-leader will bring to our caucus and to our party. It’s a very exciting time for us. We don’t change leaders very often, compared to some other parties, and so it’s always good to have someone new, with new ideas about where we should be going and how we should be opening our relationships and the kinds of solutions we should be putting forward to the public.

…a new direction, because, of course, a new person in this role is going to have new ideas about things they might want to change…

But…

The caucus priorities will remain.

Much of our approach to issues will continue the same.

And in one sentence…

the new guy is going to have great ideas about things we should be doing, but we also need to be respectful of our membership and what they want to do, because they are the ones that we serve, and our voters and what they want to see us doing. So it’s a relationship that you build, rather than changing direction or making—

Does a new leader mean exciting change or the same old, dictated by party members.

And then on Green progress:

This is two elections in a row where we’ve hit over the 10% mark. So I think we’re on a trajectory of growth, absolutely. And with the new co-leadership team focused on 2017, I think we will continue to grow. That’s why this time is so exciting for us.

Except it looks more like the Greens have flattened off as if they have hit a Green ceiling. Two elections in a row they got about the same level of support, just over 10%. They were targeting 15% in last year’s election and failed to gain any ground, despite the rest of the left – Labour and Mana – losing ground.

  • 2011 – 11.06%, 14 seats
  • 2014 – 10.70%, 14 seats

They got an increase in votes – 247,372 to 257,359 – but their share went backwards.

Greens were noticeably deflated by last year’s election result, at least a bit despondent. That contribted to Russel Norman’s decision to step down. There was no perception of “a trajectory of growth”.

Talking rubbish doesn’t help bridge the Green credibility gap.

Moving forward, growing our vote, growing our membership, raising more money, these are all… this is all about momentum, and we have great momentum as a party. The last few months have been focused on ourselves, with our co-leadership, and I think that’s been important. Today we elect a new co-leader, a new co-leadership team, and we will move forward from here. There is only… I think there’s only room for growth for us at this point.

In politics there’s always room for growth. And there’s as much chance of decline.

The last few months have been difficult for the Greens.  The election was a reality check that seems to have escaped Turei, unless she is ignoring it and making things up.

Well, the electorate is— The electorate is telling us that we are successful. More people voted for us at the last election than ever before. We’ve only been in Parliament for less than 20 years, and we are already cemented as the third-largest party. Of all of those parties that were involved in the alliance, we are the only ones still here, and we are growing

Yes they are the third largest party – although NZ First support has grown while Greens have stagnated.

“Only been in Parliament for less than 20 years” – they contested as part of the Alliance group in 1993 and 1996, and then on their own as the green party in 1999 they got seven seats. Since then they have had nine, seven, nine, fourteen and fourteen seats. That’s a creditable achievement.

But their support has flattened and they don’t look any closer to getting into Government than they did last century.

And this is in large part due to Turei type hard left idealism that rules out going in to Government with National. Greens put more priority on promoting their socialist agenda than achieving environmental gains.

This will continue to limit their chances of growing and especially their chances of being a prominent player in Government.

And Turei is the the flag bearer of the idealism and intransigence that is likely to keep limiting Green appeal.

Turei The Nation May 2015

That is a reality that Turei either can’t see or tries to pretend doesn’t exist.

Third-largest party which is on the outside, on the periphery, not making the decision, not in power.

But that’s not true. I mean, when we were… When Labour was in government, we had great success with them, including significant budget successes with them. When— Now that National is in government, we’ve done the same through our MOU. So we’ve gotten our policy through with both Labour and National in different kinds of ways, and we are growing, and we are cementing ourselves in New Zealand politics.

The future for the Greens is only success and growth at this stage, and with the new co-leadership team, I think we’ve got infinite possibilities for how we want to extend that growth.

And infinite possibilities for ignoring reality. And for stagnating. And if Labour ever get their act together and if NZ First continue to grow then Greens face a real possibility of shrinking.

Full transcript:

A few minutes ago, I spoke to Metiria Turei and asked her, with Norman gone, is this an opportunity for a change in direction?
We are absolutely moving forward with the change of co-leadership this weekend, and we’re really looking forward to having the new guy working alongside me and working with the caucus and with the party and focus, actually, very much on the 2017 election. Russel will stay as an MP, and the caucus priorities will remain – inequality and climate change. The party commitment to working on the ground with communities remains. So although we’ll have a new co-leader, much of our approach to issues will continue the same. It’s the party that makes all our important political decisions too, rather than the leadership or the caucus, so I think that’s important to note.
So steady as she goes is the attitude you’re taking?
We’ll, I think we’ll see who the new guy is and what changes he might want to make to our direction. But we work collaboratively with our caucus and with our party in making these decisions, so you won’t see any radical shifts in direction. But we will be moving forward towards the 2017 election with fresh blood, with new ideas, but we’ll take a little time to work all those through.
Well, you said it depends on what the new guy thinks, so you’re open to a change in direction?
Oh, absolutely. We’re open to what a new co-leader will bring to our caucus and to our party. It’s a very exciting time for us. We don’t change leaders very often, compared to some other parties, and so it’s always good to have someone new, with new ideas about where we should be going and how we should be opening our relationships and the kinds of solutions we should be putting forward to the public.
We’ll talk a little bit about that later – the relationships – but you said this week that you want a running mate who understands that leadership is about forging a new direction, so what did you mean by that?
Both a new direction, because, of course, a new person in this role is going to have new ideas about things they might want to change, but also that leadership is about service – service to our members and service to our voters. So although a person— the new guy is going to have great ideas about things we should be doing, but we also need to be respectful of our membership and what they want to do, because they are the ones that we serve, and our voters and what they want to see us doing. So it’s a relationship that you build, rather than changing direction or making—
Okay, can you afford not to change direction? Can you get 15% of the vote without changing direction?
We have been fantastically successful, and, in fact, Russel and I have been one of the most successful political partnerships now for a number of years. We’ve led the Greens over two elections to over 10% of the party.
Yes, but you’ve also had nine elections where you’re not part of the government at the end of the day.
And we have worked really hard with other parties to try to form this idea of a government in waiting, and we will try to do that again for 2017. But in terms of the work that the Green Party does, putting solutions to the public, making sure that we have good relationships across the political spectrum, Russel and I in particular have done a great deal of work in that, and it’s been successful. The Green Party is very successful. We’re the only party other than National and Labour to achieve other 10% of the party vote in two elections running. So I think the Greens are doing really well.
But you’re still not in government, and isn’t one of the lessons from the last election that you have maxed out your vote on this road?
Not at all.
You’ve said that you’ve raised more money than Labour last election; you had the highest record of membership. You played nice; you didn’t make 15%. If you do the same, won’t you just get the same? That’s it; you’ve maxed it out.
We set an audacious target so that we work really hard to achieve it. And although we didn’t hit the target, we did have more members, more voters and raise more money at the last election than ever before. This is two elections in a row where we’ve hit over the 10% mark. So I think we’re on a trajectory of growth, absolutely. And with the new co-leadership team focused on 2017, I think we will continue to grow. That’s why this time is so exciting for us.
But the evidence doesn’t seem to suggest that you are on a trajectory for growth, because you have about the same result both times, both elections.
So we’ve been in Parliament now for nearly 20 years, and it’s only been in the last two elections that we have achieved over 10% of the vote. I think that shows that we are both stable and here for the long-term as a third political force in New Zealand politics, that we have the capacity to grow significantly more, and that with a new co-leadership team focused on 2017 that we will.
Some people might see that as being stuck in a rut — not moving, same spot.
Moving forward, growing our vote, growing our membership, raising more money, these are all… this is all about momentum, and we have great momentum as a party. The last few months have been focused on ourselves, with our co-leadership, and I think that’s been important. Today we elect a new co-leader, a new co-leadership team, and we will move forward from here. There is only… I think there’s only room for growth for us at this point.
When you talk about moving forward, well, Labour learned some hard lessons at the last election. After bombing at the polls, it started to ditch unpopular policy. So what policies do you think that the Greens need to flick?
I don’t think we need to flick any, and I think what we now need to do with the new co-leadership team is we will look at our priorities, which at the moment are climate change and inequality, and we’ve proven really successful in putting those issues on the political agenda up to this point, and so building on the success that we’ve created so in our momentum towards 2017. And National would not have raised benefits if there had not been a strong political voice from the Greens on child poverty time after time. A persistent strong voice, particularly in the election campaign. We continue—
But the thing is you don’t look like you’re listening to the electorate. You don’t look like you’re listening to the electorate because your vote is stuck around a certain amount. You say you don’t need to flick any policies and you don’t need any major changes in direction. Are you ignoring what the electorate is telling you?
Well, the electorate is— The electorate is telling us that we are successful. More people voted for us at the last election than ever before. We’ve only been in Parliament for less than 20 years, and we are already cemented as the third-largest party. Of all of those parties that were involved in the alliance, we are the only ones still here, and we are growing.
Third-largest party which is on the outside, on the periphery, not making the decision, not in power.
But that’s not true. I mean, when we were… When Labour was in government, we had great success with them, including significant budget successes with them. When— Now that National is in government, we’ve done the same through our MOU. So we’ve gotten our policy through with both Labour and National in different kinds of ways, and we are growing, and we are cementing ourselves in New Zealand politics. The future for the Greens is only success and growth at this stage, and with the new co-leadership team, I think we’ve got infinite possibilities for how we want to extend that growth.
Okay, in your speech, you say that in the past, people have looked and thought… And this is your words. ‘What would a bunch of hippies and treaty activists know about the economy?’ Is that the problem? That people still see you that way, and without Russel, they are going to perceive you like that?
No, you’ve taken that quote totally out of context in the speech—
It’s how you say people used to see you, but I’m suggesting to you that perhaps that’s the way they still see you, and that might be your problem.
No, it’s not. That’s the point – and you will hear more in the speech if you quote more of it – is that actually our ideas on the economy, our capital gains tax, has been taken up by National; we’ve campaigned so hard for child poverty and raising benefits – that’s been taken up by National. Even Labour has taken our policy ideas, as we saw with capital gains tax as well. We are the thought leaders inside the Parliament, and other parties are taking our policy ideas, because they are tired and struggling to find their own. Now, you know, we welcome that. Please, take our ideas. Put them into place. But there is no doubt that the Greens are the ones who are leading on these issues.
OK, well, when it comes to Labour and your relationship with Labour, do you want Labour’s vote to grow or do you want their votes to come to you? What would be the best thing for the Greens?
Well, we always are going to be in competition and cooperation with Labour around votes, and that’s just the way it is. In an election campaign, I want as many votes as possible, and I don’t care where they come from – Labour, National, from other parties. We want to make sure our ideas— we sell our ideas really well to the public and that the public want those ideas put in place, either in government or in a relationship with government.
Yeah, but where do you think those votes will come from? Where is the growth market for you?
We get votes from both Labour and National. Some elections, it’s quite a similar percentage, and some elections it’s different. But we know that we can get votes from across the political spectrum. That’s what our evidence shows us. And we welcome that, because our ideas for combating child poverty and inequality, for protecting the environment, for smart, green economics – these are ideas that cross the political divide.
OK, well, if they cross the political divide, then isn’t the problem with the Greens declaring that they would work only with Labour and not National? I mean, no one really has to fight for your affections. You’ve got no leverage, no power.
No, what we said is that we’d be more likely to form a coalition relationship with Labour than with National but that we could work across the political spectrum, and we have proven that to be the case. The only reason why—
Policy by policy. But on the outside?
Well, we haven’t been in a government relationship – that’s true. And we are looking forward to that. And I expect that in the next co-leader— male co-leader’s term that we will be in a governing relationship at some point. I’m really looking forward to that challenge. I think that’s going to be a fantastic new step up for the Greens. But in the meantime, we have got our policies through, and that’s the most important thing.
But having identified that as your biggest goal— 
It’s a great goal.
New Zealand First has been bolstered by the win in the Northland by-election. They’re in the centre, where politics are won and lost. So why would Labour choose you, the Greens, over New Zealand First?
Labour knows that the Greens are the growing political force on the left of centre and that they will not govern without us. So they’re coming to terms with that, I think. I’m not worried about—
They can govern without you.
They can’t.
They can if they choose Winston Peters. And Winston Peters has made it clear that he doesn’t want a bar of the Greens.
No, that’s not true either. You know, that’s an old thing from, like, 10 years ago. I mean, that’s ancient. No, Winston and the Greens, we work quite well together, actually, and we’ve got a lot of common policy.
So are you making nice with Winston Peters? Are you fostering that relationship?
We’ve been managing a relationship with Winston Peters for years now and with Labour and others.
No, but are you actively fostering it now with Winston Peters, a relationship?
We’ve worked together with him on the manufacturing inquiry in the last term. We work really well with a number of the MPs, including Tracey Martin. I talk with Winston. We are very committed—
So can you talk him into a coalition that involves—?
Nobody can talk Winston into anything. Let’s be really clear about that.
You can’t talk him into a coalition with the Greens, then?
The best thing we can do is make sure we have good relationships with Labour and New Zealand First and National, where we can, and other parties and put solutions— our green solutions to the public so that they vote for them so we have the strength in an election to be able to negotiate well. That’s the best— that’s what we need to focus on, and I think that’s what the new co-leadership team will.
All right. Metiria Turei, thanks for joining me this morning. But just before we go, how long are you committed to being a leader in the Greens party?
I will certainly be here for the next election.

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1505/S00406/lisa-owen-interviews-green-party-co-leader-metiria-turei.htm

Shaw a good bet for the Green future

It’s hard on Kevin Hague to miss out on the Green co-leadership. He’s a good guy who works hard with anyone to progress worthwhile policies and issues. But the Greens have gone for an alternative that’s a better bet for their future.

James Shaw was chosen as the new male co-leader, a Parliamentary novice against Hague’s experience. He was suggested as a leader of the future before getting into Parliament eight months ago.

When Russel Norman announced he was stepping down  Shaw initially said he wouldn’t be in the contest to replace Norman, but then he changed his mind. He must have sounded out support, or supporters encouraged him, and put himself forward.

I think Shaw is a good bet for the Greens. He is more likely than most to work well across the political spectrum and more likely than moist to attract a wide range of voters. He has solid Green credentials but also has solid business experience.

His biggest handicap was his lack of Parliamentary and leadership experience, but that’s not a big issue here as he is co-leader and is not in sole charge. He will have Metiria Turei’s experience alongside him, and Norman has promised to help him learn the leadership ropes.

I think it’s possible, even likely, that Shaw will quickly become more attractive to potential voters than Turei, who is fairly left of left and doesn’t appeal much to people outside the faithful Green flock.

Shaw is as good bet for the Green future.

Green versus glitz

Metiria Turei was interviewed on The Nation this morning, it was slogan overload with an absence of substance or reality. I’ll post examples when the transcript is available.

Imagery illustrates a major problem for Green appeal.

Turei (photo posted by Greens on Twitter):

Previous co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons:

Green versus glitz.

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