Time for Russel Norman to prove he can do Finance

Russel Norman is openly challenging Labour, that’s a good think because Labour seem to be taking it for granted that Greens will give them the numbers to lead a coalition while the run a series of attacks on the presumed partner. Norman took Labour to task in an op-ed in the NZ Herald: It’s Green Party versus National, but where is Labour:

Labour MP Shane Jones has been vocal in the pages of the New Zealand Herald over recent weeks, criticising the Green Party over our concerns about the serious environmental impacts posed by deep-sea oil drilling off our coasts and the use of slave labour on foreign chartered vessels in New Zealand waters.

Given that Labour has been supportive of some environmental and worker protections in the past, we have to ask if these repeated outbursts from one of their senior MPs are simply the views of an individual, or something more.

The free rein given to Mr Jones to attack the Green Party on environmental issues suggests the latter. I hope this isn’t the case.

It’s well known that the environment is a strength part of the Greens. But Norman has set his sights higher – finance minister. Patrick Gower on 3 News reported:

Greens co-leader Russel Norman wants to be Minister of Finance, and is demanding his MPs make up to a third of the Cabinet.

“It’s one of the portfolios that will be on the table,” says Dr Norman. “It will be part of the negotiating mix.”

Yes, that’s right: Dr Norman wants to control the country’s finances. He would be in charge of the Budget.

“It will be one of the possibilities. It will certainly be on the table.”

But Norman has a herculean task if he wants to position Greens as a serious co-Government party with a top role in finance.

It’s two years out from the election. That gives Norman plenty of time to prove he has sufficient ability and expertise. He hasn’t done that yet. In the same Herald op-ed he said:

Green development and green jobs provide a clear vision and economic direction for our nation. We can have good jobs without destroying the environment, and we can take advantage of the huge green economic opportunities overseas to supply exports with a premium. That’s what smart green economics is all about.

Greens have a reputation for slickly presented slogans like this. Some are buying the pitch, but there is no detail that explains what the actual product is.

Norman knows what smart green marketing is. But if he wants to sell himself – to Labour and to the country – as a heavy duty number cruncher he will have to displays his smarts on financial policy. He needs to come up with numbers that pass serious scrutiny.

If he doesn’t prove he understands the numbers and can add them up to credible answers he will feed a common fear of the Greens – most people are happy for them to have a presence in parliament but dread them getting a big say in Government.

And there’s more at stake. If Norman makes a major bid for finance and it scares the voters it may impact on more than Green ambitions.

It could drag Labour hopes of success down – they have clearly hitched their propsects of success to a Green assist, and if the country decides the Greens are too big a risk in major roles on Government and Finance then it may severely hobble Labour as well.

It would be fair to expect the media to ask Norman to show us the numbers before Key gets a chance in the 2014 campaign.

Norman’s op-ed closed:

National has failed to create jobs for the 175,000 unemployed New Zealanders. Labour and the Greens owe it to those workers, and those whose jobs are at risk, to work together to build a clean, green economy that delivers prosperity for everyone.

The Greens owe it to prospective voters to prove there is more to them than clean green bullshit.

1 Comment

  1. Darryl

     /  December 4, 2012

    Russel go and find your flag, and keep away from our cheque book.