Marama Davidson’s acceptance speech

Some interesting extracts from Marama Davidson’s Green co-leadership acceptance speech.

I will be a leader who strives for consensus in everything I do. All of our contributions and views are essential in the work we have ahead of us.

Consensus with whom? Consensus in the Green Party? I presume that’s what she means, Greens promote consensus style democracy – when it suits. But that’s not how some of them work in practice, Green supporters and activists can be very intolerant of any person or party with whom they disagree.

Consensus with her supporters? Consensus with the New Zealand public? That would be radical for Green radicals.

History shows that smaller parties struggle to retain their support in coalition governments, lose influence and can sometimes fracture.

My number one goal as co-leader is to make sure that doesn’t happen to us.

That could be a big challenge for Davidson, promoting a more left wing radical social agenda without fracturing the Labour-NZ First-Green government.

We can’t clean our rivers, save our native species, lift our families out of poverty, build warm safe houses and new public transport if our party isn’t united and positive, governing and campaigning for change.

And there is a lot to change.

The National Government has left our country in a mess. It is worse than even we imagined.

So consensus with National on environmental issues seems out of the question. I think this is disappointing – sustainable policies on a sustainable environment would work much better with a degree of consensus across all parties.

Steven Joyce was right, there is a fiscal hole. We see it every day. In the sewerage in the walls of Middlemore Hospital where the Government was more interested in delivering a surplus than making sure our babies were born in safe conditions.

We see National’s fiscal hole in our homeless and unemployed,

In our impoverished families

In our lonely and isolated elderly

We see it our polluted rivers

In our threatened species

And in our climate pollution

But National didn’t just leave a fiscal deficit, they left a moral one too.

So I guess Davidson means consensus with allies, not with everyone.

More than ever we need to deliver on our policy programme and stamp our mark on the Government with bold and effective Green solutions to the fiscal and moral deficit left by National.

More than ever we need to be strong and united. Backing our Ministers and MPs to lead lasting Green change and working with our coalition allies to go even further, be even bolder.

We can make the change Aotearoa needs and grow our vote, returning after 2020 with more MPs and influence.

Remember Metiria? She nearly obliterated the Greens last election. Davidson is generally seen as a Metiria replacement. Will she learn from Turei’s big mistake, or try something similar.

I am a leader who, alongside James, can deliver that real change and grow the Greens by representing a broad cross-section of New Zealanders.

This seems to be Green self-delusion – that they represent a broad cross-section of New Zealanders. They got 6.3% of the vote.

I am very much looking forward to working with James and with our different backgrounds, skills and experiences I think we will make a strong leadership team.

Between us we represent the broad church of green voters. Our different backgrounds and experiences mean we empathise and understand the cross section of issues from economic to social. From human rights to environmental sustainability. We are a team that can reach all.

I think she is right here – Davidson and Shaw probably do represent ‘the broad church of green voters’ – but that’s far from ‘a broad cross-section of New Zealanders’.

James and I will work to regain the trust and support of those voters who left us in the last election, and we also need to be reaching out to new audiences.

A big task.

In order to be a genuine and relevant voice for modern Aotearoa, we need to reflect its diverse reality.

We need more members from all backgrounds and communities.

We need to be present in multicultural, Māori and Pasifika communities, in provincial and rural communities, and in the suburbs, with women, young people and workers.

I have the connections and credibility in these communities. I’m proud to have helped lead the work to start to diversify the party over recent years and as Co-leader I will prioritise it.

A fairly selective diversity. ‘With women’ pointedly excludes half the population. Her National bashing also by association excludes about half the voting population. Farmers and small business owners don’t feature in her diversity, but are a very important part of the New Zealand fabric.

As an activist for social and environmental justice, I stood with many communities on the frontlines of the climate change and inequality crises and the struggles for indigenous rights.

Indigenous rights are important, there are still wrongs and flow-on effects effects that need to be righted. But the rights of the non-indigenous also need to be considered.

I have demonstrated the ability to pull together teams, inspire the best in everyone, and elevate the voices of those who are not otherwise heard.

She may well help inspire better from National MPs, but in reaction rather than cooperation.

And I intend to make that a defining feature of my leadership, elevating voices and working alongside our friends up and down the country campaigning for change.

Good on her for that. It’s good for a minority party to work with minorities and promote minority rights.

I will make sure those without a political voice are heard, and I will be the only leader of a political party in Parliament that brings to the table deep sustained experience in these communities.

Some of those communities. Davidson does not try to represent many of the ‘silent majority’, just selected minorities. That’s not a bad thing, but believing she represents all New Zealanders would be a mistake.

As the most progressive party in Parliament, it is the role of the Greens to continue to be a loud and active voice on behalf of our communities.

‘Progressive’ is highly debatable here. Some see some Green policies, especially the more radical leanings of Davidson and her core supporters, to be regressive.

The next few years will be critical for Aotearoa and the world as we grapple with the crises of climate change, inequality and environmental degradation.

Labelling them crises may not encourage wide support, and excluding the official name of the country could also be divisive.

In this country, two men own more wealth than the poorest 30 per cent of the adult population.

The richest 10 per cent have more than half of the wealth, while 90 per cent of the population owns less than half of the nation’s wealth.

Depends on how you define ‘wealth’. This is populist bashing of people with paper money.

We are losing our indigenous biodiversity at an alarming rate – three-quarters of native fish, one-third of invertebrates, and one-third of plants are threatened with, or at risk of, extinction.

Addressing this is likely to be widely supported.

We have among the highest rates of homelessness, child poverty, suicide among young people, and incarceration in the developed world, alongside among the highest per capita carbon emissions in the world, and rivers so polluted you can’t even swim in them.

Some issues of serious concern there, that have to be addressed much better.

These environmental and social crises are the direct result of a flawed and broken economic model.

I’m not sure that fits with consensus views. It sounds more like a promotion of a revolution, a change to a radical and untested alternative that would be out of step with most of the developed world.

Parliament needs to turn our faces to the streets, to communities right up and down this country, and understand the hardship and struggle that so many of our people are facing.

Yes – to all of the communities, the many struggles people face.

New Zealanders have been waiting far too long for a fundamental shift in our politics, for the return of care and compassion, for a real commitment to our natural world.

Except there is little sign of a fundamental shift in voting preferences.

For an economic system that measures its success by the wellbeing of the people and the environment, not simple GDP growth and the massive accumulation of wealth and power in the hands of a few.

A minority party fighting for the many against the few.

The Green Party vision for Aotearoa would restore us as a world leader through the greatest challenges of our time.

Restore? New Zealand omitted again. I support at least debating whether to rename our country or not, but not to ignore the widely accepted name of New Zealand. (She does refer a couple of times to ‘Aotearoa New Zealand’ and also to ‘New Zealanders’ – Aotearoan doesn’t seem to have caught on yet.

It would ensure all children grow up in healthy, liveable cities, in warm, dry homes that are affordable for their parents.

A vision for a country where all people have a liveable income and people don’t have to work two or three jobs just to survive.

Worthy ideals to aspire to, but they are ideals that ignore realities.

And that recognises the central importance of honouring our founding document, Te Tiriti o Waitangi and celebrates our unique and vibrant diversity.

Our whole diversity. We all should have a good look at what Te Tiriti means and should mean in modern New Zealand Aotearoa.

Parliament needs leaders and parties that champion minority rights. But they will alienate more than succeed if they believe they represent popular opinion and wishes while picking the minorities they want to represent, and at the same time alienate large groups of others.

If Davidson championed issues that faced the majority of New Zealanders in the middle who face struggles and challenges of their own, if she didn’t omit non-females and non-Māori and those who value the input and diversity of past and recent immigrants, then she could do well, and might widen support for the Greens.

But if she pretends to represent the many while being divisive and excluding large chunks of New Zealand society she and the Greens are likely remain a small minority party fighting for small minorities.