“Just accept that people’s lives are their lives”

An odd article from NZ Herald:  Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick says she never came out of the closet because she was never in it

It is about how Swarbrick has managed to keep her personal life separate to her political life – until now. But she does a good job of playing it down.

The most important part:

Her sexuality has not been an issue widely broached in the media since she entered Parliament – something she is pleased about.

“I actually think that’s one of the strong points in New Zealand media that we do, to a certain extent, just accept that people’s lives are their lives when they go home from politics.”

A strong point of New Zealand society in general is our just accepting that “people’s lives are their lives” when it comes to race and religion, and relationships and marriage, and more recently sexual preferences. there are exceptions of course but most Kiwis are happy to accept most Kiwis as they are.

I’m still not clear what swarbrick’s personal situation is, and I don’t care, it is none of my business.

I’m interested in her public political life, and she seems to me to be doing a very good job as a first term back bench MP.

Binding referendum on cannabis in 2020

The Government has left it as late as possible but have now confirmed there will be a referendum on personal use of cannabis alongside the 2020 general election. I’d have preferred it sooner but at least this allows for proper legislation to be agreed on by Parliament (if this is how it is decided it will work, and pending the referendum result) and for a proper debate to take place.

There have been some complaints )for example from Simon Bridges) that it is a cynical distraction from the next election but I’m sure people are capable of deciding on multiple decisions at the same time. It will still be much simpler than a local body election.

RNZ:  Binding referendum on legalising cannabis for personal use to be held at 2020 election

It’s not actually clear what the referendum will be on.

Justice Minister Andrew Little says the Electoral Commission will now get on and start planning for it.

“Having made the decision now, the Electoral Commission has put together a budget bid for the budget process next year. So … we’ll now process that budget bid. It obviously will attract budget confidentiality, so we’ll know about that next May.”

Chlöe has been doing a lot of work in helping this happen.

We will have to see how this will work, but it is a big step in the right direction.

National Party leader Simon Bridges questioned the government’s motivation for holding the referendum at the same time as a general election.

“I’m pretty cynical that you’ve got a government here that wants to distract from the core issues of a general election like who’s best to govern, their actual record in government over the last three years, and core issues around the economy, tax, cost of living, health, education, law and order.”

FFS, we can deal with more than deciding which politician is the least dweebie and lame, or which party is up with changes on drug laws happening all around the world. .

And he said the government had already effectively decriminalised cannabis through the medicinal cannabis bill.

“Now you’re allowed loose leaf out on the streets and the truth is they’ve said to police, you don’t need to prosecute this so right now, if someone’s smoking cannabis outside a school what are the consequences? What’s the message?”

This is a pathetic attempt at scaremongering, nearly as bad as Bob McCoskrie.

Bridges may pander to people most likely to vote national anyway, but he risks alienating a lot of swing voters, and especially younger voters (voters under 70).

There is obviously no guarantee which way the vote will go, but at least this means that people should get to decide. At last.

Mental health discrimination or prudence in job applications?

It’s reasonable to expect that employers check properly whether job applicants are suitable candidates for the position. It’s also reasonable to expect job applications to not be too intrusive on a personal level.

Should an employer be able to find out whether an applicant is suffering from mental illness, being treated for mental illness or taking medication to treat mental illness?

RNZ: Job applicants face mental health discrimination – Greens

A Green Party investigation has concluded that there appears to be widespread discrimination against job applicants with mental health issues.

The investigation was launched after Green Party spokesperson for mental health Chloe Swarbrick held hui at eight universities across the country to better understand the mental health challenges facing young people.

It was during these hui that Ms Swarbrick said she was surprised to find out from people that they were being expected to disclose their mental health history on job applications so she launched an investigation.

“[We] heard some pretty harrowing and stressful stories – a number of people who were being required to offer up an entire shopping list of the medication that they’re on, other people who believe that they had been prejudiced from the job application process and denied the opportunity to prove their skill set.”

A number of the 59 submitters expressed concerns about what their mental health or medication information would be used for.

“What was highlighted was the number of people who weren’t given clarity around what that information was going to be used for but also, I think what people have to realise is that in a job application process there is a massive power imbalance.

“So when somebody is put in a position where they are being expected to disclose things and may not actually know their rights, that’s a really problematic situation for them to be put in.”

Perhaps that could be addressed by notifying applications of their rights in advance.

The investigation also highlighted that a number of large companies including Wishbone, Coca-Cola, Air New Zealand, New World, Countdown and PWC appeared to be avoiding hiring people with anxiety and depression.

“Rather than reinforcing a culture of stigma and fear around mental health, employers should be providing supportive workplaces and promotion well-being.”

Of course employers should provide supportive workplaces. The well-being of employees has an impact on the well-being of a business.

But employers should be able to consider whether a degree of anxiety or depression was a potential problem in someone being capable of doing a reasonable job.

Mental ‘illness’ can range from minor (and inconsequential in employment) to severe and a major risk.

We all probably suffer from some sort of mental problems at some stage of our lives – degrees of depression can vary a lot, relationship issues, stress (from work or home) can all affect just about anyone.

We already have a situation where discrimination in job applications is not allowed legally – for example on gender, age, race, religion.

But what this means in practice is that employers just have to be careful in what reasons they give for not choosing an applicant – bland ‘someone else was more suitable’ explanations are safe. Saying ‘your age of seventy five, and wanting six months off to go to China for a sex change, skin lightening and hair transplant operations as soon as your probation office and your psychiatrist allows’ risks a complaint of discrimination.

It is difficult to say how much an employer has a right to know about job applicants.

It could also be difficult in differentiating between discrimination and prudence in checking out the suitability of job applicants.

 

Q+A: Should NZ legalise recreational cannabis?

Last night Q+A had a debate between Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick and head of Family First Bob McCroskie on whether New Zealand should legalise the recreational use of cannabis (separate to allowing the use of medicinal cannabis).

To Swarbrick: What is it you want here, are you after legalisation, which would effectively allow people to grow marijuana, for it to be sold, to be regulated, the Canadian model, is that what you’re pushing for?

Chlöe Swarbrick: Yeah, so I think you’ve kind of hit the nail on the head there. We currently have a state of play whereby illegal drugs are unregulated drugs. people don’t necessarily know the compounds that they are purchasing or consuming.

So in the Green-Labour confidence and supply line 19 of that says that we want to see drugs treated as a health issue.

From the Labour-Green Confidence and Supply Agreement:

19. Increase funding for alcohol and drug addiction services and ensure drug use is treated as a
health issue, and have a referendum on legalising the personal use of cannabis at, or by, the
2020 general election.

Q+A:

Chlöe Swarbrick: Part of that is the referendum on the recreational personal use…

Corin Dann: So Kiwis would be able to go to some sort of a store and buy cannabis for personal use?

Chlöe Swarbrick: Yeah. So we have the option of looking around the world. Obviously Canada is going to be doing this on Wednesday this coming week. I think they have a really robust set of regulations that they’re looking at.

They’re focussed on harm reduction. They’re focussed on education. They’re focussed on taking it out of the hands of kids.

I think that’s quite different to the rules we’ve seen perhaps in the likes of Colorado which are more free market type models, where advertising is abundant and you have door to door delivery services.

But what we’re proposing, as we’ve been quite strong on for a while now, is…providing the legislation first so it is black and white what we are going to be voting on at that referendum come 2019 or 2020. So we remove all grey from the debate.

So make it clear in proposed legislation what would happen, and leave it to us the people to decide.

Corin Dann: Alright Bob you have been in Colorado I understand, it’s been in place for five years there, very liberal cannabis law. What did you make of it there. It seems to be going all right doesn’t it?

Bob McCoskrie: No it doesn’t, it’s ah the statistics are quite concerning, I mean for example a hundred and fifty percent increase in hospitalisations for marijuana, increase in road deaths with marijuana related to them, they’ve also got the highest teenage use across all states, eighty five percent above the national average for the United States.

Chlöe Swarbrick: Where are those figures from?

Bob McCoskrie: From the Rocky mountain High report…

Chlöe Swarbrick: I don’t think in any way shape or form that is they way we should be doing things.

McCoskrie argued that we shouldn’t be liberalising smoking cannabis while trying to become smoke free with tobacco. He also seems to be against a referendum.

Arguing the Colorado model seems pointless if that’s not the model proposed here.

McCoskrie says there is no war on drugs.

He says that regulation isn’t possible.

Lack of regulation isn’t working here.

McCoskrie claims that the aim is the legalisation of all drugs.

“If we want to be smoke free, lets be drug free”. On what planet?

He argues against what has happened with the Portugal approach, arguing against success there.

McCoskrie says we need to reduce supply and reduce demand, as per tobacco, which is highly regulated. Swarbrick is arguing for regulation.

I’ll transcribe more later if I have time.

On Twitter afterwards:

 

 

Collins versus Swarbrick

Judith Collins made another unfathomably bad taste tweet attack again today, and Green MP Chloe Swarbrick was one prepared to call her out for it.

A reprehensible crime punished with a sizeable prison sentence, but a reprehensible response from Collins:

Swarbrick stood up to Collins:

A poor look for Collins, and Swarbrick shows more maturity than most MPs.

Also:

Disgraceful lack of action from David Clark and Labour on drug crisis

The drug abuse crisis continues to hit the headlines,with ongoing and growing problems, more and more deaths, and the Labour-led Government continues to do bugger all if that.

The wellbeing and lives of many people are at risk, this should be getting urgent attention, but the Labour-led government looks as bad as National was in being to gutless to address the problems.

Yesterday from Stuff:  Warning issued over synthetic cannabis use after eight people hospitalised

At least three people have been admitted to intensive care and others treated within 24 hours in Christchurch after using synthetic cannabis.

The Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) issued a warning about the illegal drug after a rush of people suffering from potentially severe synthetic cannabis toxicity ended up in Christchurch Hospital.

Emergency medicine specialist Paul Gee said there had been a noticeable increase in people needing emergency help due to the side effects of synthetic cannabis use.

Eight people have been treated in Christchurch over the last 24 hours, with three having to be admitted to the intensive care unit.

Also Synthetic cannabis users gambling with their lives after a ‘bad batch’

Synthetic cannabis users are gambling with their lives, a health official warns following a spate of hospitalisations in Christchurch.

The Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) issued a warning on Thursday evening about the illegal drug after a rush of people suffering from potentially severe synthetic cannabis toxicity ended up in Christchurch Hospital.

As a Minister in the National-led Government Peter Dunne copped a lot of flak for dysfunctional drug laws and growing drug abuse problems, especially the growing use of new drugs often inaccurately referred to as synthetic cannabis.

It suited National to allow the blame to fall on Dunne while they did virtually nothing to deal with obvious drug law problems and growing use of dangerous drugs. And there has been many ignorant attacks on Dunne.

On 1 News yesterday Dunne suggested a rethink on how we deal with natural cannabis: Legalising recreational cannabis could stem NZ’s epidemic of ‘zombie drug’ deaths, Peter Dunne says

Synthetic cannabis has killed more than 40 people in New Zealand since June last year, a massive jump from the previous five years, the coroner recently reported.

One way to serve a blow to the market for the so called zombie-drug in New Zealand would be to legalise recreational cannabis, former MP and Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne said today on TVNZ1’s Breakfast.

But the suggestion came with a caveat.

“It would certainly remove some of the incentive for people to try some of these substances,” he said. “But…some of these (synthetic drugs) are so potent and so powerful that people may well feel they’ll get a better high from these rather than the real product.

“While on the face of it the answer would be yes (to marijuana legalisation), I don’t think it’s necessarily that simple.”

“I don’t think we ever anticipated we’d get new synthetic drugs that would lead to so much harm,” NZ Drug Foundation Executive Director Ross Bell told 1 NEWS yesterday.

So what is the current Government doing about it? very little as far as I’m aware. Health Minister David Clark seems as reluctant as National was to address the problem, and most of the Labour-led Government seem to be gutless – the exception is Green MP Chloe Swarbrick who is working hard to try to progress long overdue drug law reforms.

The only official press release from David Clark since becoming Minister was this last December: Medicinal cannabis to ease suffering. Labour have been very disappointing in their handling even of medicinal cannabis.

Nothing from Clark mentioning ‘synthetic’. What the hell is he doing apart from nothing?

NZ Herald (31 July 2018): Health Minister David Clark in favour of liberalising drug laws

Health Minister David Clark is personally in favour of more liberal drug laws because prohibition has not worked in the past.

But Clark would not commit to abiding by the result of any referendum on loosening laws around cannabis use, saying he preferred to wait for advice from his colleagues.

“I think it’s highly likely that that’s the course we would take … all I’ve said is I want to wait for advice.

“I haven’t had a conversation with colleagues about how that referendum’s going to be framed and what question we’re going to be asking the public.

“Broadly, I favour at a more personal level, more liberal drug laws because I think in the world when prohibition has been tried, it hasn’t worked.”

We have multiple drug crises, with both synthetics and P (methamphetamine). Natural cannabis is far less dangerous, but it is getting more expensive and harder to obtain because drug pushers make more money out of getting people addicted to P and synthetic drugs. They have no trouble finding more victims to replace those who die.

National’s lack of action on drug abuse and drug laws was extremely disappointing.

Clark and Labour are acting just as poorly. This is disgraceful.

National “too scared” to address cannabis issues

Peter Dunne has said that National were ‘too scared” to address dysfunctional cannabis and drug laws – and Labour seem to be barely better.

It’s widely known that cannabis law (and drug laws generally) are not effective and create more problems than they solve. However successive governments have failed to deal with them.

As Associate Health Minister under the previous National led Government Peter Dunne bore the brunt of political criticism over cannabis and other drug law failures, but he has become increasingly critical of the role the National Party played.

Newshub:  National ‘too scared’ for cannabis reform while in Govt – Peter Dunne

Former leader of United Future, Peter Dunne has called out the National Party for only putting forward a medicinal cannabis bill once they were ‘in the safety’ of opposition.

“In government they were frankly too scared – they were really paranoid about the potential impact any change in this area…would have on their rural and provincial support base. They didn’t want to be seen as soft on these things. That was their prevailing mindset.

“I am frustrated that now they’re in the comfort of opposition, the impotence of opposition, they think this is a good course of action to take,” he told Newshub Nation on Friday.

I believe Dunne on this.

I was approached in 2011 to stand as a candidate for United Future. It was always going to be an extremely long shot, but it gave me a great perspective of politics and our democratic system.

One condition for standing was that if I won the equivalent of political lotto (the odds were probably greater) I would be able to promote cannabis law reform. Dunne was happy with this.

I had contact with him over the years, and he always expressed a willingness to try to deal with drug law issues, and he showed frustration that he was being limited by National.

Dunne was used by National as a scapegoat to take attention away from their own gutlessness in avoiding drug law reform.

Labour haven’t been much better. They effectively trashed Chlöe Swarbrick’s Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis and Other Matters) Amendment Bill when it went before Parliament earlier this year – see Chloe Swarbrick’s medicinal cannabis bill fails at first reading.

Also Chloe Swarbrick: MPs out of touch over medicinal marijuana (RNZ are out of touch using the term marijuana):

During the first reading Ms Swarbrick told Parliament something had to change.

“You do not find a solution to a problem by beating it with a blunt and broken instrument.

“The law here is broken and good, kind otherwise law-abiding people are risking jail to help their neighbours and those in their community currently experiencing unnecessary suffering.”

Ms Swarbrick urged National MPs who wanted to support her bill to do so – despite the official party line being to oppose it.

“I would like to invite any National Party MPs who support this to stick their neck out and to be on the right side of history tonight – it will not pass without you votes.”

On Tuesday, National MP Chris Bishop said he would be backing the bill, but voted against it.

Nikki Kaye had been given dispensation to vote for it but also ended up opposing it.

Now Labour have put up their own inferior and flawed alternative.

National and NZ First were the main culprits in blocking this bill, but eight Labour MPs also voted against it. Parliament failed to reflect strong public opinion (in one poll 78%) who supported cannabis law reform.

Current Health Minister David Clark has taken the responsibility for medicinal cannabis law has failed to show leadership on this, as has Jacinda Ardern.

It reflects poorly on National and Labour that the most prominent champion of cannabis law reform is first term *and the youngest) MP Swarbrick to try to represent public wishes on this.

Cannabis bill labouring under legislative laziness

Labour has made a mess (so far) of their attempt to appease people wanting cannabis for medicinal purposes.

John Roughan describes this as a symptom of legislative laziness in Two big concerns for returning PM Jacinda Ardern:

If maternity leave has given the Prime Minister any time to reflect on the team’s performance in her absence she might have returned with two big concerns. One is obviously the decline in business confidence, the other may not so obvious.

It is legislative laziness that ignores practical flaws in the policy behind it.

It was a weakness of the previous Labour Government and it has now appeared in this one, on the subject of legalising cannabis for medicinal use.

I don’t know whether Minister of Health David Clark has been lazy, but on this he has certainly been lax.

Labour mainly wants to be seen as compassionate to the terminally ill. Who doesn’t? But good government requires more than good intentions. The hard part is working out the practicalities of putting good intentions into effect.

The new Government put a bill before Parliament that would have allowed terminally ill people to possess and use a drug that would remain illegal for anybody else. Quite how the drug would be cultivated, manufactured and supplied only to the terminally ill were details that did not unduly concern Labour MPs on the select committee that would have let the bill proceed if Labour and the Greens had a majority.

Labour MPs on the medicinal cannabis select committee have published their view of the issues the committee considered and it shows Labour’s lack of intellectual rigour on subjects such as this. The word “compassion” features a lot.

Repeating ‘compassion’ ad nauseum does not make it a compassionate solution.

Labour simply proposed to provide a legal defence for people charged with possession if they were “terminally ill”. It would have been a defence lawyers’ picnic, probably invoked for growers and dealers too. Labour MPs did not sound much interested in the form of the products for medicinal use or their quality.

Their report declared, “The overall standard of cannabis products is not expected to match that of pharmaceutical grade products, e.g. manufacturers will not be required to provide clinical trial data. The setting of quality standards will be led by the Ministry of Health and will be informed by approaches taken in other jurisdictions, expert technical advice and stakeholders.” In short, “Whatever”.

So what was its purpose, other than to give Labour’s voters the impression the Government was doing something on this subject while, in fact, the difficult details it was ducking would very likely prove insurmountable.

Labour ministers and legislation advisers seemed unprepared for getting into Government, and they haven’t performed well since they took over last November.

Meanwhile, on medicinal cannabis it has been overtaken by the National MP Shane Reti who has drafted a bill resolving the practical details and has convinced his caucus to support it.

Reti’s bill would allow cannabis products currently available only on prescription to be available from pharmacies on presentation of a medical cannabis card issued by the patient’s doctor or nurse practitioner. A licence would be needed to cultivate or manufacture the products, which would not include cannabis in loose-leaf form.

Unlike Labour, Reti has done some hard work. He visited the US and researched what has worked with cannabis law reform.

Then he put together a bill that isn’t perfect – he had to compromise to get approval from the conservative National caucus – but it looks far better than Labour’s deficient attempt.

Labour’s Louisa Wall has been working on trying to make things happen, but she has never seemed to have much clout in Labour. She became a list MP in 2008 and has been an electorate MP (Manurewa) since 2011, but she is outside Cabinet well down the Labour ranks at 24. She is limited with Clark inn charge of health.

Green MP Chloe Swarbrick has been working hard with all parties to try to get agreement on a sensible way forward.

It’s a shame that Labour’s legislative laziness, and their unwillingness to work things out with other parties, has made what should have been a straightforward compassionate consensus so hard to achieve.

Quiet performers and hard workers Swarbrick and Reti may be the key to getting something worthwhile into law,

 

Confusion over medical cannabis bill

It turns out that National’s pulling of their support for the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill was a prelude to them announcing an alternative bill that is subject to being drawn from the members’ ballot – National puts forward medicinal cannabis regime.

Then the Health Committee published its report on the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill – Final report (Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill) [PDF 595k]

Recommendation

The Health Committee has examined the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill. We have been unable to reach agreement and therefore cannot recommend that the bill proceed.

That sparked a lot of angst until it was sort of explained that the bill would still proceed, unchanged and without a recommendation of the committee. Or something like that.

Perhaps this will have been properly clarified by the morning.

In the meantime here’s a speech in parliament by the youngest MP, who also happens to sound more sensible than the rest on how to deal with cannabis law.

CHLÖE SWARBRICK (Green): It’s a pleasure to rise to take the call after that speech from the Leader of the Opposition with regards to positive solutions, particularly on the topic of cannabis. I just want to lay it out in this general debate speech here how we got here and what issues we’re actually talking about when we speak to the issue of cannabis.

I want to demarcate for the public out there that may be listening the two separate issues of recreational and medicinal cannabis. I think this is really important because so often they end up conflated in the public discussion.

The issue of recreational cannabis is one that will be dealt with in the context of our commitment negotiated in the confidence and supply agreement between the Green Party and the Labour Party, with a referendum on adult recreational use on or by 2020 that I’m very proud to be working with the Minister of Justice, Andrew Little, on. He’s demonstrated his incredible responsiveness on a number of proposals that we’ve put forward with regard to its design, including the likes of citizens juries.

So today the predominant focus of this call that I’m taking will be on medicinal cannabis. Alleviating the pain and suffering of patients and their whānau denied access to legal medicinal cannabis requires urgent, open, and collaborative cross-party action. That’s because patients deserve a guarantee of access—affordable, consistent supply. We’re talking here about people’s lives, not just facts and figure on statistical sheets.

I want to read some of the thousands—literally thousands—of stories that have come through my office in the past few months. One is from Jasmine:

“My name is Jasmine. I am 28 years old and I am my father’s caregiver. My dad sustained a neurotoxic brain injury via his occupation in 2001 and has a degenerative spinal condition. He suffers from a range of medical problems, including severe mental illness, nerve damage, and inability to walk or stand unaided for more than a few minutes. He spends most of his life confined to a bed and will soon require a wheelchair.

“Cannabis allows my father many benefits that cannot be obtained with the use of any other single drug, without the risk of heavy addiction or chemical interactions with his other medications.

“This man is a pensioner who contributed 30 years of his life to the workforce, raised two children, was permanently injured and made to fight for rightful compensation, had his wife taken by cancer, and, due to current legislation, is a criminal who will face two years minimum prison sentence should the police ever wish to search our property. My father wants nothing more from what life he has left than peace and quiet and to be left alone.”

Yesterday the New Zealand Drug Foundation’s annual poll was released, demonstrating that in the last 12 months there’s been a near – 10 percentage point increase in public support—87 percent of New Zealanders support growing and/or using cannabis for any medical reasons such as to alleviate pain.

Look, I know that correlation does not imply causation, but the most deeply related event that has occurred in the last year is absolutely the public debate that occurred around my medicinal cannabis member’s bill in January, which attracted support from diverse quarters such as past Prime Minister Helen Clark and, of course, the likes of Grey Power.

This member’s bill was, however, voted down. On the night, I said that we had not won the battle but that we were winning the war—the war that is so crucial for patients, for people who are suffering under a demonstrably unfit for purpose status quo.

The Government’s more restrictive bill did, however, pass with unanimous support. Today the Health Committee has reported it back to the House, and it does not, unfortunately, recommend the changes asked for by submitters.

The Greens will continue to push for those changes, for the patient voice to be central, which brings me to the National Party member’s bill introduced today. I am stoked that they have come around to the idea of a comprehensive, common-sense medicinal cannabis framework. But, to be honest, I’m still quite perplexed that they voted down the similar scope that was before the House six months ago.

All the while, patients have been in pain and suffering. We do, however, wholeheartedly invite the seeming change in tune for a progressive medicinal cannabis scheme, and we look forward to continuing to work across the House collaboratively for the betterment of patients.

 

Swarbrick emphasises Green ‘holistic pillars’, but…

Further to a recent post about how the Greens say how social just and environmental issues can’t be separated – see How ‘intrinsically linked’ is the environment and social justice? – Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick has emphasised how much loyal Greens insist that substantial economic reform is essential for environmental survival.

The Spinoff: Why we can’t divorce genuine climate action from social justice

A slew of commentary and cartoons around the Green Party co-leader contest suggests we have to ‘choose’ between policy priorities, and it couldn’t be a bigger stack of nonsense, says Green MP Chloe Swarbrick.

Right there, in our daily assumptions and prejudices, lies some of the more salient examples of why environmental and social issues are inextricably linked. We have a system that produces and even incentivises harmful defaults: plastic bags, junk food, petrol guzzling. Operating outside of those systemic defaults require time, energy, and money.

The inextricable connection between our social and environmental issues go far deeper than that, though. Evidence demonstrates that the wealthiest in our country, and our world, are responsible for the large majority of climate-changing emissions, yet maintain the resource to continue moving further and further away from the destructive impact they’re having on the environment.

Meanwhile, the poorest and most vulnerable in our societies contribute the least in emissions but hugely disproportionately suffer the consequences of rising sea levels, poisoned waterways, polluted air, and a climate changed world.

I think there are some highly debatable claims made there.

Such commentators often simplistically point out that our name, and colour, is Green. The slightest bit more research would uncover that our charter is explicitly holistic in its four pillars:

  • entrenching values of ecological wisdom
  • social responsibility
  • appropriate decision making
  • non-violence

All laudable ideals – but an interesting selection.

You don’t get paradigm shift towards genuine sustainability without all four. And, it’s worth remembering, they’ve been there from the grassroots genesis of our party.

The thing is, each of those four ideals can be promoted individually. You can clean up rivers, promote social responsibility (including opposing benefit fraud), improve our democratic system and reduce horrendous levels of violence separately.

But there is a fairly critical ‘pillar’ missing from that list.

I think Jeanette Fitzsimons said it best when she said, “We have an economic system that exploits both people and the planet.”

The economic system is critical – countries without sound economic systems tend to have less money and resolve to deal with these pillars.

To simply claim that rich people pollute the most and poor people don’t is debatable.

To individualise the systemic problems of inequality, homelessness, or mass incarceration in a wealthy and supposedly enlightened country like ours is to uphold a fundamentally flawed house of cards at the expense of our fellow human beings. It’s also proven a spectacular failure in approach if we’re genuinely seeking to solve these issues.

Actually, while each of those problems deserve fundamental changes and improvements they are all better than they were a hundred or two hundred years ago. Under a capitalist system with social measures quality and length of life has improved markedly for most people in the world.

The irony of a web of law and tax that allows subsidising business by paying workers poverty wages, or spewing commercial waste into indigenous waters, is that we ultimately end up privatising profit and socialising cost. Citizens are underwriting bad business.

This system wasn’t divined by the gods. The social and environmental crises we face are not natural. They’re man-made, as is the system that underpins them. That means we have every ability to change the system – for the better of our people, and our planet.

Certainly we have the ability to address the problems we face as a country.

But Swarbrick seems to be angling for a fundamental change in the economic system as a necessity to deal with these problems. I think this is very debatable.

As is the Green insistence that the ‘pillars’ they have chosen are the only primary issues and are inextricably dependant on financial revolution.