Green involvement in water quality, rangatira and kaitiaki rights

Although Labour’s Environment Minister David Parker introduced Action announced for “a noticeable improvement in water quality” this is a big deal for the Green Party, who ensured water quality would be addressed in their Confidence and Supply Agreement with Labour.

Under ‘Sustainable Economy’:

5. Provide assistance to the agricultural sector to reduce biological emissions, improve water quality, and shift to more diverse and sustainable land use including more forestry

Under ‘Healthy Environment’:

7. Improve water quality and prioritise achieving healthy rivers, lakes and aquifers with stronger regulatory instruments, funding for freshwater enhancement and winding down Government support for irrigation.

a. The Resource Management Act will be better enforced.

I can’t find much on this in the media, but Green co-leader Marama Davidson said this via email – not surprisingly and justifiably Greens see this as a win for them:


Our streams, rivers, and lakes are precious to all of us. Freshwater is the lifeblood of our communities. That’s why we’re pleased that today the Government is continuing work to deliver on the Green Party’s commitment to clean up our rivers so they’re clean and healthy for our kids and grandkids.

The Green Party have long championed cleaning up our waterways and protecting them from pollution.

Russel Norman spent a summer kayaking several awa highlighting the growing pollution. When National slashed the freshwater standards Catherine Delahunty toured the country to restore them, and last year we made rivers a priority in the 2017 election campaign.

Together, we’ve put cleaning up our rivers on the political agenda. And today, with the Greens at the heart of Government, we’re making tangible progress.

As part of our agreement with Labour, we’ve secured prioritising healthy rivers, lakes, and aquifers.

Because of that, today the Government is announcing:

  • A comprehensive work programme to clean up our most at-risk catchments
  • Strengthening the National Policy Statement on freshwater
  • A new environmental standard to protect water
  • Improvements to the RMA
  • Beginning work on catchment-by-catchment allocations

We’ve still got a long journey ahead to make our rivers healthy and safe to swim in. But, today’s announcement shows this government is flowing in the right direction.

However, a key area that we think needs strengthening is to properly recognise that Māori have rangatira and kaitiaki rights over water, as guaranteed by Te Tiriti o Waitangi. We’ll continue to push for this to be honoured.

Protecting the environment and recognising Māori rights go hand-in-hand.

Greens ratify agreement with Labour

Last night Green Party delegates ratified a confidence and supply agreement with Labour, enabling a Labour-NZ First coalition and confirming Jacinda Ardern as next Prime Minister.

Shaw had earlier said he was very confident that the agreement would be ratified at the Special General Meeting held by teleconference.

NZH: Green Party ratifies confidence and supply deal with Labour

Party leader James Shaw told media late tonight that the party delegates voted in favour of the agreement – with about three delegates opposing the agreement.

“The Green Party has decided overwhelmingly to support the confidence and supply arrangement that we negotiated with the Labour Party … We’re all in, and there will now be a new Government led by the Labour Party and by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

“There were about three votes against and about 140-something for … there were a couple of people that had dissenting opinions and for actually quite good reasons, and we had a pretty robust and extensive debate about it, and then we made a decision.”

Shaw before the decision to ratify:

“This is a historic moment for the Green Party and for our movement because, for the first time, we are going to be, probably, in a position to have ministerial control in the areas that are important to us and the areas that we campaigned on.

“We are very excited about this opportunity.”

He said the agreement should be made public in the coming days, and no decision had been made yet about which Green MPs would take portfolio positions.

The arrangement was a “rare and beautiful thing” because all parties would have to agree to pass any legislation.

“We are forced to find what we have in common, rather than what distinguishes us from each other.”

It’s not rare, that’s what has happened in all the last seven governments under MMP.

Shaw put this statement out after the delegates ratified the agreement.

The Green Party is pleased to support a Labour-led Government that will deliver on the Green Party’s goals, following agreement from the Party’s delegates this evening. The Green Party will support the Labour-led Government on confidence and supply.

“We campaigned with Labour to change the Government and that’s what we’ve delivered tonight,” said Green Party co-leader James Shaw.

“I am confident the agreement reached with Labour will deliver the most green change of any Government in New Zealand’s history.

“This is an historic moment for the Greens. We have spent nearly 30 years working towards being part of Government to deliver change for our people and our environment. It’s the first time the Green Party will hold Ministerial positions to deliver real change that benefits our country.

“We plan to make a positive contribution to a Government New Zealanders can be proud of. Our commitment to the country is to provide stable Government while delivering on our priority areas of climate change, water quality, and ensuring a social safety net that treats everyone with dignity.

“Our conservation estate, our oceans, and our native birds will be better protected. Our cities will move faster and their residents will be happier with cleaner transport options and better quality affordable housing.

“The Green Party shares many goals and values with Labour and NZ First. I look forward to working with Jacinda Ardern as Prime Minister and with Winston Peters in a genuine MMP Government.

“We have changed the Government and now we will get on with the job of delivering the change New Zealanders voted for.

“The hard work starts now and the Green Party is rearing to go.”

It is a new era for the Greens. They have agreed to remain outside Cabinet, despite Shaw saying he wanted in Cabinet last week, but this will be the biggest involvement the Greens have had in Government since the party was founded in 1990, and since they first got seats on their own in Parliament in the first MMP election in 1996.

Hooton: on ACT’s strategies

Matthew Hooton, a committed supporter of and voter for the ACT Party, gave a speech at  their annual conference.

He closed his speech by outlining how he saw their prospects, and implored them to put his political dream into practice.

John Key has no choice but the reindorse David Seymour in Epsom in 2017 – pretty much no matter what David and Act do between now and then. That is true if Act is around zero in the party vote, in which case Epsom creates an overhang. More optimistically, it is even more true if you get yourselves up to 2%, 3% or – most powerfully in terms of a Key endorsement – the magic 4.9%. If you get above 5%, of course, then maybe my poor old friend Paul Goldsmith should get a chance.

Key has choices about ACT and Epsom, but it is very likely he will make it easy for Seymour to retain Epsom.

Your best strategy over the next 17 months before the election is to more clearly distinguish yourself from National. David Seymour, at great personal cost, made that strategy possible when he turned down a higher-paying minister’s job to avoid being more tightly bound to National under cabinet collective responsibility. I’ve never heard of a politician making that decision before. It speaks to David’s integrity.

That done, what would happen, for example, if you declared you would not vote for a Budget that expanded Steven Joyce’s corrupt corporate welfare machine, or that included more money for Murray McCully’s corrupt Saudi sheep bribe? I’ll tell you what would happen in terms of policy: Any plans to expand corporate welfare or fly more sheep over to the Saudi desert would be dropped from the Budget.

Except that ACT have a Confidence and Supply agreement with National – “ACT New Zealand agrees to provide confidence and supply for the term of this Parliament to a National-led Government in return for National’s agreement to the policy programme and other matters set out in this document. ”

2014 ACT Party Confidence and Supply Agreement [PDF 68k] (PDF)

ACT have an agreement that guarantees they will vote for budgets. It would be drastic and potentially damaging for them politically if they broke that agreement. Seymour won’t do that.

And I’ll tell you what would happen in terms of the Epsom guarantee: Absolutely nothing, except the people of Epsom would be more likely to vote for David Seymour even without a National endorsement. John Key is not going to say “that David Seymour stopped me flying more sheep to Saudi Arabia so I’m going to chuck him under the bus and jeopardise my fourth term” anymore than he might say “that damn Maori Party won’t back me on the TPP so that’s the end of my relationship with them and we’ll just have to have a Labour government”.

Moreover, around the country, Act would gain respect from genuinely small government people who don’t like the big government corruption we are seeing from the elements in the current government. And that means John Key’s need to endorse David Seymour again would only grow.

ACT would lose respect from those who see Confidence and Supply agreements as very important for stable government and for reliable small party support.

Look to one of the parties you are effectively in coalition with, the Maori Party. Depending on the poll, it’s doing about six times better than you with the voters. As I understand it, it votes against the National Party in parliament more than Labour. And, when it makes a fuss about that, it goes up in the polls because that is what its constituency wants.

But the Maori Party has never broken a confidence and supply agreement as far as I am aware.

Yet the Maori Party has a perfectly good relationship with John Key because the one thing he understands is realpolitik. He understands that the Maori Party may well be essential to his fourth term, and he understands the Maori Party has to do what the Maori Party has to do to be there after September next year

Now, you’ve got at least one of my votes tied up – usually including the party vote – so you shouldn’t really take advice from me, because I’m a dead cert.

But here’s what I think anyway. The people who don’t vote for you now, but may vote for you in 2017, don’t want you to do anything to jeopardise John Key’s fourth term.

Like threaten a confidence and supply agreement?

They want you to support him. But they also want to see you fight him. They want to see you fight Steven Joyce’s corrupt corporate welfare machine. They want to see you fight Murray McCully’s corrupt Saudi sheep deal. They want to see you fight Bill English’s plans to knock down houses and rebuild Auckland in the form Wellington planners say is best for us.

They want to see you fight a government that has raised benefits but has no concrete plans for tax cuts; a government which has borrowed more money than the net total of all previous New Zealand governments combined; a government which may deliver one surplus and then send us back into deficit again; a government which is proud to have no interest in addressing issues of an ageing population.

They want to see you fight a government which has failed to reform the Resource Management Act, and one which remains far too beholden to indulgence seekers, whether Sky City Casino or powerful iwi bosses.

They will want to see you fight a government that almost certainly plans to corruptly allocate water to existing users rather than more fairly to people with new ideas, because it is a government beholden to the lobbyists from Fonterra and Federated Farmers.

These are the sorts of thing that will drive your party vote up. It is what will make Epsom a genuinely Act seat rather than something of a gift. And those things together mean John Key will have no choice but to ensure you win Epsom again.

Perhaps.

If a single MP ACT tail tries to wag a 59 MP National dog to much there will be political risks. If National are not reliant on whatever numbers ACT can offer after the next election to make up numbers then National may not risk a disloyal coalition partner very much, if anything.

If National have to reach a coalition agreement with a 10-15 strong NZ First party in order to retain power and don’t need ACT’s numbers then the importance of ACT, and probably the necessity of ACT, will be significantly diminished.

ACT have to differentiate themselves from National without over reaching and without putting confidence and supply loyalty in doubt.

That’s a challenge for a tiny party on the fringe that has no option but to partner up with National if they want to be a part of the Government.

Like I said at the outset, it’s a complex relationship you have with John Key. But you have absolutely nothing to lose, and nothing to fear, from building on the successes of the last year to more strongly advocate for the things you believe, which just happen to be the things New Zealand continues to so desperately need.

Seymour and ACT should certainly “more strongly advocate for the things you believe”, that’s advice that could be given to any party.

But it’s imperative they increase their party vote substantially.

If voters think that ACT may be unreliable, may try to wield power disproportionate to their vote, then they may just choose National as a safer option. Or NZ First.

Source at Voxy: Matthew Hooton speech to ACT Conference

UF/National Confidence and Supply Agreement

The Confidence and and Supply Agreement between United Future and National remains. Peter Dunne advises:

“Today’s events have no impact on the agreement which will continue.”

There’s no reason for it to change.

UnitedFuture Confidence and Supply Agreement 2011

Peter Dunne on the Confidence and Supply agreement