Initial Green Party list lacks gender, climate balance

Stuff have reported Green Party initial election list puts newcomer Teanau Tuiono ahead of several sitting MPs

An initial list for the Green Party puts activist Teanau Tuiono ahead of several sitting MPs in the party.

The Green Party list will dictate which of their MPs enter Parliament after the next election, should they win over five per cent of the vote.

The ranking of the list is voted on by members in two different stages – first by delegates at a conference for an initial list and then by all 7000 or so Green Party members closer to the election.

Tuiono was 16th on the Green list last election.

Due to two late withdrawals of male MPs from the list just before the last election the Greens have ended up with 2 male and six female MPs, and one of the males, Gareth Hughes, isn’t standing again. The try to have a balanced list, so they presumably have to have male candidates higher on the list than female MPs.

Tuiono is a veteran activist and education consultant who has worked at the United Nations and Massey University.

The initial list swaps the order of the co-leaders but this is likely to be a Greens having turns thing but also probably means a ministerial role for Davidson if they get back into Government with Labour.

  1. Marama Davidson
  2. James  Shaw
  3. Jan Logie
  4. Eugenie Sage
  5. Teanau Tuiono
  6. Julie Anne Genter
  7. Chlöe Swarbrick
  8. Golriz Ghahraman
  9. Elizabeth Kerekere (Tīwhanawhana Trust chair – “Tīwhanawhana Trust chair” – a takatāpui community group based in Wellington)
  10. Ricardo Menéndez March (Auckland Action Against Poverty activist)

Voted on be delegates, this is still gender unbalanced with only 2 the top 9 male. If Greens get the minimum MPs that’s 2 of 6.

With Hughes dropping out it also looks like more of a move towards social activism with less expertise in climate activism.

The final list could address this.

 

Labour lacking in gender balance – and female capability?

Labour is going backwards with their ideal, gender balance, especially in their senior ranks.

In October 2017 (just after she became Prime Minister) Ardern vows to improve Cabinet gender balance

Women would hold just six of Labour’s 16-strong Cabinet posts, and just one of its five ministerial roles outside of Cabinet.

Ms Ardern said that was not good enough and she was vowing to bring more women up to the top level.

“I’m going to make sure that we continue to work on bringing through more of our team”.

“We set ourselves a goal as a Labour Party that we would bring more women into our caucus. When we set that goal we set it at 50 percent, and we came very close to achieving that this election and I’m proud of that”.

“We’ll continue to make sure that we try to see that reflected in our membership as they come up through roles and responsibilities through both our caucus and through our Cabinet.”

That’s not happening yet – in fact it’s deteriorating.

With the resignation of now ex-Ministers Clare Curran and the sacking of Meka Whaitiri there are now:

  • 8 female of 26 ministers
  • 6 female ministers of 19 in Cabinet
  • 3 female ministers on the front bench (top 10)
  • 5 female Labour ministers

As a comparison, the last National-led line-up (April 2017):

  • 9 female of 27 ministers
  • 7 female of 22 in Cabinet
  • 2 female ministers on the front bench
  • 9 female National ministers

In the Labour-led government, NZ First and Greens balance each other out. NZ First has 1 female of 3 ministers, while Greens have 2 female of 3 ministers.

Labour now has just Jacinda Ardern (1), Megan Woods (6), Carmel Sepuloni (9), Nanaia Mahuta (12) and Jenny Salesa (15) – five out of fifteen.

And there’s not many stand outs there, yet at least.

Gender balance in Parliament and in Cabinet are great ideals, but to achieve that requires enough quality female candidates standing for Parliament, and enough of them capable of handling roles as ministers and in Cabinet.

Both failures as ministers have been Labour MPs.

While I think that most people would like to see approximate gender balances in Parliament, I think that most voters – male and female – would choose competence over tokenism and making up the numbers with MPs not up to the job.

Eagle in Rongotai

Paul Eagle, currently deputy mayor of Wellington, is on track to get the Labour nomination to stand in the Rongotai electorate which virtually assures him of a safe seat.

Eagle may well be a good candidate for Labour but if he replaces Annette King that increases the difficulty Labour may have with it’s list if the party continues it’s efforts to achieve a gender balance in Parliament.

With Andrew Little, other prominent Labour MPs like David Parker and Trevor Mallard, plus apparent promises of a high placing for Willie Jackson, unless Labour increases it’s party vote significantly the rest of the top of this may need to be stacked with female candidates.

If Jacinda Ardern wins the Mt Albert by-election as expected that will even the balance a bit, she would replace David Shearer, but her list replacement will be another incumbent MP who would hope to be given a chance of returning after September’s election.

Gender balance in Cabinet

I think that most people would agree that having about half of MPs women and about half of Cabinet Ministers women would be a good aspiration, but I also think most people, including most women, would put ability and competence ahead of exactly equal numbers of each sex.

John Key was asked about gender balance in Cabinet on The Nation in the weekend.

Key told Nation host Lisa Owen “it would be stupid” to promise a gender-balanced Cabinet.

“I think if you went to our female ministers, of which we’ve got a tremendous group of talent – from Paula to Amy to Judith, you name them, Hekia, Anne Tolley, there’s just a bunch of very talented women in there – they are there because they’re immensely talented. Yes, it’s great that they’re women, and I think there should be balance,” he said.

Of the current Cabinet there are 7 women and 13 men. Of Ministers outside Cabinet there are 3 women and 2 men.

In total out of 25 there are 10 women and 15 men.

Labour aspires to MP gender balance but failed to achieve it’s goals due to winning less than expected seats. It gets tricky when most MPs are electorate MPs, ultimately the voters choose individual MPs and the gender balance is whatever it all adds up to.

Greens, the champions of balance, are more staunch on Cabinet ideals. They have male and female co-leaders, and their list is arranged so there is approximately the same number of female and male MPs – it’s much easier to achieve when all are list-only MPs.

Greens have a policy on gender balance in Cabinet, but it’s not clear exactly what they are going for. James Shaw put out this press release in July 2015:

Greens will ensure gender balance in Cabinet

How will the ensure that a Cabinet of Labour, Green and probably NZ First MPs will be 50/50 male/female?

The Green Party is today announcing that, in Government, it will ensure half of all Green Cabinet Ministers are women, and will call on other members of any coalition Government it is involved in to do the same.

“Our hope is that by leading by example, and ensuring gender equality at the Cabinet table, the Green Party can stimulate and support a wave of gender equity reforms for women who work,” Mr Shaw said.

That’s not ensuring Cabinet is balanced, it is ensuring the Green MPs in Cabinet are gender balanced (as long as there’s an even number of them) and a hope that the other parties in the coalition will do likewise.

“The idea that people are paid on merit, or appointed to senior roles like Government Ministers based on their abilities, doesn’t stack up. Women are paid less largely because they’re working in professions that are dominated by women, and they’re often not appointed to senior positions because of barriers that have nothing to do with ability.  It’s time to drop the idea that women are worth less once and for all.

Shaw leaps from an unsubstantiated claim that Ministers aren’t appointed on merit to a general spiel on inequality.

Women MPs are paid the same as males in equal positions, and Cabinet Ministers are also paid equally.

“Around the world countries are realising that gender inequality is holding them back and they’re committing to greater representation by women in many positions of power in business and politics.”

While more women in positions of power is a good thing if they are up to the task I would be interested to see evidence that less than half of MPs and Cabinet Ministers is holding New Zealand back in some way.

“By committing to a gender balance in Cabinet, the Green Party won’t immediately fix the inequalities women are forced to deal with at work every day, but it will show that we are committed to gender equality everywhere, starting with where we work ourselves,” Mr Shaw said.

Shaw finishes back where he started – committing to a gender balance in Cabinet.

But how would Greens achieve that? They can hardly force other parties to have gender balance in the MPs they have in Cabinet.

On current polling and using proportionality if Greens had four Cabinet Ministers then NZ First would also have four and Labour would have twelve.

In Labour’s top twelve MPs there are 5 women.

NZ First doesn’t seem to rank their MPs but they have 8 males and 3 females. Based on their 2014 list there was one woman in their top four.

If Labour put  5 women into Cabinet and NZ First 1 that’s 6, so would Greens agree to have all four of their MPs in Cabinet in women to ensure it was gender balanced?

Or would they refuse to go into coalition unless Labour and NZ First had a 50/50m gender split with their Cabinet MPs?

Or would they just hope their ideal is agreed to by the other parties?

It would be a good ideal to achieve, approximately, but with a multi party coalition it may not be easy.

And – do most women care? How many would prioritise gender balance over merit and competence?