Getting rid of “National are evil baby-eating doers”

I’ve often seen it joked that left wingers see National as baby-eating evil doers, but here it is actually stated:

Why would the GP want to unbundle from Labour when having an agreement with Labour brings them benefits they negotiated and want?

National are baby-eating evil doers. That’s the whole point.

I presume that’s just rhetoric, but it indicates a distinct distaste for anything about National.

The Greens position is (and has been for a long time) that they will work with any party where there is shared policy. For the Greens to work with National in govt National would have to change its economic, social and environmental policies. That’s not going to happen any time soon.

So Greens would only work with National if changed all their policies to Green policies? I don’t think ‘weka’ speaks on behalf of the Green Party, but I’ve seen this attitude expressed before. It’s completely out of touch with how politics works here, especially under MMP (the MMP that allowed Greens to get a presence in Parliament and recently a presence in Government.

And Greens got into Government without Labour and NZ First changing all their policies to Green policies. A lot of Labour policies are very similar or the same as National policies.

And the Greens have had to accept policies put into practice, like the CPTPP (that is supported by both Labour and National), and introduced bills, like the NZ First waka jumping bill, that the greens still oppose, in theory at least.

So this ‘Greens won’t deal with National unless they change all their policies’ is arrogant ignorance.

It’s nothing to do with the Greens being able to tell supporters that National aren’t evil, unless National stop being evil. Has that happened?

There’s an emphasis on ‘National are evil’, minus the baby eating.  It must just be a Green activist attitude – I don’t see James Shaw or Julie Anne Genter saying National are evil, and both seem prepared to work with National if it means progressing some common policy (as happened in the past over cycleways and house insulation).

“we can at least listen to any offer they give us, doesn’t mean they have to accept it but at least it’d mean Labour couldn’t take the Greens for granted any longer”

But the Greens are already in the position of listening to National make offers. National aren’t making any offers (and as above, they don’t have anything that the Greens are interested in).

National have sounded out Greens on some level of cooperation. They did during coalition negotiations. Simon Bridges did when he became National leader.

Green supporters like ‘weka’ are the ones not interested in listening to anyone, including National, who won’t fully accept Green ideals and policies.

“The other is that they have a stated intent to change how parliamentary democracy works in NZ.”

“Forming a government with National would certainly fall under those auspices I’d have thought”

Rofl. Funny as mate.

Not funny – it’s sad that some Green supporters seem like they will never accept working with National (conveniently forgetting when they have), and would hold their MPs to ‘National is evil’ type nonsense.

If Greens are serious about significantly changing how parliamentary democracy works in New Zealand – Chlöe Swarbrick was sounding out ideas on this on Twitter yesterday – then somehow they need to educate some of their supporters that that means they won’t get all their policies and ideals accepted and implemented, it means compromise, and it also means co-operation with all parties.

And it means getting rid of a “National are evil baby-eating evil doers” mentality, or at least democratically voting against the intransigence of those who promote extreme intolerance of other parties.

Green Party announces significant change to Question Time

James Shaw has announced an interesting change to how they are going to deal with the Green Party questions in Question:

Green Party announces significant change to Question Time

The Green Party has today announced that, from this week, most of its allocation of questions for Question Time will be handed over to the Leader of the Opposition to use, in order to limit the prevalence of “patsy questions” in Parliament and to strengthen the ability of Parliament to hold the Government of the day to account.

The only exception is if the Green Party wishes to use a question to hold the Government to account on a particular issue, consistent with the party’s Confidence and Supply agreement with Labour, which acknowledges the ability for the parties to agree to disagree on certain issues.

“The Green Party has long advocated the importance of Parliament having the powers to hold the Government of the day to account. Question Time is a key avenue for the opposition to interrogate the Government, so this move is a small step we can take to live up to the values we stated in opposition now that we are part of the Government,” said Green Party Co-leader James Shaw.

“Using Question Time to ask ourselves scripted, set-piece patsy questions does nothing to advance the principles of democracy and accountability that are very important to us as a party. We expect the opposition to use our questions to hold us to account as much as any other party in Government.

“We think patsy questions are a waste of time, and New Zealanders have not put us in Parliament to do that; we’re there to make positive change for our people and our environment.

“We don’t expect any other party to follow suit – this is about us leading the kind of change we want to see in Parliament.

“The Greens are committed to doing Government differently and doing Government better and this change, along with our voluntary release of Green Ministers diaries to increase transparency, will hopefully spark more of a debate about how we can bring Parliament’s processes and systems into the modern age.

“We will also make a submission to the Standing Orders Review, which kicks off next year, to advocate for further changes to Question Time. This review is where all parties in Parliament make decisions about how future parliaments will operate and is the best place for all politicians to discuss any long term permanent changes to Question Time.

“The Canadian Government has recently trialled changes to Question Time after Justin Trudeau campaigned to do so. This shows parliament systems are not set in stone and should be open to regular review and change to ensure our democracy is healthy and well-functioning.

“We have reserved the right to use our questions when we have a point of difference with our colleagues in government. Our Confidence and Supply Agreement with Labour allows us to agree to disagree on issues, and the occasional respectful questioning of the Government from within is also an important part of democracy.

“That we can occasionally disagree with each other highlights the strength and flexibility of this Government,” said Mr Shaw.

It will be interesting to see whether National changes their approach to Question Time in response.

UPDATE – James Shaw has responded to media claims that Greens had done a deal with National on this.

No deal, just a principled stand

Do you know what frustrates me about Parliament? Sometimes, it’s nothing but a hollow ritual.

As Greens, we’ve always stood for modernising our democracy, making MPs more accountable and giving the public better access to the levers of power.

So from this week, the Green Party will hand over its allocation of questions for Question Time to the Leader of the Opposition. That means, we will no longer waste Parliament’s time or yours asking scripted, set-piece “patsy” questions directed to ourselves.

It doesn’t mean we’ve given up pursuing issues we care about. When those issues arise, our arrangement allows Green MPs still to ask questions where we wish to hold the Government to account.

So why the change? The questions we’re giving up do nothing to advance democratic participation. Question Time should be about holding the Government to account, the Opposition can better use some of our questions to do that.

This is another example of us leading the type of change we want to see in Parliament. We’re walking our walk.

Learn more about Question Time here.

Green leadership – sickly sweet political correctness versus political realism

John Armstrong still does the occasional column for 1 News. On this occasion he looks at the Green leadership, and assesses Marama Davidson versus Julie Anne Genter.

Co-leaders are chosen by the Green party membership, and I doubt they will take much notice of Armstrong, but he makes some astute points.

1 News: Julie Anne Genter would deliver effective tonic of political realism for Greens as they up weigh who should be co-leader

The playing field would appear to be too heavily tilted against Julie Anne Genter overhauling the front-runner in the two-horse race to become female co-leader.

As a Maori and someone deeply rooted in the party’s “social justice” wing, Marama Davidson’s candidacy ticks all the right boxes.

She is not a minister. She is thus positioning herself as the voice of the party. That is important.

The Greens have long toyed with the concept of one of its co-leaders not being part of a ministry, instead being a two-way conduit ensuring relations between the hierarchy and the wider party do not sour as a result of the compromises and concessions required for a multi-party government to function effectively.

Davidson is second in the rankings of the party’s eight-strong caucus. Genter is third. Were Genter to become female co-leader, it would be regarded as a slap in the face for Davidson.

It may be be a slap in the face of a significant Green faction as well, the ‘social justice’ campaigners.

Moreover, given Davidson is the closest thing to a clone of Turei, it would also be regarded as a slap in the face for the memory of Turei.

Most leadership changes signify a change in party direction, sometimes forced by circumstances. Simon Bridges was not chosen as an English clone. Jacinda Ardern was very different to Andrew Little. James Shaw was quite different to Russel Norman. Metiria Turei was very different to Jeanette Fitzsimons.

Replacing Turei with another Turei-type, especially after Turei’s ignominious exit, might make sense for some within the Greens but it would be a risk given the poll reaction to Turei’s big gamble.

These obstacles will have forced Genter to take a different tack as she seeks to woo members ahead of the party-wide vote on the co-leadership which will be completed early next month.

Her carefully coded message is that installing Davidson in the post would see the resumption of the status quo prior to Turei’s departure.

That might have been okay in Opposition, but it is hopeless in the white heat of government.

Is the Green membership able to see that though? In some ways they don’t seem to have transitioned to power very well.

During a head-to-head debate with Davidson last week conducted by Stuff, Genter was surprisingly frank. She indicated an unhappiness that the decision to highlight Turei’s bout of welfare fraud back in the 1990s had followed consultation with only a select few in the Greens’ caucus.

She bemoaned the absence of a viable risk management plan should Turei’s admission backfire — which of course it did.

Turei and her supporters seemed shocked that her admission of benefit fraud might not go down well outside the green bubble. Turei’s political bubble burst, but Green views remain to an extent encapsulated in their conviction of infallibility.

Davidson’s push on poverty would drive the Greens even further down the dead end street which sees them run smack bang into Labour. It would see them competing with the Prime Minister for ownership of child poverty as an issue. That would not be a contest that Davidson could hope to win.

She would be unlikely to get anywhere near the attention or support that Ardern is currently feasting on. If Ardern succeeds with a positive shift in social policy Davidson would continue to be in her shadow. If Ardern fails then the greens will probably be dragged down with her.

Genter made a brutally honest assessment of the Greens’ chances at the 2020 election, saying recovery to the 11 per cent backing that the party received in 2014 would be a “good start”.

Even that will be a hard target to hit unless the Greens can differentiate themselves from the coalition Government they are propping up. Few support parties prosper in Government, most struggle and fade.

To reach that level would require recapturing the roughly 95,000 votes which switched to Labour in 2017 — a task made even more arduous by having to get the better of such a formidable campaigner as Ardern.

That’s presuming Ardern remains as a formidable campaigner in 2020, and the voters don’t tire of woman’s magazine style celebrity politics.

Genter is issuing a big wake-up call. That is sufficient reason why the party needs her as co-leader. The challenge for the party membership in coming weeks is to switch from supping on the sickly sweet political correctness being flogged by Davidson and start imbibing the bitter, but far more effective tonic of political realism advertised by Genter.

Genter certainly seems to have been ready for a governing role, and has fairly wide respect beyond the core Green support base, in contrast to Davidson.

Choosing Marama Davidson would feed into the self admiration within devout Green circles, but it would struggle to appeal to the voters Greens need back, or to new voters.

Julie Anne Genter is likely to have wider appeal – I would seriously consider voting for her if I had the opportunity, but am unlikely to warm to Davidson unless she changes significantly (who knows how someone will become as leader?).

Greens should put the Turei debacle behind them and look ahead, and choose a new leader based on political realism, but I suspect they will side with “the sickly sweet political correctness being flogged by Davidson”.

Some tough love for the Green party

Ex political journalist John Armstrong has some views on Metiria Turei and her political crash and burn,  which is unlikely to go down well in the Green camp. Tough truths.

Metiria Turei could have said a lot during the seven or so months which have passed since her hugely dramatic and equally traumatic exit from politics.

Her ghost stalks the Greens, however. In particular, it is stalking the upcoming election of a new female co-leader to fill the vacancy created by her spectacular demise.

In some quarters of the party, Turei the Welfare Fraudster is both martyr and saint; a veritable Joan of Arc and Mother Theresa all rolled into one.

It was much easier to blame the media for her fate, however, than admit to the real reason why she had to quit.

Her consistent refusal to divulge any detail about the circumstances surrounding her fraud was tarnishing the party’s image.

The party’s stance was untenable. It was blaming the media for doing their job. It was saying it was okay for James Shaw to join the Opposition hunt for the scalps of Bill English and Todd Barclay, National’s errant former Clutha-Southland MP.

The application of similar scrutiny to Turei’s behaviour was somehow deemed out of bounds.

That’s fairly typical of Green supporters, in my experience. They are very critical of people and ideas they disagree with, but get almost apoplectic when their party or MPs are put under scrutiny.

Turei’s downfall was the first time in a very long time that the Greens had felt the heat of the media blowtorch on its highest setting.

Now that they are party to government, such bouts of relentless questioning and grilling by the media will be the norm. The Greens can expect it to occur on anything and everything no matter how big or small or how important or trivial.

They really wanted to finally be a part of a Government. Now they are in power they have to expect they will be put under more scrutiny – they were generally given a very easy time when in opposition, so the scrutiny of power is coming as a bit of a shock to some.

The question is whether the Greens have the necessary political management mechanisms in place to ensure the party is not an accident constantly waiting to happen.

The omens are not good. The party’s handling of the New Zealand First-instigated legislation which will block MPs from party-hopping has been as shambolic as it has been shabby.

Perhaps they (the Green Party and their MPs) will learn how to deal with being in awkward political situations that inevitably occur when in Government, and the scrutiny that goes with the territory, but those learnings are likely to be lagging or lacking in the rank and file.

One senior party figure should be exempted from such accusations of complacency, however.

He suggests that Julie Anne Genter is unusually realistic for a Green and would make a good replacement for Turei as co-leader. More on that in Green leadership – sickly sweet political correctness versus political realism.

“Green Party remains firmly opposed” to TPPA

Green spokesperson on trade, Golriz Ghahraman, has said in an email that the Green Partyremains firmly opposed to the TPPA (being signed soon in Chile), but has used anti-TPPA sentiments to try top raise money for the party via Twitter:

While the “new” TPPA deal gets signed in Chile today, the Green Party remains firmly opposed.

The legislation for this trade deal (the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership – or CPTPP) is coming before Parliament this month. The Green Party is the only political party that has consistently opposed this deal from the start.

Why we remain opposed to it, is that the changes within the new text released last month, are not enough to mitigate the risk of the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) clauses.

This means our democracy is under threat.

This sounds over the top, I don’t think there is anything in the trade deals that scraps elections in New Zealand.

Our ability to adopt transformative progressive change in the face of threats like climate change and inequality, and our ability to honour Te Titiri o Waitang,i are all undermined by this deal.

As Greens, what is particularly chilling to us, is that where ISDS clauses have been accessed by foreign corporates to stop governments from changing the law, in 85% of cases it has been to stop environmental protection.

NZ should be placing itself among those nations who are seeking to find a fair way to trade without the unfair negative implications for people and nature.

The majority of New Zealanders have opposed the TPPA and the Green Party has opposed this deal from the beginning.

Has there been any measure of opposition on the revised CPTPPA? Or are the Greens trying to historic polls on one thing somehow equate to a revised agreement years later?

We’ve had a lot of support on this issue before, with a majority of New Zealanders opposing the TPPA. And today, people like you are marching against it again. We need your support now.

Here’s the situation. The Green Party has to raise money from as many generous people like you, to cover the costs of running the Party, to strengthen our membership and to grow the green movement you are a part of getting more people like you to come on board.

So she is trying to leverage donations out of TPPA protests.

Too late for the TPPA, unless they have a policy to pull New Zealand out of the agreement after 2020.

Your support got the Greens into government. And now, together, we must bolster the mandate the Green MPs have. The issues that matter most to you, like the TPPA, must be kept in front and centre; to make sure we can have lots of conversations, with more people, who care about our planet and our environment, just like you do. You’ve been a part of making that happen before, and right now it’s vital your voice carries on.

And we must start right now to further Green the government so we can negotiate with greater influence on the direction of trade deals like this. We’d like to see fair trade deals without ISDS clauses.

Perhaps they can oppose the trade deal negotiations with Russia that NZ First are promoting. And the trade deal negotiations with the EU that Labour are pursuing.

“The silence of National and Labour on transparency is noted”

Neither of the two large parties, Labour or National, show any sign of following the Green Party example of transparency and a refusal to accept corporate baubles. Neither does NZ First. This is a shame, but it’s unsurprising.

The Green announcement: Green Party announces new transparency measures

Green Party Co-leader James Shaw has today announced two important new transparency measures, which will apply to Green Party Ministers, MPs and staff, to help counter the influence of money in politics.

Green Party Ministers will soon proactively release their ministerial diaries, to show who they’ve met with and why. Additionally, Green Ministers, MPs and staff will not accept corporate hospitality, such as free tickets to events unrelated to their work.

ODT editorial: Green Party transparency welcomed

Transparency is a hallmark of any functioning government and the Green Party says it will continue to aim to uphold that – in Parliament and in Government.

Green co-leader James Shaw recently announced two important new transparency measures which will apply to Green Party ministers, MPs and staff to help show what he says is the influence of money in politics.

The actions are a major step forward in transparency and one which should be held up as an example to other political parties, both inside and outside Parliament.

The power of big business over politicians has become insidious in the United States. It is possible many New Zealand voters will be surprised by the influence of lobbyists in New Zealand.

Because New Zealand is such a small country, MPs, or their staff, often move into areas of influence outside of Parliament while retaining their close ties with the parties with which they previously worked.

Broadcasting Minister Clare Curran was blindsided in Parliament recently when questioned about her relationship with public broadcaster Radio New Zealand. It was revealed Ms Curran, the Dunedin South MP, had met privately with a highly ranked staff member of RNZ.

Then, National revealed an employee of the Prime Minister’s Office promoted Government policy while participating in an opinion segment on Radio New Zealand National, only describing herself as a public relations consultant from a private company for which she no longer worked.

The silence of National and Labour on transparency is noted.

There should be no reason why big wealthier corporates have better or more access to politicians than those organisations who cannot afford to shout free tickets to the rugby or a corporate box at the tennis.

Some will view the Greens’ actions as naive. However, the party must be congratulated and voters should push hard for other ministers and MPs to also start opening their diaries.

Yes, the Greens should be congratulated on walking the transparency walk.

Pressure needs to be put on Labour in particular to front up on this. They have an agreement with the Greens to do this – their Confidence and Supply agreement:

20. Strengthen New Zealand’s democracy by increasing public participation, openness, and transparency around official information.

Labour agrees to work with the Green Party on these and other policy areas as may be identified from time to time, and in good faith.

There is little sign that Labour is living up to their agreement. There is one Beehive release from Associate Minister for State Services (Open Government) Clare Curran that touches on it: Continued effort needed against corruption

“While we continue to hold the position of least corrupt country, and already have high standards of conduct and integrity, we must not be complacent. These results show we are not immune to behaviour and actions that can erode the great work done by the majority of people in the public sector.

“Our focus must be on building and maintaining the public’s trust in the integrity of the public sector, a key enabler in our ability to do better for New Zealand and New Zealanders. I expect a continued commitment to transparency and the highest levels of integrity,” Ms Curran says.

“This government is also committed to reviewing and improving our access to information frameworks and is currently initiating work on human rights in the digital environment.

“Our commitment to open government plays an important role in New Zealand’s democratic system, underpinning the public’s respect, trust, and confidence in the integrity of government.”

That’s just talk from Curran – and she has been embarrassed twice in Parliament over questionable actions of herself and of Government advisor and lobbyist Tracey Bridges.

Greens have shown Curran up by committing to having open diaries and not accepting corporate baubles, while all she seems to have done is waffle and duck and dive.

If all parties currently in government establish more open and transparent procedures and practices then whenever National next gets into Government they should be under pressure to continue with similar levels of transparency and openness.

Talking of National, they don’t make it easy finding their list of MPs on their website. Todd McClay is their spokesperson for State Services – I can’t find anything from him on open government, although Nikki Kaye has called for greater transparency over Partnership Schools.



Greens: Sending lobbyists a message

James Shaw has announced today (via email) that he is “Sending lobbyists a message” – he could do with sending this message to the Labour Party too.:

Progressive change means living our values. It also means staying true to who we are as a Party.

That’s why I announced today two new measures to ensure transparency and counter the influence of money in politics:

  1. Green Party Ministers will proactively release their ministerial diaries, to show who they’ve met with and why;
  2. Green Ministers, MPs and staff will not accept corporate hospitality, such as free tickets to events unrelated to their work.

Greens have always stood for more transparency around lobbying and access to politicians. Now we’re in government, we’re walking the walk.

Other MPs consider being shouted free rugby tickers or an expensive meal just a perk of the job. But it’s not how we do things.

You all deserve to know who we’re meeting with and why. You all deserve to know we won’t accept gifts as a quid-pro-quo for looking after corporate interests in Parliament.

I’m proud to announce yet another small way that the Green Party is committed to doing government differently and doing government better.

You can read more here OR check out my full speech to the Green Party Policy Conference.


Has Turei paid back the WINZ money?

Metiria Turei promised to pay back the money she received (allegedly fraudulently) from Work and Income NZ (WINZ) in the 1990s. The self revelation blew up on Turei in July 2017 and led to her resignation as Green party leader, and her decision to withdraw from the Green Party list. She stood in the Te Tai Tonga electorate and failed to win in the September election.

This came up on Reddit a couple of days ago: Did Turei ever pay back all that defrauded money?

The media just dropped the issue, and MSD basically pussyfooted around it. As someone that gets pinged now and then for earning $10 above the threshold of student allowance, seeing a government official getting away with clear fraud for tens of thousands of dollars makes me real sad for NZ.

Many of the comments in response diverted to other politician’s problems, in particular Bill English’s housing allowance issue in 2009. Despite as one person said “I thought “whataboutism” were frowned upon on this sub.” That’s nearly nine years ago, English paid money back, and was found to have checked and was told his arrangement was within the rules before it was publicised.

From RNZ in August 2017 – Timeline: Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei’s downfall

This story was followed up by the herald last month (January 2018): Silence over Metiria Turei’s alleged benefit fraud investigation irks

Six months after Metiria Turei revealed her historic benefit fraud, neither she nor the Ministry of Social Development are commenting on the case – including whether the former MP has repaid the debt.

MSD launched an investigation in August after Turei – then the Green Party co-leader – said that she had received benefit payments she wasn’t legally entitled to while studying law as a solo mother in the 1990s.

Six months on and neither Turei or MSD are commenting.

Turei – who has previously said she would pay back any money she owed – didn’t respond to messages left by the Herald on Sunday and a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Social Development said it “will not and cannot” comment on individual cases.

Former Green Party member David Clendon, who along with Kennedy Graham resigned in protest at Turei’s actions, told the Herald there was a fine balance between the public interest and Turei’s privacy.

“I would expect there would be some sort of information that would come into the public domain if for no other reason than to retain the integrity of the system. Obviously there’s a huge public interest.”

Clendon was one of two Green MPs who had pulled their support for Turei and were not allowed to stand for the Greens after Turei resigned.

So this appears to remain an unresolved issue.

Genter enters Green leadership contest

The Greens have got a contest in their quest for a leader to replace Metiria Turei, with Julie Anne Genter putting her hat in the ring today.

Kia ora whānau. I want to let you know I am putting my name forward to be co-leader of the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand.

I am very humbled by the support and encouragement I have received so far. I have nothing but aroha and respect for my colleagues who may also stand. It is important for the party members to make the choice that is best for the party. This is what I have to offer.

Genter has experience already in a range of roles, particularly transport. She also represents an important demographic, immigrants.

I think it’s good for the Greens to have a choice here, it will give them an opportunity to examine where they want to take the party now they are in Government.

Marama Davidson has already put herself forward. Nominations close tomorrow (Friday).

I think Genter is likely to appeal to a wider range of voters than Davidson, but may have a challenge getting support from the more left wing side if the Greens. Genter is quite left-ish herself, but not as much as Davidson.


James Shaw gaining respect

The Green Party survived the election largely due to the efforts of James Shaw, after the mess left by Metiria Turei’s fall. They then negotiated their way into Government, including three ministerial roles outside of Cabinet (wise positioning).

Now Shaw is slowly gaining respect as a leader in Government. Possibly his biggest challenge will be to keep Green factions happy with the compromises essential in any governing arrangement.

Audrey Young: Elation at winning power has given way to reality of compromise

Shaw was in a Victoria University lecture theatre seeking an acceptance from party faithful that compromise will be necessary if they want a sustainable political future.

His message was that if the Greens want to be part of the 2020 Government, they cannot afford to stand on principle on every issue; they have to focus on the big issues and can’t fight every battle.

It was effectively a commitment to stick to the current Government parties for the next election.

It was also sensible advice from a leader whose standing has risen substantially – inside and outside the party – since leading the Greens solo through its leadership crisis last year and saving it from the precipice of parliamentary oblivion.

But the Greens are better known for being more principled than compromising and that makes for special challenges for them.

Green activists (and some politicians) are known for their uncompromising approach to politics and policies. How they adapt from opposition to the practical realities of being in Government will be important for the Green’s re-election chances, and also for the Labour led Government’s chances of retaining power beyond a single term.

It is early days and patterns are not yet firmly established. The Greens have not yet settled on whether they are an equal part of the three-way Government, or whether to emphasise the technical reality that they sitting outside of the two-party coalition, and claim greater independence.

Certainly, when Ardern takes leave to have her baby in June, Winston Peters as Acting Prime Minister will have to have normalised his historically distant relationship with the Greens.

That will be an opportunity for Shaw and the Greens to get more attention. They will have a female co-leader again by then. But they will be competing with baby-mania, so politics may struggle to be seen.

The events of this week have marked a turning point in the three-way Government because it is the first week in which major differences over major policies have been highlighted.

The first was over the conclusion negotiations of the TPP, opposed by the Greens, and second was over employment law, with a heavy dilution by New Zealand First of Labour and Greens’ policy.

The TPP will play out over the next three months. How the Greens manage their on-going opposition will be important for themselves and for the Government.

For Ardern, who has been promoting her Government as “transformational,” it has become more apparent that the possibility of real transformation are limited in the short term.

It is a sign of MMP in maturity that the differences this week have not been painted by the media as unstable Government or a Government in disarray.

It is also a sign of MMP maturity that the transformations are unlikely to be dramatic.

Shaw appears more ready to genuinely work across the aisle than Labour or New Zealand First.

That’s interesting given that the Greens were adamant it was untenable for them to help National form a government. However being outside Cabinet they have more flexibility than Labour or NZ First.

In his own Climate Change portfolio, Shaw has promised to consult widely including with National before introducing legislation for the Climate Change Commission.

National’s new spokesman on climate change, Todd Muller, said last year he was open to considering support the commission, but he since curbed his enthusiasm and is seeking greater recognition for his own party’s progress in office.

To secure a secure long term path for action on climate change Greens need to get buy-in from National. This is where the Greens can establish credibility as an environmentally focussed party, something they have wide electorate support for.

In his latest email newsletter Shaw focusses on climate:

Every year the Greens deliver a State of the Planet speech, outlining our eco-centric approach to the world in which we live and our ambitions for change. I’ve just given that speech recently in Wellington.

Basically, I outlined that we have a mammoth task ahead because the State of the Planet is bad:

  • The Earth’s mammals, birds, and fish, have declined by 58% between 1970 and 2012
  • 239 million hectares of natural forest cover has been lost just since 1990
  • In New Zealand three-quarters of native fish, one-third of invertebrates, and one-third of plants are threatened with, or at risk of, extinction
  • We are overshooting the Earth’s carrying capacity and simultaneously overloading that carrying capacity using the equivalent of 1.6 Earth’s worth of resources every year
  • More than 8 million tonnes of plastic are dumped into the ocean every year. New Zealanders use 1.6 billion single-use plastic bags every year, many of which end up in our oceans and on our shorelines
  • Worldwide, we use one million plastic bottles every minute. On average, each New Zealanders uses 168 plastic water bottles a year
  • Despite the signing of the Paris Agreement, current atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases are at 400 parts per million
  • There are now 65 million forcibly displaced persons in the world, of whom 22 million are refugees
  • The number of people living in extreme poverty remains unacceptably high with 767 million people living on less than two dollars a day and inequality is increasing at an extraordinary rate.

It is bleak, very bleak. Yet the Greens won’t back down from the challenges facing the planet and our species. And with every passing month and year that we don’t face these challenges head on, means the task becomes even harder.

Obviously, we have huge ambitions for only eight MPs in a three-party government.

And while we’ve got some levers of power now, the change we want to see will require transformation – transforming across the spectrum how we view the environment, the people, and of course how we view the economy.

To get this transformational change will require bringing people to the table in government, in councils, in communities, in businesses, in schools and universities, in families, in households. We must get as many people on board, and as many people doing what they can too.

We want to call everyone in, rather than calling them out – an opportunity to build a better future through collaboration and sharing.

There will always be some who oppose the Greens no matter what, and who oppose doing anything about ‘climate change’ no matter what.

But if Shaw manages his policy ambitions well, gaining credibility and support from across the political spectrum, the Greens stand a good chance of improving their support.

However this may mean keeping the more socialist Green policies a bit more low key, accepting the compromises that fiscal restraint and political realities make necessary.