Greens turn off comments

Greens have joined the growing number of websites turning off comments. Like others they say that commenting can be done elsewhere, like on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit. But that’s not the same.

This is a bit of a shame but political parties and political activists seem more intent on trying to control their messages than engage in open debate.

Sure it can be challenging dealing with trolls and those who try to deliberately disrupt and trash forums, but good democratic debate takes some effort.

The Green announcement:


 

A change to our blog – switching off comments

You might have noticed a change around these parts in recent days. Yes, we’ve deactivated the comment function on the Green Party blog.

We think it’s a good move that will allow us to keep delivering the views of our MPs direct to you. This isn’t a decision we’ve made lightly and we really appreciate our commenters who have engaged with us over the years. Still, it’s time to change things up.

Let’s be clear. The Greens love debate. We love hearing the views of New Zealanders. Indeed, one of our core Green principles is appropriate decision making/whakarite totika, something that only happens when you listen to others speaking. On the other hand, our values also mean that we should:

  • engage respectfully, without personal attacks,
  • actively respect cultural and individual diversity and celebrate difference,
  • enable participation with dignity, and challenge oppression, and
  • foster compassion, a sense of humour and mutual enjoyment in our work.

Over time, we’ve come to the realisation that the comments section on our blog doesn’t really fit with those values. Moreover, as social media has become the main tool people go to for news and discussion, we’ve decided to move with the times.

We’re not alone, indeed we’re in quite distinguished company. Radio New Zealand recently switched off its comment section, something news sites across the world have been doing for a while.

Back when blogging exploded onto the scene in the early 2000s, a lot of people were hopeful that it would usher in a new era of high quality democratic discourse. Sadly, the promise outshone the reality. Now, the most often quoted maxim about comment sections is: “don’t read them”. We’re saddened that the initial promise of online discussion has been undermined by bad behaviour.

But we’re also optimistic. Great conversations still happen elsewhere like Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit. Our MPs and staff work hard to deliver you interesting and relevant stories, videos, and images on these platforms. That will continue. We look forward to seeing you there!

While the comments might be gone on this blog, we’re not going away and we love your feedback. You can reach us via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Snapchat, or good old fashioned email. We also like mail!


A blog isn’t really a blog with no commenting allowed.

One person’s account of comment ‘moderation’ at Kiwiblog: Frog Blog bans comments

David Farrar adds:

So the Labour Party blog has closed down and the Green blog no longer allows dissent. Sad.

Remember Labour’s Red Alert? That collapsed under the weight of increasingly heavy handed censorship of comments and MP paranoia ( believe Trevor Mallard and Clare Curran in particular tried to control the message there).

Remember National’s blog? Neither do I.

Greens limited by loss aversion?

In relation to Trump appealing to loss aversion, I wonder if loss aversion is what keeps limiting the chances of the Green Party in New Zealand.

The Greens have some admirable policies. Many people are aware of the loss of clean rivers and clean air, and would like to see quality restored. Many people sympathise with the loss of quality of life and hope for the future of a significant number of poor New Zealanders.

But support for policies addressing these worthy issues is probably overbalanced by fears of losses that many see associated with a Green government. Like:

  • Loss of money due to higher taxes
  • Loss of money due to higher transport/fuel costs
  • Loss of convenient driving and parking
  • Loss of freedom due to ‘PC’ restrictions
  • Loss of choice of products (especially fossil fuel based)
  • Loss of choice of foods ranging from sweet and fatty foods through to genetically modified foods

What is New Zealand as a country and we as individuals likely to gain from a Green influenced government, versus what do we think we might lose?

Is a natural aversion to loss a major factor in Greens not growing, in a Green coalition government never happening, and in the apparent lack of enthusiasm for a Labour-Green political partnership?

Greens propose Minister of Manufacturing

Green co-leader James Shaw has announced that the green Party “will establish a Minister of Manufacturing in Cabinet”. They would need at least Labour’s support to do this and Labour has indicated they would back it.

A Minister for Manufacturing

To better represent the interests of manufacturers and ensure they thrive.

The Green Party will establish a Minister for Manufacturing in Cabinet, to better represent the interests of manufacturers and ensure they thrive.

This announcement is about creating well-paid, clean-tech jobs for the future, right here in New Zealand.

I wonder what their position would be on less well paid, less clean-tech jobs.

Manufacturing innovation is a critical part of our transition to a clean, low-carbon economy.

For manufacturing to thrive and take advantage of new technologies like 3D printing, we need leadership across the whole sector now. National hasn’t shown this leadership. We hear more from National about deep sea oil drilling and dairy farming than we do about clean-tech, high value-added manufacturing.

High-value manufacturers create well-paid jobs and enable us, as a country, to earn our way in the world.

Shaw gave more details in an email:

‘Made in New Zealand’ is a label that says a lot about quality and value. A strong and successful manufacturing sector is essential for a high-value, clean-tech economy – creating new jobs and raising incomes.

I’ve just announced that, when we’re in Government, we’ll appoint a Minister for Manufacturing.

Currently, manufacturing is the second largest sector in the country, employing 244,500 people and contributing $22.7 billion in GDP. And, it is an important part of our future. Aotearoa New Zealand’s ability to make the transition to a clean, low-carbon economy will depend on innovation in the manufacturing sector.

But this is also a time of huge risk to the sector. New technologies offer incredible promise but also carry the threat of displacing jobs on a massive scale.

Now, more than ever, we need leadership – at the top table – to get ahead of these trends, to take advantage of the opportunities and to manage the risks.

The National Government has got a Minister of Racing at the Cabinet table – but no Minister for Manufacturing. Around that Cabinet table, they have overseen the loss of 17,500 jobs in the manufacturing sector.

The Green Party will provide leadership in Government to turn this around and build up good, well-paying jobs.

The manufacturing sector needs an advocate at the highest levels of government, securing a fairer share of government resources, to ensure the sector thrives, diversifies, and adds value to our exports.

I believe that New Zealand can be an amazing place to do business and a great place to make great products again

Last term Greens with Labour (and Mana Party and NZ First)  had an inquiry into manufacturing that resulted in Manufacturing: The New Consensus A Blueprint for Better Jobs and Higher Wages(PDF)

There was union involvement in this, with E tū saying that they drove it:

In 2012 we drove the Parliamentary Inquiry into Manufacturing, convened by Labour, the Greens, NZ First and Mana in response to the manufacturing crisis in New Zealand.

The final report recommended strong government action on the high New Zealand dollar at the time, buying Kiwi made and investing in research and development to drive innovation.

And the First Union applauds Green’s manufacturing announcement:

A union representing working people in the wood, textile and food sections of the manufacturing industry is applauding Green co-leader James Shaw’s announcement that the party will appoint a Minister for Manufacturing in a future government the party is a part of.

‘New Zealand needs a manufacturing industry that offers secure work and well-paying jobs. But the sector has been taking a hit after years of neoliberal policies. In the last few months our union has been dealing with dozens of redundancies in the textile industry,’ said FIRST Union General Secretary Robert Reid.

‘A Minister for Manufacturing is good for working people and good for business. We need an economy that works for everyone and that means growing the manufacturing sector. Not everyone wants to be an IT consultant.’

‘FIRST Union has been advocating for a Minister for Manufacturing for several years, most recently at the Green, Labour and New Zealand First’s “Manufacturing Inquiry” in 2013.’

So the Green proposal seems to be a joint Green/Labour/union policy.

However at the time of the inquiry  manufacturing performance in New Zealand improved and has remained at some of the best levels for the past ten years according to the Business NZ Performance of Manufacturing Index for New Zealand.

The sector has been in expansion in almost all months since October 2012. Manufacturing PMI in New Zealand averaged 53.11 from 2002 until 2016, reaching an all time high of 62.77 in June of 2004 and a record low of 36.08 in November of 2008.

Here is the Manufacturing PMI for the last 10 years.

ManufacturingPMY10yrsJune2016

Why do we need a Ministry of Manufacturing other than to promote Green and Union policies?

.

 

Green candidate proposes local currency

Stuff reported on Saturday that Dunedin was on the comeback trail.

Dunedin: The return of New Zealand’s first city

Dunedin was New Zealand’s first city, but has since been overtaken in size by six other cities. But something is stirring in the Edinburgh of the South, and Dunedin is on the comeback trail.

This morning the ODT reports on the major planks of  Green candidate’s mayoral campaign – a ‘living wage’ city and a Dunedin currency. This is supported by Green co-leader Metiria Turei.

Living wage, Dunedin dollar his platform

Dunedin mayoral candidate Aaron Hawkins has announced his intentions to transform Dunedin into New Zealand’s first living wage city and establish a local currency if elected mayor.

Speaking at the Green Party’s Dunedin local body elections launch, the first-term councillor said he wanted to push for every resident to earn a living wage and to establish a local currency, the Dunedin dollar, modelled on the Bristol Pound.

My dream for Dunedin is to become New Zealand’s first living wage city. That is a city where every worker, regardless of where they work, makes a living wage.”

Dreams are free, but forcing up wages could be expensive for businesses, and could well cost jobs.

The creation of the Dunedin dollar would complement the city’s push for wider economic equity, he said.

“The Dunedin dollar sits alongside our existing currency, rather than trying to replace it,” he said.

“A living wage and a Dunedin dollar are both commitments to doing economics differently.

Commitments to setting up a Green experiment in Dunedin.

Some of the Green promoted cycleway experiment was botched and had to be redesigned, and some had to be scrapped because costs were going to be double what was estimated.

“They both work from the bottom up rather than waiting for the trickle down.”

The objective was to encourage people to spend their money with local, independent businesses in the city.

Based on the local multiplier effect, the currency was aimed at keeping more money within the local economy.

“If I were elected mayor, I would happily take 25% of my income for that elected position in the Dunedin dollar,” Mr Hawkins said.

Would wages be topped up to ‘living wage’ level with the Dunedin dollar?

The council would spend the next term designing “something that fits our local situation” to be launched by 2019, he said.

Only if the council – not just the mayor – supported the Green dream.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei described the proposals as “fantastic concepts for the city”.

“We need to be supporting the living wage and challenging council and challenging our business community leaders to step up,” she said.

“And the Dunedin dollar is all about supporting each other.”

So it sounds like Hawkins’ dream is a part of the Green local body strategy.

Hawkins is very much a Green formula campaigner, sticking to strategy and script.

A current contentious issue in Dunedin is the redesign of the main one way streets to include cycle lanes and remove hundreds of car parks.

This was already controversial in the last mayoral campaign, but is now closer to reality – and the opposition to it is also stronger, there’s a lot of people getting very annoyed at streets that are dominated by underutilised cycleways.

So Hawkins and the Greens will have a challenge selling their ‘living wage city’ and Dunedin dollar on top of this.

But there is quite a large Green vote in Dunedin. The city could become a green nirvana.

However current mayor Dave Cull is fairly Green leaning so Hawkins and Cull will compete and may split the Green vote.

However there is also likely to be a strategy to stack the council with Green votes even more.

Greens continue to oppose genetic modification

Recently the Washington Post wrote that 107 Nobel laureates sign letter blasting Greenpeace over GMOs but the New Zealand Green Party aren’t budging on their opposition to genetic modification.

Ex Green leader Russel Norman now heads Greenpeace in New Zealand but doesn’t appear to have responded, but his replacement as Green co-leader James Shaw said that they would not change their strong opposition to GMOs.

Washington Post:

More than 100 Nobel laureates have signed a letter urging Greenpeace to end its opposition to genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The letter asks Greenpeace to cease its efforts to block introduction of a genetically engineered strain of rice that supporters say could reduce Vitamin-A deficiencies causing blindness and death in children in the developing world.

The letter signed by 107 Nobel laureates:


To the Leaders of Greenpeace, the United Nations and Governments around the world

The United Nations Food & Agriculture Program has noted that global production of food, feed and fiber will need approximately to double by 2050 to meet the demands of a growing global population. Organizations opposed to modern plant breeding, with Greenpeace at their lead, have repeatedly denied these facts and opposed biotechnological innovations in agriculture. They have misrepresented their risks, benefits, and impacts, and supported the criminal destruction of approved field trials and research projects.

We urge Greenpeace and its supporters to re-examine the experience of farmers and consumers worldwide with crops and foods improved through biotechnology, recognize the findings of authoritative scientific bodies and regulatory agencies, and abandon their campaign against “GMOs” in general and Golden Rice in particular.

Scientific and regulatory agencies around the world have repeatedly and consistently found crops and foods improved through biotechnology to be as safe as, if not safer than those derived from any other method of production. There has never been a single confirmed case of a negative health outcome for humans or animals from their consumption. Their environmental impacts have been shown repeatedly to be less damaging to the environment, and a boon to global biodiversity.

Greenpeace has spearheaded opposition to Golden Rice, which has the potential to reduce or eliminate much of the death and disease caused by a vitamin A deficiency (VAD), which has the greatest impact on the poorest people in Africa and Southeast Asia.

The World Health Organization estimates that 250 million people, suffer from VAD, including 40 percent of the children under five in the developing world. Based on UNICEF statistics, a total of one to two million preventable deaths occur annually as a result of VAD, because it compromises the immune system, putting babies and children at great risk. VAD itself is the leading cause of childhood blindness globally affecting 250,000 – 500,000 children each year. Half die within 12 months of losing their eyesight.

WE CALL UPON GREENPEACE to cease and desist in its campaign against Golden Rice specifically, and crops and foods improved through biotechnology in general;

WE CALL UPON GOVERNMENTS OF THE WORLD to reject Greenpeace’s campaign against Golden Rice specifically, and crops and foods improved through biotechnology in general; and to do everything in their power to oppose Greenpeace’s actions and accelerate the access of farmers to all the tools of modern biology, especially seeds improved through biotechnology. Opposition based on emotion and dogma contradicted by data must be stopped.

How many poor people in the world must die before we consider this a “crime against humanity”?

Sincerely,

Click here for a full list of signatories…

In New Zealand the Herald reports: Greenpeace urged to end GMO opposition

Some New Zealand scientists are backing an open letter by more than 100 Nobel laureates which urges environmental group Greenpeace to end its opposition to genetically-modified food, in particular a new rice which has the potential to reduce disease in third-world countries.

Director of Genetics Otago Professor Peter Dearden said he agreed with the letter’s authors.

“It is time for us to stop believing that all GM is bad and to see that the benefits can far outweigh the risks,” he said.

“This is not to say we should have no regulation, but that such regulation should be evidence-based and not coloured by the view that GM is necessarily bad.

Professor Barry Scott, of Massey University’s Institute of Fundamental Sciences, said the endorsement of that report by more than 100 Nobel laureates added “considerable weight” to its evidence. It also challenged the “extreme” view of Greenpeace.

“The new technologies associated with gene and genome editing further challenges the irrationality of such an extreme view given changes can now be made to the genome that are similar to those made by non-GM methods such as radiation treatment.”

The Herald says that “Greenpeace New Zealand could not be reached for comment”.

I can’t find any reference to the Nobel Laureate letter on Greenpeace’s New Zealand Facebook page.

Greenpeace international: “Rather than invest in this overpriced public relations exercise, we need to address malnutrition through a more diverse diet, equitable access to food and eco-agriculture”.

But Barry Soper reports that Greens refuse to drop opposition to genetic modification

Green co-leader James Shaw said that’s not going to change anything here.

“There is a huge market out there for people who want safe, GE-free organic food, and it’s very, very hard for us to do that when you introduce that into New Zealand.”

Mr Shaw said this country should be proud it’s food is free of genetic modification.

“New Zealand has access to those markets that are willing to pay a really high price for high quality organic produce.

“A tonne of organic milk powder goes for about $14,000 – you compare that to regular milk powder, it’s going for about $2300 a tonne.”

Green principles? Green inflexibility?

How many poor people in the world must die before we consider this a “crime against humanity”

Ten dirty rivers?

At the Green party AGM Metiria Turei launched a new (sort of ) policy to target ten rivers for cleaning up.

Stuff: Green Party launches campaign to point out dirty rivers

A travelling campaign to highlight 10 major rivers in need of a clean up has been launched by the Green Party at its annual conference. 

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei unveiled the campaign during her keynote speech, saying the Government needed to lift its “wadable” standards. 

But while the campaign was new, the policy was not. Turei said it wasn’t just Green Party members that were being targeted, it was an issue “of enormous importance” to all New Zealanders. 

In what appears to also be doubling as a data-gathering exercise, a new Green Party website requires petitioners to register with email addresses. 

“The best hope for our rivers is that we change the Government. Today’s petition is an opportunity for New Zealanders to demand rivers clean enough to swim in. 

The 10 filthy rivers: 

  • Wairua (Northland)
  • Kaipatiki (Auckland)
  • Waikato
  • Tarawera (Bay of Plenty)
  • Tukituki (Hawkes Bay) 
  • Waitara (Taranaki) 
  • Ruamahanga (Wairarapa) 
  • Manawatu
  • Waikirikiri/Selwyn (Canterbury) 
  • Mataura (Southland)

The following day on Stuff/Taranaki Daily News: Green party looking to clean up quality of Taranaki’s Waitara river

The sewage-spill plagued Waitara river has made a list of 10 waterways around the country the Green Party wants cleaned up. 

Waitara has been plagued by sewage leaks this year, with three sewage discharges since February. 

In the Green Party’s campaign information it states the Waitara river is impacted by nutrients and sediment from dairy farming upstream. But its recent issue with sewage overflows haven’t gone unnoticed. 

“If you thought raw sewage going into rivers was a thing of the past, think again,” it says. 

“When the sewerage system at Waitara, north of New Plymouth in Taranaki, is overwhelmed by heavy rainfall, raw sewage spills into the river and ends up in the sea.”

However the following day, also from Taranaki Daily News: Green Party’s Waitara River claims slammed as baseless by council

Green Party claims that the Waitara River is so polluted it is unsafe for bathers have been described as “baseless” by councillors.

But the claims were refuted by the Taranaki Regional Council during a meeting of its consents and regulatory committee on Tuesday.

“The Green Party’s facts are totally misaligned with reality,” council chief executive Basil Chamberlain said. 

“It’s sad for the community of Waitara who can right now swim in their river 95 per cent of the time.”

The council’s director of environment quality, Gary Bedford, said he could find “no factual base to the Green’s claims”.

“We test the Waitara River every week during peak bathing season and have found it swimmable for 95 per cent of the time,” he said. 

 Bedford stressed that the council’s water quality data was publicly available and audited by Niwa to ensure its accuracy.

“It’s important to point out that if the bacteria levels reach even one point above the threshold it’s deemed at risk,” he said. 

Water spokesperson for the Greens Catherine Delahunty said the rivers selected in their top 10 didn’t necessarily represent the dirtiest in the country.

“We wanted ten from different regions from around the country that showed the different types of threats and problems rivers are facing, but which also highlighted the potential solutions for cleaning them up,” she said.

But the Taranaki Regional Council claims have fallen on deaf ears at Green HQ. Today Metiria Turei continued the 10 rivers campaign unchanged. Via email:

We’ve chosen 10 rivers to focus on, to find out what’s wrong and how we can clean them up again – we want your support for this campaign, can you add your name?
 
We can do it! Aotearoa has the resources and the know-how to clean up our rivers and protect the wild places that we love.

Our reward at the end of the hard work? The magic sound of a big splash and a shriek as that kid hits that sparkling, cold water.

How could anyone argue against that?

Taranaki Regional Council claim they have already done the hard work on the Waitara River.

James Shaw: Green AGM speech

Green co-leader James Shaw gave the leaders’ keynote speech at the party AGM.

Video is about 17 minutes into this (after Little’s speech):

That’s not Shaw and Turei in the video still, it just shows what it wants, which is Andrew Little (obviously) and the person doing sign language.

James Shaw, 2016 AGM speech – Change Starts Now

Kia tau te rangimārie o te Rangi e tū nei

o Papatūānuku e takoto nei

o te Taiao e awhi nei

ki runga i a tātou.

Tīhei mauri ora!

He mihi nui ki ngā mana whenua o tēnei takiwā, Ngāi Tahu, Tuahuriri, tēnā koutou katoa mō tō manaakitanga.

Ki a koutou e te whānau o Te Rōpū Kākāriki, harikoa ana ahau ki te kite i a koutou i tēnei rā.

Ka mihi hoki ki a koe Andrew, me te rōpū reipa, tēnā koutou.

 

Nō reira, tēnā tātou katoa.

This is the moment.

When New Zealand elects the first Labour – Green government in 18 months, this is the moment we will remember.

We will look to the agreement that we signed with Labour this week.

We will look to when Andrew Little joined us at our AGM.

We will look to the moment when we sent a message of hope to New Zealand that change is coming.

Andrew, I welcome you here today. We welcome you. Thank you for coming.

In the time that I’ve gotten to know you, you’ve demonstrated to me that you’re a person of great integrity. You are someone who brings people together. And you don’t shy away from trying to tackle the really difficult challenges.

That’s why I want to work with you. And that’s why I felt I could sign our agreement with you this week on behalf of the Green Party.

Like us, Labour has a commitment to taking on the tough problems, the long term structural challenges in our society: the economy, health, education, jobs, the environment.

Labour also has a track record in government of having done that – the Super Fund, Working for Families, Kiwisaver – these are multi-decade solutions to structural challenges in New Zealand society.

That’s why this Memorandum of Understanding between Labour and the Greens is so important.

It’s why Andrew’s presence here today is a break in the clouds.

Labour and the Greens have different histories. We have different values. We don’t agree on everything.

But we share a belief in the ability of government to transform things for the better. To find real solutions to real problems.

To find jobs and homes and hope for those that need them.

The first Labour Government helped transform New Zealand into the great, caring compassionate society that many of us were born into.

Over the months I’ve been in Parliament, and particularly in the year I’ve been Co-leader, I’ve travelled a lot around the country.

And one of the things that has really struck me has been the growing sense of discomfort about what kind of country we’re becoming.

Families living in cars and garages. Poisoned rivers. Saudi sheep scandals.

From the doorsteps of suburban New Zealand to corporate boardrooms, people are telling me that this doesn’t feel like the country they grew up in.

And it’s not the country we want to become.

It doesn’t sit with our sense of compassion and fairness, our love of our land, of how we think about ourselves.

My hope is that with the first Labour-Green government we’ll find ourselves again.

Since we signed our agreement with Labour, some commentators have asked me – why not go with National?

My answer is that in eight years, we’ve seen no evidence that National are willing or able to tackle the big challenges.

They have dealt with the superficial, they have allowed and encouraged the big structural problems to grow – they have simply plastered over the cracks.

When they should have been building houses.

My answer is that there is no substance to what they do. Their focus is on making it sound like they’re a good government, not actually being one.

They are more concerned about managing the politics around serious issues like poverty and pollution than they are about solving the problems.

This government wants us in a perpetual state of distraction over what it pretends to be doing.

Faced with the really big challenges in front of New Zealand and the world today the National Government throws its hands up in defeat, or resorts to playground-style “she did it” blame tactics.

My answer is that in fact their real “accomplishments” are things they never talk about.

 

The poisoning of our lands and waters.
The rapid decline and threat of extinction for hundreds of our native species.
A catastrophic increase in our greenhouse gas emissions.
More and more trucks clogging our roads.
A housing crisis and a homelessness crisis.
Hundreds of thousands of children growing up in poverty.

These are things they never campaigned on, never sought a mandate for, because they are things that the majority of New Zealanders oppose.

But they are the real legacy of this Government.

The challenge of government lies in actually confronting and solving those very real problems.

In the last few weeks we’ve learned that the Minister of Primary Industries can’t do anything to prevent illegal overfishing and dumping of fish stocks.

The Housing Ministers – there are three of them, because no single person can create a housing crisis this terrible on their own – can’t do anything about the homeless crisis.

The Social Development Minister can’t do anything about child poverty.

The Finance Minister can’t do anything about the property bubble.

All of their knowledge and talent and ingenuity is dedicated to pretending these aren’t real problems, and then coming up with pretend solutions to them.

Plastering over the cracks.

But these are real problems that cause real damage to our wildlife and our precious places, to the economy, to jobs and to the social fabric of New Zealand.

Whenever National is confronted with these real problems, their ideological blinkers get in the way and they pretend they’re powerless.

That is why we need change. And change is coming.

I want to give New Zealand a better vision of the future.

It’s a future where, on your weekends away, you’ll go to sleep at night safely knowing that the same beach that you’re enjoying now will still be here for future generations, unthreatened by rising seas.

In the morning, you’ll be woken by a dawn chorus from flocks of birds that once bordered on extinction.

After lunch you’ll pack the family into your electric car and head safely home on uncongested roads while your kids count the containers on the freight trains running on the tracks alongside you.

If you’ve got time, you might even stop by a river on your way home – and actually swim in it!

On Monday morning in New Zealand, you’ll catch the tram into town, and head off to some social enterprise or a clean-tech start-up, for a day of meaningful work, making the world just a little bit better and, while you’re at it, earning a fair day’s pay.

When you’re done, you’ll head back to your warm, dry, family home, a place you can call your own, secure in the knowledge that at the end of the month you’ve got enough to pay the rent or the mortgage and still put plenty of food on the table.

Your neighbours will be from all walks of life. The children of Syrian refugees will play with those of Chinese migrants, Pasifika and Tangata Whenua and seventh generation Pakeha.

Some will be doing well, some will be getting by.

But they’re you’re neighbours, and when someone gets into trouble, you pitch in to help out. Our communities will be connected, caring.

That’s the country I want to live in. That’s the future I’m committed to.

It’s not flashy or grandiose. It’s not science fiction. It’s just a better world and it is entirely possible.

If we change the Government. And change is coming.

And when people say to me, “OK then, I’ll vote for change, but why should I vote Green?” I’ll say to them, “I’m glad you asked me that question, Andrew!”

You should vote Green because we’ll protect our lakes and beaches and sea beds, because we’ll bring our endangered species back from the brink of extinction.

You should vote Green because we will clean up our rivers and make sure that those who profit from the use of water recognise that nature doesn’t come for free.

We will stop pretending that climate change isn’t a problem. Isn’t, in fact, the greatest challenge of our time. Of all time.

You should vote Green because the Green Party can and will start one of the most important shifts to take place in New Zealand over the next fifty years – the transition to a low carbon economy.

You should vote Green because we can and will build an economy and a society that works for everyone.

And you should vote Green because we will put the people of New Zealand back at the heart of our democracy.

We want policies to be written by experts and policy specialists, not lobbyists.

We want the voices of children, families and communities to be heard.

And we want Te Tiriti to be properly recognised – in practice – not just in words.

The difference between the Green Party and National is that we know that New Zealand can be the fairer, smarter and cleaner place that all Kiwis want.

National is still making excuses for why we can’t.

But changing the Government isn’t just about Metiria and me, and it’s not just about Andrew and Annette.

It’s about you.

I believe that a Labour – Green Government after next year’s General Election is entirely possible.

There’s only about five points in it, between the Labour-Green bloc and National, and I believe that the momentum building behind us, as a credible, stable alternative government, could get us over the line.

But I gotta tell you, we need to get real about what we’re up against.

National has built a formidable political machine, with millions of dollars and powerful vested interests behind it who are desperate to preserve the status quo.

In order to take on this machine, we need you. And we’re going to need everything you’ve got.

We need you on the streets, we need you on the phones, we need you on Facebook, on Instagram, at parties, spreading the word, building the movement for change.

Sure, we don’t have millions of dollars, but we’ve got two important tools at our disposal that National doesn’t.

The first thing we’ve got, which National demonstrably doesn’t, is vision.

A vision of a truly sustainable and inclusive country that, actually, all Kiwis want.

And that is much, much more potent than National’s line that this is as good as it gets.

And the second thing we’ve got, is you.

It’s time for a Government that cares. It’s time for government that puts our people and our natural world at the centre of everything it does.

It’s time for a Government that realises that when our environment and society is stronger, our economy is stronger.

It is time to change the Government. And change is coming.

Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa.

 

Little’s Green AGM speech

Andrew Little’s speech from the Green party AGM today.

Video: Facebook

That is perhaps an unfortunate

Andrew Little’s Speech to Green Party AGM 2016

Thank you very much.

I have accepted the invitation to speak to your conference out of a profound sense of responsibility.

I am here because I believe those on the progressive side of politics owe it to New Zealanders to offer the hope that change is possible.

We must show that there is a real alternative. A credible alternative.

An alternative government that can transform our economy, end our housing crisis and restore a sense of hope and optimism to Kiwis who have been struggling.

One that will ensure all New Zealanders get a fair reward for the work that they do and that no one is left out or left behind.

An alternative government built on a new politics of inclusion, ambition and optimism.

One that builds on the things we are proudest of about our country, and that removes the barriers which stop us living up to our potential.

I want to sincerely thank you, and the leadership of the Green Party for this invitation.

I want to particularly acknowledge your co-leaders Metiria Turei and James Shaw. I have to say I have learned a lot from working with them.

I have learned from James the importance of matching your tie to your political colours. He really does have every shade of green in that wardrobe.

And from Metiria, that you can live in a castle and still be a republican!

In all seriousness, I have thoroughly enjoyed working together. As members of the Green Party you can be genuinely proud of two talented and dedicated leaders, backed by a hardworking Caucus.

After eight years, the current government has lost touch.

With an economy tilted in favour of those at the top, with rising unemployment and declining real wages, it’s time for a change.

With a deep housing crisis, plummeting homeownership and children forced to sleep in cars, it’s time for a change.

With a health system stretched to breaking point and an education system going backwards, it’s well past time for a change.

We owe it to the young couples worried they’ll never be able to buy a home because our housing market is out of control.

We owe it to the elderly who’ve paid taxes all their lives only to be told they can’t have the surgery they need because there’s not enough money in the health system for them.

We owe it to our kids – I owe it to my son – to do our part in the fight against climate change – because they don’t have a future if our planet doesn’t have a future.

And here in Canterbury, we owe it to the thousands of people who this government has let down.

People like Loretta Te Paa who I met on a visit here a few months ago.

When the earthquake struck, Loretta and her family were living in Woolston. Their home was ruined so they had to move into a cold, tiny flat in the Linwood temporary village.

They were told they’d be there for 26 weeks.

They were stuck there for three and a half years.

People like Loretta and her family, they deserve better.

They need a government that will back them and stand up for them.

They won’t get that from the current government.

We saw this clearly just last week – they produced a budget that did nothing to solve our housing crisis.

That cut money from health in real terms while freezing spending in our education system.

It’s a budget that actually forecast falling wages in the years ahead.

And look at the way they’ve slashed the social safety net and thrown people on the scrap heap.

They sell off state housing and say community providers can do the job instead – and then they cut the funding to those providers.

They say their social investment approach will target programmes at people most in need, and then they underfund those programs.

They say it isn’t economic to provide emergency housing – so instead they pay hundreds of dollars a night to put some of our most vulnerable people in motels – and then give them the bill.

Just look at the issue of rising homelessness we are now confronted with.

More than 40,000 people sleeping in cars, in garages, in severely overcrowded houses. Sleeping on the street.

Children as young as 11 living under bushes in South Auckland.

That’s not New Zealand. That’s not the country we are proud of.

And the Government’s only response, when not blaming others, is blaming homeless people themselves.

So this week they say the homeless don’t want to be helped, they quite like being homeless.

And this from a Government eight years in office.

When did we decide that was the kind of country we wanted to be?

When did this kind of poverty become ok?

Because we all know it’s wrong.

We’re a wealthy country.

This kind of thing doesn’t have to happen.

It happens as the result of political choices.

Well we can choose a better way.

We can choose to lift people out of homelessness.

And together that’s exactly what we’ll do.

So here’s my message to the Prime Minister: You’ve had eight years. Take some responsibility. Act like a grown up and stop blaming others.

But this isn’t the only issue they’re failing New Zealanders on.

Take their absolute lack of ambition on climate change.

On protecting our environment.

On standing up for our neighbours in the Pacific.

Look at the way this government ducks any moral responsibility on the world stage, from the refugee crisis to the treatment of Kiwis on Christmas Island.

Look at all they’ve done in the last eight years and think about the all the damage they could do if we give them another three.

We can’t let that happen.

We can’t be a successful country when more and more of the gains from our economy go only to the few at the very top.

We can’t be a successful country when the dream of homeownership is slipping away.

After eight years, it is very clear, if we want New Zealand to succeed, we have to change the government.

More and more New Zealanders are telling me there needs to be a change.

But they are cautious about the alternative.

New Zealanders might have real concerns about the current government, but they aren’t going to blindly vote for a change without reason to believe they are trading up.

And if we are serious about being that change, then we’ve got to earn it.

We can take nothing for granted.

We have to be disciplined and focussed as well as bold and courageous.

New Zealanders won’t trust us with the responsibilities of government unless we show them we are ready.

18 months ago, I made the decision to run for the leadership of my party because I could see that things had to change.

I saw a country in which more and more of the nation’s wealth was going to those at the very top, and those who worked for a living were struggling to get a fair share and struggling to get ahead.

That’s not the New Zealand I want to be part of. It’s not the kind of country I want to leave to my son. We’ve got to change it.

In the last 18 months, Labour’s made great progress.

Our caucus is working well together.

We’re reforming our party.

And we’re building a policy platform that can serve as the core of the next progressive government’s agenda.

But in an MMP environment, that alone isn’t enough.

In our country, under our system, governments must be built on lasting, mature relationships between different parties that share a common vision for the future.

That’s why we’ve been strengthening our relationship and cooperation with the Greens.

We’ve worked closely on issues like our Manufacturing Inquiry and the future of our education system.

We’ve worked together to get the government to agree to devolve more power over the Canterbury recovery to smart local people on the ground.

And we attended the Paris Climate Conference jointly as opposition members of the official delegation.

It’s against that background that this week Annette King and I signed the memorandum of understanding with the Green Party.

We are building a stronger relationship because that’s what the future demands. That’s what New Zealand needs.

This won’t always be easy.

We won’t agree on every issue.

We are different parties and we come from different movements, each with our own approach and our own traditions and our own way of seeing the world.

There will be points of real difference and debate and disagreement.

But we can deal with them respectfully and maturely.

I know this because I know that together, we share a vision for a stronger, fairer New Zealand.

It’s a much more hopeful and optimistic vision for our future than the one the current government is pursuing.

The leadership I bring to the next progressive government will deliver a better future for our country.

The government I lead will operate under the principle that the economy is not an end in itself, but a means to the end of delivering a good and decent life to our people.

For us in Labour, at the core of our political tradition, at the core of my own beliefs, lies the dignity of work. The ability to earn so you can stand on your own two feet and chase your dreams and ambitions.

That’s what we stand for. Every New Zealander having that chance.

We stand for a responsible state which ensures no citizen is denied the basics that allow them to participate in our society and reach their potential.

What are those basics?

A warm, dry, safe home. A quality education. Healthcare that’s there for you when you need it. And a safe and secure community.

We know that wealth must be created before it can be shared.

We support an economy that creates the next generation of jobs, which adds to the nation’s wealth, which modernises our economy and improves our standard of living.

And we know that development that contaminates the air we breathe, that chokes our lakes and waterways, or that damages our planet doesn’t serve our people and that we can and must do better.

Those principles will guide the Government I lead and they will guide me as Prime Minister.

We will reform our economy so it works for everyone, not just the few at the very top.

That means more good jobs, higher incomes and everyone getting a fair reward for their effort.

It means fixing this housing crisis.

After eight years we will do what this government has just never been able to get the hang of:

Build. More. Homes.

We will restore the Kiwi dream of homeownership.

We will address the housing crisis and we will build state houses so that every Kiwi can have a roof over their head.

Under the government I lead, older people won’t need to wait for years in pain.

We will end the cuts in health and make sure Kiwis get the care they need.

And we will recommit our country to the principle of free education.

We will put money back into our struggling public school system and we’ll stop shovelling money into charter schools that are more interested in making money off kids than teaching them.

And we will deliver three years free post-school training and education. Because lifelong education is the path to a better future.

The government I lead will make our country a leader in the fight against climate change.

And the next government will stand up for people in Christchurch that this government has forgotten about.

We’ll get cracking with the central city development, and we will sort out the mess at Southern Response and EQC.

People have waited too long. They deserve better.

And let me be very clear on one more thing: the government I lead will make fighting child poverty a top priority.

We will not accept children going to school hungry or going to sleep in bedrooms that make them sick.

We’ll feed hungry kids in schools and we will bring in proper rental standards so that every child in New Zealand grows up in a home that is warm and safe and dry.

We won’t listen to the cynics who say the problem is too big or too hard. Who say that poverty is just a fact of life.

We won’t give up on lifting every child out of poverty.

I won’t give up. It’s not who I am.

Next year, New Zealanders will have a clear choice.

On one hand a tired, out of touch government that is increasingly looking after only the few at the very top, and that has presided over a stalling economy, growing inequality, and an endless housing crisis.

Or they can choose a new, progressive government – our government – with a better plan for the future.

Our government will back people to get ahead, and reward their effort and ambition.

Our government will deliver a better, fairer New Zealand.

In the next 18 months, let’s send a simple message to New Zealanders:

There is a real alternative.

It’s time for a change.

Together let’s change this country.

Let’s build a better New Zealand.

Let’s do this.

And we can do this together.

Thank you.

 

Green Party AGM

The Green Party have their annual conference/AGM this weekend. A notable new feature will be a keynote address by Andrew Little.

Co-leader James Shaw will keynote for the Greens – it will be interesting to see how he comes cross following Little.

GreenAGM2016.jpg

That photo is from the launch of the Memorandum of Understanding – interesting that Annette King is cut off the side but she won’t feature at the AGM.

Here is a ‘media advisory’ from James Shaw on what is on the agenda:


What: The Green Party Aotearoa New Zealand AGM, including keynote speeches from James Shaw, Metiria Turei and Andrew Little, plus the launch of a new nationwide environmental campaign

When:

Saturday 4 June:

  • 1.15pm Keynote speech by Labour Party leader Andrew Little – media are requested to be on-site by 1pm
  • Followed by keynote speech by Green Party Co-leader James Shaw
  • Following the speeches there will be a joint media stand-up

 Sunday 5 June

  • 1pm: Launch of a centrepiece environmental campaign by Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei, followed by a photo-op  and media stand-up

Where: Lincoln Events Centre, 15 Meijer Drive, Lincoln, Canterbury

·         The event will also be livestreamed through The Green Party Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/nzgreenparty/

The Green Party AGM this year will see keynote speeches by Co-leader James Shaw and Labour leader Andrew Little as the two parties come together to change the government in 2017.

“We have 18 months to change the government and we will make use of every single day of those 18 months,” said Mr Shaw.

“This is an exciting time to be part of the Green Party. We’re coming into this AGM with real momentum from our recent state houses and freight policy launches, and, of course, the signing of our historic agreement with Labour.

“We’ve been putting the foundations in place – renewed leadership, talking about the issues that matter to New Zealand, and with this week’s announcement, a clear movement to change the government.”

On Sunday, the Green Party will launch a new nationwide campaign to fight for our environment.

“The Government thinks the environment is there to make a fast buck,” said Mr Shaw.

“Look at the situation with freshwater: John Key says that most of our water just runs out to sea, when in fact it sustains native species and ecosystems, as well as communities who swim in and gather food from rivers.

“But because those things don’t make export dollars, the National Government doesn’t see any value in them, and our environment suffers.

“We are excited to be launching a new campaign that will bring New Zealanders together and fight for our beautiful outdoor spaces,” said Mr Shaw.

Greens quick with emergency housing solution

The Green Party have been typically quick off the mark in response to all the attention being given to problems with homeless people and emergency housing.

Quick off the mark since it became the issue of the week that is, there have been problems with housing for a long time, but opposition parties and media have chosen to give the issues some prominence at this time.

Greens launch state house solution to housing emergency

The Green Party today announced a plan to build hundreds of new state homes to help house New Zealanders who are living in cars, garages or on the streets.

The Homes Not Cars policy allows Housing New Zealand to retain its dividend and, in addition, would refund its tax, freeing up $207 million in the next financial year to spend on the emergency building of around 450 new state houses.

I don’t think the Greens have ever liked state owned enterprises having to pay dividends to the Government.

“We have a housing emergency in this country, happening right now, and our plan is an urgent, direct response to it,” said Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei.

“This plan isn’t the silver bullet for our housing emergency, it’s just the start, but the bottom line is we need the Government to build more state houses, not sell them off, or pretend the problem doesn’t exist.

“It’s shameful that in a wealthy country like New Zealand we have so many people sleeping in cars, in garages and on the streets.

“It doesn’t have to be this way. The Government has the power and the money to ensure every New Zealander lives in a warm, safe, dry home – it just lacks the will.

“It’s ludicrous that we have around 4500 people on the Housing New Zealand waiting list but Housing New Zealand is forced to prioritise paying the Government millions of dollars in dividend and tax.

“All of that money could and should be put towards building state homes and housing vulnerable Kiwi families – the Government just needs to make it happen.

There could be problems with this proposal, especially in Auckland – a shortage of land to build on.

There has been political opposition to Housing New Zealand redeveloping state housing areas in Auckland so they can fit more properties on the available land.

Homes Not Cars

There aren’t enough houses in New Zealand.  We need to fix that.

The Green Party has a plan to build hundreds of state homes to help deal with the emergency housing crisis facing thousands of vulnerable New Zealanders right now.

The Green Party plan would allow Housing New Zealand to retain its dividend and, in addition, would refund its tax, freeing up $207 million in the next financial year to spend on the emergency building of around 450 new state homes.

Despite New Zealand being one of the wealthiest countries in the world, families are sleeping in cars, under bridges and in garages. This requires an urgent and direct response from the Government.

There aren’t enough houses in New Zealand, particularly in Auckland, and this policy is another step in trying to fix that.

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