Will Greens refresh?

Will the Green party refresh by promoting new talent up their list?

They have a democratic process for selecting their list, but this has tended to favour incumbent MPs over new blood.

Recently Chlöe Swarbrick announced that she had joined the Greens and wanted to stand next year.

Greens have just announced another recruit: Hayley Holt to run for Parliament as Green Party candidate

TV presenter and sportswoman Hayley Holt will stand for the Green Party at next year’s general election.

In a major coup for the Greens, the popular broadcaster, former competitive snowboarder and environmental activist has formally signed up as a candidate and will be added to the party’s list.

The 36-year-old also believes Parliament needs younger, more interesting MPs.

“I don’t want politics to be boring. It looks boring at the moment and we’ve got some really fresh, exciting faces with the Greens coming through and hopefully we can add some energy into it.”

I don’t know if “it looks boring at the moment” was meant to the Greens, but it easily could. But:

Holt’s chances of getting into Parliament will depend on her list placing, which is decided by party members.

This will in part depend on whether any more Green MPs decided to stand down – they have already replaced Russel Norman and Kevin Hague this term.

The Greens can’t rely on a 50% increase in party vote and MP numbers like they did last election – they were disappointed to make no gains.

Swarbrick has said she wants to contest an electorate. Holt ‘is considering a bid for the Helensville seat held by Prime Minister John Key.

The Greens have preferred, strongly, to promote the greater Green good which means party vote.

New candidates wanting to promote themselves via electorates may not be appreciated.

The Green list will be interesting, especially whether “some really fresh, exciting faces” get winnable rankings.

 

Swarbrick on her online experiences

Chlöe Swarbrick, who did pretty well in the Auckland mayoralty considering the media didn’t give her a push until well after that had virtually anointed Phil Goff as the inevitable winner, announced a couple of weeks ago that she was joining the Green Party.

Nov 11The world is changing, people are angry, and more than ever, we need open minds and compassionate action. I’m joining the .

She has been tweeting her thoughts on her political journey and how that has made her a target of abuse and apparent hate online.

At the beginning of this year I had not seen myself in politics. Hoping to contribute for better, or naivety, led me down a rabbit hole.

A protest for engagement and critical discussion started to snowball. Somehow, somewhere along the line, it became uncomfortably about me.

I accepted that, because I suppose that can be what happens when you try to start a conversation. People can be all, ‘what, why, who?’

People I’d never met turned to the internet to express unadulterated hatred for me. I’d not been prepared for that & I don’t think you can be.

This is an unfortunate aspect of social media – people express dislike and disagreement far more strongly than they would face to face.

And sadly it’s common for it to come across as unadulterated hatred.

Now that I’m in this game, I far from expect people to go ‘soft’ on me.But it prompts the question – what do we hope for when attacking each other?

Is it catharsis? As “grown ups”, do we shed what we teach our children about kindness and respect?

I’ve been told time and time again that this is just the way things are. Politics is a dirty game. You have to swallow the dead rats.

I’ve often been told that too. But I don’t accept it. If enough people don’t accept it, and show that they don’t accept it, then it being seen as unacceptable will become more prevalent and hopefully normal.

If we want better political discourse in New Zealand then we have to show it and do it.

Call it even more naivety, but I refuse to accept that history dictates our future. I will fight for kindness. I will fight for respect.

I’m not sure how you can fight for kindness. Respect is earned over time.

The best that can usually be done is to show kindness and show respect. That won’t be returned by some but it will be by others if you persist.

One thing that online doesn’t do is show respect of silent readers, and they often significantly outnumber the vocal and disrespectful.

Sticking to your principles as much as you can is worthwhile, even if you don’t always see tangible rewards.

I will keep an open mind, and I will not shut down disagreement. I will keep trying my best. I hope we all do.

Ditto.

I’ve learned here that sometimes it’s necessary to shut down abuse and offensive material and personal attacks and attempts to disrupt, but doing that enhances civil and productive disagreement.

Green ‘progressive ownership plan’

Metiria Turei announced some new housing policy for the Greens today that well help up to 10,000 lower income people into home ownership – “home for life” – and will “empower community housing groups’.


Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei has today launched a progressive ownership plan to provide up to 10,000 new homes for lower-income Kiwis to own, and to empower community housing groups with new financing models to help fix the housing crisis.

The plan was launched at the Habitat for Humanity conference in Rotorua, and builds on the Green Party’s Home for Life policy, which was first launched before the last election.

“Our Home for Life plan is about giving more New Zealanders a fair shot at owning their own home – even when the market’s stacked against them,” said Mrs Turei.

“Building more houses that people can actually afford to buy is a critical part of solving the housing crisis.

“Our progressive ownership model will help to make the home ownership dream a reality for people who are locked out of the market right now because they can’t afford a deposit or a normal commercial mortgage.

“We’re also going to make sure the community housing sector has the finance and political support they need to drive their important work.

“Up to 5,000 new, energy efficient homes will also be available for the community housing sector to purchase using progressive ownership.

“Investors who want low-risk, socially responsible investment options, will be able to use their money to help fix the housing crisis – they’ll be able to buy into the building of thousands of affordable houses for Kiwis who need them.

“The Green Party will empower the community housing sector to play a big part in ending the housing crisis, with low-interest loans funded by housing bonds.

“Community housing providers, including iwi, have the skills, experience, and expertise to help more New Zealanders into homes and we will work with them to develop new models of housing for New Zealand,” said Mrs Turei.

Read more about the plan here.


No indication of how this would work alongside Labour’s housing policy, which includes a plan to build 10,000 houses a year for ten years.

Marama Davidson’s Gaza stunt

Green MP Marama Davidson will have gone to join a boat trying to defy the Israeli sea blockade of Gaza knowing very well that being detained was very likely. It has happened before, and lining up to be detain is a well known way of achieving publicity.

So is a show of concern for her situation genuine? Or is it playing the game some more?

Is Davidson an activist or a Member of Parliament?

Newshub: Concern for MP Marama Davidson detained by Israeli Navy

The group that sent Marama Davidson to Gaza to join humanitarian protests is worried about the lack of contact with the Green MP.

Kia Ora Gaza spokesman Roger Fowler says they haven’t heard from her since Zaytouna-Olivia, her peace flotilla boat bound for Gaza, was intercepted by the Israeli Navy.

“It was largely expected, because that’s the behaviour of the Israeli regime,” he told Newshub. “They’ve got a long track record of treating people in such a brutal and arrogant manner.”

That confirms the obvious, what happened was largely expected.

Kia Ora Gaza fundraised for Marama to join the Women’s Peace Boat to Gaza protest, dedicated to breaking the Israeli siege. She left New Zealand last month to join 12 other women on the flotilla.

Did they pay for her airfares to get there? Her wages are paid for by New Zealand taxpayers.

“We are concerned,” says Mr Fowler. “All communication has been cut ever since the boat was intercepted about 53 miles away from Gaza. It’s hard to know what Marama and the other women are going through.”

Israel says some of the boat’s occupants were already known to the authorities there, and have been deported. The others, including Ms Davidson, have been taken to Ashdod for processing. They are expected to be deported once that is complete.

I think that’s normal procedure…

“We’re asking our Government to demand the Israeli authorities release these women so they can carry on their journey to Gaza,” says Mr Fowler.

…so this is nothing but posturing.

Prime Minister John Key said it was a “less than perfect” look for a New Zealand MP to be detained, but warnings from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade “fall on deaf ears when it comes to that kind of protests from the Greens”.

It’s probably a near perfect look for the Green Party and for Kia Ora Gaza.

But Al Jazeera coverage doesn’t even mention Davidson, In Gaza’s women flotilla ‘challenging Israel’s blockade’

The 13 women participating on this leg of the journey hail from a variety of countries: Norway, Sweden, Australia, Egypt, Tunisia, Malaysia, Israel, the United States and Canada.

Nor in Israel intercepts boat seeking to break Gaza blockade:

Thirteen women, including 1976 Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire, were travelling aboard the Zaytouna-Oliva sailboat in the Mediterranean towards Gaza, which is run by Hamas.

The Zaytouna-Oliva set sail from Barcelona in September and was carrying women of various nationalities in addition to Maguire, a Northern Ireland activist.

Dubbed the “Women’s Boat to Gaza”, it is part of the wider Freedom Flotilla Coalition that consists of pro-Palestinian boats that regularly seek to go to Gaza to try to break the blockade.

Maguire has been to Gaza by boat a number of times already, and has been deported by the Israelis already. Wilipedia:

On 28 September 2010, Maguire landed in Israel as part of a delegation of the Nobel Women’s Initiative. She was refused an entry visa by Israeli authorities on the grounds that she had twice in the past tried to run Israel’s naval embargo of the Gaza Strip and that a 10-year exclusion order was in effect against her.

So being detained and deported this time is fairly predictable.

Ms Davidson and others on board pre-recorded videos in the event they were captured. In hers, Ms Davidson calls the Israeli Navy the “oppression forces”.

Her visit to Israel is not likely to be for long.

Davidson’s new role as an international activist is not likely to have done much to improve  Green Party support, and it raises questions about their priorities in in New Zealand.

Green reshuffle

greenreshuffle

With the exit of Kevin Hague from parliament the Green party has reshuffled their spokesperson roles.

The most notable are a shift to Finance responsibilities for James Shaw – it was a surprise he didn’t get that when he became co-leader next year – and Julie Anne Genter moving to pick up  Health.

Newcomer Barry Coates moves from leading anti-TPPA protests to leading anti-TPPA protests as an MP.

Green Party announces portfolio changes
James Shaw MP on Thursday, September 29, 2016 – 17:14

The Green Party is today announcing changes to its MPs’ portfolios, to accommodate the arrival of new MP Barry Coates.

Mr Coates joins the Green Parliamentary team following the resignation of Kevin Hague, and will officially start on Monday 10 October. He will take on the trade, overseas development and senior citizens portfolios, as well as commerce, consumer and internal affairs.

Also as part of the portfolio changes, James Shaw will take on the finance portfolio, while Julie Anne Genter picks up health and Auckland issues, to go alongside transport and associate finance.

Canterbury-based MP Mojo Mathers will be the new conservation spokesperson, while continuing to hold the disability issues and animal welfare portfolios.

Hagues roles were: Spokesperson for Health (inc. ACC, Sport & Recreation), Conservation, and Rainbow Issues

Health goes to Genter (with her Finance moving to Shaw) and Conservation to Mathers. No mention of what is happening to Rainbow Issues.

 

Green Party: assisted dying policy

The Green Party has released their ‘Medically-Assisted Dying policy’, aka their proposals on euthanasia.

They gave a brief description via @NZGreens:

We are releasing our Medically-Assisted Dying policy. Stories like those of Lecretia Seales, who stepped into the public eye to ask the courts to give her the right to choose, have recently brought this issue to the fore.

Adults with a terminal illness should have the right to choose a medically assisted death in a supported and open way.

The Green Party does not support extending assisted dying to people who aren’t terminally ill because we can’t be confident that this won’t further marginalise the lives of people with disabilities.

Parliament is currently running a committee inquiry into euthanasia and recently heard public submission. However this far from guarantees Parliament will debate legislation on euthanasia.

ACT MP David Seymour has an assisted dying bill in the Members’ ballot but it wasn’t the 1 out of 79 bills drawn yesterday. It will always be a long shot.

The Green Party policy in full:


Medically-Assisted Dying policy

The Green Party supports the current legal right of an individual to refuse medical treatment (under the Bill of Rights Act 1990) and the right of doctors to refuse to perform futile medical procedures. Furthermore, we believe that an individual aged 18 years or older who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness should have the right to choose to end their life in a supported and open way.

1. The Green Party will support a law change that allows an individual access to medically-assisted dying, provided that, as a minimum, the following safeguards are included:

a) An assessment of the individual by their treating doctor, and a review of this assessment by an independent registered medical practitioner, to determine that the patient

i. Is terminally ill; and
ii. Is experiencing enduring physical or psychological suffering that is intolerable to them and that cannot be relieved under conditions that they consider acceptable; and
iii. Has made durable and persistent requests for assistance in dying.

b) A further assessment by a suitably qualified and registered health practitioner to confirm that the individual:

i) has decision-making capability; and
ii) is making an informed decision free from undue influence;

c) Treating doctors and medical practitioners who elect not to participate in this process must refer the individual to a practitioner who is willing to participate;

d) Ongoing support from appropriately qualified professionals is provided in all cases;

e) A reflective period is always provided before medically-assisted dying occurs; unless two registered medical practitioners agree the individual’s suffering is so great as to render such a period inhumane;

f) For individuals who are declined medically-assisted dying, an appeal process to enable a reassessment of their eligibility;

g) The medically-assisted dying administered under medical supervision or directly by a registered medical practitioner;

h) The mandatory reporting of all consequent deaths to the coroner, as an independent safeguard and to allow monitoring of the assisted dying process.

In addition to these safeguards, the Green Party will:

2. Require oversight of the medically-assisted dying legislation by an appropriate statutory body to ensure compliance with legal requirements.

3. Ensure that prior to the medically-assisted dying legislation coming into force, professional guidelines, training and support are made available to medical practitioners on an ongoing basis.

4. Require annual reviews of the performance of the medically-assisted dying legislation with the findings made available to the public.

5. Not support the extension of medically-assisted dying to individuals who are not terminally ill until New Zealand has in place policies and practices that ensure full social inclusion, including equitable access to health services, for disabled people (see our Disability Policy).

Valedictory Statement – Kevin Hague

One of the best and most widely respected MPs have his valedictory speech in parliament today. Kevin Hague missed out on the Green party co-leadership last year – he could have made a real difference for them in that position – but has now chosen to move on the lead NZ Forest and Bird.

Draft transcript:


VALEDICTORY STATEMENTS

KEVIN HAGUE (Green):

[Authorised Te Reo text to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]

I used to do a lot of sailing. Ian and I—our first yacht was a 24-foot cutter and we would often be the smallest boat at Great Barrier Island or around the Hauraki Gulf in the various anchorages.

I remember in 1988, during Cyclone Bola—and some might question the decision to go sailing—we were anchored in a bay in the outer part of the Coromandel Harbour. The wind was so strong that the anchors would not hold. Together with many other boats, the two of us kept a 24-hour anchor watch.

We would anchor in the most sheltered part of the bay, and then the wind would sweep us across the bay. We would turn on the outboard motor, punch back into the wind, set the anchors again, and hope that they would hold for a little while longer. We did that again, and again, and again. The wind kept up for more than 24 hours, and we were exhausted, but eventually the anchors did hold.

Eight years of Opposition has felt something like that. Going to work each day, standing up for what we believe in, but losing almost all of our arguments—not because we were wrong, but because of the Government’s superior numbers and the resources of Government.

I guess for me, what we have had to do is to find a way to pick ourselves back up and punch back into that wind, into the storm. But now my watch has ended. It has been an enormous honour to serve in this role, to stand here and to know that along with my Green colleagues I represent an enormous number of New Zealanders who share our vision and our values.

I leave here proud of the work that I have helped to do.

I also leave here with some regrets. I have projects that I believe in passionately that I will not be able to see through to their conclusion. It goes against the grain for me to leave work unfinished.

I am leaving behind people who matter a great deal to me. I have friends right across this House and right across the political spectrum. I will not get to be a Minister, with the opportunity to implement policy in Government, and I think I might have done a pretty good job of that.

Hon Members: Hear, hear!

KEVIN HAGUE: Thank you. But despite those regrets, I have no doubts. I want to thank the Green Party, all of its members, the staff, the volunteers, and other MPs for the opportunity to do this work and for their support and friendship while doing it.

Those people who have worked in the Green Party’s parliamentary team have been outstanding, and I especially want to thank those who have worked in my own office—Joanna Plows, Sophie Belton, Nerei Kanak, Linda Veyers, Tasi Vaonga, Ridian Thomas, and the incomparable Jen Lawless.

You have seamlessly hidden my flaws from the world while simultaneously doing all the real work. Thank you very much.

I am grateful for the wonderful support that I have enjoyed over the years from the Parliamentary Service team and from the Office of the Clerk. I think, in particular, I am probably one of the biggest users of the Parliamentary Library and the travel teams, and they have always been fast, efficient, and reliable. I said earlier that I have friends across the House.

It has always seemed to me that positive relationships stop disagreement about some issues from getting in the way of collaborating on others.

I particularly want to acknowledge colleagues from all parties who have served with me on the Health Committee, and my great friends Ruth Dyson and Louisa Wall with whom I worked closely on marriage equality and other issues, and Nikki Kaye. Nikki and I worked together on a bill to completely overhaul the adoption law. I want to extend to Nikki my very best wishes for her recovery and swift return to this House.

I want to thank members of the Press Gallery, past and present. I have pretty much always felt that I had a fair run from you, and for the biggest issues that I worked on, you were also great partners in the pursuit of truth and justice—thank you.

Always, the work in Parliament has been made possible by others working in the community. It is a role that I have played in the past, and to which I return now.

As most people do, I think, in preparing this last speech, I went back to my first. As part of that speech, I set out some of my hopes for my Parliamentary career and some of the expectations that I knew that others held.

I talked about the hopes of cyclists that I would help make roads safe and well-engineered for all users, and for a national network of off-road cycling tracks.

I want to express my thanks to the Prime Minister for the great opportunity to work alongside him as co-sponsors of Ngā Haerenga, the New Zealand Cycle Trail network.

That project has achieved what we hoped for and more.It created lots of employment, it has provided a major boost to regional economies, and it has got loads more people riding their bikes more often. Those people are now demanding better cycling facilities in towns and cities as well. The trick now will be to sustain and grow that network, and it would be fantastic to see a multi-party agreement to make that happen.

I said in that maiden speech that people who love wild rivers and our natural world for its intrinsic values would be looking for me to make a contribution.

I led a major Parliamentary campaign alongside Forest and Bird—it is a fantastic organisation, is it not—Whitewater NZ, and the Wild Rivers coalition that led to the Mōkihinui River being saved. My campaign was based on how Lake Manapōuri was saved. I set out to get people all around the country to care about what happened to a place and to animals and plants that they had never, and probably would never directly experience, and it worked.

New Zealanders love the rivers, forests, oceans, and animals of Aotearoa, and they want to protect them.

I was also pleased to work with Kate Wilkinson to conduct major field trials of resetting traps, a project that has laid one of the main foundations for daring to believe that Sir Paul Callaghan’s vision of a predator-free New Zealand was possible.

I said in that speech that the gay and lesbian communities and the wider rainbow family would look to me to keep delivering on the promise of equal rights and opportunity. I have worked on a number of projects over the past 8 years, most notably the successful campaign for marriage equality.

I leave behind three important ones: better health services for transgender New Zealanders; the petition that is currently before the House for an apology and for wiping the convictions of gay men who were convicted of consensual sexual activity between adults before homosexual law reform; and my campaign to have the Education Review Office required to audit the safety of all schools for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students.

We showed in 2014 that most secondary schools do not provide such a safe environment, and that the Education Review Office never exposes that. Perhaps as a farewell present?

There are a couple of areas where I have been proud of a contribution I did not expect to make. I worked hard to expose what I called a sick culture of disentitlement in ACC. Major improvements were made, and I praise the then Minister, the Hon Judith Collins, but more still is required—more change is still required.

I also warned New Zealanders that the insurance industry and small government ideologues have not given up on their plan of a privatised ACC, and vigilance is still required.

But the work that I am proudest of is that that I did in the aftermath of the Pike River tragedy. I have felt a heavy responsibility for that work, and I have been pleased to contribute to a major overhaul of workplace health and safety regulation in this country.

But I have been frustrated and angry that nobody from the board or from the senior management of Pike River Coal Ltd has been held to account, or will ever be held to account, for what has occurred, and that 29 men still have not been brought home to their families.

The other area where I know people hoped that I would be able to make an impact is health, and, in particular, increasing Parliament’s understanding that health outcomes are the result of people’s circumstances and environments, like poverty, housing, and how empowered their communities are, rather than individual choices, and goodness knows I have given enough lectures on that topic in this House.

I regret that successive Ministers of Health have preferred to adopt an adversarial approach to their portfolio. I believe that much more could have been achieved by working together across the House on health.

Economists seem to agree that funding for health services has dropped cumulatively and in real terms by almost $2 billion since 2008, while something like $20 billion has spent on roads of national significance, for example. To me, that suggests that the priorities are entirely the wrong way around.

It seems essential to me that Government should seek to ensure that every person has the basics that will enable them to have a decent life: enough good food, clean air and water, warmth and shelter, the means to good health and education, and a decent income.

In this country, a growing number—far too many—do not have these basics, and worse, access to them is unfairly distributed. Remedying these problems should be the purpose of Government—that is what Government is for.

The economy is not some force of nature; it is a collection of tools that we can re-engineer to help us meet those social goals.

Instead, far too often, people are sacrificed in the interests of the economy, and that is fundamentally the wrong way around.

The same is true of the environment. When the natural world is seen as a set of resources to service the economy as raw materials or waste disposal, we know that something is fundamentally wrong. Restoring and conserving a sustainable relationship with nature should be the other fundamental goal of Government, which the economy should serve.

Our country is run as though people and the environment need to serve the economy as inputs to the firm, and this needs to change entirely.

When people are homeless because of land banking and kids go hungry because wages and benefits do not even cover the basics; when they have avoidable health conditions that scar their entire lives because of poor-quality, overcrowded housing; when landowners are still cutting down lowland forest, draining wetlands, and allowing their stock into rivers because there is money to be made; when the last Maui’s dolphin plunged towards extinction because we prioritised the oil and fishing industries, something is fundamentally wrong.

When our very species is at grave risk because governments around the world refuse to take decisive action on climate change lest it harm business, then we know that making people and the environment serve the economy has reached its logical end-point of self-destruction.

There are also areas where change is desperately needed but where successive Governments have taken no action because of what I believe is political timidity.

There are others, but I want to single out drug law reform, adoption law reform—which I have already mentioned—and assisted dying.

These are all areas where the member’s bill process is poorly suited to considered reform, and where a solid public mandate already exists for change. These are also areas where archaic law harms people in terrible ways every day, so I appeal to all parties to please be brave, and stand for something.

Finally, I want to give my thanks to those who have been on this journey with me: my friends, especially those in whose houses I have so often been a terrible guest, arriving late and leaving early, and those who have had to put up with me not being around for their important occasions.

Thanks to my family, some of whom are able to be here tonight, and above all thanks to my partner Ian.

In this House our partners and families pay a great price in enabling us to do this work, and I extend my respect and thanks to all of yours.

When I entered Parliament, I said that I wanted to dedicate my time here to the memory of my mum and my sister. I hope that they would have been proud.

I leave here now to take on another really exciting challenge. I know that those who come after me in the Greens will bring new skills, knowledge, and energy that I could not have contributed.

But in leaving I feel that I have done my best, I feel I have made things better, and I go with my integrity intact. I wish you all the very best.

Waiata

A Burr under the Green saddle

Lloyd Burr at Newshub echoes and highlights the hypocrisy of the Green Party over their apparently unconditional support of the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary  at the expense of Māori treaty rights, something the Greens normally promote as sacrosanct.

Newshub: Greens have turned back on Treaty

By unconditionally supporting the Kermadec ocean sanctuary proposal, the Green Party is turning its back on the Treaty of Waitangi and its own Te Tiriti policy.

The Greens have always been a strong voice on Treaty issues and like to publicise that fact.

But its current support of the Kermadec legislation, which walks all over Māori rights, is a slap in the face for all its past rhetoric.

In fact, it’s hypocritical.

Burr details a number of issues where the Greens put a lot of importance on Te Tiriti.

  • The water rights debate during the asset sales saga? The Greens said “the Key Government’s rush to sell assets does not justify it ignoring its Treaty obligations”.
  • The  private members bill that would stop Māori land confiscations under the Public Works Act? The bill will “stop any more unfair confiscations of what is left of whenua Māori”.
  • Co-leader Metiria Turei’s Ratana speech a few years ago about how proud she was of the Green Party’s Māori policies? “We in the Green Party deeply believe in the benefits of honouring the Treaty,” she said.
  • The Greens saying it opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership because “the damage it could do to Māori rights and the Māori economy”.

But the Greens, plus organisations closely associated with the Greens like Greenpeace – Māori versus the environmental lobby – see the Kermadec sanctuary as important enough to ignore rights negotiated by Māori under the Treaty.

The saga must be a kick in the guts for Green MP Marama Davidson who has been such a champion on Māori issues.

It must be a hard pill for her to swallow.

Where does co-leader Metiria Turei fit in to this? She makes a big deal about the importance of Māori issues. When it suits her.

Māori versus the environmental lobby

More on the lack of consultation with Māori, who have existing rights granted under a Treaty of Waitangi settlement, over the proposed Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary, and the reality that environmental groups are willing to put their own ambitions ahead of Māori rights.

And opposition parties.

Stephanie Rodgers has posted on the environmental lobby at Boots Theory and reposted at The Standard, where there are some interesting comments – The Kermadecs and racist environmentalism.

We’re not even arguing about meaningful consultation around establishing the Kermadec sanctuary, we’re talking about ZERO consultation by white politicians who assumed they knew best. National are literally in coalition with the Māori Party but didn’t even pick up the phone to give them a heads-up…

It was handled poorly by the Government initially, and worse since with Environment Minister Nick Smith making more of a mess of it, to the extent that the legislation has been put on hold until it is sorted out.

But Rodgers in particular blasts environmental groups.

This week has been a revelation in the racist imperialism of mainstream (white) environmental organisations.

Problem 2 is the (very Pākehā) environment lobby’s outrage that anyone might stand in the way of an ocean sanctuary. “Think of the planet!” they cry, which is appallingly arrogant coming from the ethnic group which has done the vast majority of screwing up the planet to start with.

We have to take a hard look at how environmental organisations and Pākehā liberalism exploit indigenous culture. When it suits us, we happily draw on the notion of indigenous people being ~more in touch with the land~ and having a ~spiritual connection to nature~ and painting with all the goddamned colours of the wind. When it helps our agenda, we happily retweet the hashtags opposing oil pipelines and trumpet the importance of honouring the Treaty.

But scratch the surface and all the smug superiority is there. We know better; our thinking is more advanced because we care about ~the whole planet~.

It’s very easy to care about the whole planet when you’re on the team who took it by force.

That’s scathing of the “very Pākehā environment lobby”.  Rodgers doesn’t name names, but there has been angst expressed over ex Green leader and now Greenpeace leader Russel Norman’s performance on The Nation in the weekend, where he appeared to see the Sanctuary as sacrosanct and effectively, to hell with Māori ownership of rights.

A press release on Friday:

Environmental Groups support Government on the Kermadec/Rangitāhua Ocean Sanctuary

Representatives of leading environmental groups have reaffirmed their strong support for the proposed Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary.

The groups include Greenpeace, WWF, Forest & Bird, the Environmental Defence Society and Ecologic.

Greenpeace Executive Director Dr Russel Norman said that he backed the Government’s determination to create the Sanctuary in spite of strong resistance from the fishing industry.

“The Kermadec proposal will be the largest ever marine protected area in our jurisdiction. It will have immense ecological benefits, allowing marine life in 15% of our Exclusive Economic Zone to prosper without any form of commercial exploitation,” said Dr Norman.

Which means all fishing rights should be removed.

WWF-New Zealand’s Senior Campaigner, Alex Smith, said that fishing industry lobbyists had consistently opposed the creation of no-take marine reserves so the current opposition was not unexpected.

“New Zealand has obligations under international law to protect the marine environment that surrounds us. The Government is entirely within its rights to create marine protected areas like the Kermadec/Rangitāhua Ocean Sanctuary,” said Mr Smith.

“The Sanctuary is backed by solid science and by 89% of New Zealanders. We urge the fishing industry to break away from its traditional opposition to full marine protection and get behind this initiative.”

That uses the term ‘fishing industry’ and omits the fact that Māori fishing rights are involved.

The Executive Director of Ecologic, long-time environmentalist Guy Salmon, said:

“This is the biggest conservation gain for our oceans in my lifetime and is of international importance,” he said.

“I don’t believe the Sanctuary involves a breach of property rights, and that claim will now be tested in Court.”

That’s a line up of “a very Pākehā environment lobby”.

But it’s not just environmental groups involved. The sanctuary has cross party support, with both Greens and Labour supporting National on it.

From an interview on Waatea News with Te Ohu Kaimoana chair Jamie Tuuta:

“…I think it is important for the Green Party to reflect on their view on the treaty and indigenous rights because it is fair to say if they support the bill in its current form, they are supporting the unilateral extinguishment of Maori rights and interests,” he says.

Normally the Greens put some value on Māori rights and would hate to be seen as “very Pākehā”.

In comments Rodgers again slammed the Government (with some justification)…

There’s nothing “novel” in the government’s approach on this. They announced a major decision affecting a Treaty settlement with zero consultation with the affected parties. Par for the course for European colonisers in New Zealander, really. No one can be surprised that now Māori have a (somewhat) larger voice in the public discourse, they’re raising hell about it.

It is clear racism when Māori are expected to accept “full and final” Treaty settlements, the Government of the day unilaterally changes those settlements, and then all the white folk run around pontificating about “commercial interests” and “gifts to the planet” and “extinction of the moa”.

…but doesn’t mention the Greens. Nor her own Labour Party. Alwyn brought them into the discussion:

  1. Labour take a Maori leaning approach, oppose the sanctuary, and cause a split in the MOU between them and the Green Party. The Green Party can hardly oppose the sanctuary can they?
  2. Labour supports the sanctuary, which was in the policy for the last election, and whip their own Maori MPs into line, thereby showing that Labour don’t really provide any reason for Maori to vote for them.
  3. Alternatively the Labour Party supports the sanctuary and the Maori members of the Labour Party Caucus cross the floor and vote against it.

Then you get the question of why the Maori members are remaining in the Labour Party at all. What do you think the Labour Party are going to do?

It was pointed out that the “Labour position is they support the sanctuary but oppose the process”.  And “that sounds very like their TPP stance and we know how that’s worked for them”. A bob each way politics, opposing the Government but supporting what they want to achieve.

Most people support the Kermadec sanctuary, including the Māori Party (and Māori generally as far as I’m aware).

It’s not just National who should be having a serious look at how they want to progress the sanctuary. Environmental groups and the Greens and Labour may like to have a rethink as well.

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.