Greens bottling it as water fallout continues

Ructions in Green ranks continues after the decision Green MP Eugenie Sage was required to make a water bottling decision as part of her ministerial responsibilities: Overseas investment for Otakiri Springs bottling giant approved in principle

Land Information Minister Eugenie Sage, and Associate Finance Minister David Clark, have granted an application under the Overseas Investment Act 2005 for Cresswell NZ Ltd to purchase land to expand the existing Otakiri Springs water bottling plant near Whakatane.

Their approval is conditional on Cresswell NZ obtaining consent via the Resource Management Act and that 60 new jobs are created and if these jobs do not eventuate enforcement action will apply.

“This includes the possibility of requiring the company to sell the land. Budget 2018 provided an extra $7 million in new funding for the OIO to undertake compliance and enforcement work,” Eugene Sage said.

I posted about this on Thursday: Greens struggling in Government

There struggles appear to be continuing. Here are some interesting reactions on Twitter:

@LewOS:

I think Eugenie Sage and Julie-Anne Genter have been exemplary on this water bottling decision. “We don’t like it, but we have to obey the law” is strictly correct but it will win them no fans among the Green activists who never really wanted the responsibility of government

I have received the following response from someone with knowledge of the situation, who also now wishes they had added more swears in this assessment of their party

@danylmc

I don’t know if it’s just activists. The party explicitly campaigned on changing the laws around this so I think non-activist normie voters are completely entitled to feel outraged without being lectured about the constitutional and legislative complications.

They can express outrage as much as they like, but it won’t change the decision, it increases impressions of a flaky party in a flaky Government, and increases the risks of Greens crashing and burning before or during the next election.

@GuyonEspiner

Interesting isn’t it – Greens Ministers are saying: It goes against my values and politics but we must follow process. NZ First Ministers are saying: I don’t care about process these are my views!

@LewSOS

This, and not the underlying ideological differences between parties, is Jacinda’s bugbear running this govt. Ideological differences are reconcilable and negotiable, but when you have a bunch of people who just basically don’t believe in the democratic process, you got problems.

He may be referring the behaviour of NZ First Ministers but Green Party members also don’t seem to believe in democratic processes when they don’t like the results.

@philosphy

If anything activists are only ones nerdy & partisan enough to be persuaded by reasons they gave. Normie voters won’t read details, will come away with impression Greens have changed position.

Hadn’t looked before, but scroll through the almost 2k comments under Eugenie’s FB post. The people still refusing to accept explanations are mostly supportive non-members.

I don’t know if the most fuss is coming from non-members or not.

Is Sue Bradford a Green party member these days? She weighs in: Greens in mortal danger – Bradford

The Green’s water bottling decision exposes potentially fatal flaws and complacency at the heart of Green parliamentary operations.

The Green parliamentary wing seem to be clueless about the mortal danger they face following news this week that its own minister, Eugenie Sage, has signed off on the sale and expansion of a water bottling plant at Otakiri Springs.

When Ms Sage’s role in approving the sale as Land Information Minister became public there was immediate anger from party members. It was reported that the co-leader of the Young Greens Max Tweedie said on an internal Facebook page that he was ‘extremely disappointed’ about what had happened. Some members threatened to leave the party.

Apart from a bland government media release and a ministerial blog closely replicating the official line there appeared to be no effort to forestall the inevitable sense of betrayal which would arise from the blatant turnaround on core party policy.

It seems that it was only when mainstream media picked up on the high level of internal unrest that the Green caucus realised they might have a problem on their hands.

Their responses, for example in this TV1 report, seemed defensive and obscure, focused on explaining why they believed the Minister’s hands were legally tied in making the decision.

But perhaps it’s time the Green leadership in Parliament realises that it’s not just the unhappiness of members that needs to be assuaged. Voters are the ones who ultimately make the difference between survival and electoral disaster.

Whether members or supporters doesn’t really matter when it comes to elections.

It’s one of the most common political truisms that small parties in government get eaten by their larger partners.

But this isn’t being eaten by a larger partner, it is being eaten from within their own party over a fairly basic function of being a part of the Government. Ministers have to often make decisions they are bound to make regardless of their own party policies.

Surely the Green caucus focus from day one of government formation should have been on honing their political and strategic strategy and capacity so that the sort of situation which happened this week would never arise.

Perhaps they could have handled things better this week, but the parliamentary part of the party was very busy setting themselves up in Government and learning how to do their jobs.

And given the reactions of Green members and left leaning activists for years there may have been no way of preparing for government decisions that clashed with their ideals.

As things stand, it feels as though the caucus and those around them do not think ahead about the consequences of some of their decisions, water bottling only being the latest of a string of stuff-ups (think waka jumping and giving National some of their parliamentary questions).

The Green caucus has certainly had to grapple with a few issues.

It looks like the Greens gained the oil and gas exploration decision at the cost of having to support the waka jumping bill. Oil and gas should be a big deal for the Greens – while the waka jumping bill is contrary to long standing Green policy the actual effects of the bill are likely to be minimal if not zero in practice.

Behind this fateful lack of capacity lies a political question too – to what extent, if any, are the Greens really prepared to carve out their own path in this term of Parliament?

Once again, it appears the real agenda here is a sodden acceptance that being a safe pair of hands for Labour is all that counts, and that those pesky members and voters are something to worry about in maybe a couple of years’ time.

Greens have long championed MMP, but some of their supporters don’t seem to understand how it works.

Despite only having eight seats in Parliament out of 120, and only 12.7% of the vote in Government, some Green supporters seem to think that all their ideals should be achieved.

Greens need to find a way of avoiding being eaten by partner parties, but they also need to find a way of avoiding being eaten by their own members and supporters. It could be a challenging couple of years for them coming up if this much fuss is made over a relatively minor decision made by a Green minister.

Greens struggling in Government

I suspected that Greens were naive about the responsibilities and requirements of being in government, and this is being proven by an outpouring of green angst over the granting of water bottling rights to a Chinese company.

Some Green supporters (presumably party members) and some Green MPs are showing that they still struggle with the reality of governing.

Government 101 – you can’t get into power, especially weak power overshadowed by one much larger party and another party whose leader holds most of the bargaining power and influence, and change the law every time one of your own party ministers is required to follow procedures and fulfil their responsibilities.

Stuff: Green Party members revolt over water bottling decision

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson is facing intense backlash from members threatening to quit over a decision made by one of her ministers to allow a Chinese water bottler to expand.

Davidson has said she “doesn’t like” the decision after the co-leader of the Young Greens Max Tweedie wrote on an internal Facebook page that that he was “extremely disappointed” in the decision.

Land Information Minister Eugenie Sage, one of three Green ministers, announced the decision on Tuesday which allows in principle a Chinese water bottling giant to purchase land in order to expand their existing Otakiri Springs water bottling plant near Whakatane.

The decision was made with associate finance minister David Clark based on advice from the Overseas Investment Office.

In other words, doing what her job required. But Sage was obviously uneasy about some Greens would think so tried to explain to them.

Sage put out a blog post on the decision on the Green Party website.

She acknowledged it was surprising the call had been made by a member of the Green Party as it had an election policy to ban new water bottling consents, impose a levy on water exports, and more concretely respect Treaty of Waitangi rights around water.

“Some people might wonder why a Green MP who is a Minister has allowed such a land purchase involving a water bottling plant to go ahead,” Sage wrote.

“Basically the law is clear about what Ministers can and cannot take into account.”

The Overseas Investment Act only allows Ministers to take into account “substantial and identifiable” benefit to New Zealand and conservation values – but not Treaty of Waitangi rights.

That sounds fairly obvious.

Despite this post, prominent members of the party were fuming on an internal Facebook group on Tuesday night, and asking the Greens to publicly disown the decision.

“What the f… is the point of us being in government and having this portfolio if we throw our Te Tiriti [Treaty] obligations in the bin,” wrote Tweedie.

“This is an absolute joke, I’m extremely disappointed in Eugenie and so angry that this came from us … This is a test for us as to how we respond to this, I would like the non ministerial part of our caucus to oppose this publicly, I’m actually livid.”

Tweedie also seems ignorant of how a democratic government reliant on law works.

Davidson, who ran for co-leader on a platform of greater connection with members, acknowledged in a comment on that post “we don’t like this decision.”

“There were strong legal implications for us opposing this. We will have to seek changes in the legislation to avoid legal consequences. While there are definitely Tiriti implications in this issue, it’s not a core Treaty issue in this case,” Davidson wrote.

A prominent member of the party wrote he was “fuming”.

“I don’t know if I can stay in the party, on principle after this. Ngāti Awa people (who almost universally oppose this) are absolutely livid.”

Davidson responded that this position was “valid and shows how much we need to be accountable on this.”

Speaking on her way into the House Davidson repeated that the decision was not consistent with Green Party values or policy.

“This decision does not sit with Green Party kaupapa and long-time policy.”

Simple fact – Greens have 8 seats in a 63 seat MMP government, so proportionally they have about 1/8 of the power. They don’t have a mandate to change every law they don’t like.

Sage told Stuff she understood why Green Party members would be upset.

“I absolutely understand members’ concerns about the decision. The Green Party leadership and MPs understand our members’ concerns,” Sage said.

“There are opportunities to improve the law and I hope people will get involved in that. Green MPs will push hard for changes to the law and for a charge on bottled water exports.”

“I made a decision under the current law.”

That’s pretty basic stuff. What did Green members think they would be able to do in Government with 8 MPs?

Sage was put on the spot on this in Parliament yesterday, which resulted in Davidson asking patsy questions to try to address party concerns:

From Question No. 11—Land Information:

Hon David Bennett: Has the Minister discussed with the Minister of Trade and Export Growth how the overseas investment criteria could be changed to implement core Green Party policy to impose an immediate moratorium on new bottling?

Hon EUGENIE SAGE: I am confident that the Minister who has responsibility for that issue of water bottling is looking at all the issues, and we will have discussions.

Marama Davidson: Was the Minister able to consider the environmental impacts of taking the water when she made this decision?

Hon EUGENIE SAGE: That is not a matter that the Minister for Land Information can take into account under the Overseas Investment Act; it is a matter that is considered under the Resource Management Act. The Bay of Plenty Regional Council notified its application.

Marama Davidson: Was she able to take into account Te Tiriti concerns and the opposition of mana whenua when making this decision?

Hon EUGENIE SAGE: The application concerned the purchase of sensitive land under the Overseas Investment Act. That Act limits the issues that can be considered. I considered those issues, and I wasn’t able to take those concerns into account.

A Minister has responsibilities beyond their party ideals. No Minister can quickly change laws to appease their party members, especially small relatively weak third parties in Government.

It could be a difficult term for the Greens, and a challenging campaign in 2020 – if they haven’t self destructed before then.

How will we get to net zero emissions by 2050?

A goal of Net Zero Emissions Economy by 2050 is the number one policy for Green co-leader James Shaw, but Shaw either isn’t sure how to achieve it, or seems unwilling to openly say what he wants – a drastic cut in cow and sheep numbers.

Net Zero Emissions was number one on the Labour-Green C&A agreement.

Sustainable Economy

  1. Adopt and make progress towards the goal of a Net Zero Emissions Economy by 2050,
    with a particular focus on policy development and initiatives in transport and urban form,
    energy and primary industries in accordance with milestones to be set by an independent
    Climate Commission and with a focus on establishing Just Transitions for exposed regions
    and industries.

a. Introduce a Zero Carbon Act and establish an independent Climate Commission
b. All new legislation will have a climate impact assessment analysis.
c.  A comprehensive set of environmental, social and economic sustainability indicators will be developed.
d. A new cross-agency climate change board of public sector CEOs will be established.

It seemed like an idealistic pledge without much of a plan.

But it is still far from certain about how this might be achieved. Shaw is looking for ideas, and points at some, but even they say “how we plug the gap between 95% and 100% in New Zealand isn’t obvious yet.”

Briony Bennett claims “Changing land-use from dairy, sheep and cattle farming to new forests or low-emissions crops and horticulture (growing fruit, vegetables and flowers) is key to achieving carbon neutrality in New Zealand by 2050.”

That seems to be something that Shaw and the Greens are not prepared to come out and push openly.

Bennett has a Masters in Energy Economics and Policy from Sciences Po, Paris. She moved back to New Zealand in late 2017.

Before Christmas, the new climate change minister and Greens’ party leader announced the Government’s intention to pass a Zero Carbon Act, whereby the New Zealand economy would achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Industry, think-tanks and public sector officials have produced huge volumes of data, modelling, analyses and arguments since then. Within the last few weeks, the Interim Climate Change Commission was announced and the Productivity Commission published a 500-page draft report on the transition to a low-emissions economy. We all want to know what do we need to do to reach net zero.

It seems that Green co-leader James Shaw made the pledge first, and is now looking for ideas on how to achieve it.

This points to Bennett as a Guest Writer at The Spinoff:  NZ has pledged zero carbon by 2050. How on earth can we get there? (abbreviated):


100% renewables

Around 85% of New Zealand’s annual electricity supply is generated from renewable sources. Gas or coal-fired generation is used to meet winter demand peaks and back up supply in low rainfall years. Hydroelectricity constitutes more than half of the national power mix. In a high hydrology scenario, with good seasonal rainfall and snow melt, hydro-power can meet up to 65% of our annual power needs, but dry years present a great challenge and a barrier to reaching 100% renewables.

Under current resource management laws, it is highly unlikely that a new large-scale hydro-power scheme would get built in New Zealand. We could feasibly expand lake storage in current schemes, but not double it, which is what would be required. Further, this would do little to address the main barrier to reaching a 100% renewable power supply, which is our dry-year risk.

Wind power

At an emissions price of $75 or greater it will be economic to build enough wind farms to reach about 95% renewables in New Zealand, according to Concept Consulting.

Today, a significant number of wind projects have actually been consented, over 2.5GW according to the NZ Wind Energy Association, but project developers are waiting for prices to rise before starting construction. However, wind power cannot ensure our power supply is 100% renewable in a dry year since it is not guaranteed to be available during winter peaks when demand is at its highest.

Grid-scale or rooftop solar exacerbates the seasonal storage challenge as it only generates during periods of low demand and has a much higher output during the summer. We need power sources that are as flexible as coal and gas-fired power plants to meet seasonal demand.

Big batteries

Grid-scale battery storage projects have been making headlines around the world. Tesla installed a massive battery in South Australia after Elon Musk made a promise to do it in 100 days or for free on Twitter. Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s (BNEF) lithium-ion battery price index shows a fall from US$1,000 per kWh in 2010 to US$209 per kWh in 2017.

Nevertheless, this technology cannot economically provide seasonal or dry-year power storage of the scale required at present. They just do not pack as much punch as hydro storage.

…this suggests we need 400 million batteries, or over 250 Tesla Powerwalls per household. Even at a discounted price of just US$2000 this would require an investment of over US$500,000 per household or US$800 trillion in total. More than four times our current GDP. We could spend that money more wisely to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.

Car culture

Power sector emissions have declined 13% since 1990 and make up less than 10% of total emissions. In the same period, transport emissions rose 70% and constitute 20% to New Zealand’s emissions. Car ownership reached its highest level ever last year, at 774 light vehicles for every 1,000 New Zealanders.

This is the beast we must tackle. Electrification is the key pathway with existing technology to cut the majority of transport emissions. To charge electric passenger vehicles and e-buses, electrify trains, and reduce fossil fuel usage for heating, a reliable and affordable electricity supply is crucial.

Power outlook

With more wind, batteries and additional geothermal power plants, it is technically feasible to reach the 100% renewables target when we have average or high rainfall. This would be achieved at great expense and put significant upwards pressure on power prices. Other flexible technologies, such as demand response or renewable power-to-gas, hold great potential to help New Zealand reach 100% renewables. Biomass or tidal power generation could emerge as affordable means to generate electricity in New Zealand in the next few decades.

Solar and wind offer a comparatively low-cost pathway to reduce emissions in most countries that currently have a high share of coal and gas-fired generation, but how we plug the gap between 95% and 100% in New Zealand isn’t obvious yet.

Planting trees

All pathways to net zero, require forestry to play a major role. Afforestation is like a credit card, buying us time to develop alternative technologies to replace current agricultural and industrial processes. A methane vaccine for animals or other biological inhibitors that can be mixed with their feed are being researched, but these technologies remain unproven. Selective breeding, though it can take decades, will also continue reduce the amount of methane produced per animal.

Farming

The New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) is our main tool for encouraging decarbonisation. The scheme requires emitters to pay for each tonne of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gas produced – this is called an emissions unit. Farmers are currently exempt from participating in the ETS, which covers energy, waste and industry. To achieve net zero this will have to change since agriculture contributes over half of our emissions. To ensure a gradual transition for farmers, they should receive free emissions units upfront and have trading at the full emissions price phased in over time.

Changing land-use from dairy, sheep and cattle farming to new forests or low-emissions crops and horticulture (growing fruit, vegetables and flowers) is key to achieving carbon neutrality in New Zealand by 2050.

This implies that fewer sheep and cattle will be farmed in the future. Reducing, though perhaps not eliminating, dairy and meat exports raises important questions about food production. The carbon footprint associated with a diet rich in animal protein is an issue that is likely to loom larger in public debate.

There are few affordable means to cut emissions from pastoral and dairy farming without reducing herd populations at present.

If all sectors are covered by the Emissions Trading Scheme, businesses that reduce their emissions will be rewarded and pay for fewer emissions units. It is the main tool we have to encourage the changes and innovation required in all sectors to dramatically cut our emissions and reach net zero by 2050 in New Zealand.


So Bennett largely explains that it will be difficult to attain 100% renewable power – and she promotes electric vehicles as a way of reducing fossil fuel emissions, but this would require substantially more electricity.

She is basically saying planting a lot of trees is one way of getting to zero net emissions, but that’s only a short term solution,

Her primary suggestion is effectively applying the Emissions Trading Scheme to farming to drastically force cow and sheep numbers down.

Is this what Shaw and the Greens want? If so they should come out and say it.

Greens want to dump referendums so they can force separate Māori wards

Several local bodies have failed in their attempts to impose Māori wards on their constituencies, with voters initiating petitions forcing referendums that subsequently voted strongly against separate democratic privileges – see Māori wards and democracy.

Undeterred by determination through the current democratic process, Green co-leader Marama Davidson is promoting “a movement”  for  “Māori wards right across the country”.

NewstalkZB: Green Party not giving up on Maori wards

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson is refusing to give up the fight to create separate Maori wards, after Whakatane and Palmerston North both voted against the wards in binding referendums.

Davidson says it’s wrong for the majority to be setting the rules for minorities.

“Passing my law, which would have removed that referendum step and which would leave the decision in the hands of the elected councillors, is what is sorely needed.”

She has a law to take a means of democratic decision making out of the hands of voters.

Last year: Greens introduce Bill to make local wards process fair

The Green Party has today entered a Member’s Bill into the ballot that would make local government representation more equitable by ensuring that the establishment of both Māori and general wards on district and regional councils follows the same legal process.

“I’m really excited to be launching my new Member’s Bill today, which will ensure that the process for establishing Māori wards at a local government level is equitable and fair, and honours our commitments under Te Tiriti o Waitangi,” said Green Party Māori development spokesperson Marama Davidson.

Green Farm: ‘All votes are equal…but some vote should be more equal than others’.

“This unfair double standard in our electoral law works to limit Māori representation at local government level throughout the country.

Māori currently have the same opportunities for representation as everyone else. Davidson wants them to have separated representation. Davidson is promoting one standard for Māori the is different for the standard for everyone else.

Why just Māori wards? Why not women’s wards, LBGT wards, immigrant group wards, and white male wards?

“Removing this discriminatory provision is the right thing to do.

With a more discriminatory, less democratic provision?

“The Green Party has a proud history of standing up to honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi. This is a continuation of our work as the political leaders on advancing kaupapa Māori and honouring Te Tiriti,” Ms Davidson said.

By promoting separatist local body democracy. I’m not aware of Te Tiriti o Waitangi stipulating separate democratic rights. There are valid historical reasons for the establishment of the national Māori electorates, and there is no strong indications that voters want that changed – but there are strong indications in New Plymouth, Manawatu, Kaikoura and Whakatane that separate wards are not wanted.

Having lost out in the democratic process Davidson wants the rules changed so she can have what she wants. This is alarming from a party leader.

From the Green’s Open Government and Democracy Policy:

Vision

  • We have a proportional electoral system that is transparent and fair.

This refers to ‘a proportional electoral system’, not dual systems. Fair for all, or ‘more fair’ for some?

Key Principles

1. Key decisions on the shape of the nation’s electoral system belong to the people, not political parties.

And not councils. But Davidson wants this principle overturned so councils can ignore their constituents.

2. The votes of all electors are of equal weight in influencing election results.

Except Davidson wants added weight for a select minority.

6. The electoral system should encourage close links and accountability between individual MPs and their constituents or constituencies.

8. Active democratic processes require more than periodic elections and stronger mechanisms are needed for the ongoing engagement of informed citizens in the development and enactment of key national and local policies.

But Davidson wants to remove the right of local body voters to petition for referendums so they can have their say.

A. Changing the existing system

The Green Party will only consider supporting changes to the Electoral Act if:

1. The only effect of the change is to grant the right to vote to some group of citizens and permanent residents of Aotearoa New Zealand, who were previously ineligible to vote; or
2. The changes are adjustments to the existing electoral system that have been recommended by an independent commission, and that are consistent with our Key Principles.

Separate Māori wards are excluded by point 1. because Māori are already eligible to vote.

I’m not aware of any independent commission recommending Māori wards.

Māori wards are not consistent with Green Party Key Principles, but who needs to bother about principles when a party leader wants to override the current democratic systems?

Another Green democracy ‘vision’:

  • We are actively engaged in our democracy and are able to meaningfully participate in government decision-making.

That’s ok as an ideal, but you can’t make people actively engage in our democracy. Local body referendum turnouts were all close to 40%.

And Davidson wants to remove a petition/referendum means of meaningful participation because she disagrees with the democratic outcome.

Perhaps Davidson should try some meaningful participation and actively engage with Māori non-voters, and find out what would encourage them to engage and vote. That would be much better than trying to change the democratic rules when you don’t get the results you want.

It would be great if more Māori voted. It would also be great if more Māori  candidates stood, and if more Māori candidates were good enough to get voted on to local body governments.

B. Changing to a new system

The Green Party will consider supporting changing to a new electoral system only if:

1. The new electoral system is approved by a free and fair referendum of all people in Aotearoa New Zealand eligible to vote under the existing laws. The referendum should have the following characteristics:
a) The referendum process is determined by an independent commission not by members of parliament

Davidson wants to do the opposite.

Great to get more Māori  voting and standing and elected. But terrible for a party leader to try to change the rules to get what she wants.

Not only is Davidson promoting double democratic standards, she is promoting very different democratic standards to he party principles and policies.

Marama Davidson on the budget – more ‘grate Greens’ than ‘great Greens’

Green co-leader Marama Davidson’s response to the budget gushed Green greatness, as well as smooching smugness while ignoring why the Government has a healthy surplus with which to invest in some green projects.

This Budget begins the process of rebuilding our public services. Restoring our health and education systems. Putting in place the foundations for our future. The foundations for a Green future.

A real government builds houses and shelters the homeless. National stuffed around as rents and house prices exploded.

A real government funds hospitals to deliver the best healthcare in the world to our people. National blew smoke rings while mould grew in the walls of Middlemore Hospital, where three of my babies were born.

A real government thinks the justice system is for delivering justice, not feeding Māori and Pasifika men and women to the private prison industry.

This is what we campaigned for: a real government. A government that takes action rather than kicking the tyres. A government that builds, not a government that shuts things down.

People ask why we didn’t go with National and focus on environmental stuff. But being Green means understanding how our social and economic systems fuel the destruction of our environment.

The environment doesn’t sit in a box on a shelf. Mama nature is all around us. She affects our lives, and our actions affect her, every minute of the day. 💚💚💚

The issues facing our environment – water and air and native species – are connected to the issues facing our society – low wages, high rents, mental health, violence and discrimination.

These all have roots in an economic system which isn’t broken – it’s working exactly as intended, siphoning off the wealth we all create into the hands of a few who missed kindy the day we were taught to share.

This Budget has the largest redistribution of wealth since the Mother of All Budgets, but more Robin Hood than Ruth Richardson – helping those who need it the most. That’s what a real government does.

When National were in government, they were so focused on the surplus they ignored the massive moral deficit: families living in cars. Hungry kids. Toxic rivers, dying kauri and dead dolphins.

National certainly struggled to deal adequately with some problems, but they did try. And the current Government has the benefit of a healthy economy and a growing surplus with which they can fund more initiatives – in large part thanks to the careful financial management of National.

Claiming moral superiority means Davidson has a lot to deliver on, and she is a long way from doing that yet.

Today we’re turning the waka around. We’ve ensured every rental will be warm, dry and well ventilated. We’ll fix Auckland’s transport issues. We’re delivering real justice and aroha to the families of the Pike 29.

We’ll deliver a rent-to-own scheme in KiwiBuild, more services for mental health, drug and alcohol addiction, and overhaul our welfare system to focus on helping people, not reading their Tinder profiles.

We’ll transform Aotearoa into the country we know it can be. Where kids grow up in warm, dry homes in vibrant cities and towns, and can swim in the river and drink water from the tap without getting sick.

A country where everyone who works has a decent income and a good life, and paid employment is not the only kind of work we acknowledge and value.

A country which honours and does MORE than just honour te Tiriti o Waitangi. A country which leads the world in tackling the global problems of climate change, inequality and injustice.

There’s a lot of idealistic maybes there.

We’re not just managing until the next election: we are governing for the next century, planning for the world our mokopuna will inherit: one built on love and community and kaitiakitanga.

This government is going to transform our country. We are so proud to stand with our friends in Labour and New Zealand First and vote for this Budget.

Some of her claims are a bit premature. The world won’t be transformed into a Green nirvana with one largely unremarkable budget.

Greens have only just got their feet under the Government table. They have a lot to deliver yet if they are to achieve what Davidson is claiming.

And her divisive ‘them versus the great us’ moral superiority attitude does not look like ‘one built on love and community and kaitiakitanga’.

More humbleness and more results would help achieve some real and significant Green achievements,

The attitude that Davidson has brought to the top of her Party is more ‘grate Greens’ rather than ‘great Greens’. That’s a real shame.

I applaud some of what the Greens are bringing to budget decisions, but I cringe at how some of their ideals are delivered.

 

Fitzsimons ‘deeply distressed’ by Green support of waka jumping bill

Ex-leader of the Green party Jeanette Fitzsimons has joined the criticism of the Green Party support of Winston peters’ ‘waka jumping’ bill in an appearance before the select committee hearing public submissions on the bill.

NZH: Former Greens co-leader ‘deeply distressed’ by party’s support for waka jumping ban

A former leader of the Green Party, Jeanette Fitzsimons, says she was “deeply distressed ” her party supported the so-called waka jumping bill to its first reading and she hopes wisdom will prevail.

She spoke about the internal dissent and crisis within the Green Party before the last election over the admission by co-leader Metiria Turei of historic benefit fraud.

She appeared before the justice select committee to speak against the Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Bill, which allows a party leader to oust an MP from Parliament with the support of two thirds of the caucus.

If the bill becomes law, the Greens co-leaders with the support of two thirds of the caucus, could have had them booted out of Parliament.

“Integrity cannot be legislated for,” Fitzsimons said. “It is a matter of conscience and judgment.

“In some cases, leaving one’s party is an act of integrity – as when the party has departed from the policies it took to the election or has abused proper process.

“In other cases it may be just self-serving political expediency.”

Greens have always strongly opposed measures like those proposed in the bill, until they supported the bill at it’s first reading. Some Green MPs have also expressed concern about Green support of the bill.

Fitzsimons also referred to the upheaval in the Green Party before last year’s election.

“Dissent is a valuable part of the political process, ” she said. “Without it, MPs are just clones of their leader.”

Referring to the Greens’ internal strife before the last election when MPs Kennedy Graham and David Clendon withdrew from the party list because they could not persuade Turei to resign, she said she supported their right to dissent.

“I strongly disagreed with the stance of my former colleagues Kennedy Graham and David Clendon took on the actions of co-leader Metiria Turei, and I was highly critical of the way they went about it which was unnecessary and damaging.

“But I would defend to the end their right to freedom of conscience and to express their views in opposition to the rest of the caucus, without being thrown out of Parliament.”

I hope Green staffer and list candidate Jack McDonald hears that. He recently slammed and excommunicated Graham:

“In the context of Kennedy still apparently having many supporters in the Party who were upset he wasn’t allowed back on the list, we need to make sure there isn’t the ability for this to happen in the future and prevent the election of Green MPs whose politics are incompatible with fundamental Green kaupapa.”

See A culture of Green zealotry and intolerance

He could learn a lot from older wiser Green Party stalwarts. Fitzsimons:

“Dissent is a valuable part of the political process. Without it, MPs are just clones of their leader.”

But a seemingly growing number of Greens view dissent, and disagreement with and questioning of their ideals, as blasphemy that should not be tolerated.

It will be interesting to see whether the leader McDonald worships and clones, Marama Davidson, stands by fundamental Green kaupapa and votes against the ironically named Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Bill.

If anyone is respected for their integrity in the history of the Green Party it is Jeanette Fitzsimons.

OffShaw shrilling overstates ‘great Green change’

In his latest newsletter James Shaw seems very happy about his party’s successes to date in Government, but he is overstating achievements a bit.

You got the Greens into Government and now you’re seeing the results.

This is what great green change looks like: No new drilling for fossil fuels in the oceans of Aotearoa!

I think that is inaccurate. There has been a ban on new offshore permits, but existing permits can still be used to drill new wells.

This is gigantic! Just the push back from oil companies alone proves how huge this is.

It may be big compared to green achievements in the past, but there is a lot of debate about what effect it will have in practice.

It will limit future exports of oil and gas, and local use of gas could be affected, but until practical large scale alternatives are found to fossil fuels for vehicles (including trains and planes) in particular New Zealand will have to keep importing oil.

And we could not have done it without you.

This campaign started decades ago and has taken the hard work of people, like you, who’ve participated in many different ways to support the stopping of fossil fuel extraction from our oceans.

For years we’ve shone a spotlight on the perils of the continued use of fossil fuels and its threat to our very existence. We know that the world cannot burn the 80% of the reserves we already know about if we are to have any hope of stopping catastrophic climate change. We know that our wellbeing and the wellbeing of our planet demand that we move to cleaner, lower emission ways of doing business and of living our lives.

The permit ban is a battle win, but the fossil fuel and climate change wars are far from over.

We’ve drawn a line in the sand. So now, not only are we taking climate action, but also our beaches, our whales and our Māui dolphins are much safer because of this decision.

I think that ‘much safer’ substantially also overstates the changes gained.

Shaw goes on the Ra Ra! the troops, with the inevitable pleas for donations, but if he oversells successes too often Green supporters may become jaded.

For the first time ever, we’re making the environment a major priority in transport. From now on, transport spending must focus on reducing climate pollution as well as other negative impacts on public health such as water quality.

And finally, no more taxpayer subsidies of large scale irrigation!

Cleaning up our rivers just got real! Thanks to our confidence and supply agreement, the Government is winding down taxpayer subsidies for large scale irrigation schemes that lead to over-intensive land-use.

Another massive win for the Greens and for you!

A lot of work was already being done on cleaning up waterways. A recent report showed that river quality has been improving over the last few years. More Green pressure will help, but a lot is happening regardless.

Perhaps loyal Green supporters will buy Shaw’s exaggerations, but most voters are more likely to be swayed to open their wallets by the Briscoe’s lady – who has toned down a lot lately.

In decades we may be able to look back on great Green change, but at this early stage it sounds like too much offShaw shrilling.

Sensible Green decision to stand in Northcote by-election

The Green Party has announced that it will stand a candidate in the Northcote by-election in June.

While a challenge to their meagre finances and a risk this is a sensible decision. They will be criticised for reducing Labour’s slim chance of winning the seat off National, but they would have been at risk of more damaging criticism if they had helped Labour by not standing a candidate.

That a win for National will have no effect on the balance of power in Parliament will have made this decision easier for the Greens.

Greens will be intent on differentiating from their Labour partner, this is critical for a support party on the cusp of the make or break MMP threshold.

And they will be keen to get measures of their their popularity and of their performance in Government with the Northcote voters.

A candidate has not been announced yet.

We await concrete Green action, and can do without the nutters

The Labour led government banned oil and gas exploration on Thursday, sort of, permits anyway, in the future. It has dismayed NZ First and the Greens are ecstatic, in what may be a largely symbolic move. But it has risks, including:

  • It could deter investment in the existing and non-banned fossil fuel recovery industry based largely in Taranaki
  • If it stops future gas recovery it could increase our reliance on existing dirtier coal energy if the Greens don’t get their way and ban that too)
  • It could force New Zealand to import more expensive energy to meet our needs.

Green co-leader James Shaw followed up yesterday launching a ‘preliminary survey’ of finance for climate related economic activity.

“There are huge opportunities in the clean economy. Today I’m launching a report into how we can finance the transition to net zero emissions, creating jobs in new industries and upgrading our economy to be more resilient.”

The greens claim that alternative energy offers huge business opportunities – see Green report – climate finance in New Zealand.

But there is still a lack of concrete proposals on post fossil fuel clean green optionn. Green ideals need to be translated into viable opportunities.

Shane Cowlishaw (Newsroom): Real climate challenge lies ahead

Tasked with creating many of those next steps will be a new, independent watchdog.

The climate commission will be established under the Zero Carbon Act, with an interim committee soon to be announced while the permanent body is set up.

Alongside its job of holding the Government to account for its progress on greenhouse gas emissions, it will also provide advice on setting targets, reducing emissions and addressing climate risks.

It has its work cut out for it.

On the face of it, the decision to ban new offshore exploration permits will have little effect on our use of oil and gas.

Until people’s habits change or new taxes on fossil fuels are introduced, the country will continue to import what it needs from overseas.

Last week Jones was in Taranaki to soften the exploration ban blow, announcing $20 million of spending for the region.

It included $150,000 on new energy initiatives, but the major money was for the restoration of a cathedral and better walking tracks.

That won’t replace the loss of the oil and gas sector. New industries will be needed.

Shaw told media he believed the end of exploration would be a boon for the economy rather than a hit, as clean energy industries surged forward.

“It does represent, I think, the greatest economic opportunity in at least a generation for the creation of new jobs and new technologies that our dependence on fossil fuel has held back for too long.”

At this stage, however, talk is cheap and unless real solutions are put forward the Government risks watching the exploration ban thrown out at the next election.

The Greens have talked up their vision for a vastly different energy and economic environment to what we have now.

They have succeeded at getting into Government. They have succeeded in making a mark with the ban on future oil and gas exploration permits.

They have a much bigger task ahead of them – proving their ideas are not just unrealistic ideals, and coming up with concrete alternatives.

And no Robert, I won’t just give the promoters of the revolution a blank cheque and ‘trust the Greens’.

In principle I support many of their aims. I think that we need to make a much better effort in transitioning away from our reliance on fossil fuels, for a number of reasons, including pollution, the environment, the climate, and the economic risk – a war in the Middle East could throw New Zealand into chaos. We have already had major change forced on us by the oil shocks in the 1970s.

But I have concerns about some of the Green aims, and what impact their ideals could have. Some of them can’t avoid having adverse effects, any major change does.

It’s time now for the Greens to step up and prove their worth. They have only just begun and are a long way off having a convincing alternative at this stage.

One thing that would help them gain support is to ditch extreme targets. Zero carbon, zero road deaths, zero poverty are so fanciful they are easily dismissed as pie in the polluted sky.

They need to convince the people of New Zealand that there are benefits from radical change – and that will mean not being too radical, at this stage at least.

A goal of halving emissions would be difficult enough – and even that is too vague for people living everyday lives.

Trying to force things like bikes and trains on people risks resistance.

Greens need leadership that works with the people, for the people rather than for the few percent of their loyal supporters.

Green zealots who think that their way is the only way, and who are  are intolerant of criticism and being held to account, are likely to continue to be detrimental to the cause.

If the Greens want to win the PR battle they need to start by convincing their own of a reasonable approach to radical change. Otherwise they risk being dismissed as nutters.

Greens hail ‘biggest victory yet’

Gareth Hughes:

I had to pinch myself because I almost can’t believe we did it!

Today our government has announced the historic decision to end all new fossil fuel exploration in our oceans.

Ending deep sea oil and gas exploration has long been a key goal of the Green Party and today, in Government, we’ve delivered it.

Without question it is our biggest victory yet.We’ve stopped the rigs.

Without doubt this is a big win for the Greens, but I don’;t think it stops the rigs, it just stops possible future rigs that don’t already have permits.

This nuclear free momentof ending the environmentally dangerous and planet threatening search for new oil and gas in our pristine waters has come about because of you and generations of New Zealanders calling for a clean energy future.

This campaign started decades ago. As a teenager I took part in a blockade of Mobil Oil calling for the end to oil exploration. And in 2011 I joined thousands of others on the beach at Tauranga to help clean up in the wake of the Rena oil disaster. Like so many Green members and supporters the campaign to stop oil exploration has been core to why I’m involved in politics.

And we really should all take pride in today’s historic win.

The Green Party has thrown everything (bar the kitchen sink) at achieving this goal. We worked with artists and painted giant murals, marched in the streets, tendered for the oil blocks to protect our oceans from the oil companies and I even donned a wetsuit to launch a policy underwater following the Rena oil spill. We uncovered scandals in Taranaki like the spreading of fracking waste on farm land and the National Government’s plans to drill for oil in the endangered Maui dolphin sanctuary.

For decades Greens have shone a spotlight on the perils of oil drilling and its threat to our very existence. And today we have won.

Our beaches, our whales, our Maui’s dolphins are safer from the danger of a Deep Water Horizon type catastrophe because of the decision our Government has made today.

Some people will not be happy about this decision. The oil companies are sure to protest loudly and have deep pockets and loud voice to drown out the call of the environment.  At the same time as this, the Government has started transition planning and support for the works.  So we need your help to get the positive message about protecting our climate out to as many people as possible.