Green involvement in water quality, rangatira and kaitiaki rights

Although Labour’s Environment Minister David Parker introduced Action announced for “a noticeable improvement in water quality” this is a big deal for the Green Party, who ensured water quality would be addressed in their Confidence and Supply Agreement with Labour.

Under ‘Sustainable Economy’:

5. Provide assistance to the agricultural sector to reduce biological emissions, improve water quality, and shift to more diverse and sustainable land use including more forestry

Under ‘Healthy Environment’:

7. Improve water quality and prioritise achieving healthy rivers, lakes and aquifers with stronger regulatory instruments, funding for freshwater enhancement and winding down Government support for irrigation.

a. The Resource Management Act will be better enforced.

I can’t find much on this in the media, but Green co-leader Marama Davidson said this via email – not surprisingly and justifiably Greens see this as a win for them:


Our streams, rivers, and lakes are precious to all of us. Freshwater is the lifeblood of our communities. That’s why we’re pleased that today the Government is continuing work to deliver on the Green Party’s commitment to clean up our rivers so they’re clean and healthy for our kids and grandkids.

The Green Party have long championed cleaning up our waterways and protecting them from pollution.

Russel Norman spent a summer kayaking several awa highlighting the growing pollution. When National slashed the freshwater standards Catherine Delahunty toured the country to restore them, and last year we made rivers a priority in the 2017 election campaign.

Together, we’ve put cleaning up our rivers on the political agenda. And today, with the Greens at the heart of Government, we’re making tangible progress.

As part of our agreement with Labour, we’ve secured prioritising healthy rivers, lakes, and aquifers.

Because of that, today the Government is announcing:

  • A comprehensive work programme to clean up our most at-risk catchments
  • Strengthening the National Policy Statement on freshwater
  • A new environmental standard to protect water
  • Improvements to the RMA
  • Beginning work on catchment-by-catchment allocations

We’ve still got a long journey ahead to make our rivers healthy and safe to swim in. But, today’s announcement shows this government is flowing in the right direction.

However, a key area that we think needs strengthening is to properly recognise that Māori have rangatira and kaitiaki rights over water, as guaranteed by Te Tiriti o Waitangi. We’ll continue to push for this to be honoured.

Protecting the environment and recognising Māori rights go hand-in-hand.

Gareth Hughes versus Megan Woods on oil and gas exploration

Green MP Gareth Hughes has made it clear that he and the Green party disapprove of a concession given to the oil and gas exploration industry, as announced by Minister of Energy Megan Woods.

Hughes in a speech in parliament in March:  End Oil Exploration, General Debate Speech

While the media debate the pros and cons of oil exploration you can’t debate the physics of climate change.

Scientists warn we can’t afford to burn 75% of the fossil fuels we’ve already discovered if we want to avoid dangerous climate change.

A study in Nature Communications last year found if we burn all available fossil fuels, we’ll cause the fastest climate change in 420 million years!

Exploring for more oil is like pouring petrol into an already filled gas tank and lighting a match.

This is the nuclear-free moment of our generation.

We find ourselves at an important historic turning point – will we continue exploring for new oil and gas that we can’t afford to burn?

To get there we need to transition away from fossil fuels like oil.

Given some existing permits don’t expire until expire 2046 we need to stop granting more.

That’s why I’m calling on the government to stop offering new exploration permits for fossil fuels.

Our future isn’t more oil rigs off our coasts it’s wind turbines on our hills, insulation under our roofs, solar panels on top; modern public transport in our cities and sustainable zero-carbon jobs in our regions.

I support the end to exploration.

On Monday: Bill to end new offshore oil and gas permits a win for the planet

The Green Party welcome the introduction of the Crown Minerals Amendment Bill, which will legislate to officially stop new offshore oil and gas exploration permits.

“This is a special day for the planet, and proof that this Government are now meaningfully acting to address climate change”, Green Party energy spokesperson Gareth Hughes said today.

“This is Greens in Government at its best and represents an important step to stopping new offshore permits, so that our environment is better protected.

“We’re looking forward to the upcoming wider review of the Act. We will push hard to change the purpose of the Act so that exploration is ‘regulated’, not ‘promoted’ by this Government.

Surprisingly given the Green Party’s in ending the use fossil fuels and ending oil and gas exploration it looks like they were blind sided by Woods’ announcement on Tuesday:

Mining companies with existing licenses for drilling have a time limit on when they can explore. If they reach the time limit, their permits are handed back to the Crown.

Oil drillers shouldn’t be offered special treatment to extend or waive that time limit. I struggle to see the point in banning offshore exploration for oil and gas if existing companies with huge blocks can hold off from exploring until way later down the track.

Hughes followed up in Parliament yesterday:

Question No. 7—Energy and Resources

7. GARETH HUGHES (Green) to the Minister of Energy and Resources: Does she stand by her reported statement that she will “consider giving the oil companies more time to fulfil their commitments on the permits”; if so, which permits are currently facing a “drill or drop” decision in the next two years?

Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS (Minister of Energy and Resources): Yes, I am in discussion with officials regarding the possibility of exercising my statutory powers, as the responsible Minister, to make changes to petroleum exploration permits. Any such change would be made on a case by case basis under the current law. There are 16 permits with “drill or drop” decisions in the next two years. More information about all active petroleum exploration permits, including “drill or drop decision” points, is publicly available on the New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals website. As the member is aware, our Government is committed to a long-term transition away from reliance on fossil fuels, and the introduction of legislation this week reflects exactly that commitment.

Gareth Hughes: Does she stand by the Government’s historic decision to halt offshore oil and gas exploration, and if so, does she think a long tail of up to 16 active permits undermines this decision?

Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS: In answer to the first part of the question, yes, and in answer to the second part, no. As we’ve been clear, the Government is committed to a long-term transition away from fossil fuel exploration and a clear plan for our future. We’re achieving this by issuing no further offshore exploration permits, while also protecting the existing exploration permits that cover 100,000 square kilometres, to enable a smooth transition over the coming decades. This is a sensible approach that allows regions, communities, industry, and the workforce a just transition to a low-carbon future and avoids sudden economic shocks like we saw in the 1980s.

Gareth Hughes: Does she agree with recent comments by our climate ambassador Jo Tyndall that this Government has sent a clear signal to industry that we are phasing out oil and gas extraction, and if so, does relaxing the work programme deadlines on permits undermine that message?

Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS: I do agree and am proud that we are ending offshore exploration and are committed to a just transition, and we’re not relaxing those conditions.

Gareth Hughes: If the Minister grants extensions to any offshore permits, will she limit their duration, and if so, what time frame will she use?

Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS: As I indicated in my primary question, each of these needs to be on a case by case basis, and I will consider those applications on a case by case basis.

Gareth Hughes: Will the Minister commit to passing more wide-ranging changes to the Crown Minerals Act (CMA) this term to ensure New Zealand does transition away from fossil fuel extraction?

Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS: As the member knows, the first tranche of the CMA reforms was introduced this week. This legislation is to give effect to the Government’s decision about the future of offshore petroleum exploration. Our intention is to begin tranche two following the passage of this legislation, and we’ve long signalled that tranche two will involve a comprehensive review of the CMA and will engage with a wide range of stakeholders to ensure the legislation is fit for purpose as we make this transition. The Government’s decision about—

SPEAKER: Order! Order! That’s enough. That’s enough.

Hughes followed that up:

Hughes is the Green Party spokesperson for Energy & Resources. It seems odd that he hasn’t been closer to Woods and what she is doing and announcing on this – has she ignored Hughes and the Greens?

Surprisingly there is no mention of fossil fuels or oil and gas in the Labour-Green confidence and supply agreement.

And as Climate Change Minister where is James Shaw on this? Last week in an email to party supporters – James Shaw promoting Green achievements

Being in Government means we can deliver on our Confidence and Supply Agreement – but it also means so much more. For instance, we got an end to new exploration for offshore oil and gas – yet this wasn’t covered in our agreement.

It seems that they didn’t get as much as they thought they had.

 

James Shaw promoting Green achievements

The Green Party were always going to achieve far more than in their years in Opposition now they are a part of Government, albeit outside Cabinet and the junior party.

Small parties often struggle to be seen to be having significant wins in the shadow of the major party in particular, and Greens are also in the shadow of Winston Peters.

Party survival is an important consideration.

Promotional emails seem to have slowed down, but co-leader James Shaw has just sent one out. It is quite self applauding, and solicits donations, but this is how he sees Green achievements (remember that this is a sales pitch targeting party members and supporters):

I am so proud of what the Greens have achieved at the heart of government. Your support has enabled us to do so much.  It’s YOU and people like you, who make the difference for the Green Party.

Because you gave us the chance – in government – to realise the dream of becoming a country where our natural heritage and our communities are at the heart of decision-making.

You’ve given us a shot at a country where every person has a place, a community, a sense of belonging, a country where every person is treated with dignity and fairness.

These are the values we bring to the new government and that we will continue to fight for.

Being in Government means we can deliver on our Confidence and Supply Agreement – but it also means so much more. For instance, we got an end to new exploration for offshore oil and gas – yet this wasn’t covered in our agreement.

This was possible because we are partners of this Government, because we are committed to transformational change, and because we can influence what happens at the highest levels.

Here’s what else YOU gave us the chance to accomplish:

  • Secured $14 billion funding package for walkway infrastructure, cycle-ways, buses and light rail
  • Real progress on taking climate action – with more than 15,000 submissions on the Zero Carbon Bill
  • A Green Investment Fund: $125 million dollars in Budget 2018 to set it up
  • Secured a win to wind-down Government subsidies of large-scale irrigation schemes
  • A big increase of $15 million into the Sustainable Farming Fund
  • A commitment that the review of the Overseas Investment Act will look at putting the protection of water at the heart of decision-making
  • Negotiated the largest funding increase for DoC in 16 years
  • Phasing out single use plastic bags
  • Funding for the world’s first Predator Free Capital
  • A world first to provide workplace leave for the victims of domestic violence
  • Over $10 million dollars to pilot a programme to ensure young people have access to timely, quality, mental health services
  • Warmer Kiwi Homes initiative funding two-thirds of the cost of insulating the homes of people on low incomes across Aotearoa
  • Committing to end the gender pay gap and representing women properly in the public sector and on public boards
  • Making headway on country-of-origin food labelling to re-include bacon
  • Leading the way on more open and transparent government – we’re pro-actively releasing our Ministerial diaries so people can see who we’re meeting and why we’re meeting them
  • Leading the way on a more accessible government – we’re on the verge of securing accessibility support for people with disabilities to be able to participate more easily in our democracy
  • Shaping the terms of reference for future trade agreements, so that they actually support and enhance our social and environmental goals, not undermine them.

And that’s not all!

When Jeanette Fitzsimons, a previous Co-leader, left Parliament she said in her valedictory speech, “… we need to find better ways of measuring our economic success, and that the aim should be a better economy, not just a bigger one.”

And now New Zealand Treasury and Statistics NZ are working to set up a comprehensive framework for measuring – not just economic success – but social, and environmental, and cultural wellbeing too. So, in next years budget the Minister of Finance will be required to report on our wellbeing, not just our economic through-put.

It will be interesting to see how ‘wellbeing’ is measured and reported alongside all the budget numbers.

Greens trying to attract attention on social, environmental issues

The business end of the Green Party – their ministers – have had a low profile and have been overshadowed by Labour and NZ First. This hasn’t been helped by Julie Anne Genter being on maternity leave, but James Shaw and Eugenie Sage aren’t attention seeker types of MPs anyway. They have largely pout their heads down and got on with their new jobs.

But they are trying to change this, albeit in a very low key way.

Stuff:  Greens look to social issues and rivers in second year of Government

The Green Party is keen to advance social policies in their second year of Government, like a promise to give free mental health services to anyone under 25.

The party put out a release looking ahead to their second year of Government on Saturday morning, despite the anniversary not falling for another month and a half.

Remarkably I went looking for this and can’t find anything other than the Stuff report – I can’t find it on the Green Party website, nor on their Facebook page, nor on the Green or Shaw’s Twitter feeds. What are their PR people playing at?

In it, co-leader James Shaw talks up the party’s priorities for the second year of the Government.

“Our key objectives for our second year in a Government with Labour and New Zealand First will include transforming our social safety net so no child is left in poverty,” Shaw said.

“We’re going to work really hard to address the mental health crisis in New Zealand, working towards accessible mental health services irrespective of where you live or what you earn, with free mental health services for anyone under 25.”

That mental health policy was campaigned on by the Greens and is included in the Confidence and Supply Agreement with the Labour Party – so has a good chance of actually happening.

If NZ First don’t hobble it. Shaw doesn’t sound overly confident here.

But other changes to protect New Zealand’s waterways and introduce a rental warrant of fitness have not been agreed to by the other governing parties.

“No one said this was going to be easy. This Government holds a diversity of views, just like our community does, and everything we work on must be worked through together, as adults,” Shaw said.

It won’t be easy. Not only do Greens need to get Labour into giving their policies some sort of priority, they also have to convince NZ First to back them as well, or National.

“That is the beauty of a diverse Government and a world-leading MMP voting system, the alternative is US-style politics with mega parties that hold all the power, representing the few.”

Lipstick on a pig of a governing arrangement?

The tussles between Labour and Winston Peters are looking ugly enough, and Peters is likely to be even less willing to concede policies and power to Shaw.

As much as Shaw may like to promote a Green wave of progress, he doesn’t seem to be a strong leader and he has a weak political hand to play with.

He isn’t a politician that naturally attracts attention through controversy, and especially after Metiria Turei’s disaster last year he is unlikely to want to risk a stunt approach.

So what else can Shaw do but plug away nicely and quietly? Probably not a lot.

It doesn’t help when the party puts out a release on a Saturday morning, a very slow political news time, and does not make it available on any of the major social media platforms nor their website as far as I can see – and I went looking.

Green differences over 1080

Groups and individuals have staunchly opposed the use of 1080 to control pests like possums and rats, but the Department of Conservation and conservation groups see it as an essential tool in protecting native species.

Some take extreme measures. RNZ: Loose nuts threaten DOC staff safety

There are fears for the safety of conservation workers and contractors after recent attacks on their vehicles.

In three instances wheel nuts on the vehicles were loosened in acts believed to be connected to protests over the Conservation Department’s use of 1080 poison for pest management.

In the most serious case a contractor avoided injury when a wheel came off while he was driving, after its nuts had been loosened.

DOC director-general Lou Sanson said toxic bait had been put in a staff letterbox and he had also seen other threatening posts on Facebook recently.

“Threats to put wires across gullies to bring down helicopters and a number of brochures put on DoC vehicles depicting targets of helicopters.”

He said it was extremely disappointing as DoC staff were working hard to try and preserve New Zealand’s native birds.

“Rats, stoats and possums have been winning. We know we can turn it around and we have.”

“Keas have made a great recovery in nearly 20 percent of the Southern Alps and there has also been an amazing recovery in kākā and mohua in South Westland.”

Mr Sanson said people had a right to protest but it had gone too far.

There seems to be a difference within the Green Party on this.

Newshub: National MP accuses Marama Davidson of undermining Conservation Minister

National MP Sarah Dowie says Marama Davidson has undermined fellow Green Party MP and Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage with comments over 1080.

Ms Davidson said on Wednesday protesters who threw dead birds and fake pellets on the steps of parliament had “valid concerns”.

“We need to listen, and we need to have community-led conversations about this,” she told Stuff.

“They are trying to be heard, and we will need to keep listening.”

“There are some concerns about 1080 but it is the major tool we’ve got in the tool box to assist particularly in the more remote and mountainous areas,” Ms Sage told Stuff in June.

Ms Dowie said it was not a good look for the Greens to have two MPs apparently disagreeing about the poison.

“Ms Sage will be highly embarrassed by Marama Davidson’s comments to the anti-1080 lobby,” she said.

“She’s basically undermined Ms Sage’s efforts with respect to the protection of our biodiversity.”

Ms Dowie said the division may go even further, considering another governing party’s stance on the poison.

“New Zealand First actually campaigned on banning the use of 1080,” she said.

Both National and Labour say 1080 is the most effective pest control tool New Zealand has. They have the support of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, the Department of Conservation, the Environmental Protection Authority, and lobby groups including Forest and Bird, Federated Farmers, WWF and Ospri.

A tweet from ex-Green MP Kevin Hague yesterday:

 

There seems to be a clash between the environmental Greens and the activist Greens.

Nation interview – Marama Davidson

Green co-leader is calling for an enforceable warrant of fitness for rental homes – a regime that will check out rental properties before they can take on tenants.

She said this policy hasn’t been costed, and it is Green policy so won’t necessarily get Government support.

When challenged on the apparent dominance of NZ First in policy achievements Davidson repeatedly rattles off Green achievements.

She says that the Greens always have been and remain a strong feminist party when challenged over her ‘c-word’ campaign – she seems to have learnt from that misstep and responded fairly well here.

Green candidate John Hart:

Interesting question from to about whether the Greens are an equal partner in Govt, based on NZ First and Green wins. So much depends on what each base wants, is willing to budge on, not just the number or $ value of policy wins.

But it would be fascinating to see an attempt at an objective metric

Ghahraman fettering free speech, links Farage to UK MP death

Green MP Golriz Ghahraman has raised free speech eyebrows even higher after linking Nigel Farage to the murder of a UK MP in trying the fetter his free speech.

(fetter v. restrain with chains or manacles, typically around the ankles)

This follows her selective application of free speech to people she agrees with versus those she doesn’t.

But she was challenged on this:

Let’s see appeal for Nigel Farage’s right to speak when he comes to NZ I won’t hold my breath

Her response:

Picking those she things ‘free speech’ and who’s tongues should be chained is controversial enough, but linking Farage to Cox’s death is just about jumping the shark territory.

Gharaman has become a bit of a loose cannon on Twitter, which doesn’t reflect well on the Green Party.


A comment from Missy (from the UK):

She shows her complete ignorance with that tweet.

She obviously believes the left’s spin on Farage, his Brexit campaign was not that much more dishonest than that of the Remain side, and since the referendum hate from the pro EU has risen more than the other way. As for hate crimes rising exponentially, they haven’t, many of the so-called hate crimes have since been proven to be either made up, or not so much hate crimes but normal criminal activity but because the victim was a migrant they were reported as hate crimes.

This is dishonest and misleading from Golriz.

I am not really a fan of Farage’s as such, but he is fair and he gives everyone a chance to air their views whether they agree with him or not – in fact on his show he regularly gets annoyed that no-one who disagrees with him calls in and constantly asks for those that disagree to call in. He is a believer in free speech.

This woman just keeps making stuff up to suit herself.

 

Green climate refugee policy lacking support, refugees

Green leader James Shaw was keen on a new refugee category for people adversely affected by climate change, but has no support from Labour and no potential refugees.

Green Party policy: Welcoming more refugees

The Green Party will:

  • Create a new humanitarian visa for people displaced by climate change in the Pacific.

Climate change will only make the global refugee crisis worse. We’re committed to providing new homes for some of the people who are forced out of their own communities and countries by rising seas and extreme droughts, particularly in the Pacific.

There was no mention of this policy the Labour-Green confidence and supply agreement.

Stuff:  Humanitarian visa proposed for climate change refugees dead in the water

A proposed “experimental” visa for climate change refugees is dead in the water, with the idea gaining little traction among Government officials and Pacific leaders.

Minister for Climate Change James Shaw announced the Government would consider a special visa for Pacific peoples displaced by climate change in October 2017, after a tribunal rejected refugee status for two Tuvalu families.

Shaw, who was overseas and unavailable for comment, told RNZ in October the Government would consider an “experimental” humanitarian visa category as “a piece of work that we intend to do in partnership with the Pacific islands”.

The families argued rising seas would make their lives unsustainable, but climate change is not a recognised ground for refugee status under the UN Refugee Convention.

Minister for Immigration Iain Lees-Galloway said on Friday that Pacific peoples have expressed desire to continue to live in their own countries, and current work is primarily focussed on mitigating the impacts of climate change.

“Responses to the impacts of climate change would likely be considered as part of future discussions on Pacific immigration policies, but there is no specific plan for an ‘experimental visa’ at this stage.”

Not surprisingly, people prefer that problems are prevented or fixed so they can stay in their own countries.

Green Party immigration spokesperson Golriz Ghahraman​ said it was still party policy, but research on the ground showed a visa was likely unsuitable to address climate migration.

“The climate migration issue looks like it’s much broader than us coming up with a visa … Tuvaluans want to continue to be Tuvaluans.

“That became apparent fairly quickly when we started looking into it.”

It looks like the Greens first came up with the policy, then “started looking into it”, research “showed a visa was likely unsuitable to address climate migration” but the climate refugee policy remains.

Perhaps the Greens could do some looking into some of their other policies and see whether they stack up.

 

 

 

Greens leaning greener

The most significant signal from the Green conference in the weekend was their obviously deliberate focus on green (environmental) policies.

I think that most people will generally approve of a greater green focus, and will support policies that will protect or improve the New Zealand environment, but some may baulk at policies that impact or impose costs on themselves.

Bryce Edwards’ political roundup: The Green Party goes greener

Those who want the Green Party to focus primarily on the environment should be very happy with the direction the party is heading in. Over the past 10 months in government – and especially during the weekend – it has become clear that the party is more about the environment than ever before and much less focused on economic and social issues.

The conference in the weekend presented the party at its most green ever. All of the main issues that the leadership and membership focused on were environmental. Unlike last year’s conference where Metiria Turei unveiled an incredibly leftwing welfare policy – and dramatically confessed to welfare fraud – at this conference the talk was all about climate change, conservation, landfill waste issues, and water bottling.

For the best account of how the party has returned to an environmental focus, see Henry Cooke’s Bruised Green Party go back to basics at annual conference. He points to the two major announcements on water and waste, saying these “catered entirely to the more environmentally-focused wing of the party”.

Cooke suggests the focus is strategic: “With the party facing a raft of criticism from the commentariat that it was forgetting the ‘Green’ in the party’s name, launching some solid environmental policies made sense. The water testing stuff, clearly aimed at big foreign water bottlers, was some of the most populist policy the Greens have had in years, and will be well-received across the country.”

Of course it’s strategic – annual conferences are a primary way for parties to package and promote their current strategies.

Do the Greens need to get more radical?

A number of commentators have pointed to the Greens getting fewer policy wins than the New Zealand First party, and the fact that they haven’t been able to make more of the environmental wins they have achieved. For Guyon Espiner it’s a case of the MPs simply needing to use the “weapon the Green Party appear reluctant to use: Its voice” – see: The Green Party needs to speak up.

Many are pointing to the need for Davidson, in particular, to speak up more. And although Espiner agrees, he says others should too: “As a backbencher Ms Davidson is completely free to speak her mind. Even the Green ministers are largely free of the constraints of collective responsibility, in that it only applies to their portfolios.”

Given responses to Davidson speaking up recently, that may not be a positive thing for Green support. While Davidson was riding the greener Green wave at the conference, much may depend on what she chooses to champion ongoing, especially on social media.

Similarly, Sam Sachdeva has said the Greens need louder voice in government. He argues that “The party may need to fight its corner more often if it is to survive and thrive”. In particular, “A dead rat or two may be palatable, but the Greens must show they can choose their own cuisine when they want to.”

A huge challenge for any small party in power is to not only show they can be a cohesive part of the Government, but also to retain their distinct identity and credibility. They have struggled with that at times, especially over their odd position over the waka jumping bill.

Being seen to focus more on green (environmental) issues is a smart move, because that’s where the Greens are most likely to pick up support they lost in the lead up to last year’s election.

But we will need to wait and see whether a greener Green is a short term strategy, or a longer term shift in direction.

Q+A – Marama Davidson and James Shaw

Colrin Dann interviewed both Green leaders James Shaw and Marama Davidson on Q+A last night.

James Shaw on Greens in Government: “you’re not going to please all the people all the time”

Marama Davidson: no campaign on c-word, at a rally for racism I talked about the words used against me

Davidson may have heeded feedback and decided it was not going to be a popular issue to pursue.