Green Party – ‘Think ahead’

The Green leaders James Shaw and Marama Davidson have been given a chance to promote their campaign in The Nation this morning.

Green Party – Clean Energy Plan

The Green Party announced their Green Energy Plan yesterday. As for any small party policy this is subject to the Greens making the 5% threshold to get them back into Parliament, and is then subject to being able to negotiate this with the Labour party if they get to form a Government, and don’t get blocked by NZ First if they are also in the governing mix.

James Shaw says their policies would be funded from the Covid Recovery Fund, and would cost about $1.3 billion in the first three years.

And ditching fossil fuels will take time as they are phased out.

Clean Energy Plan

Powering Climate Change Action

When all our energy comes from the sun, the wind, and the flow of rivers, we won’t need to burn the fossil fuels that cause the climate crisis.

For decades, governments have chosen to keep burning last century’s dirty fuels. Many factories still use huge coal boilers and our largest power plant relies on 1970s coal technology. But clean alternatives exist and the Green Party understands that change is needed. The climate crisis demands urgent action to decarbonise the energy system. As we reset the economy after COVID-19, investing in clean energy will help tackle the climate crisis to build a stronger, more resilient economy. The Green Party will:

  1. Bring forward the Government’s target for 100% renewable electricity from 2035 to 2030 and re-instate the ban on building new fossil fuel electricity generation.
  2. Equip all suitable public housing with solar panels and batteries, saving people on their power bills and enabling them to share clean energy with their neighbours.
  3. Make it 50% cheaper for everyone to upgrade to solar and batteries for their own homes, with Government finance.
  4. Create a $250 million community clean energy fund to support communities, iwi, and hapū to build and share low-cost, clean energy with their neighbours.
  5. Train thousands of people for clean energy careers with a clean energy training plan, developed with the energy industry, training providers, and unions.
  6. Ban new fossil-fuelled industrial heating systems and boilers in our first 100 days in Government, end industrial coal use in Aotearoa by 2030, and end industrial gas use by 2035.
  7. Triple existing financial support for businesses to replace coal and gas with clean energy alternatives.
  8. Stop issuing permits for new onshore fossil fuel extraction.
  9. Update planning rules to make it easier to build new wind farms.

Affordable home solar

Grants will cover 50% of the cost of a standard sized solar and battery system, including for rental homes. These grants will be delivered in partnership with existing solar companies and not-for-profit energy organisations, who already have the skills and experience needed to scale up.

Solar state homes

The rooftops of the 63,000 state homes throughout Aotearoa are an untapped opportunity to create free electricity from the sun. The Green Party will put solar panels on every suitable state house, along with a battery pack to store the power for when it’s needed. The rooftops of our public houses will become a huge Virtual Power Plant, sharing clean electricity with neighbours. This will save households $1,000 each, a year.

Community Clean Energy Fund

A $250 million Community Clean Energy Fund will empower communities, iwi and hapū, and local councils to build small-scale clean electricity generation and smart grids. Community groups will be able to apply for a grant or a loan to get good projects built. These could be local wind turbines, community solar systems, or community-owned batteries that store and share excess power generated by household rooftop solar panels. The fund would also be available for people who live in apartment buildings and papakāinga who want to share access to rooftop wind or solar electricity.

Clean industrial energy

Burning fossil fuels generates 60% of Aotearoa’s industrial heat, making it Aotearoa’s second biggest energy-related contributor to climate change. Replacing coal with clean alternatives is one of the best ways to quickly reduce Aotearoa’s carbon emissions.

The Green Party will triple current government support for businesses to replace coal and gas with clean alternatives, and to increase their energy efficiency. We expect many businesses to choose electricity, while others might burn biomass and wood waste. We will also modernise grid connection rules, making it easier for businesses to switch to electricity.

A Clean Energy Industry Training Plan will be developed with working people, energy companies, unions, and local government to help create sustainable careers and ensure a just transition to new clean energy jobs for people currently working with fossil fuels.

I had to search the full policy to find the projected costs. Some costs are vague.

Solar grants would be funded from the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund, and would cost $45 million in the first year, increasing over time as more people take up the offer and the solar industry expands to meet demand. The Crown would seek to recoup half the subsidy over 15 years, from a small levy.

The solar state home plan would be funded from the Government’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund at a total cost of $1.27 billion for all 63,000 state homes.

The Green Party in Government will triple the Government’s financial support for businesses making the switch to clean energy, from $33million to $100 million a year.

Building on the $200 million Clean Powered Public Service fund announced by the Government in January 2020, we will continue upgrading government buildings to be more energy efficient.

The Green Party in Government will work with Transpower to solve this problem so grid upgrades can happen faster and their costs get shared fairly.

This will cost users.

How we’ll pay for it

The cost of doing nothing to stop climate change would far exceed the costs of upgrading to clean energy. Increased droughts, floods, and storms are already taking an economic toll on Aotearoa, and around the world.

I keep hearing this claim from Greens but It is probably debatable. They link to OCDE (Organisation for EconomicCo-operation and Development) – Climate change: Consequences of inaction

Read the full Clean energy Plan policy here.

 

NZ First and fishing boat camera delays

Newshub has agitated Winston Peters with their reporting of ongoing delays at fitting cameras on fishing boats to monitor catches and protection of protected bird and sea mammal species.

Peters has been connected with fishing company interests for years, Shane Jones is former chair of both Te Ohu Kaimoana and Sealord, and fishing companies have donated to NZ First and to the NZ First trust (and also to national and Labour candidates).

The installation of cameras on fishing boats seems to have been contentious. National planned to require it when they were in Government, and the Green Party, Greenpeace and NZ Forest and Bird strongly supports it.

RNZ (February 2018): Govt considering ditching fishing boat camera plans

Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash said many in the fishing industry were unhappy with the camera proposal and all options were on the table – including dumping it entirely.

One of Mr Nash’s first moves when he became the Fisheries Minister was to put the brakes on the rollout of electronic monitoring of the commercial fishing fleet.

The former National government came up with the plan last year, saying it would protect the sustainability of fish stocks and act as a deterrent against illegal activity, like fish dumping.

But Mr Nash said National forced it upon the sector, and he was getting advice from officials on what should be done.

“There are certainly concerns in the industry that there hasn’t been a proper process followed and a complete and utter lack of consultation.

“That does seem to be the prevailing attitude but we haven’t made any final decision on that,” he said.

Mr Nash said ditching the programme entirely was one of the options being considered.

“We could continue the project as it is, we could delay it – at the extreme we could dump it.”

National Party fisheries spokesman Gerry Brownlee said the rollout of cameras was needed to deal with well-publicised problems in the sector.

“Our step to put cameras on board was not rejected by the industry, it was the speed with which they were required to comply and they felt they needed more time,” he said.

Mr Brownlee said to move away from cameras would be ignoring problems, such as commercial fisheries catching non-quota species, as well as seabirds and sea mammals.

Forest and Bird chief executive Kevin Hague said the fishing industry could not be trusted and cameras on boats was the only way to keep it honest.

Seafood New Zealand chief executive Tim Pankhurst said Forest and Bird had an anti-commercial fishing agenda, and that the camera proposal was simplistic, unreasonably costly and inadequate.

Stuff (January 2019): Cameras on fishing boats delayed, angering Greens and Greenpeace

The Government has again delayed the rollout of mandatory cameras on fishing boats.

The change to the regulation was “gazetted” on Wednesday and gives companies until August 2019 to get their boats ready.

This follows another delay caused as the policy, supported by the previous Government, made its way through Cabinet.

Both the Green Party and Greenpeace have expressed disappointment at the delay.

“We don’t agree with this delay which is putting our fisheries and natural environment at risk”, Green Party animal welfare spokesperson Gareth Hughes said.

Despite being a part of the Government, the Greens are free to disagree with it on issues its MPs have no ministerial discretion over.

Former Green Party co-leader and Greenpeace executive director Russel Norman was also angered by the delay.

“There was a disturbing level of malpractice exposed by the original trials of the cameras back in 2012,” Norman said.

Norman alleged NZ First MP and Regional Development Minister Shane Jones was behind the move. NZ First have interfered in several other fishing policy decisions in recent months, and Jones received thousands of dollars in donations from fishing companies.

“If Shane Jones is now the de facto Minister of Fishing and has a policy agenda to help fishing companies destroy the environment, then the Government should just come clean about it rather than quietly delaying any action to protect our oceans,” Norman said.

Jones vigorously defended himself against Norman, saying the Greenpeace leader had left politics so should stay out of it.

Newsroom last month (June 2020): Why the delay to get cameras on boats?

The deadline for having cameras installed on commercial fishing boats was pushed back again last week with technology being pegged as one reason for the delay.

Newsroom’s enquiries have not been able to establish the nature of those technology issues, finding only that a step to define which technology solutions are required hasn’t yet happened.

Since cameras on boats were first proposed by the National-led government following concern over illegal fish-dumping, the rollout date has shifted several times from the original date of October 2018.

A new date of October 2021 added to legislation last week is not a firm line in the sand. Nash said it’s a holding date, “not a planned date for either beginning or completing any implementation”.

Stuff reported Nash raised cost as an issue last week as well as technical complications saying: “The technology at this point is just not available to allow us to equip the whole fleet with cameras.”

However, enquiries to Fisheries NZ reveal there’s a process step required before technical decisions are made and costs are known.

Asked what the technical issues causing the delay were, Fisheries NZ’s deputy director-general Dan Bolger said a public consultation would be needed.

Public consultation will take time, but it’s not clear why it is needed at this stage.

The delays have frustrated conservationists. Greenpeace’s ocean campaigner Jessica Desmond said the ongoing stalling wasn’t good enough.

“There’s been a long pattern of delaying this legislation implementation. There’s been OIAs showing the industry oppose this legislation, there’s been all kinds of excuses about money and technicalities.”

Fishing industry opposition was made clear in a letter sent in 2018 to Nash signed by Sealord, Talley’s, New Zealand Federation of Commercial Fishermen and Te Ohu Kai Moana:

“The purpose of this letter is to dismiss any suggestion that the New Zealand seafood industry supports the current proposal, is in any way split in its opposition to it or that our industry has anything less than overwhelming opposition to your Ministry’s current proposal for cameras.”

New Zealand First’s Shane Jones denied being involved with the delay despite his past ties to the fishing industry as a former chair of both Te Ohu Kaimoana and Sealord, pro-industry stance, and history of receiving donations from Talley’s.

The NZ First Foundation received $26,950 from Talley’s and managing director Sir Peter Talley between 2017 and 2019. In 2017, Talley’s donated $10,000 to Jones.

The company also made a donation of $2000 to one other NZ First candidate, and donations of $5000 to seven National candidates and one Labour candidate in 2017.

Timeline:

2012 to 2013 – Video-monitoring pilot programme shows some monitored boats illegally discarding unwanted fish.

May 2016 – A report by an MPI investigator is leaked which called for prosecutions to be pursued. MPI announces an inquiry by former Solicitor General into the lack of prosecutions.

May 2017 – $30.5 million boost to fisheries management announced by then-Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy. It includes funding for GPS monitoring, electronic logbooks and was to be “followed by cameras on every vessel phased in from 1 October next year”.

November 2017 – Minister Stuart Nash postpones cameras on fishing boats saying: “I am working with MPI officials on options for timing and these will be communicated once a decision has been made.”

July 2018 – Letter from fishing companies sent to Nash saying the companies do not support cameras on boats.

January 2019 – Rollout of cameras delayed until August.

June 2019 – $17.1 million announced in Budget for cameras on boats fishing in Māui dolphin habitat by November 2019.

June 2020 – Rollout delayed to a “holding date” of October 2021.

On Tuesday: Winston Peters launches attack on Newshub journalist Michael Morrah ahead of fishing boat camera investigative report

On Tuesday’s Newshub Live at 6pm, Newshub Investigations Reporter Michael Morrah will reveal the politics behind delays in introducing cameras on fishing boats – and who’s responsible.

NZ First leader Winston Peters has released a statement before it goes it air, defending his party’s actions.

Peters is calling it “the worst form of unethical tabloid journalism”.

“What is appalling is how clickbait journalism is affecting the public’s right to be informed accurately about government policy,” he said.

“Newshub’s ‘shock horror’ special investigation will be as shallow as the motives behind its creation, and highlight once again some in the New Zealand’s media’s inability to understand how coalitions work.”

Morrah has covered the fishing industry for a decade and stands by his reporting.

“The public can make their own mind up tonight on Newshub Live at 6pm about whether this is clickbait journalism as Peters has claimed,” he says.

“I strongly reject any such suggestion, and I believe this story is in the public interest.”

The news item on Tuesday evening: Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash blames pressure from NZ First for delay in fishing boat cameras in recording

Newshub has obtained an explosive audio recording of Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash talking about NZ First MPs Winston Peters and Shane Jones.

The recording was from February 2018, around the time the Government first delayed the rollout of cameras on nearly 1000 fishing boats – since then it’s been delayed again until at least October next year.

In it, Nash points the finger of blame squarely at them for delaying plans to put cameras on commercial fishing boats to make sure they don’t break the law.

“New Zealand First has not been the cause of delays on cameras,” Nash has claimed on Tuesday.

But in February 2018, a few months after he took office, the explanation was remarkably different according to this secret recording obtained by Newshub.

“I’ve got to play the political game in a way that allows me to make these changes. Now, Winston Peters and Shane Jones have made it very clear they do not want cameras on boats,” Nash can be heard saying in a recording.

Nash then went on to say a public review of the fisheries management is needed to get the cameras rolled out.

“If Winston wants to have that discussion with Jacinda, it is had in the public arena and it is almost impossible for him to win it,” he said.

“But if he has it behind closed doors on the 9th floor now, then the public will never know about it. So what I am trying to do is put Winston and Shane into a position where they cannot back down.”

“By revoking these regulations, first of all people like Winston and the industry will go, ‘oh there, there you go. That’s fantastic, that’s been done. We don’t have to worry about this’,” he said in the recording.

“Little do they know behind the scenes the tidal wave on this is coming and they won’t be able to avoid it.”

But that tidal wave never came, nor did the planned fisheries review nor cameras on all boats.

On Tuesday, Nash said his comments were a mistake and that he ‘misread’ NZ First’s position.

“I just got it wrong. I was a new Minister. I was coming to grips with the portfolio. I got it wrong,” he told Newshub.

NZ First MPs are adamant they haven’t delayed things, with Jones blaming the pandemic.

“I’m not the Fisheries Minister, but I suspect that COVID has got a lot to do with it,” Regional Development Minister Shane Jones told Newshub.

“Cameras on fishing boats is really interesting. We haven’t blocked cameras on fishing boats,” NZ First MP Tracey Martin told Newshub Nation.

Although in an interview with Newshub less than two weeks ago, party leader Winston Peters eventually acknowledged NZ First was involved in the delay.

“Do we listen to industry representation, yes. Are we concerned about families and their economic representation? Yes. Are we the cause of that delay? Well, we are part of the representation that has ended up with a more rational and sane policy, yes” he said. Asked whether that was a yes to the original question, Peters responded: “yes”.

Talley’s Andrew Talley told Newshub “within the right framework cameras have a place in modern fisheries management”.

He says there’s “no connection” with donations and the camera delays.

When questioned if NZ First had delayed the cameras because he got financial backing from the fishing industry, Peters called it an “insulting question”.

“Stop making your vile, defamatory allegations by way of an accusatory question,” he told Newshub. “This conversation is over.”

Peters can get tetchy when under pressure.

Newshub followed up yesterday:  Talleys hosted fundraiser dinners for NZ First, but denies that’s behind delay in fishing boat cameras

Members of fishing family Talleys organised two fundraising dinners at hotels for New Zealand First, Newshub can reveal – another link between the party and the fishing industry.

Newshub can reveal Talleys Fishing directors hosted two fundraising dinners for NZ First – one last year at a Christchurch hotel.

There’s nothing illegal or wrong about hosting fundraisers. The MC was former RNZ board chair Richard Griffin. He confirmed to Newshub that he’d MCed two fundraiser meetings for NZ First, and that Winston Peters, Shane Jones and Clayton Mitchell were there.

Asked about the fundraisers, Peters said “I’ve got no idea what you’re talking about.”

Even after Newshub briefed his office, he still refused to talk about it, saying “I don’t know what on earth you’re asking these questions for”.

After contentious donation issues in 2008 Peters lost his Tauranga seat and NZ First failed to make the 5% threshold, dumping them out of Parliament.

Stuff: Stuart Nash apologises to Winston Peters and Shane Jones over fisheries comments

Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash made a “heartfelt” apology to Winston Peters and Shane Jones for remarks made in a private phone call, which aired on television last night.

Nash said today that the conversation was had two and a half years ago, and he couldn’t remember who was on the other end of the call.

He said he’d apologised to Peters and Jones about the call.

“I’ve apologised to Winston and to Shane and said I got it wrong,” Nash said. “I think they took it well because it was heartfelt,” he said.

Nash said at the time that while the technology had been rolled on 20 boats on the West Coast, it was not yet ready for wider distribution.

If it works on some boats why shouldn’t it be able to work on others?

Cameras are already used successfully on some fishing boats, so the technology seems fine. Fisheries New Zealand:  On-board cameras for commercial fishing vessels

On-board cameras give us independent information about what goes on at sea. They help verify catch reporting, and monitor fishing activity by commercial fishers, to encourage compliance with the rules.

Overseas experience shows that placing cameras on commercial fishing vessels greatly improves the quality of fisher-reported data.

For example, reports of interactions with seabirds and mammals increased 7 times when electronic monitoring was introduced to Australia’s longline fisheries in 2015. Overall reported catch remained the same.

Camera technologies have been used around the world on commercial fishing vessels for decades, and we have learnt a lot from fisheries overseas which are already using these systems.

New Zealand regulations for on-board cameras on commercial fishing vessels came into effect in 2018.

Since then, we’ve been developing the systems and processes to support this, and have now put cameras on some fishing vessels. The regulations applied to these vessels from 1 November 2019 in a defined fishing area on the west coast of the North Island.

Currently, a holding date of 1 October 2021 has been set before the on-board camera regulations apply to other commercial fishing vessels.

So technology does not appear to be an issue.  It looks more like a political problem. Putting things on hold until next year sounds like waiting and hoping for a different mix of parties in Government.

 

 

Detail on the Green Party ‘wealth tax’

A key part of the Green Party ‘Poverty Action Plan’ announced yesterday was a wealth tax that would partly fund major benefit increases. The Green website soliciting support and petition signatures has very sparse information:

A 1% wealth tax for those with a net-worth over $1 million.

Media gradually provided details.

Newsroom:  Greens unveil plans to overhaul welfare and tax systems

In its first election policy announcement, the Green Party has called for a guaranteed minimum income (GMI) of at least $325 a week for anyone not in full-time employment, including students.

The policy, costing a total of $6.6 billion in year one and around $12 billion a year from full implementation by 2023, would be funded by a wealth tax – where people with assets of more than $1 million will pay a 1 percent levy per year – and two new tax brackets for high income earners. The Greens expect to raise $8 billion from the wealth tax in the first full year, rising to $9 billion by 2023/24.

To pay for the Poverty Action Plan, two new tax brackets would be created to tax income above $100,000 and $150,000 at a higher rate of 37 percent and 42 percent, respectively. This would affect the top 7 percent of income earners, the Greens say, and generate $1.3 billion a year.

This suggests the wealth tax and tax bracket changes will not fully fund the benefit increases – $9b + $1.3b is less than $12b.

This must just be based on estimates, as valuations would have to be done on wealth/assets-liabilities.

It will be calculated on an individual basis, meaning a couple would have to own at least $2 million in assets for both of them to begin paying the wealth tax.

The tax will also exclude certain assets from consideration, including individual household assets – furniture, electronics and vehicles – worth less than $50,000 and Māori land under the Te Ture Whenua Māori Act. Charity organisations with assets held by individual members would not be counted either.

The wealth tax would affect just 6 percent of New Zealanders, according to the Greens’ figures.

For most people property will be their only assets considered as wealth – as well as businesses, which could be quite hard to value annually.

Some examples:

Image

I had to search for details and eventually found them via Scoop. The Summary document is also very sparse in details. For that you have to go to their policy document. The Summary of this is again very sparse, so here are some key details on the wealth tax:

Those who receive more money from the Government will think it fair.  Those being “asked to pay a small annual contribution” may think differently.

I presume that most of those applauding this wealth tax will not be in the 6% of people who would have to pay more tax.

But this is all subject to:

  • The Greens being re-elected back into Parliament
  • Coalition negotiations with Labour (Grant Robertson said they would have their own welfare/tax policy)
  • Veto of NZ First if they are also part of the next government
  • A “detailed policy development process”
  • A decision by Cabinet to proceed with whatever comes out of the process.
  • Legislation being passed in Parliament.

That could take a year or two at least if it is able to proceed.

Full policy document:

Click to access Poverty_Action_Plan_policy_document_EMBARGOED_2.pdf

 

 

Green Party announce Poverty policy

The Green Party have made their first big policy announcement for the election campaign, and with Marama Davidson ranked #1 it has a social focus.

A Guaranteed Minimum Income “no matter what” is quite controversial.

The new ACC (Agency for Comprehensive Care) needs more detail. It suggests that someone on a benefit or student support who gets injured or sick could get paid a minimum of 80% of the full time minimum wage – if this is on a no questions asked basis (the Greens call it ‘no matter what’) it could be open to a lot of abuse.

RNZ:  Green Party unveils plans to tackle poverty

Davidson said the Green Party’s Poverty Action plan would “replace our outdated, unfair and unliveable welfare system with real, unconditional support for us all”.

With the Greens in government, ACC would be reformed into an “Agency for Comprehensive Care”, she said. It would support people who were injured or sick with at least 80 percent of the minimum full time wage, or up to 80 percent of the salary of the job they had to leave,

“Gone will be the days where people are asked to provide humiliating proof again and again and again”, she said.

In regards to funding the Poverty Action Plan, Davidson said those with a lot of wealth would “pay it forward”.

“If you’re a millionaire, for the wealth you have over that one million dollars, you will pay a one percent contribution. That will increase to a two percent contribution for wealth over two million dollars.”

It would take the Greens to get into Government, and to have a coalition partner (Labour) to agree to all of this, plus to not have NZ First in Government.


Poverty Action Plan

Our Poverty Action Plan will completely change the way we support people in New Zealand so when people ask for help, they get it. It overhauls the broken welfare system and guarantees that everyone who needs it, no matter what, has a minimum income they can rely on.

Sign on to our plan to show your support for this bold policy for change. 

Here’s how our Poverty Action Plan works for all of us:

  • Guaranteed Minimum Income of $325 per week for students and people out of work, no matter what.
  • Universal Child Benefit for kids under three of $100 per week.
  • A simplified Family Support Credit of $190 per week for the first child and $120 per week for subsequent children to replace the Working for Families tax credits with a higher abatement threshold and lower abatement rate.
  • Additional support for single parents through a $110 per week top-up.
  • Reforming ACC to become the Agency for Comprehensive Care, creating equitable social support for everyone with a work-impairing health condition or disability, with a minimum payment of 80% of the full time minimum wage.
  • Changes to abatement and relationship rules so people can earn more from paid work before their income support entitlements are reduced.
  • A 1% wealth tax for those with a net-worth over $1 million.
  • And two new top income tax brackets (for those earning over $100,000 and $150,000) for a more progressive tax system which redistributes wealth.

They have started a ‘petition’ promoting this plan, but that is simply a contact harvesting ploy that parties commonly use. It would serve no purpose beyond party promotions.

There is no indication how much this policy would cost.

Unless Greens get a huge increase in support and votes there is little likelihood this policy would run as it is.

The Greens are taking a risk with this policy given the collapse in their support and the political self destruction of Metiria Turei last election over social welfare.

James Shaw: “I think people look at us as the reliable government partner”

The Greens has generally been a low profile support party in the current Government, overshadowed by the high profile of Jacinda Ardern and the bargaining power of NZ First.

With an election coming up they are trying to differentiate themselves from Labour and promote themselves as a successful and worthwhile part of Government.

Their priority must be to make the 5% threshold and survive in Parliament. Co-leader Marama Davidson is standing in the Tāmaki Makaurau and is promoting her chances – Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson will run hard for a Māori seat – but she must be an outside chance there.

If they survive the election their next priority must be to negotiate as a coalition partner with Labour, and they will be hoping without NZ First in the picture, to give them more negotiating power and some say in Cabinet (this term they are outside Cabinet).

Stuff: Portrait of Green leader James Shaw: ‘Labour wasted its political capital’

Shaw was selected as male co-leader in May 2015. He’d been an MP for just eight months, and even in the helter-skelter world of New Zealand politics, the victory was a shock. His main rival was genial senior MP Kevin Hague.

Shaw admitted his corporate background put him at a disadvantage in a party of radicals and nonconformists. With neat suits and a clean-cut style, he seemed an unlikely partner to anarchist-turned-firebrand politician Metiria Turei.

Shaw still seems to have detractors amongst Green supporters.

Within just over two years, Shaw would be the Green’s sole leader. Turei was forced to resign, weeks out from the election, after confessing to benefit and electoral fraud. Their polling slumped dramatically.

Shaw was left to shepherd the party through the rest of the campaign, the bitter internal fall-out over Turei’s disclosure and highly-charged negotiations to join the Labour-led Government.

Support for the Greens is still half what it was before the Turei tumult, almost continuously in the threshold danger zone.

“The second most stressful was the seven weeks leading up to those negotiations: like, you’re the front man while the Greens are in danger of never returning to Parliament.”

The negotiations were “really tough,” he says.“We weren’t prepared for them.”

Nothing could really prepare a party for post-election negotiations, but like Labour the Greens were probably not expecting to be in negotiating positions even a month before the election.

There is an enduring perception the Greens have yielded much to Winston Peters and, despite securing only 24,000 votes fewer than NZ First, have significantly less clout.

“We’re not [achieving everything we wanted],” Shaw conceded. “But neither is anybody else. Right? If you went through the NZ First coalition agreement, or the Labour Party manifesto, or even a speech from the throne, there’s stuff that we all haven’t got done.

There is a justified perception that the Greens are by far the weakest of the parties in Government. They were no match for Winston’s negotiating experience and Labour’s acquiescence to Winston in largely calling the shots after the election.

And as Greens had ruled out negotiating with National they had to pretty take what they were given from Labour and allowed by NZ First.

“The new narrative that irritates me is that we only got 95 percent of what we were asking for, therefore it’s a total failure. It drives me up the wall.”

I haven’t heard that narrative. A common perception is that they got nowhere near 95% of what they asked for – unless they were asking for bugger all.

And many in the party seem to have negative perceptions.

From the outset, Shaw’s centrist, corporate style has rubbed against the party’s more radical members.

When he compromises, they see the white flag of surrender. Some members chafed against budget responsibility rules, which set targets for lowering government debt and spending, and were eventually dumped by members.

Last year, candidate Jack McDonald upstaged Shaw at the annual conference by quitting and complaining about a “centrist drift”. Former high-profile MP Sue Bradford penned a piece lamenting the loss of the party’s radical, anti-establishment streak. Outgoing MP Gareth Hughes said the Government had not been transformational.

In April, a rump of about 100 members tried to oust Shaw, Minister Eugenie Sage and MP Chlöe Swarbrick by placing them far down the party’s list.

At mention of the ‘Green Left’ faction, Shaw slowly rolls his eyes.

“When you’ve spent 16 years in Opposition, you get so used to that. One of the challenges we’ve had is trying to shift to thinking like a party of Government, not a party of Opposition.

“We’ve got a very strong anarchist tradition. There’s still a lot of people around who used to be members of the McGillicuddy Serious Party. I think you have to honour that.

Turei was in the McGillicuddy Serious Party, but that’s quarter of a century ago. Most of the unrest and dissatisfaction seems to be coming from Green supporters that were not born then, or were very young.

He appears cautious, but Shaw says he’s picking the right battles: especially when it comes to unnatural bedfellows NZ First.

It’s not obvious what battles they have won against NZ First. And they seem to have lost significant battles.

There was surprise when the Greens recently voted, under urgency, for warrantless search powers for police contained in new Covid-19 emergency laws.

Eyebrows were also raised when Shaw defended a controversial memo from the office of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern telling ministers they had “no real need to defend” decisions made during the health crisis.

It looks like hypocrisy from a party who railed against the expansion of surveillance powers in Opposition, and have campaigned for transparency in Government. Shaw is resigned to, if not embracing, the cynical realities of holding power.

He talks of “tempered radicalism”.

“You hold onto your radical values and principles. And you work with the system that you are in, whether you like that system or not, to change it from within.

“Tempered radicalism” risks looking like letting values and principles slip with little gained.

NZ First slowed and ultimately diluted some of the Government’s flagship climate change policies. A capital gains tax – originally a Greens policy – was dropped in part due to Peters’ resistance.

Timidity on welfare reform can also be put down to his reluctance. And the Greens were also reluctantly forced to vote for their waka-jumping legislation, which allowed leaders to expel MPs from Parliament, boxed in by their confidence and supply agreement.

This doesn’t look radical at all – and it seems to annoy the hell out of green radicals.

While NZ First will position themselves as a ‘handbrake’ on radical reform, the Greens election campaign will centre on pushing the Government to go “further and faster”.

There is a long pause before Shaw, 47, answers a question about how he’s changed over the last five years. He rubs his face, deep in thought.

“It’s so hard to answer because this place is so intense and you don’t get a lot of time for personal reflection.

“Finding the path of least resistance. There’s that horrendous phrase about politics being the art of the possible, which can be read two ways.

“You can do things, it’s a really expansive notion. And there are some moments where we have changed things.

“And then there are others where you can only do what is possible. Maybe moving from naivety to experience is being able to live in both those worlds at the same time.”

Will this approach attract more votes? It’s hard to say at this stage.

Co-leader Davidson is the number one ranked Green, and she will likely become more prominent in the election campaign. She may please the more radical side of the Greens, but she may not do well attracting more moderate potential Green voters. It’s going to be a big challenge.

“Even when I was elected as co-leader, that bloody clip of people dancing around the maypole at the 1990-something [conference], that was the intro. That was the thing that I most wanted to change.

“I knew the way to do that wasn’t by public relations. It was by getting into government and just demonstrating that our policies are good for people and actually kind of sensible.

“And I think we have. I think people look at us as the reliable government partner.”

Can Davidson do that?

The most recent polls for the Greens:

  • Newshub/Reid Research: 5.6%, 5.5%
  • 1 News/Colmar Brunton: 5.0%, 4.7%
  • Roy Morgan Research: 7%, 7%
  • UMR Research: 5%, 4%
  • Curia: 7%, 9%

I think that the greens should be able to get back in, but are unlikely to do much if any better than their 6.3% in the 2017 election.

Greens slam Labour for ‘breaking core promise’ about welfare reform

The Greens have accused Labour of breaking a core promise to overhaul the welfare system, made in the Confidence and Supply Agreement between the New Zealand Labour Party and the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Yesterday Green Party unveils its candidate list for the 2020 election

The Green Party is pleased to reveal its candidate list for the upcoming election. With a mix of familiar faces and fresh new talent, this exceptional group of candidates are ready to lead the Greens back into Government.

“We are a force to be reckoned with and are entering this critically important race more united and determined than ever.”

So that has launched the greens into campaign mode, four months out from the election.

Also yesterday two Labour ministers announced New payment to support Kiwis through COVID

This was criticised as benefiting a few people while ignoring all those who were already unemployed before Covid struck, and also criticised for being more tweaking without fundamental change to how the social welfare system works.

From the Confidence and Supply Agreement between the New Zealand Labour Party and the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand (2017):

Fair Society

10. Overhaul the welfare system, ensure access to entitlements, remove excessive sanctions and review Working For Families so that everyone has a standard of living and income that enables them to live in dignity and participate in their communities, and lifts children and their families out of poverty.

Today the Greens seem to have jumped into campaign mode over this – Green Party ‘won’t give up’ pushing for benefits increase (RNZ):

The Greens have accused Labour of breaking a core promise to overhaul the welfare system, a commitment made in 2017 during negotiations to form a government.

The gripe comes after a chorus of frustration from those on the left who say the government has entrenched a cruel and dehumanising two-tier welfare system in its latest response to the Covid-19 crisis.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson yesterday unveiled a special 12-week relief payment for people who have lost their jobs due to the economic impact of Covid-19. Full-time workers can apply for $490 a week – roughly double the regular Jobseeker Support.

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson told RNZ the new offering was a “very clear” admission that base benefit rates were not enough to live on.

“Everybody should be able to access the support, regardless of whether they are recently unemployed or longer-term unemployed.”

Davidson said she had heard the frustration of beneficiaries who felt they had been deemed the “undeserving poor” by the latest move.

The Greens had pushed for all benefits to be increased to the new Covid-19 level, she said, but had so far been unsuccessful in getting that over the line.

“We’ve been consistently clear that this needs to happen urgently and desperately. It hasn’t happened yet, but we won’t give up,” Davidson said.

“Both New Zealand First and Labour need to come to the table on this.”

NZ First have been a problem for the Greens trying to promote their policies, but Labour has also seemed reluctant to make major structural changes, even after Covid allowed them to commit to tens of billions of extra spending.

Asked whether Labour had adequately delivered on its commitment, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the government had made “significant changes”.

She cited the $5.5 billion Families Package in 2018 which established the Winter Energy and Best Start payments, as well as boosting Working for Families tax credits.

The government also began indexing main benefits to wage growth from April 2020, meaning benefit payments rise in line with wages – rather than inflation.

In its initial Covid-19 economic rescue package, Finance Minister Grant Robertson increased most benefits by $25 a week and doubled this year’s Winter Energy Payment.

However, the vast majority of the 120 recommendations by the Welfare Expert Advisory Group have not been acted on.

Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni yesterday told media the government could not implement all the recommendations immediately.

Immediately was in 2017, or at least in 2018. The Welfare Expert Advisory Group reported in 2019 and disappointed many. See Government response to welfare expert advisory group ‘more rhetoric than action’ – Poverty group

The government’s initial response to the welfare expert advisory group’s 200-page report is “pathetic”, National says, with interest groups and the Green Party also saying more needs to be done.

The government has said it would start by implementing two of the group’s 42 recommendations, with Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni saying major change would take years.

National’s social development spokesperson Louise Upston said Labour voters should be underwhelmed.

She said the government’s response was another example of it not delivering in its ‘year of delivery’.

Greens are now also effectively saying that the Government has not delivered, and specifically that Labour has not delivered on their agreement with the Greens.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out through the campaign.

Now at the top of the Green Party list it would seem expected that Davidson would become a minister if Labour and Greens get to form the next Government. She could lead the fight from there perhaps.

Green list dominated by MPs, women

The Green Party list for this year’s election is dominated by sitting MPs and women, with co-leaders Marama Davidson and Jamwes Shaw swapping top roles and first term MP Chlöe Swarbrick promoted aheaad of longer serving MPs to number three.

The initial list promoted some activists over current MPs – see Initial Green Party list lacks gender, climate balance – and a small group of Green activists wanted to sump some MPs – see Left-wing Green faction wants to axe co-leader James Shaw, and Eugenie Sage and Chlöe Swarbrick.

But after party membership had their say on the list MPs have been reinstated up then order, with women dominating the top positions – this is curious given past Green preference for gender balance.

The revamped ranking:

  1. Marama Davidson
  2. James Shaw
  3. Chlöe Swarbrick
  4. Julie Anne Genter
  5. Jan Logie
  6. Eugenie Sage
  7. Golriz Ghahraman
  8. Teanau Tuiono
  9. Dr. Elizabeth Kerekere
  10. Ricardo Menéndez March
  11. Steve Abel
  12. Teall Crossen
  13. Scott Willis
  14. Kyle MacDonald
  15. Lourdes Vano
  16. John Ranta
  17. Lawrence Xu-Nan
  18. Luke Wijohn
  19. Kaya Sparke
  20. Jack Brazil
  21. James Crow
  22. Elliot Blyth
  23. Richard McIntosh
  24. Gerrie Ligtenberg

Tuiono has been dropped down from fifth. Current MP Gareth Hughes is not standing again (he has been virtually invisible for years anyway).

It sort of makes sense that all the MPs standing again get the top rankings, and I think Chlöe Swarbrick’s ranking is largely deserved.

But if the Greens just make the threshold they could have only one of their seven MPs as male, or possibly two of eight (their current proportion).

In the past the party was staunch in promoting gender equality but that seems to have dropped in their priorities. The lack of men up the list is a shame but perhaps the Greens have become less attractive to men wanting to make a mark in politics.

The Greens have two big battles ahead of them.

They keep pleading for more donations, saying they have insufficient funds to effectively contest the election.

And they have been polling close to the 5% threshold. Unless Swarbrick can do a deal with Labour and win the Auckland Central electorate the Greens have to make the threshold to survive – her prospects there may have figured in deciding on her promotion.

Labour are less likely to give up one of their Maori seats for Davidson, who will contest Tāmaki Makaurau. Shaw has never seriously tried to win Wellington Central off Grant Robertson.

The rest of the candidates are described by Davidson as

…young climate fighters fresh off the school strikes, new Māori and Pasifika voices, an environmental lawyer, a psychotherapist with a passion for improving access to mental health, and a first generation Latin American immigrant.

…but there are no standouts there, and most are unlikely to have much chance of getting into Parliament.

Stuff: Green Party list promotes ‘hello boomer’ Chloe Swarbrick

I think the ongoing promotion of an inaccurate retort from Parliament is trite and irrelevant to Swarbrick’s credentials as an MP, it just shows how shallow the media can be.

NZ Herald: Chloe Swarbrick gets a major promotion in the Green Party

Chloe Swarbrick’s had a huge promotion in the Green Party and now outranks two ministers and an under-secretary.

After her 2016 Auckland mayoral campaign, Swarbrick was recruited by the Greens and scraped into Parliament at ninth on the list.

She’s since made a name for herself addressing mental illness and on legalising cannabis and will go head-to-head against new National Party deputy leader Nikki Kaye for the Auckland Central seat.

The Spinoff: Green Party list ranking revealed: can this group lift them over the threshold?

Party press release: Green Party Unveils Its Candidate List For The 2020 Election

Divisive Green reaction to Muller leadership

On of the quiet achievements of new National leader Todd Muller is his work with Minister of the Environment James Shaw in the Zero Carbon Bill. From Wikipedia:

During his time in Opposition he was given the task of working with the Government on its Zero Carbon Bill. National ended up supporting the bill, with some caveats. Muller’s work on the bill earned him respect from across the House.

In his first speech as leader Muller said:

I’m not interested in opposition for opposition’s sake. We’re all tired of that kind of politics.

I’m about ideas that get results.

He has already shown that in practice with the Zero Carbon Bill collaboration (as did Shaw).

I think it’s fair to say that Muller’s leadership and some of his aims contrast somewhat with his predecessor Simon bridges.

But just after Muller took over the leadership the Green Party of Aotearoa new Zealand campaign manager (Matthew Thomas) emailed:

Same old, same old!

I wanted to share with you my biggest concern about the future of Aotearoa: that changing National’s leadership won’t change their political position and they will keep their same failed policies.

That is why, regardless of the National’s leadership, we have a job to do – keep thinking ahead – and pushing for policies that bring us together. 

We will continue to push our bold plans to build a future where the government does more, faster, to protect our planet and make sure everyone is treated equally regardless of their age, gender or postcode.

By changing their leadership, we risk National doubling down on their detrimental policies while deflecting from their failures. We can’t let this happen. We’ve worked hard to undo their broken systems but still have so much more to do.

I would have thought that Muller’s leadership increased the chances of more collaboration, for the mutual benefit of the Greens and National – and for the good of the Government and the country.

Of course the email was playing to a Green audience and also included the usual pleas for more donations.

But not all Green supporters are vehemently and blindly opposed to working with National. Some would even be happy to see a National-green coalition.

I guess the campaign director has to rustle up badly needed campaign funds, and may see more opportunities from Greens who seem to hate parties with alternative policies and priorities.

But as much as the Greens need funds, they also need votes, for their survival. They need votes from people who would prefer a more cooperative Parliament, and not one divided into ‘them’ versus ‘us’.

If Shaw approved of the tone of this email I’d be quite disappointed. he should see a new National leader as a an opportunity for more gains, not an excuse to promote greater division.

Green lobbyists liaising over $20b Covid Recovery Fund?

Further to yesterday’s post, several green friendly groups have promoted the $20b of the Covid Recovery Fund that is currently unallocated in what looks like coordinated lobbying.

The Green Party saw the money already allocated to ‘green’ policies – about $1b – as a start of the ‘Green reset’ – from RNZ: Parties look to secure wins from $20b ahead of election

…co-leader James Shaw has a few ideas about how to spend a large chunk of cash.

“The climate crisis, the housing crisis, the crisis in our rivers and in our marine environment and in our forests. Our three waters infrastructure, you know the water that’s coming out of our taps is unsafe to drink and it does occasionally run dry. So there are a series of things that we need to fix, all of which create jobs,” he said.

Shaw said it was actually the perfect time for parties to start offering up their own visions for the rebuild.

Today’s budget announcement invests over a billion dollars in projects which will create jobs that restore our natural environment, while also investing in housing initiatives to help reduce housing inequality and ensure all New Zealanders have access to a warm, healthy home.

We’ve made it clear that New Zealand must keep sustainability at the core of its COVID-19 reset. We’re really proud to be a part of a government making long-term decisions which put us on track towards an Aotearoa where all New Zealanders, and our natural environment can thrive.

More in an email from the Green Party:

We have now officially kicked off our Green Reset from the COVID-19 crisis with the release of Budget 2020. We’ve secured massive investment in Green initiatives which will create thousands of jobs while improving life for people and protecting the natural environment.

In an email yesterday from ActionStation:

Yesterday the government announced their budget for 2020 and what we learned is that the Finance Minister has set aside $20 billion in the Covid-19 recovery fund that is yet to be allocated.

With an election coming up, those of us wanting something different out of yesterday’s budget have a clear window of opportunity to demand it.

In the last seven weeks, we’ve been challenged to reflect on our values, how we care for one another, and what’s important. The $20 billion left in the Covid-19 recovery fund is an opportunity to take what we’ve learned and use it to reshape our economy, democracy, the way we care for our environment, and the way we care for each other.

Let’s create this vision together, then work collectively to bring it to life:

  1. We will combine the power and wisdom of thousands of ActionStation members to choose the big ideas via this survey.
  2. We’ll launch the results as a people-powered community vision called The People’s Regeneration Plan .
  3. Together we will campaign to build the pressure and people power needed to make our vision a reality.

Now is the time for the ActionStation community to collectively decide what type of Aotearoa we want to build beyond this crisis, and that’s why we need to be clear about what we’re asking for.

An email from Greenpeace:

Did you hear yesterday’s Budget announcement? A whopping $1bn has been set aside for restoring nature, which is fantastic. But the climate missed out.

But, so far the Budget announcement doesn’t add up to the transformation we need. Opportunities to address the climate and ecological crises have been missed, so our work is far from over.

With thousands of people like you signing our Green Covid Response petition and supporting this proposal, we know New Zealanders support a greener, healthier and more resilient economy that puts people and planet first.

We couldn’t have got this far without you – so thank you. And with you on our side, I know we still have a chance to make this a reality. Around half of the funds – $20 billion worth of investment – is yet to be announced, and that is reason for hope – and action!

We will work hard to make sure that the remaining $20 billion is used to build a nation that works in harmony with nature. A society where people, not corporations, are at the heart of governance. Where the economy works within our planet’s environmental boundaries.

I think we can expect more of this. There have been links between the Green Party, Greenpeace and Action Station, and all have similar goals – and now they have similar eyes on the $20b.

Of course there will be other groups lobbying hard for some of the $29b for their favoured policies. And the Green and NZ First parties will have their own ideas on how they can benefit from using some of the $20b to further their ideals and enhance their re-election prospects.

Time will tell what the real intention of the $20b made available in the Covid Recovery Fund is actually used for.  If it’s not all actually required to help New Zealand recover from the Covid epidemic than it could pay back the huge loans taken out to fund dealing with the Covid crisis.