Marama Davidson lays into the blame game

The degree to which Marama Davidson takes her arguments here is alarming, especially for a political party leader.

While most of the country is coming together with a common purpose of sympathy and empathy, she seems to be intent on blaming and dividing.

Yesterday from her speech in Ministerial Statements — Mosque Terror Attacks—Christchurch

I know that we must work together, all of us, to become an Aotearoa where everyone is safe to pray, or not—an Aotearoa where people are safe to be who they are.

I also acknowledge the calls from those in Muslim communities to ensure that we tell the truth right from the start. I note the Muslim voices highlighting the truth that New Zealand has a long history of colonial policy, discourse, and violence that sought to harm indigenous peoples. As tangata whenua, I am aware that we need to build connections now more than ever, to heal, and to create loving futures for everyone.

There are some major contradictions in this.

So what do we do now? I am energised by the signs of people now reflecting on their own bias and prejudice and committing to fighting racism with all their might.

We have a big shift ahead of us. We have lessons to learn. We have conversations to have. It’s just that this seems like it was too big a price to pay to get us to this point. In closing, to our Muslim communities, we love you, not just because you are us, but because you are you. Kia ora.

Davidson needs to learn that those of us who have some colonial history in our whanau are also part of ‘us’.

She is correct in saying “we must work together, all of us” – she just needs to learn what that actually means, and she needs to learn that divisive speech is contrary to what she is imploring here.

 

Marama Davidson: “I had to pull the party together”

Marama Davidson is a radical activist who has struggled to work with the realities of being in Parliament, and especially the realities of leading a party in Government.

She had an opportunity to mmake a mark while co-leader James Shaw is busy being a Minister trying to establish the Greens as a party in power, but she is still more of a niche politician trying to appeal to a wider audience.

She has a long way to go to lift the Green Party out of Labour’s shadow, and the big challenge here is to do this without appearing to be too left wing radical, which would deter support from those who prefer the greens as an environmental party.

Newsroom – Davidson: very Green, very outspoken and a lot to prove

On the reality of last year’s Green leadership contest:

But all was not well behind the scenes. The contest brought to the fore an identity crisis for the very soul of the party. At its heart was a question of whether the Greens were radical enough — and whether, as a party of Government, it would naturally move further to the centre, losing its activist raison d’être.

Eugenie Sage and Julie Anne Genter were prospects for taking the leadership position left vacant by Metiria Turei.

Then there was Marama Davidson. Entering Parliament in 2015, she was the least experienced potential contender and initially hesitant to run. But she was popular with the party’s activist left, who lobbied strongly for her to put her hat in the ring in the hope she would counterbalance Shaw’s perceived corporate-ness and pull the party back to the left.

Sitting down one year later, Davidson admitted the time after the leadership battle was difficult.

“We went through some tough stuff and none of it was very secret,” she said.

“I had to pull the party together”.

But has she?

But the first few months were difficult. The Greens had haemorrhaged staff through the first half of 2018, stretching the party’s back room. The chaos came to a head in June when the party forgot to lodge its Parliamentary questions.

Then further chaos erupted in August, when Davidson told a protest she would reclaim the C-word because she was sick of being slandered with it online. The episode quickly spiralled out of control.

Looking back on it now, Davidson is mostly disappointed the story became about the appropriateness of the word, rather than the fact she was campaigning against the online abuse she received.

Observers felt it showed a lack of focus from the Green leadership as the campaign drew ever more attention, diverting people from the party’s work elsewhere. Less time thinking about climate change, more time thinking about, well, the c-word.

That didn’t pull the party together.

Davidson still has a lot to prove — especially to the hard left of the party who lobbied so effectively to elevate her to the leadership. Criticising the Government from her position is hard — some would say impossible.

Davidson could go harder in future. She thinks one of the main reasons the Maori Party didn’t survive was because it failed to properly hold the National Government to account. She sees continuing to put pressure on Labour as being essential to the Greens’ survival in Government.

On the other side of the equation, concessions won by Davidson from within Government, like Phil Twyford’s work on improving rental properties, are significant but hardly enough to take back to a hungry electorate in 2020.

There is the suggestion this has meant some on the hard-left of the party are dissatisfied with her leadership.

On Sunday, she will make a speech to party members at the Greens’ summer policy conference about the wellbeing budget and the environment.

She has made that speech: Marama Davidson – Summer Policy Conference

The conference has some big decisions to make, not least of which is whether to sign the Greens up to another round of Budget Responsibility Rules for the next parliamentary term.

With both Davidson and the membership strongly opposed, its likely the party will junk the rules for the next election. However Labour, which will control the finance portfolio in any future left-wing Government is likely to sign back up.

The looming question for the Greens is whether or not they can force the larger party’s hand – getting them to release, or even loosen the purse strings in any future Government.

RNZ: Greens want wide-ranging tax reform

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson wants a capital gains tax to be just the start of wide-ranging tax reform.

There’s real doubt Labour will even go for the CGT.

Speaking at the party’s summer policy conference Ms Davidson told members that resistance to a tax on capital gains came from a wealthy elite who are holding the country’s political system hostage.

She said the Greens want more reform including a tax rate for the richest 1 percent and taxing polluting big businesses and housing speculators.

Davidson was asked about this on RNZ this morning, and she came across as waffly and unsure. Outside her radical Green circles, her comfort zone, she struggles.

It may be to soon to judge whether Davidson is more asset or liability for the Green re-election chances. She has to find an assured and credible way of talking to a wider audience.

I see no sign of her pulling the party together. More like the opposite.

 

Greens versus NZ First and Labour conservatism

Does Labour use NZ First as an excuse to be conservative on economic and other policies to avoid being linked to Green radicalism? They do use the Budget Responsibility Rules to be conservative. They are an agreement with the Green Party to allay fears of a swing too far left in the last election campaign, but there is disagreement over having the Rules within the Green Party.

I have seen dismay expressed from the the left that the Government is nowwhere near progressive enough,.

Henry Cooke (Stuff):  The Greens are looking forward to 2020 already, and the possibility of a world without Winston

At their annual conference last year, a prominent Green Party member gave a speech which called for the party to tear up a central tenet of their partnership with Labour.

He received a standing ovation. Most of the Green MPs present, who had signed off the policy, were in the room. Several agreed with him.

The policy was the Budget Responsibility Rules a set of tight government spending guidelines Labour and the Greens agreed to ahead of the 2017 election. They have gone on to play a huge role in how the parties have governed.

The idea was to blunt the attacks from the right that a Labour-Green government would blow up the surplus and destroy the economy.

Ever since Green supporters and some MPs have been agitating for the party to get rid of the rules. In the last week this began. A “review” of those budgetary constraints has been launched, but this is just a procedural step on the way to either scrapping them or modifying them before the 2020 election.

There always seemed a likelihood that Labour and the Greens would need NZ First to give them any chance of getting into Government last election, and so it turned out.

It’s a long way from the election but there appears to be a greater chance that NZ First won’t make the threshold next year. This would give the Greens more influence over Labour, depending on how many seats they get. If Greens recovered back up to ten to fifteen seats, and were in Cabinet with Labour, they should get significantly more say and sway.

In the same week, co-leader James Shaw made the most forceful argument for a capital gains tax anyone has in years, saying the Government wouldn’t deserve to be re-elected if they didn’t implement one.

That was a big play from Shaw, mostly to his party wanting more reform from Government.

​The election is next year, and the Greens are getting ready by staking out positions on the left. At the same time, some in the party are daring to look forward to a world without Winston Peters.

Fixing this requires not just talking up wins in Government but very clearly pushing left on tax – an issue likely to dominate through this year and into the next thanks to the tax working group – as well as balancing the books. These might seem like small bore issues but they are very important to that core of committed supporters.

NZ First are likely to try to distance themselves from relying on Labour next year to try to fool voters and Labour negotiators into thinking they could go either way.

So Labour+Green will be an important consideration for voters.

Many Greens see Peters and NZ First as the reactionary laggard keeping this Government from truly transforming the country. But it has long been useful for centrist Labour MPs to blame NZ First for their own conservatism. Labour will be extremely conscious of how scared the wider public might feel about a radical Labour-Green government in 2020.

Keeping the budget deal in place might well be Ardern’s plan to placate those fears.

For Labour, yes. And possibly for Shaw. But what about green supporters disappointed with the lack of progress leftwards this term, and impatient for more radical reforms?

Possibly one of the most significant decisions for the next election will be what the Green party decides to do about the Rules, that some see as a brick wall in front of progress and real progressivism.

One thing that may make it easier for Greens pulling Labour left is the conservatism of Simon Bridges pulling National further right.

Unless the Sustainability Party gets some support in the centre.

Wrong data analysis of ‘teal vote’ support for the Greens

*/With the possibility of a Blue-Green party being raised again questions are being asked about whether there might be  enough voter support for another environmental party.

However the wrong questions are being asked – of ‘current Green voters’, and those who voted Green last election. They strongly prefer red over blue, or Labour over National.

Stuff: ‘Teal’ vote within Green Party minuscule, data suggests

Data suggests the supposed “teal” section of National-leaning Green voters is tiny.

But data from the New Zealand Election Study, a long-running scientific analysis of voter behaviour, suggests the overwhelming majority of current Green voters lean left.

The study consists of a survey of 3445 respondents following the election, who are asked a huge variety of questions. Their votes are validated and the results weighted to the wider voting public.

Fully 84.42 per cent of those who party voted Green said they would prefer Labour to lead the Government. Just under a tenth (8.47 per cent) picked National while 5.02 per cent said they didn’t know and 2.09 per cent said they didn’t want either party to lead.

Furthermore, these voters overwhelmingly rated themselves as left-of-centre politically – far more than Labour voters did.

Roughly three quarters (74.63 per cent) of Green voters rated themselves as left-of-centre on a ten point scale. Another fifth (20.1 per cent) either “didn’t know” or put themselves in the centre. Just 5.26 per cent rated themselves as right of centre.

This compared to just over half (50.58 per cent) of Labour voters who rated themselves as left-of-centre.

But there were only 6.27% of voters who chose Greens in the 2017 election. This was well down on the 10.7% who voted green in 2014, and much lower than up to 15% they were getting in polls two years ago. That’s a lot of potential voters who could consider an alternative environmental party.

There could easily be voters who chose National, Labour or NZ First last election. Or people who didn’t vote because they didn’t like any of the parties on offer.

The best way of determining possible levels of Blue-green party support is to poll everyone and ask them, and not limiting the data analysis to dedicated Green party voters.

And the only way of knowing for sure is to stand in the next election, and see what all voters indicate their preference.

Green Party donation versus party policy

The Greens have been bequeathed a $350,000 donation, their biggest ever and tens times larger than the limit proposed in their policy.

Green Party policy on donations includes:

Election Financing

  • Initiate a review of the overall operation of campaign finance rules, including rules around donations and spending caps and non-political party election activities
  • Introduce tighter limits on anonymous donations, place an annual limit of $35,000 on total donations from any single person or entity, and introduce a ban on overseas donations

The Greens tend to get smaller donations, but in 2016 the Greens received a donation of  $280,000 from the estate of Elizabeth Riddoch.

Last October Greens urge political donation reform

The Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson says New Zealand is open for corruption under the current rules around political donations.

She told Morning Report powerful businesses can gain influence with large donations.

“I think New Zealanders would be quite keen on a conversation on how we get big money out of politics,” she said.

“What we’ve seen around the world is that those with particular interests can have millions or hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of influence on political policy.

“We’ve already seen a $100,000 donation to the National Party being questioned, from someone who is a powerful businessman.

“I want to see equal access and not just big money having undue influence over our political system.”

“New Zealanders are starting to understand we could go down a slippery slope here”.

She said a cap on donations would give Kiwis more confidence in the political system.

But now $350,000 donation to the Greens, from late party member’s estate, the largest to a major political party in almost a decade (NZ Herald)

A $350,000 donation to the Greens in December is the largest single donation to a major political party in almost a decade.

It was also the largest to the Green Party in its 30-year history.

It was made by Betty Harris on December 13 last year. She died in January 2018 and the donation was part of her will.

The Green’s general-secretary Gwen Shaw said the party was very grateful for Harris’ donation.

She had been a party member since 1999.

“She was a lovely woman; never made a fuss but just got on with whatever she thought she could do to improve the world.”

Harris lived in East Auckland and was an active supporter of her local branch, particularly when she was younger, Shaw said.

A bit of ‘do as I say, not as I do’, but money is money, ‘gratefully accepted’, despite being contrary to Green policy.

What if Greens had been successful in placing ‘an annual limit of $35,000 on total donations from any single person or entity’?

In that situation if an amount larger than $35,000 was bequeathed to a party what would happen? If the party couldn’t legally accept it, what would happen to the money? Would the estate have to redistribute it elsewhere?

 

 

Genetic modification, carbon emissions and the Greens

An interesting discussion at The Standard yesterday on genetic modification in New Zealand, in general and how this relates to the Green party anti-GE stance.

Andre kicked it off with:

Genetic modification to dramatically improve photosynthetic efficiency. It could help us deal with the challenges of a world on its way to 10 billion humans. If only the rabids can get over their blind kneejerk opposition to genetic modification *because Monsanto*.

https://arstechnica.com/science/2019/01/re-engineering-photosynthesis-gives-plants-a-40-growth-boost/

Greens are faced with a dilemma if GE can provide a viable means of reducing carbon emissions.

“Your argument that selective breeding is comparative to GE is, to speak plainly, plainly bullshit.”

They’re different tools for doing the same job, with GE being a faster and more precise tool. Someone who chooses to protect in a plant a natural mutation that’s useful to the person but would be evolutionarily disadvantageous to the plant isn’t taking a “holistic” or “natural” approach any more than a genetic engineer does. They’re both just using the tools they have to achieve a desired outcome.

Your statements about “breaking the planet” and biodiversity are claims about human population growth and industrial farming in general, not genetic engineering in particular. The entire planet could outlaw GE tomorrow and the problems you’re referring to would still exist, and could conceivably be worse. This is a common problem with the arguments of GE opponents, ie the arguments often do not support the conclusions claimed.

https://thestandard.org.nz/open-mike-05-01-19/#comment-1568502

But there’s a lot more to the issue than this. There are a lot of arguments and discussions. I don’t have time at the moment to try to summarise. Discussions are in several threads:

https://thestandard.org.nz/open-mike-05-01-19/#comment-1568075

https://thestandard.org.nz/open-mike-05-01-19/#comment-1568107

https://thestandard.org.nz/open-mike-05-01-19/#comment-1568076

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.