Labour-Green ‘budget rules’

Labour and Greens, headed by Jamews Shaw and Grant Robertson, have launched a joint attempt to present themselves as economically responsible.

Liam Dann at NZH has Big Read: Can these politicians be trusted with the economy?

They aren’t revealing tax policy detail or spending plans, so what exactly have Labour and the Green Party cooked up with the Budget Responsibility Rules they’re signing up to today?

The parties have formally committed to staying in surplus, paying down debt and keeping core crown spending at about 30 per cent of GDP.

“It’s an important signal,” says Labour finance spokesman Grant Robertson.

“We understand that voters in September are looking for parties that are responsible with the finances but will also address the big issues around housing and health and education.”

The rules aren’t specific on policy – for example, the statement on tax is pragmatic and vague enough to allow the Greens to keep campaigning on a carbon tax.

But they do represent a statement of intent, one which is politically notable for the way it has been handled, in tandem by the respective party machines.

The message is clear, simple and directed at business and the financially comfortable middle classes who have been stubbornly loyal to National for the past nine years: vote for us and we promise won’t ruin the economy.

As the headline suggests, it is a big and detailed read.

Not addressed is an obvious difference between Labour and the Greens – Andrew Little has made it clear Labour won’t increase tax (but with some caveats) while Greens have a big shopping list.

Greens announced through Facebook:

We’ve created new budget rules with the New Zealand Labour Party to help us build a sustainable and stable future for everyone.

This links to:

Budget Responsibility Rules

The Budget Responsibility Rules will allow us to govern responsibly.

Economic sustainability goes hand in hand with environmental sustainability. Both are about living within our means and leaving the world better than we found it.

Our Budget Responsibility Rules show that the Green Party and the Labour Party will manage the economy responsibly while making the changes people know are needed, like lifting kids out of poverty, cleaning up our rivers, solving the housing crisis, and tackling climate change.

  • Deliver sustainable surpluses
  • Reduce debt
  • Prioritise long-term investments
  • Be careful with expenditure
  • Build a fairer tax system

We will judge the success of our policies by improvements in the living standards of New Zealanders, improvements in key environmental indicators, and improvements in the economy.

We will establish a body independent of Ministers of the Crown who will be responsible for determining if these rules are being met. The body will also have oversight of government economic and fiscal forecasts, shall provide an independent assessment of government forecasts to the public, and will cost policies of opposition parties.

For New Zealanders to have enduring quality of life, prosperity, and security, governments need to manage revenue and spending decisions carefully. Good fiscal management is a core part of what it means to be a good government.

The Budget Responsibility Rules enable us to govern responsibly and transparently with Labour, while we invest in our priorities.

Read the full Budget Responsibility Rules here.

 

 

Labour’s commitments “can be funded out of existing tax revenue”

Labour leader Andrew Little says that any Labour policies can be funded out of existing and forecast revenues and tax rates won’t be changed.

In an interview on The Nation Little made commitments of sorts on not raising taxes:

We are not planning on any tax changes for the 2017 election. We will finely calibrate what we do once we see what the Government does in its foreshadowed tax changes, which we assume will be in this year’s budget, but who knows?

They are not planning any tax changes now but who knows what they might plan after the budget?

So we are focused and we are talking to New Zealanders about and I will make commitments to New Zealanders about the problems that are here and now. And the commitments that we’re making – all of them – can be funded out of existing tax revenue. That’s what we’re focused on. That’s we’re campaigning on.

So we will have to wait and see how Labour proposes to finance it’s policies. They have already talked about:

  • Resuming contributions to the Super fund and leaving the increase in costs of Super as they are.
  • Funding more police.
  • More health funding.
  • More education funding.
  • Increase social housing and state housing
  • Kiwibuild will build 100,000 new houses over 10 years (eventually self funding)
  • Labour said it would bring in three years of free post-school education over a person’s lifetime costing $1.2 billion a year by 2025 (the first year funded from money earmarked by the government for tax cuts).

So if National announce tax cuts or threshold adjustments Labour would overturn them or use them to fund policies?

Also:

Lisa Owens: Another thing is the Children’s Commissioner. He wants the Government to commit to a target of lowering the number of children in severe hardship by 10% over a period of 12 months. Will you commit right now to meeting that target?

Andrew Little: Ye—Two things we’re going to do. We will have a child poverty measure that we’re going to commit to, and I’ve already said every budget we will report on how we’re going against that measure, and we are absolutely determined to reduce child poverty in the way that the Children’s Commissioner is talking about.

…Yeah, because I think his figure is roughly 150,000-odd, and lowering that by 10% – I mean, yeah, if we can’t do that and we’re not prepared to commit to that – and I say we are – then, you know, we’ve got something seriously wrong going on.

That hasn’t been costed yet.

And it has to be remembered that Labour will need at least NZ First or Greens (or both) to form the next Government. They will want some of their own policies in the mix. Policies that are likely to cost extra money.

Any policy costings by Labour are pointless on their own. The cost of a change of Government needs to include likely NZ First and Green policy costs on top of Labour’s own.

It’s even possible that Labour will put forward a “no tax increase” policy but then ditch that in post-election negotiations with NZ First and Greens.

Financial credibility is likely to be a major election issue. Little will have to have some good answers to the inevitable questions of affordability of policies of a Labour led coalition that Labour may only have half the voting power in.

 

Unanimous support for domestic violence bill

So this means all parties will support Jan Logie’s private members’ bill through the first reading. Good move.

Stuff: Govt support first stage Green Party bill for additional leave for domestic violence victims

The Government will support a Green Party bill to allow domestic violence victims an additional 10 days annual leave, through the first hurdle.

They actually mean National and all other parties will support it at this stage.

There was a chance the bill could have progressed without National Party support – Labour and Act had already confirmed their backing of the bill past its first hurdle.

Interesting to see ACT supporting a bill that will cost the Government and/or employers more money.

Justice Minister Amy Adams has announced the Government support, a U-turn on its previous stance, would at least see the bill to select committee.

The Government still had concerns about the bill, but Adams said it held enough merit for wider discussion, as part of the Government’s domestic violence work.

“And we want to have the opportunity to discuss at select committee, what sort of support employers can add to that piece of work.”

Prime Minister Bill English last month, said his would not support it. Employers could already offer specialised leave to domestic violence victims. While Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Woodhouse had said the bill would be too costly to businesses.

Cost is always an issue with bills like this.

But the cost of domestic violence is a much bigger issue, and better ways of dealing with it should be explored.

Green Party social development spokeswoman Jan Logie said it was a welcome change from the Government.

She’s done well to get the support to progress her bill.

I was hoping. When victims support agencies, women’s organisations, human rights organisations and business are all saying the want the discussion, I think the Government certainly would have been on the wrong side of things not to.”

Arguments that it would cost too much were not backed up by research, Logie said.

“Actually, the research is really clear that domestic violence is costing business great staff and productivity now. And what this bill is about, is setting up a system to help mitigate that cost, so that they can keep great workers.”

 

 

Interesting Wellington Central contest

Wellington Central was always going to be an interesting electorate to watch this election, with Grant Robertson going up against  James Shaw.

While the Green Party has historically sought party votes only and nodded and winked at the Labour candidates for the electorate votes now he is party co-leader Shaw will want to be seen as popular with voters.

Results from 2014:

wellingtoncentral2014

While Robertson won the electorate vote easily Labour came third behind National and Greens in the party vote.

National’s candidate for the last two elections, Paul Foster-Bell, was challenged for candidacy and withdrew, announcing he would resign at the end of this term.

National’s canddiate has now been announced. Stuff: National chooses Nicola Willis for Wellington Central seat

Former John Key adviser and Fonterra executive Nicola Willis has been selected unopposed as National’s candidate for the Wellington central seat.

She replaces Paul Foster-Bell who pulled out once it became clear she had the numbers.

Robertson must still be clear favourite to win, but Willis will be wanting to give things a good nudge.

And much may depend on how Shaw approaches his campaign. How much help will he want to hand Robertson?

The electorate result won’t change the overall outcome of the election.

In association with Labour’s Memorandum of Understanding with the Greens Andrew Little has said that Robertson as Finance Minister is not negotiable.

Robertson is likely to get a high list placing, his current ranking of 3 seems likely. And if his re-election via the list is at risk (that’s possible if Labour support collapses further) then Labour are unlikely to form the next government.

But what if he loses his electorate seat? That would give Greens some justification for arguing for a more significant say in Finance.

Are Greens happy to be subservient to Labour this election? Or will they campaign more strongly in electorates?

It is likely to improve their party vote if the fight for electorate votes as well. When they imply ‘vote for my party but vote for them’ then there must be more chance of both votes going to ‘them’.

Lawyers for Labour

There are already a few lawyers in Parliament. That must be a good thing in a place that writes new laws and amends or discards existing laws.

Attorney General Chris Finlayson is not just a lawyer, he is a Queen’s Counsel.

Minister of Justice and Minister of Courts Amy Adams is a lawyer.

Minister of Revenue Judith Collins is a lawyer who before becoming an MP specialised in employment, property, commercial, and tax law.

This all sounds like appropriate experience for the positions.

Winston Peters was a lawyer before becoming an MP.

Andrew Little started his first career as a lawyer with the Engineers’ Union. That seems appropriate enough for the leader of the Labour Party.

I have noticed that there seems to be quite a few lawyers standing as candidates in this year’s election.

For National: Former navy officer to replace John Key

A property lawyer and former naval officer has been chosen to fill former Prime Minister John Key’s big shoes in Helensville.

Chris Penk was last night announced as National’s nomination for the safe seat, which has held by the party since it was established in 1978.

National could do with some expertise in property in Auckland.

For Greens: No Green deal for Labour Party in Hutt South battle

Labour will have to win Hutt South without help from the Green Party in the September election.

Constitutional lawyer and Green Party candidate Susanne Ruthven  said the situation in Hutt South was different.

For Labour: Lewis selected as Labour’s 2017 candidate for Whanganui

Steph Lewis selected as Labour’s 2017 candidate for Whanganui

She currently works as an lawyer/investigator, resolving disputes between large organisations and members of the public.

For Labour: Auckland central’s new Labour candidate to take on Nikki Kaye

Labour has put forward Helen White as its new candidate standing in the Auckland central electorate after Labour MP Jacinda Ardern left the area to campaign in the Mt Albert by-election.

White, an employment lawyer, wants to return the seat to Labour.

For Labour: Labour’s Whangarei Candidate

Tony Savage has been selected as the Labour Party candidate for Whangarei for the 2017 General Election.

Tony has an employment background as a CEO, technology adviser, strategy consultant, financial adviser as well as being a successful local lawyer in Whangarei practicing mainly within the commercial and property fields.

For Labour: Labour Bay of Plenty candidate announced

Angie Warren-Clark has been selected as the Labour Party candidate for Bay of Plenty.

Mrs Warren-Clark has worked in the electorate for over 10 years in the field of domestic violence and is a non-practising barrister and solicitor.

For Labour: Candidate for East Coast

Kiri is a commercial lawyer and business consultant based in Whakatane and working all throughout the East Coast electorate.

For Labour: Candidate for Ōtaki

Rob is the manager of White Ribbon, the campaign to end men’s violence towards women, and works to help change attitudes and behaviour, both on the Kapiti Coast and throughout New Zealand.

As well as having a law degree, Rob has previous experience as a Parliamentary press secretary and has an extensive background in events management.

For Labour: Candidate for Christchurch Central

Duncan is a lawyer and professor who has been working since 2010 to help ordinary people in Christchurch get their homes, lives, jobs, and businesses back on track after the earthquakes. As well as practicing, researching, and teaching law, he is an activist and spokesperson for homeowners fighting defective repairs and the failures of insurers, EQC, and others to treat citizens fairly and properly.

There may be more lawyers standing for other parties but I had particularly noticed the number of Labour candidates who were lawyers.

Perhaps lawyers are attracted to politics, and they may be also more inclined to have the  financial resources to be able to campaign. Ordinary workers need to keep working so don’t have the time, even if they had the inclination.

Are there any more lawyers who are MPs or candidates?

 

Opposition short of Cabinet experience

Fran O’Sullivan points out in Jacinda Ardern needs to put in the hard yards (and yes, Ardern does need to show she can do the hard yards in major spokesperson roles):

There will be only three former Cabinet ministers left in the Labour caucus at election time: Parker, Ruth Dyson and Trevor Mallard.

Wow. A party is bound to loose experience when in Opposition for none years but that’s a paltry remainder. Plus:

  • Mallard wants to be Speaker so if Labour form the next government he won’t be in Cabinet. And going list only he is at risk of not making it back into Parliament unless Labour improves it’s support.
  • Dyson is currently ranked 24 with minor spokesperson roles so will struggle to figure in a coalition Cabinet involving at least one and probably more parties.

And there are none in the Greens caucus.

Not only is there no Green MPs with Cabinet experience, none of them have been in Government before. If they succeed this election it will be a huge learning curve for them.

And if NZ First are added to the mix only Winston Peters has Cabinet experience amongst them. Ron Mark was Senior Whip in the 1996-1998 coalition with National, so there is scant experience there too.

If Labour+Greens or Labour+NZ First or Labour+NZ First+Greens form the next government it would have to be the least experienced line up for a long time.

 

 

Labour nominate Peters, but pick Greens as first cab

Yesterday Andrew Little announced he was nominating Winston Peters to replace David Shearer on the intelligence and security committee, leaving Greens out but apparently with their support for Peters.

Little also said that Greens would be the first party he would call after the election “if the numbers go our way”.

Stuff: Little signals Greens will be ‘first cab off the rank’ in post-election talks

Labour is to treat the Greens as “first cab off the rank” for post election talks in a signal it is firming up its plans to work in coalition with its allied party.

But in an Opposition two-step Labour leader Andrew Little on Thursday first announced he was nominating Peters for the intelligence and security committee – with the Greens support.

He said the fact the Greens had agreed to Peters replacing David Shearer as an Opposition representative on the intelligence and security committee “showed they have a maturity about forging relationships beyond just the Labour Party”.

The Greens were keen to have their representative replace him on the committee but they will endorse Peters, who has been a member of the committee in the past.

Greens have previously been miffed that they have been excluded from the committee.

John Key and Bill English have said that the Greens anti-intelligence stances make then incompatible with the committee.

Earlier this month, English said he was not comfortable with a Green MP being on the committee.

“They’ve got a deep-seated hostility to any intelligence apparatus at all, which is not a responsible attitude, and we wouldn’t want to foster it,” he said.

But Little, who is pushing for wider party representation on the committee, at the time said he would be very comfortable with the Greens being on it.

It looks like the Greens and Labour have decided it isn’t a fight worth having at this stage of election year.

Little…

…then made it clear that in a “quid pro quo” the Greens would be the first cab off the rank and the first party to receive a call if Labour was able to build a government after the September 23 election.

“After September 23 and if the numbers go our way and I am in the privileged position of putting together a government they are the first phone call I will make. No question about it,” he said.

“We haven’t spent the last many-a-year now formally strengthening our relationship and working out common ground … for it to mean nothing at all when it comes to a general election.”

The Memorandum of understanding expires on election day but it would be remarkable if Labour didn’t at least start post election talks with the Greens. Peters may not like this if he feels he holds the balance of power.

He said there were no guarantees, and the numbers would dictate what will happen.

What if NZ First gets more numbers (MPs) than the Greens, something that is a real possibility?

“They will be the first party I will talk to to interpret what the numbers might be and what that means. It’s a commitment that the relationship does mean something after the election.”

But it’s very likely that the numbers will mean Labour would have to talk to NZ First and convince them to join them in a coalition. The Greens are already a virtual certainty, NZ First is likely to be the party with bargaining power.

But would he be prepared to leave the Greens out of government if Winston Peters insisted and Labour needed NZ First to govern?

“I think that is unlikely.”

That’s a weak ruling out. And considering how Little far more strongly claimed there wasn’t going to be a deputy leadership change a day before it was announced, in an obvious bid to improve Labour’s numbers, the numbers game has no rules in politics.

 

Tava leaves Greens (not his cup of tea)

In 2015 Vernon Tava stood for the Green co-leadership when Russel Norman stepped down – James Shaw won that contest.

Politik has reported that Tava has now left the Greens as he thinks they have become too socialist (which is a common view outside the Green Party).

Top Green resigns and says party has become socialist

A former top Green official .and leadership contender in 2015 has resigned from the party because he believes it has lost its way and  he is now working with National.

As for the Greens, he said he began to part ways with them because he began to doubt whether the environment was seriously at the top of their agenda.

He also began to doubt that there was any genuine will on the part of the party to work with the Government whoever they were.

That was a central theme of his campaign for the party co-leadership in 2015.

He talked about the primacy of environmental values in the party and said the party should re-focus on its core Green values.

He said the charter’s values of ecological wisdom and social responsibility were neither left nor right.

And he went on to suggest he would be happy in Government with National.

That’s something the Green Party, and especially co-leader Metiria Turei, seem staunchly against.

“Currently we say it is not enough that you care about the environment and that have a concern for ecological wisdom and social responsibility but you must also identify as left.

“And in doing that we alienate all the people who might share those values.

“Conservation, after all, can be inherently conservative.

“We leave these people out.”

He said the party needed support from across the spectrum because the problems facing the country were too urgent and too pressing.

“The Green Party should be the sustainable axis around which every government turns, he said.

I’ve voted Green in the past, and I would strongly support an environment focused Green Party that was prepared to deal with any government, no matter which party led it (that doesn’t mean I would vote for them but I would give them serious consideration).

Currently Green support growth seems to have stalled. It’s hard to see much change to that as they seem to promote socialist policies more than environmental ones, and hitch themselves to Labour only.

Tava:

“I  had joined what I thought was an environmental party and I did find that on the whole, it was more of a socialist party.”

Tava says his fundamental question of the Greens was to ask how serious they were about the environment.

“Is it that we will only protect the environment when it feels good or will do what it takes to work with whoever is in Government.”

“When Russel Norman really started going after John Key, a lot of us were very unhappy about that.

“It was like we’d burned the bridge, and the party was traditionally always meant to be above the fray, and you didn’t hear Jeannette Fitzsimons or Rod Donald making personalised attacks against people.

“So there was a feeling, and a lot of founder members did express this to me.”

The focus and feel of the Green Party has certainly changed a lot since the days of Fitzsimons and Donald.

Tava is not alone in that view — postings on “The Standard” website yesterday over the Greens disappointing showing in the Mt Albert by-election make frequent reference to the party being the true left wing party.

This prompted a response from lprent, who posted National bolster their moribund blue-greens and a standard grump:

FFS: Individuals write here and have individual voices. “The Standard” is a dumb computer program that allows them to discuss their opinions to each other. Give attribution to those making comments or posts rather than to the machine.

He sort of has a point but The Standard (commenters at) often refers to ‘the media’ and named media outlets as being culprits without attribution to individual voices, it’s very common elsewhere as well to generalise about sources.

But his point loses it’s impact when you see anonymously authored hit job posts like Poor Tory Farrar – is ‘Natwatch’ a dumb computer program? Without an identifiable voice who can blame people referring to it as ‘The Standard’?

Back to the Greens, Prentice’s post and some of the comments adds some interesting points to discussions on where the Greens fit in now, who they appeal to, and whether they can break through their support ceiling with their current approach closely allied with Labour.

One late comment from ‘s y d’ is actually quite perceptive:

To summarise.

The Green Party will be stuck on 11% cos most of us are just too poor to be able to give a fuck about streams, dolphins, driftnetting, fracking, mining or the next thing to be destroyed in the ceaseless march to elysium.

Only the rich get to choose to go hiking, everyone else can get the bus, or get in their 1998 nissan sentra.

The poor, the deprived, those in poverty generally worry about their own predicaments on a day to day basis, they are likely to not much thought to the environment.

Neither are they likely to give much thought to voting, they are probably  a significant part of the ‘missing million’.

This is a bit of  Green dilemma. Are they really green, or have they become too red for voters?

James Shaw’s Green vision

Green Co-leader James Shaw looks towards the election in 2017.

Are you excited about a Green/Labour Government?

Kia tau te rangimārie o te Rangi e tū nei

o Papatūānuku e takoto nei

o te Taiao e awhi nei

ki runga i a tātou.

Tīhei mauri ora!

(May the peace of the sky above, of the earth below, and of the all-embracing universe rest upon us all. Behold, the essence of life!)

He mihi nui ki ngā mana whenua o tēnei takiwā, Taranaki Whānui, tēnā koutou katoa mō tō manaakitanga.

(Greetings to the mana whenua o this area, Taranaki Whānui, thank you so much for your hospitality)

Ki a koutou e te whānau o Te Rōpū Kākāriki, harikoa ana ahau ki te kite i a koutou i tēnei rā.

(To all of you of the Green Party, I am so happy to see you all today)

Tēnā tātou katoa.

Thank you.

Thank you for stepping up and signing away the next seven months of your lives, to be the change that is coming to our amazing country.

There is a mountain ahead, which we have to climb, if we want to make history on September 23rd and form the first ever Green-Labour Government.

This country deserves no less from us.

Welcome to election year!

Today we can boast more party members than ever before, and also that we will likely field more candidates in the election than ever before.

This is a real vote of confidence in the future of the Green Party. And, actually, in the future!

We build on the best ever result for the Green Party in last year’s local body elections. There are now more Greens sitting around Council tables all over the country, than ever before.

For many New Zealanders, that will have been their first time voting Green.

And as we all know the first time is always the hardest.

By the end of this year, we will have new Members of Parliament elected from a list of people who are farmers, scientists, lawyers, teachers, local councillors, sports people, musicians, climate change negotiators, landmine campaigners, small business owners, Maori, Asians, Pasifika, young people, and many, many more.

We are, though, all out of former tobacco lobbyists.

Look around you. You are more diverse. You look more and more like the faces of modern New Zealand.

And we need that if we’re going to grow our vote and build a bigger, broader, deeper Green Party and Caucus – one that can exert real influence at the heart of a progressive Government.

So let’s look after one another and let’s stay focused on the goal ahead.

***

Now, have I mentioned the mountain we have to climb?

National is a political machine: well financed, disciplined, and sensitive enough to the polls to know when the tide is turning against them and when to adopt another one of our Green policies.

They have a new leader. Well, new-ish.

To be fair, Bill English has more of a moral compass than the last guy. The last guy had to consult polling data before he could tell you what he believed in.

I don’t agree with all Mr English’s values, but he does have a conscience.

In Question Time in Parliament, he actually tries to respond to the questions. It saddens me that this counts as unusually deserving of praise.

Certainly he should not be under estimated. At a time when politics around the world has taken a huge step into the unknown and the uncertain, being boring may not be Bill’s weakness, but his strength.

And he has been the architect of everything that National has done – or not done – for the last nine years in Government.

And that is why I want him to enjoy his retirement.

Because for all he might be a decent enough person, his lack of agility as Finance Minister has meant that our biggest problems are now worse today than ever before.

National has had nine years to address the growing crisis in Auckland’s housing market.

By one measure Auckland is now the fourth most unaffordable city in the world. By another, it is the most unaffordable.

National has had nine years to decouple the growth of carbon pollution from our economy.

We now emit 19 percent more greenhouse gas emissions than we did in 2008.

National has had nine years to address major congestion in our cities.

Aucklanders are now spending the equivalent of almost 12 working days every year, sitting in traffic, and the gridlock only appears to be getting worse.

National has had nine years to create real prosperity, yet there are still so many people working two or even three part-time jobs but just can’t make ends meet.

National has had nine years to stop the pollution of our beautiful rivers and lakes.

Last year, more than 5,000 people got sick drinking the water out of their taps in Havelock North.

National has had nine years to lift our most vulnerable children out of poverty, yet 212,000 children still live in poverty – the same number as in 2008.

No child in Aotearoa should live in poverty.

We’re going to fix that.

No river should be unfit to swim in; no aquifer unsafe to drink from.

We’re going to fix that.

And no Kiwi family should go without world-class health and education.

We’re going to fix that.

New Zealand has a government that believes that it has reached the limit of what it can do to lift its own people out of poverty and into greater opportunity.

Come September 23rd, we’re going to fix that.

***

Today, I want Kiwis everywhere to know what you can rely on us for in Government and how we intend to govern.

Our Memorandum of Understanding with Labour was a strong first step for us.

The MoU is not just a commitment to work together to change the government, it is the foundation stone on which we are building a solid, long-term, relationship with Labour.

One that is going to last the distance.

We all know that Government involves compromise. It is, in fact, a defining feature of MMP.

And if we are to govern responsibly and for more than one term, we’re going to have to work together with Labour.

And we won’t always get our own way.

And neither will they.

I believe most New Zealanders want to see their elected representatives rise above petty partisanship to work together for the good of the country.

Coalitions are, of course, worked out after Election Day, when we know what the numbers are.

But our MOU with Labour shows Kiwis that there is a steady, alternative government-in-waiting.

So that’s my first commitment to you and to the people of New Zealand.

A Green Government will be a stable government. A government that you can depend on to stand for progress and sustainability.

A government that you can rely on to go the distance and to work through our differences, for the greater good of our people and our planet.

***

I have to tell you that my experience of working with Andrew Little over the last few months, has given me a lot of faith that we will be a great team in Government.

Not in spite of our differences, but because of them. A creative tension between two progressive parties, with different heritages and different ways of seeing the world.

In a few weeks, Grant Robertson and I will announce our shared principles for how we manage the country’s finances when we’re in government.

This will give New Zealanders confidence that we’ll invest in what they value, and do so in a way that properly manages the country’s budget.

New Zealanders deserve more transparency from their politicians.

The Green Party has always stood for this. And we will always provide that transparency.

Like when we had our policy commitments independently costed for the 2014 general election.

Like when Metiria announced last year our intention to set up an independent Policy Costing Unit to ensure all political parties’ policy initiatives are properly costed.

Or like in 2009, when she released our MPs’ expenses to the public. Today, that’s standard practice for all of Parliament.

That’s my next commitment. A Green Government will be held to the highest standards of transparency, responsibility and accountability.

***

Well, that’s how we intend to govern. More important is what we are in Government for.

I want to be able to visit families around this country and have them know that we have got their backs.

I want families to know that we’re using all the resources of Government on the things that are going to most improve their lot in life.

I want them to know that a Green Government will invest in the basics so that all our families, including those who are hardest up, have what they need to provide for their children.

Central to this is income.

Income that means families can feed and house their children, support their education, and do the normal things we expect for our kids, like visits to the beach or school trips.

Think back to the schools of your childhood. How many still have the pool where you first learnt to swim?

How many of them are still completely free to attend?

And how many still have kids who come from all walks of life?

We all want children living in homes and neighbourhoods where they are nurtured to reach their full potential.

And that means getting alongside parents, whanau and caregivers, doing all that we can to support them.

Ensuring families are healthy and educated is a foundation for our society and for our economy.

It is a fundamental responsibility of governments to enable this.

That’s my third commitment to you and to the people of New Zealand.

A Green Government will be committed to decent incomes, housing, and education for all New Zealanders.

***

A couple of weeks ago I met with Dr Eric Rignot, a climate scientist from NASA, who was out visiting New Zealand.

That’s right. I met a rocket scientist and I forgot to get a selfie.

The latest UN report on climate change is four years old, and relies on data from four years before that.

Dr Rignot is deeply worried about the new data that NASA is seeing coming out of the Arctic, Greenland and Antarctica.

Ice shelves that models suggested were going to disappear in 1,000 years could well disappear in 100 years.

Climate change is not just the greatest challenge of our time.

It is the greatest challenge of all time, the most far-reaching consequence of the industrial revolution.

In New Zealand, the three sectors with the highest emissions are agriculture, transport and energy.

And in all three– in fact right across the economy – there is a new industrial revolution taking place.

This high-value, low-carbon, clean-tech, green economic revolution, is not just the solution to climate change.

It is also the greatest economic opportunity in at least a generation, rich in well-paid jobs, investment, and industry.

Our greatest risk is that we are twiddling our thumbs and letting this opportunity pass us by, and at the same time missing our emissions reduction target by a country mile.

So this is my next commitment to you and to the people of New Zealand.

A Green Government will commit to clean energy, clean transport, and clean agriculture, for a truly sustainable economy.

***

Climate change may be the greatest challenge of all time, but it’s not the only one we face.

New Zealand has an extraordinary natural heritage. Our forests, our mountains, our rivers and lakes, our beaches, are our most precious taonga.

In many ways they make us who we are as a nation. For Maori, the connection is even more literal than that.

But predators and habitat loss mean around one-third of all plants and animals are listed as threatened or at-risk.

And for another third, we don’t even have enough data to know whether they’re safe – or on the brink of extinction.

In 2015 I announced a climate plan that would reforest over a million hectares of marginal pastoral land.

Yes, that is a lot of new jobs – but beyond that, healthy forests don’t just soak up carbon emissions, they provide habitats for our endangered birds and help to clean up our rivers and streams.

Then last year, I announced a plan to increase the levy that international visitors pay, which would, over time, put more than $1 billion into the effort to make New Zealand predator-free, and save our most at-risk birds from extinction.

My mother grew up on a farm near Ōpōtiki, in the Eastern Bay of Plenty. When I was growing up, she would tell me stories about how she and her sisters and brother would swim in the creeks and rivers around the farm.

Occasionally, they would catch eels. These days, in many parts of New Zealand, you’d be more likely catch a disease.

Today, I’d like to announce a new initiative to keep our rivers and lakes alive and to protect the quality of the water that comes out of our taps.

New Zealanders shouldn’t have to question their access to – or the safety of – fresh water.

A Green Party in Government is going to set a crystal clear bottom line on drinking water.

We intend to strengthen the law around how aquifers are protected under the Resource Management Act.

Our aquifers are water bodies of national importance, so we will update the Act to ensure that future development does not put them at risk from contamination and overuse.

Protecting our fresh water is something so basic, we’ve mostly taken it for granted. We can no longer be so complacent.

Nearly half of all New Zealanders rely on aquifers for their drinking water. Increasing intensification in the agricultural sector and poorly planned towns and cities are putting this at risk.

Companies are bottling and exporting fresh water – without paying for it – while at the same time communities are on water restrictions and boil notices.

A small tweak to the Resource Management Act will require that all those responsible for administering the Act recognise the importance of our aquifers to our health and to the health of rivers, lakes and streams.

Maori, of course, have known this all along. Water is and has always been a taonga left by ancestors to provide and sustain life.

This new initiative will help protect our water. But I’m more ambitious than that. I want to restore the health of New Zealand’s rivers, lakes, and aquifers.

Contrast that to Nick Smith, who on Thursday responded to the challenge of cleaning up New Zealand’s rivers by lowering his standards.

He announced that rivers that are only safe enough for wading or boating will now be re-labelled as safe enough to swim in!

Minister, I can smell the e. coli on your breath as you lean towards me!

We say, no more. Not on our watch.

This is my ultimate commitment to you and to the people of New Zealand.

A Green Government will be absolutely, relentlessly committed to protecting and restoring our forests, our birds, and our rivers.

***

So that is what you can count on a Green Government for.

We will be a stable Government that you can depend on to go the distance.

We will be held to the highest standards of transparency, responsibility and accountability.

We will work for decent incomes, housing, and education for all New Zealanders.

We will invest in clean energy, clean transport, and clean agriculture for a sustainable economy.

And we will protect and restore our forests, our birds and our rivers.

That is our commitment to you and to Aotearoa. That’s what you can depend on us for.

And yes, I know Bill English will say his Government is committed to those things too, and we should all just keep voting for them.

Well, let me tell you, National make announcement after grand, sweeping announcement: Swimmable rivers. Predator-Free. Electric cars. Housing. Climate change.

But look at their results after nine years in Government.

More people unable to get into their first home – or worse, actually homeless.

More polluted rivers than when they came to office.

More endangered species. More motorways. More oil and gas exploration. Higher emissions.

National are a whirlwind of activity and announcements, but devoid of results.

A Green Government will measure our success, not by mere activity, but by our results.

The former United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said, “We are the first generation that can put an end to poverty and we are the last generation that can put an end to climate change.”

I believe him. And, in government, we will do everything in our power to make it happen.

Kiwis need to know they can trust the water that comes out of their tap.

They need to know that they can trust that their families will be able to make ends meet.

They need to know that they can trust their Government.

That they can trust us.

That’s what this election is about.

Now, let’s go win this thing.

Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa.

“They don’t have much respect for the democratic process”

Standing in an election is optional. Same for a by-election. So this claim from Green candidate Julie Anne Genter is odd, and also a tad hypocritical.

1 News: Julie Anne Genter labels National’s Mt Albert by-election no show lacking ‘respect for the democratic process’

Speaking last night Julie Anne Genter told 1 NEWS National’s no show in the contest for the Auckland seat shows a lack of “respect” for the “democratic process”.

“The fact National didn’t put up a candidate shows that they don’t have much respect for the democratic process and they were trying to make very light of this election,” Ms Genter said.

Ms Genter said her performance in the by-election was expected and went on to congratulate Ms Adern for her win.

“It’s pretty typical for a Green Party result in a by-election,” she said.

“Because we campaign on the party vote many Green Party voters are used to giving their CV to other candidates especially candidates as strong as Jacinda Ardern.”

So Genter stood with no expectation of winning and making no attempt to get votes. She used the by-election as a PR exercise. As she can choose to do, but it could be seen as a cynical use of the democratic process.

Is it better to stand in an election and encourage votes for another candidate, or to not stand at all?

Green candidates have stood in electorates for a number of elections making no attempt to win the electorate. They openly campaign for the party vote, but suggest to varying degrees that the electorate vote should go elsewhere.

That is their choice. They are using the democratic process to suit their goals. As National did in the Mt Albert by-election.

Greens chose not to stand a candidate in the recent Mt Roskill by-election to help the Labour candidate. Did that show no respect for the democratic process?

Greens chose not to stand a candidate in the Northland by-election to help Winston Peters. Did that show no respect for the democratic process? Labour stood a candidate but campaigned for votes to not go to her but instead to Peters.

Genter is trying to diss National for making their own choices on what they do in electorates, but she and Greens play the democratic system to suit their own purposes as much as any party.