Political year review – the parties 2018

A lot of politics and politicians fly under the media radar. Some MPs make the headlines, because the have prominent jobs, because they seek publicity, or because publicity seeks them, or they cock up. Here’s a few of my thoughts and impressions on the 2018 political year.

Party-wise I don’t think there is much of note.

National and Labour have settled into competing for top party status through the year, with the poll lead fluctuating. It’s far too soon to call how this will impact on the 2020 election, with both parties having problems but still in the running.

Greens and NZ First have also settled in to competing for second level party honours. Nothing drastic has gone wrong for either, but they are both struggling to impress in the polls, and they keep flirting with the threshold. again too soon to call how this will impact on the next election.

ACT is virtually invisible, and unless something drastic changes will remain largely an MP rather than a party.

TOP is trying to reinvent itself without Gareth Morgan leading but Morgan is having trouble letting go of his influence. They have a lot of work to do to build a new profile with whoever they choose as new leader. As with any party without an MP they have an uphill battle with media and with the threshold.

The New Conservative Party is not getting any publicity, apart from their deputy leader posting at Whale Oil, which won’t do much for their credibility. The media seem disinterested, which is the kiss of political death.

No other party looks like making an impression.

With NZ First and Greens expected to struggle to maintain support while in Government (as have support parties in the past), one prospect is that the political landscape and the next election will be a two party race, with Labour and National competing to earn the votes to become a single party Government, which would be a first under MMP.

It’s too soon to call on this. A major factor could be whether voters are happy to see support parties fade away out of contention, or whether enough voters decide small party checks on power are important to maintain.

If the latter this may benefit the Greens IF voters aren’t too worried about a Labour+Green coalition who would have confidence in getting more revolutionary with a second term mandate.

For NZ First much may depend on how let down some of their support feels over a lack of living up to their promises on things like immigration and dumping the Maori seats. A lot may also depend on how Winston Peters weathers another term and whether he stands again.

Winners?

Labour have won back a position as a top dog party after struggling for nearly all of the nine years they were in Opposition.

National continue to win a surprising level of support as long as individual MPs aren’t trying to sabotage the party. The Ross rampage is unlikely to be repeated as other MPs will have seen it as little more than self destructive of an individual’s political future.

So joint winners, sort of but with no prize, and no party deserving of a runner-up place.

Medical cannabis bill passes third reading

The medical cannabis has passed it’s final vote in Parliament today. Minister of Health David Clark called it the most progressive bill ever, which will grate on those who were hopeful the Government would treat medical and general use of cannabis as boldly as a growing number of countries and states around the world. But at least it’s a start.

NZ Herald: Medicinal cannabis bill passes third reading

A bill that gives terminally ill people a legal defence for using illicit cannabis products has passed its third reading in Parliament today.

The Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill also gives them a defence to possess utensils for using cannabis.

That defence comes into force as soon as the bill receives royal assent.

Last month, during the bill’s second reading, Health Minister David Clark made changes to the bill that expanded the defence to all people needing palliative relief, rather than just those with a year or less to live, as it previously was.

The changes also created a requirement for regulations for the Medicinal Cannabis Scheme to be in place no later than one year after the law comes into effect, allaying concerns that it could take as long as 2020 before the regulatory framework was in place.

It made clear that cannabis varieties already in New Zealand could be used for medicinal products, prompting at least one therapeutic cannabis company to call for illicit growers to come forward with their unique strains.

Following the bill’s passing, Clark said the statutory defence would be available to around 25,000 people who could benefit from palliative care.

But it wasn’t progressive enough to cover people suffering from chronic pain and debilitating illnesses that are hard to treat with conventional medicines.

Greens are happy they have finally got somewhere on freeing up cannabis laws.

National are acting like numpties. After voting for the bill initially they voted against it today and are grizzling about the bill. They had held up doing anything meaningful about dysfunctional drug laws through their last nine years in Government.

Can we save the planet without a revolution?

Can we save our planet with a revolution?

How much risk of making things worse from a revolution?

Another post promoting revolution to save the planet, from Damon Rusden at Pundit – Can we save the planet without a revolution?

The short answer is no; the long answer requires an explanation of what form that revolution will take.

I don’t know how he can be certain about that. Revolution implies drastic and rapid changes – I don’t know how many governments will risk going down that path.

After protests in France over fuel tax increases the Government there has just suspended the fuel tax – French PM announces suspension of fuel tax hikes after ‘Yellow Vest’ protests

The backpedaling by President Emmanuel Macron’s government appeared designed to calm the nation, coming three days after the worst unrest on the streets of Paris in decades.

“No tax is worth putting the nation’s unity in danger,” Philippe said, just three weeks after insisting that the government wouldn’t change course in its determination to wean French consumers off polluting fossil fuels.

A more pertinent question is whether revolution is possible without provoking counter-revolts. France just tried one tax rise, hardly a revolutionary step.

Rusden:

We all know we’re shafting the planet, and headlines every other week are making sure we don’t forget. As another Conference of the Parties (COP) conference kicks off this week – this time in Poland, this time called COP24 – we have been warned that decisive action in the next two years will be crucial.

The real problem is the solution; collectively we are still failing to meet our climate targets (by a lot) even after the heralded Paris Agreement and a global consensus on the dangers threatening us as a species. The issues need to be placed in the context of survival, because that’s what is causing this zero-sum game. The survival of our existing economic paradigm or the entire biosphere.

We cannot continue to be aware of the risks which come as a cause of climate change and believe that changing our coffee cups, picking up litter on a Sunday or buying solar panels will subdue the wave of destruction that is approaching.

This battle is not one we can win individually, nor can we afford to be content with micronized solutions.

There are many practical solutions which are put forward. A change of consumption is one method. Less meat, less agriculture, more forests. While this seems a feasible solution, it is simply too slow and too mired in development debate.

So if we accept that it is our imbedded, ‘extractionism’ method of production which is destroying the planet, we as individuals are not at fault and we’re running out of time, what do we do?

Hold those accountable responsible. Whatever form this takes.

Prosecution of the genuine polluters – the oil companies, agriculture giants, unsustainable logging companies and political enablers. There is precedent in local and international courts, but there would need to be serious political will.

Pressure politicians. While some governments are moving in the right direction, no change has come about from a complacent public. Some of the biggest changes have come from a local campaign at a council level and climbed up the governance hierarchy.

As what has just happened in France shows, there can also be strong opposition to change.

There has been a concerted effort over the past decade or so to embed Green activists in councils at local level and try to generate a revolution from there, but even relatively modest changes like installing cycle lanes and removing car parks has been controversial and contentious.

There is growing annoyance here in Dunedin over the disruptions caused by putting in cycle lanes that are hardly used, while road traffic flow is noticeably getting worse.

Public demand for taxpayers’ money to be used exclusively for green investment; ACC and the Super Fund are billion-dollar investment portfolios and could have a real impact. Some banks and universities have also done so due to public pressure.

  • Boycott. As individuals we cannot do much; as a collective we can do more. Polluting industries will respond. Awareness campaigns across the globe prove this.
  • Strike. Workers are the ones who produce; if there is no production there is no pollution. Strikes are an important part of workplace relations and bosses will get the message.
  • Shut it down. Hard to argue this wouldn’t make it clear that we want an immediate transition.

All of this must be done comprehensively.

We cannot continue extraction, production and materialism on the levels we are now. We cannot continue to live in isolation, or pretend that unrealised technology will save us. We must radically change the way we function, at the source. With direct action. And we have about ten years left to do so.

That is not going to be easy (to get public support and to get Government compliance).

And there is no guarantee that any revolution would succeed.

Nor is there any guarantee that adverse reactions and unintended consequences won’t make things worse.

It has already provoked violent counter-protests in France.  That sort of reaction could get much worse.

The poor people of the world would become more vulnerable – they would bear most of the brunt of radical changes. Richer people can more easily afford to adapt (or avoid).

It would be a very risky experiment with no way of knowing what the outcome would be.


From Hawkes Bay Today last year: (Damon Rusden: Our reliance on a failed model) – Damon Rusden is a politics international relations and public policy student at Victoria University. He is the Green Party candidate for Napier in the upcoming general elections.

His views seem to have not been very popular in last year’s election – Napier electorate:

  • Candidate votes 1,386 (3.63%)
  • Green electorate vote 1,938 (5.00%)

 

Political polls for 2018

Political polls for the year haven’t shown any drastic changes, with Labour and National swapping the lead a few times after Labour had risen to be competitive late last year after the election.

I presume there will be no more political polls for 2018. Colmar Brunton (for 1 News) are the only ones left doing polls, and they have just published what will be their last one for the year.

Reid Research (Newshub) did just two polls this year, in January and May. Roy Morgan have up given doing New Zealand polls. Their last poll was in November 2017.

Labour looked dire mid 2017 but Jacinda Ardern’s leadership turned things around for them enough for them to  be able to form a government, thanks to NZ First.

NZ First have remained in the MMP danger zone, peaking on the 5% threshold but dropping as low as 2.4% (in May).

After polling mostly in the 10-15% range in the first half of last year Greens dropped drastically after the Turei fallout, and through this year holding their support just over the threshold in the 5-7% range. So their support has halved from the support they got for most of last term.

It seems normal for coalition support parties to struggle to maintain support.

After the latest poll Ardern was criticised for claiming that Labour “finishing the year stronger than we started it”, but she is correct, sort of, by a small margin and she is comparing two different polling companies.

Reid Research did an unusually early poll in the political holiday period 18-28 January, and had Labour on 42.3%. In May they had Labour on 42.6%.

Colmar Brunton’s last poll (24-28 November) had Labour on 43% (rounded so could have been as low as 42.51% or as high as 43.49%). However Colmar’s first poll of the year (10-14 February) had Labour at 48% so Labour have dropped back from that Colmar high.

Ardern also said “polls do move around a bit these are all still within the margin of error” –

We can only see trends from Colmar – here are Labour’s results for the year.

  • 10-14 February 48%
  • 7-11 April 43%
  • 19-23 May 43%
  • 28 Jul – 1 Aug  42%
  • 15-19 October 45%
  • 24-28 November 43%

The 48% for Labour looks to be a polling outlier – it could have been accurate at the time, but Labour settled in and remained in the low forties for the rest of the year. While they will be disappointed to be trailing National this is a fairly solid result for them, considering their pre-Ardern polling had them dropping in the twenties. Colmar had them trending down to 24% in July 2017.

National’s results from Colmar this year:

  • 10-14 February 43%
  • 7-11 April 44%
  • 19-23 May 45%
  • 28 Jul – 1 Aug  45%
  • 15-19 October 43%
  • 24-28 November 46%

They were behind Labour in February and in October (affected by the Jami-Lee Ross mess) but this is remarkably consistent for a party in Opposition, and with new leader Simon Bridges (since 27 February) who is struggling to make a mark.

Looking at the Labour and National polling for the year there is little in it, and little significant change in most polls.

Media have tried to make big stories out of their polls, but the reality is quite mundane.

I think we have a real problem with how polls are reported. Obviously media try to get bang for their bucks – polling can be expensive – but they usually make mountains out of mole polls, often blatantly misrepresenting what individual polls mean.

Media try to make each of their polls look like some sort of mini election, which is nonsense. They can only be approximate indicators of support, and the year after an election most of the people care little about politics most of the time.

If media were doing proper journalism they would report on the political polling without sensation and misrepresentation. And mostly that would be (and should be) quite boring.

How should the media get value for the money spent on polls? Perhaps they should also poll on things of real public interest at the same time, and make their big stories about that.

1 News blew that opportunity in the last poll. They did ask a one-off question – Should Simon Bridges boot Jami-Lee Ross from Parliament using waka jumping law?

The results of that mean nothing (and were inconclusive, with 31% saying they didn’t know). Most people have moved on from one MP self-destructing – actually most people probably took little notice when the media were going hard out with headlines.

1 News would probably like to encourage National to chuck Ross out of the waka (that would be out of parliament, they have already chucked him out of the party) because that could be headlined as a sensational political somersault or something.

Rather than aiming for short term headlines 1 News could do a really public service (they are a public media company after all) doing a series of meaningful polls on issues that really matter to people, but it would take months if not years to get a return on their investment. They seem too obsessed with short term ratings and clicks.

So I expect more of the same form polling next year, another non-election year. It’s a shame we are so poorly served by media who do polling, but I don’t see that changing.

Something worse has become prevalent – online polls run by media. They are cheap, and nasty, very unreliable so they are of no useful purpose.

Food Country of Origin Bill passes final reading

This has taken a while, starting well before the current government took over, but the Greens deserve praise for the passing of the Consumers’ Right to Know (Country of Origin of Food) Bill. The Members’ Bill was introduced to Parliament on 8 December 2016 so has taken two years to get through.

I think that labelling should clearly show the country of origin of food so consumers can make informed choices.

I detest labels that say things like ‘packed in New Zealand’ or ‘some contents may come from overseas’.

An actual label (I just checked): ‘Made in New Zealand from local and imported ingredients’ (tomato sauce).

But most good in my pantry do now name the country of origin, perhaps in anticipation of the law change.

Food retailers should be open and honest about their products. It’s a shame it has taken a law to force it.

Labour concede to NZ First on employment law changes

Unions had big hopes for Labour putting through significant employment law changes, but they have been pruned by NZ First.

Newsroom:  Labour concessions secure NZ First support for employment law changes

Labour has made two key concessions to employment law reforms to secure the support of coalition partner New Zealand First.

The two crucial tweaks were announced ahead of the Employment Relations Bill returning to Parliament for its second reading today.

The first change clarifies that an employer must enter into bargaining for a Multi-Employer Collective Agreement, but that the new legislation “does not compel them to settle an agreement”.

The second change confirms that union representatives will be able to enter workplaces as of right, but only where “union members are covered by or bargaining for a collective agreement”.

In all other cases, consent will be required from the employer before a union representative can enter a workplace.

NZ First leader Winston Peters first indicated his party was seeking alterations to the Bill in September when he said it was “a work in progress”. The issue was one of a number of outbreaks of friction between the coalition partners on a range of policy issues at the time. Peters today said NZ First’s contribution to the changes had been to “give small business a fair go”.

“We have looked out for small and medium-sized business to ensure that the law reflects their reality,” he said. “We heard that changes needed to be made to ensure small businesses weren’t unfairly treated under the legislation.”

So NZ First have been a moderating influence on this.

What about Green input?

The Green Party was also a signatory to the statement outlining the changes, although its contribution to the internal negotiations between the parties of government was not initially obvious.

“Employment relations have become out of balance in New Zealand and this legislation shows the government is listening and making the progressive changes that will benefit New Zealanders,” co-leader Marama Davidson said.

A vague statement, so hard to know.  The concessions show that Labour is listening to NZ First – that’s MP in action.

Barry Soper:  Beehive raises white flag to NZ First over Workplace Relations Bill

Labour’s flagship policy of giving unions more power in the workplace has run into rough seas, with the Beehive raising the white flag to New Zealand First and sinking the unions’ Good Ship Lollipop.

This bill, debated in Parliament’s bear pit last night, now has Peters’ party written all over it from the 90-day probationary period, which now applies only to business with 20 or more workers. Of course larger businesses have HR departments which can devise inventive ways of getting rid of people anyway. Labour wanted to get rid of what the unions call the fire-at-will trials until Peters put his highly polished shoe down.

Through gritted teeth the Council of Trade Unions have had to grimace and bear the peeling back of the changes they and Labour wanted. They rightly said most employers won’t notice the changes because this country already has similar provisions in law.

They acknowledge the MMP environment can make robust law change more of a challenge but are hanging out for further reforms in the near future.

That seems unlikely while NZ First remains in the mix.

Greens pushing to end oil and gas exploration

Gareth Hughes has had a low profile as a Green MP for some time, but he is upping his efforts to end oil and gas exploration.

Newsroom:  Greens want Labour to toughen gas ban

A supplementary order paper from Green MP Gareth Hughes threatens to rip the scab off the Government’s contentious ban on new offshore oil and gas exploration.

The Government announced an end to the issuing of exploration permits for offshore oil and gas exploration in April.

The ban did not affect existing permit holders, who were free to continue extracting oil and gas.

But as backlash mounted against the ban, the Government granted a significant concession to exploration companies.

Hughes has used a supplementary order paper (SOP) to try to overturn Woods’ decision. An SOP allows MPs to amend legislation that is currently before the House.

But the proposal has come at an awkward time for the Government.

A perfect storm of catastrophes has exposed just how reliant New Zealand is on gas. Unseasonably cold weather and low water levels at the South Island’s hydro-lakes has meant electricity generators have had to use gas and coal.

Unfortunately, two outages at the Pohokura gas field and essential maintenance on the Maui pipeline has meant New Zealand’s gas resources haven’t been ready to pick up the slack left by depleted hydro-lakes.

This has sent wholesale electricity prices soaring .The average wholesale price for most of October was $300 per MWh. Last October the average was just $102 per MWh.

I use Flick for power. They are usually quite reasonable, but my last two power bills have jumped up, with one over double the previous week ($100 for a week).

Hughes says the loophole means offshore drilling could continue indefinitely, defeating the purpose of the ban. He has called on Labour and New Zealand First to back him.

“The whole point of ending future offshore permits was to ensure a smooth transition away from fossil fuels. To extend existing permits defeats the purpose,” he said.

But due to us being far from reducing our dependence on fossil fuels a reduction in gas recovery risks forcing us to use less clean energy, and forcing us to import more fossil fuels.

 

Grading one year of government

After a year in charge here are some gradings of the parties in Government.

Labour: B-

There have been some wins, let’s be clear about that.but at some point the pain of those on the bottom must shame this Party into actually doing something, not just pretty words and symbolism.

Jacinda continues to be their strongest performer with Grant Robertson, Andrew Little, David Parker, Willie Jackson, Kiritapu Allan, Deborah Russell, Marja Lubeck, Tamiti Coffey, Damien O’Connor, Greg O’Connor and Michael Wood being star performers to date.

Lot’s of talking, very little walking at this stage.

NZ First: B+

…they’ve done enough to keep their voters happy. The weird thing about the NZ values was just laughable. If Jones can get the forestry side working from planting, to cutting to working the wood here to building with it, he will be one of the greatest economic architects NZ has ever produced.

Greens: C-

After the meltdown of the 2017 election, there have been some wins, of that there can be no doubt, while Chloe, Jan Logie and Julie Anne Genter continue to be their best performers…but unfortunately it’s the fuck ups that gain media attention.

The Greens have become a middle class vehicle for alienating woke identity politics…

The Greens have gone backwards every election for the last 3 elections, tone policing on Twitter (I’m not making that up, there really is a ‘tone policing’ call out) doesn’t seem the way forward.

That’s from Martyn Bradbury in One year of the new Government: The faded hope of a hollow promise – grading Labour, NZ First & Greens

Conclusion:

There have been small victories but essentially the neoliberal bureaucracy and Ministries rule this Government, not the other way around and unless Labour, NZ First and the Greens find a way to shame the Ministries into reform, the Wellington Elites will continue to run the agenda, not the representatives of the people.

So the revolution driven by the Auckland Left has not transpired, yet at least.

Another left wing view (David Cormack): The politics of doing jack-all

Government, it’s time to start dominating the story. This last quarter you did jack-all and went up in the polls anyway.

When you started you were a shambles. You were disorganised, you didn’t know what you were doing, you clearly hadn’t expected to be in government and you out-sourced all your actual governing to others.

Oh sure you have done some things, and you’re running a lot better now, but if the government was a movie, this last year felt less like an action packed resolution scene, and more like a long establishing shot. An establishing shot full of working groups.

So while the past 12 months has been marked by the Government slowly getting its act together …the next 12 months promise more. But with that promise comes risk, because there’s a lot of hype about this politics of kindness. And if people start to feel like they’re not getting what they voted for then you’ll burn through a lot of capital. And it’s debatable whether you’ve earned much capital to burn.

More from Bryce Edwards’ Political Roundup: Verdicts on the Government’s first year

And an editorial from ODT: Labour’s satisfactory first year

The passing of the one-year mark by the coalition Government has provided opportunities to assess its performance. Generally, these reviews have been positive, and we agree with these opinions.

But, when all is said and done, the Government will flourish or flounder on economic conditions. If the lack of business confidence is reflected in employment and growth, if changed industrial laws affect competitiveness, if New Zealand becomes too expensive and less efficient as it is in danger of becoming then Labour will suffer.

Just as the strong United States economy has helped add a layer to President Donald Trump’s support, so Labour’s success will depend on the economy and on-going effects of Labour’s policies on people’s monetary wellbeing. So far so good. Labour and its coalition have navigated the first year satisfactorily.

And they are still in, which has exceeded some expectations. They have the opportunity to do a lot more over the next two years and live up to some of their promise and promises.

 

After a year how transformative has the Labour-led Government been?

Not much, yet.

The Labour-NZ First-Green government is now a year old. Thomas Coughlan at Newsroom asks whether the current Government is truly a government of change – One year on: Change worthy of its name?

Transformation is a word we hear a lot to describe this Government.

The Government’s speech from the throne promised a “government of transformation”, and followed that up in May with a Budget that Finance Minister Grant Robertson said was “the first steps in a plan for transformation”.

The second word we hear a lot is “transition”.

What they mean to say is “government of change”, which was Ardern’s wording in what became known as her reset speech, which she made in September.

All governments change things, and the world changes. The pertinent question here is whether Ardern and her government are living up to her hype.

The Government has finished just 18 KiwiBuild homes (although it has started construction on more), the waitlist for social housing has grown, and the $2.8 billion investment in fees-free tertiary education hasn’t changed enrolment numbers, although the University of Auckland has tumbled down global league tables.

As for climate change, apparently our “nuclear-free moment”, under the current Government, big dairy can still dial up a a $600 million M. Bovis bailout for a self-inflicted crisis, while the much-lauded Green Investment Fund gets just $100 million.

Nuclear-free moment? Pardon me, but I think I can smell the methane on your breath …

The problem for this Government is that it knows what change looks like and it’s afraid.

It knows that true change is ugly and real people get hurt.

People living under the big-change governments of the 1980s knew they were living in a time of massive change.

So, can Ardern be kind and transformative at the same time?

One year on, we’ve seen this Government’s definition of change.

With the exception of KiwiBuild, its flagship change policies signal change in direction without enacting specific policy.

Supporters say this means the change will be more lasting – and they’re probably right. Both the Child Poverty Reduction Bill and the Zero Carbon Bill have bipartisan support, meaning they will likely survive into the future. Likewise, the Wellbeing Framework has the potential to change how we look at the economy, although proof of that is many years away.

But, especially on the issue of climate change, its slowly-softly policy platform absolves the current Government from making any of the tough decisions necessary when implementing change.

It’s an unpalatable truth that change means picking losers as much as picking winners.

The question hanging over the Government now is whether there is time to implement what it calls a “just transition”, to a halcyon economy of low unemployment, high productivity, and fair incomes.

“Just transition” is essentially the oil and gas exploration ban writ large — big change, but slowly. But a just transition doesn’t need to be slow and there’s nothing just about waiting 30 years for house prices to stabilise.

Just transitions could mean using the power of the welfare state to cushion the pain of change, like the governments of the 1980s should have done.

There’s little room to be complacent. The window of opportunity is closing.

Change is the sword of Damocles hanging over all our governments. And while this Government thinks the lesson from the 1980s is that slow change is best, it would be wise to pay attention to the other lesson from that decade: governments are not the only agents of change and those who fail to act in time will often find their hand forced by events.

Governments are always forced by events to act. They need to manage forced change along with reforming or transformative change, if they can.

In their first year the Government has changed some things, but they have only talked about most changes they propose, and it’s still not clear what they are going to change this term as they await the outcome of their many working groups/inquiries etc.

Also from Newsroom – One year in: the fault lines ahead

The first anniversary has provided a chance for Ardern and her team to look back on their successes and failures so far – but what challenges lay in wait for them before the next election?

Here are some of the fault lines the Government may need to navigate if it is to hold onto power in 2020:

Waterfall of working groups

National’s gleeful mockery of the coalition’s working group fixation seemed a little insincere at the start, given the party was not averse to the odd policy review and panel during its first term.

However, there is a kernel of truth in that the Government is now waiting on the results of numerous inquiries into some critical policy areas, some of which will not report back until just before the next election, until it takes action.

As the reports and recommendations trickle in, the potential bill for implementing all that is asked for will slowly mount up.

Justice reform:

The Government’s plans to shake up the criminal justice system loom as perhaps its highest-risk, highest-reward reforms.

If Justice Minister Andrew Little and Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis succeed, the prison population will be reduced by 30 percent within a decade, addressing what Bill English once called the “moral and fiscal failure” of prisons.

However, National’s cries of the coalition being “soft on crime” provide a taste of its likely campaign against any firm proposals for reform, as well as the outcry which may result from any crimes following law changes (no matter their merit on balance).

Tax reform:

Part of that proliferation of working groups, but worthy of mention in its own right, is the Government’s Tax Working Group – a political slow-burner that could divide the coalition right up to the next election.

Chaired by former finance minister Michael Cullen, it will present its final report on the future of New Zealand’s tax system next February.

However, the Government has committed to putting any recommendations from the group to the electorate in 2020, meaning any changes would not be implemented until at least April 2021.

The sticking point is the issue of a capital gains tax.

So at best this will be a plan for transformation put to voters at the next election.

Climate change

It’s one thing to call climate change the nuclear moment of our generation, it’s another to do something about it.

Climate Change Minister, and Green co-leader, James Shaw said the IPCC report was broadly in line with the Government’s direction on climate change. But talk, as they say, is cheap.

There have been some climate-related policy changes, including a ban on new oil and gas permits and the establishment of a $100 million green investment fund. Also in the wings are a Zero Carbon Bill, emissions trading scheme changes and the creation of a Climate Change Commission.

The biggest pressure on the Government is its own rhetoric. Those disappointed by the environmental record of Helen Clark’s Labour-led coalition will be looking to the Green Party to push the Government into taking stronger, tangible steps.

Ardern has talked big on climate change, but we are yet to see how her Government will transform things.

Also, not mentioned in the Newsroom article, is another issue that Ardern has staked her reputation on, child poverty. Her Government quickly increased some benefits, but there has not been much sign of a revolution on poverty yet.

The Government has another two years to prove to voters that they are capable of walking the walk and delivering meaningful transformation at the same time as they competently manage normal management and also dealing with things that are thrown at them.

Greens also have a lot at stake – they have talked about a green revolution for long enough. They have to deliver something significant to justify voters’ trust in them.

NZ First probably just need to deliver Winston Peters to the voting papers for the party to survive.

As a whole the Government has been far more talk (and working group) than walk.  They may end up sprinting to the next election hoping voters will pass them the baton for another term.

Marama Davidson claims to have ‘outed’ anonymous donations

Green co-leader Marama Davidson has received support (and some criticism) after she claimed to have outed anonymous donations made to the National Party. These are donations that were disclosed by National by April in accordance with electoral law.

Davidson:

I’ve called for ALL parties to bring public confidence back to our system and step up to tighter rules. The vast majority of our donations were less than $100 (over 85%) and the ave amount was 48 bucks.

I don’t know that the public cares much about party donations.

Greens get a lot of small donations – they regularly ask for small donations from supporters. But I’m not sure why they feel that larger donations should be more strictly controlled.

There is a chance that large donors expect something in return from the parties they donate to. I’m sure that unions who make large donations to Labour hope for union friendly legislation from a Labour led government.

Greens focus on small donations – but they also use their donor and support base to lobby, via petitions, via bulk submissions. What is the difference apart from their method? Greens may in fact be using donors directly in their lobbying more than some big business donors.

Yesterday Davidson followed up, claiming to have ‘outed’ National:

Davidson has claimed to have ‘outed’ donation information that was filed by April this year with the Electoral Commission, and is easy to see here:

https://www.elections.org.nz/sites/default/files/bulk-upload/documents/national_party_-_annual_return_2017.pdf

A Green Party media release from Davidson: $3.5 million in anonymous donations to National in 2017, it needs to be fixed

Over $3.5 million in anonymous donations to the National Party in 2017 shows why we urgently need donations reform in Aotearoa New Zealand, Green Party Co-leader Marama Davidson said today.

“$3.5 million in anonymous donations is a huge sum of money, it is unlikely this is made up of coins or small notes dropped in a bucket of given at a bake sale.

“This spells out powerful vested interests tipping huge amounts of money into the coffers of the National Party, hiding behind anonymity.

“With this scale of funding comes influence, and at the moment we don’t truly know who these powerful vested interests are that are influencing our politicians. Our Parliament is ripe for influence by big corporations, and potentially corruption.

“It needs to end. After this past few weeks it is clearer than ever that New Zealanders want big money out of politics. It is time for our Parliament to be returned to the community.

“The Green Party are calling for anonymity to only be maintained for donations under $1000. This means that small donations at local fundraisers aren’t mired with red tape, but also means politicians will find it much harder to hide donations from powerful vested interests”.

In other words, she wants to protect the Green way of fundraising but wants to restrict the way other parties fundraise. Given that this would impact on Labour and NZ First as well as National I doubt that she will get much support.

It seems to be more ‘Green way or the highway’ anti-big business rhetoric.