Economic question of our time – how to thrive without endless growth

An interesting interview on Newshub Nation this morning with economist Kate Raworth.

@NewshubNation

Economist Kate Raworth says a global obsession with GDP growth is destroying our planet and we need to rethink our concept of a successful economy.

She says the economic question of our time is whether we can make our economies thrive without endless growth.

Endless growth is not possible, which means we can’t cope with endless population growth and endless diminishing of Earth’s resources.

From her website: Kate Raworth (“Ray-worth”) is a renegade economist focused on exploring the economic mindset needed to address the 21st century’s social and ecological challenges, and is the creator of the Doughnut of social and planetary boundaries.

(Both interview images below show the interviewer Emma Jolliff)

More about Raworth:

Her internationally acclaimed idea of Doughnut Economics has been widely influential amongst sustainable development thinkers, progressive businesses and political activists, and she has presented it to audiences ranging from the UN General Assembly to the Occupy movement. Her book, Doughnut Economics: seven ways to think like a 21st century economist was published in 2017 and has been translated into 15 languages.

Meanwhile the US economy continues to thrive

Despite all the political turmoil and President Trump’s confrontational and divisory approach the US economy continues to do very well, but there are some warning signs

The US share market is easing off record highs – the boom there may be a good sign, but could also pose future risks of a big bust.

Market Watch:  Job creation, wages slip in September as unemployment falls to 48-year low

The U.S. unemployment rate sank to a 48-year low of 3.7% in September as the economy added 134,000 new jobs, setting the stage for a strong holiday season to finish out what’s been stellar year for the U.S. economy.

The increase in hiring was the smallest in 12 months and below the recent trend, perhaps reflecting the effects of Hurricane Florence. Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast a 168,000 increase.

Yet the increase in new jobs was enough to lower the unemployment rate to 3.7% from 3.9%. The last time the jobless rate was lower was in December 1969 — when the first man walked on the moon.

Many economists predict the jobless rate will fall even further in the months ahead.

Reuters:  U.S. job growth cools; unemployment rate drops to 3.7 percent

U.S. job growth slowed sharply in September likely as Hurricane Florence depressed restaurant and retail payrolls, but the unemployment rate fell to near a 49-year low of 3.7 percent, pointing to a further tightening in labor market conditions.

“The weaker gain in payrolls in September may partly reflect some hit from Hurricane Florence,” said Michael Pearce, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics in New York. “There is little in this report to stop the Fed continuing to raise interest rates gradually.”

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said on Tuesday that the economy’s outlook was “remarkably positive” and he believed it was on the cusp of a “historically rare” era of ultra-low unemployment and tame inflation.

Bloomberg:  Powell Heaps Trump-Like Praise on Economy as Rate Hikes Loom

In what Fed watchers say was unprecedented four public appearances over the past week, Powell repeatedly lauded the economy’s performance, calling it “remarkably positive,” “extraordinary” and “particularly bright.” And he said he expected the good times to continue.

“Interest rates are still accommodative, but we’re gradually moving to a place where they’ll be neutral,” neither holding back nor spurring economic growth, Powell said. “We may go past neutral. But we’re a long way from neutral at this point, probably,” he added.

The Fed raised its interest-rate target range last week to 2 percent to 2.25 percent.

Breaking with decades of presidential precedence, Trump has repeatedly criticized the Fed in recent months for raising rates. His latest salvo came on Sept. 26, just hours after Powell and his colleagues boosted rates for the third time this year.

Asked by veteran television anchor Judy Woodruff for his response to Trump’s outbursts, Powell replied, “My focus is essentially on controlling the controllable”.

The current economic expansion is already the second-longest in history, trailing only the 10-year period of the 1990s. If it continues, it will surpass that upturn next year.

But one trend should be of concern, US Government Debt:

Today the Federal Debt is about $21,605,363,414,469.16.

The amount is the gross outstanding debt issued by the United States Department of the Treasury since 1790 and reported here.

But, it doesn’t include state and local debt.

And, it doesn’t include so-called “agency debt.”

And, it doesn’t include the so-called unfunded liabilities of entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare.

Forbes: Why The Federal Deficit Isn’t Cause For Panic… Yet

If you’re reading this, then it probably means you have also watched pundits scream at the top of their lungs about the impending doom brought about by the US deficit. Numbers like $20 Trillion are enough to scare anyone, so concern is warranted, however, panic is not.

The federal government is projected to add $985 billion to the federal deficit during fiscal year 2019. That’s because the government plans to spend over $4.4 trillion dollars, while bringing in only $3.42 trillion dollars. Nearly $400 Billion of the spending will go to service debt that’s already accrued over the years and that figure will only rise as interest rates increase.

While those numbers are astonishing and difficult to really wrap your mind around, it’s not as bad as it sounds. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO’s) Budget and Economic Outlook: 2018 to 2028, “In CBO’s baseline projections, which incorporate the assumption that current laws governing taxes and spending generally remain unchanged, the federal budget deficit grows substantially over the next few years. Later on, between 2023 and 2028, it stabilizes in relation to the size of the economy, though at a high level by historical standards.”

Now I said not to panic earlier, because there are a number of adjustments and scenarios that will let the U.S. keep borrowing and spending long after any individual would have had their credit cards canceled. That said, at some point time will run out and our options to fix the situation will be less and less friendly. It’s the equivalent of waiting until you’re in the hospital to make lifestyle adjustments. By then, it might be too late.

The Baltimore Sun: U.S. debt addiction threatens national security

Arising China. An emboldened Russia. A nuclear Iran. Cyberwarfare. Ask a defense expert to name America’s biggest security concerns, and one of these will likely top the list.

These threats are real, of course. But one of the biggest dangers to our nation isn’t a hostile foreign actor. It’s a domestic one — our leaders’ addiction to debt.

The U.S. national debt is rising unsustainably. The Pentagon recently has been asking for more money, and Congress has been inclined to give it to them. Absent dramatic reform, national security will soon take a back seat to mandatory debt service.

The Hill: Congress approved $2.4 trillion in additional debt during fiscal year 2018: Watchdog

Congress approved $2.4 trillion in debt during fiscal year 2018, according to an analysis published this week by the watchdog group Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CFRB).

Trump administration officials have insisted that the tax law will ultimately bring down the deficit due to economic growth, a conclusion that’s been rejected by many budget watchers as well as some official bodies.

“At a time when debt is already at record-high levels and growing unsustainably, the $2.4 trillion added to the projected debt over the past year is incredibly irresponsible,” CFRB wrong in a blog post. “These changes alone will increase projected debt from 86 percent of GDP to 94 percent.”

Trump is used to taking big financial risks in business, but the financial health of the United States as well as the world are at stake. If things crash it won’t be as easy to walk away as it has been from his business failures.

If the New Zealand Government was increasing debt here to anything like 86% or 94% of GDP they would be strongly and widely criticised, for good reason. But for some reason business leaning pundits don’t seem to care about those levels of debt in the US, they hail the economy there as great.

Is more people better?

New Zealand, like the world, seems to be on a growth treadmill. Is continued population growth really a good thing?

A thought provoking post by Bunji at The Standard who suggests This is not the growth you’re looking for.

There are different views on The Standard about growth and whether we really need it.  I’m all for environmentally-, socially-sustainable growth, and I’m a programmer, so I’m in a fairly “weightless” part of the economy.

But here’s one bit of growth that really seems pointless to me: that achieved only by increasing the number of people.

While there should be better ways of measuring our economy and success than anything GDP-based (Robert Kennedy: “it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile”), it seems a simple fix to at least make it GDP-per-capita, while we’re working out the complexities of those other measurements.

Because if we’re only increasing GDP by increasing the number of people, as we are currently, we’re loading up the environment and we’re not even individually getting any richer for it.  Thanks National.

If you look at 64,000 immigration last year – 1.5% of the population(!) you’ve got to wonder whether it’s socially sustainable as well.  I love the super-diversity of Auckland, but that’s a lot to swallow in a year.  With about 40,000 of that immigration being to Auckland – a city that’s already got a massive house shortage and struggles creating enough infrastructure – you’ve got to wonder: what’s the point?

While it’s a much bigger problem for Auckland it’s also something New Zealand as a whole should be asking.

The human population can’t keep growing forever. We can’t keep transforming the earth we live on indefinitely.

Should we strive for bigger, more because we don’t want to be left behind the rest of the world?

And leave it to future generations to worry about more overcrowding and the depletion of resources?

Where’s the government’s plan?  We all know they haven’t got one.  Laissez-faire, set the conditions “right” and it’ll all come good apparently.

Grow and hope?

Or think seriously about humankind’s future, and do something about unsustainable growth before we self destruct, or condemn the world’s children to an insurmountable problem?

China growth ‘only’ 6.8%

I’ve got the impression from coverage of the economic situation in China generally and on their share market slide in particularly that things must be getting bad there.

But the ODT reports China’s GDP up 6.8% on year ago.

China’s fourth quarter gross domestic product (GDP) has largely met expectations, coming in at 6.8% compared with a year ago, but still the slowest growth since the global financial crisis.

The revealing of Chinese economic data initially saw Asian markets rise modestly, but an hour later were trading down slightly, the lack of negative news giving some reprieve to markets hard hit in earlier weeks.

Craigs Investment Partners broker Peter McIntyre said release of the economic data had “no real surprises” for the market.

In the global context, China’s growth remained “exceptionally good”, albeit down on previous years’ 9% growth, he said.

Global sharemarket jitters so far this year have been hanging on the GDP delivery, with China’s markets entering a sell-off bear market with around 20% losses, while others are down 5%-10%, since New Year.

Reuters reported full-year growth at 6.9%, as expected by the markets and analysts, and roughly in line with the Chinese Government’s target of around 7%, but it was the slowest pace of expansion in a quarter of a century.

So it’s “the slowest growth since the global financial crisis” and “the slowest pace of expansion in a quarter of a century” – if the quarter century claim is correct the GFC claim must be correct.

Huge growth in China couldn’t be sustained. 7% growth still sounds quite a lot especially considering the size of China’s market.

After being a major locomotive of global growth in recent years, China is now in a protracted slowdown, weighed down by weak exports, factory overcapacity, a soft property market, high debt levels, slowing investment and a government anti-corruption campaign.

Separate data from China yesterday revealed industrial output rose 5.9% in December from a year earlier, but missing market expectations, as its manufacturers struggle with persistently sluggish demand at home and abroad, excess capacity and high borrowing costs; analysts polled by Reuters had expected a 6% factory output increase.

Protracted slowdown, weighed down, overcapacity, soft market, slowing, struggle, sluggish.

How many other countries would love to have GDP growth of 7%?

In the medium to longer more modest growth in China must be a good thing. They couldn’t keep expanding at their past rates without risking serious problems.

Kenneth Kim at Forbes in What’s Going On With China’s Stock Markets and Economy? on whether China is going into a recession:

I highly doubt this. Sure, the estimated Chinese GDP growth rates of about 7% in 2015, and forecasted to about 6-7% for 2016, are kind of hard to believe, but even the most skeptical economists in China still believe its GDP growth rate will be about 3% in 2016. A 3% growth rate is not great, but it’s still positive growth and beats what the U.S. has been doing lately. And a 3% GDP growth rate certainly does not put China into recession territory, especially for an economy that has already grown a lot recently.

It looks like a significant adjustment to lower growth rates but it’s still enviable growth.

The quiet achiever – tourism

Tourism is a quiet but significant achiever in New Zealand, with numbers and generated income reaching record levels.

Radio NZ: Migration, tourism raise economic hopes

The economy has accelerated following a lacklustre first half of the year, when lower dairy prices cast a pall over growth.

Two of the mainstays of growth – net migration and tourism – hit fresh all-time highs last month.

Fewer departures and more arrivals fuelled the sixteenth successive month of record annual net migration gains to 63,700 people, while swelling numbers of Chinese travellers boosted visitor numbers to 3.09 million.

Tourism New Zealand: Bumper start to the summer season for tourism industry

The tourism industry is gearing up for its biggest summer yet after another significant month of growth – international arrivals were up 11.1 per cent for the month of November.

Figures released today by Statistics New Zealand show total international arrivals up 8.9 per cent and holiday arrivals up 13.4 per cent for the full year ending November.

They are significant increases in a year.

Tourism New Zealand Chief Executive Kevin Bowler says all signs point towards another record summer season for the industry.

“The last 12 months have delivered our biggest tourism results on record with arrivals and spend both hitting new highs.

Growth from a variety of markets (arrival figures for the full year to November):

  • China up 39.9%
  • Australia up 6.4%
  • Indonesia up 11.7%
  • India up 22.8%
  • Brazil up 3.6%
  • Germany up 11.1%
  • US up 12.4%
  • UK up 9.5%

Shortage of accommodation and shortage of trained workers are becoming issues. It’s difficult for tourism companies to keep up with this level of growth.

A solid economy is helping grow business like tourism.

One could wonder whether the Minister of Tourism does things other than goof around on radio stations.

John Key and Bill English will look with some satisfaction at the positives.

It’s perhaps significant that the person supposedly being groomed for leadership of National, Paula Bennett, is Associate Minister of both Finance and Tourism.

Clayton Cosgrove is Labour’s spokesperson for tourism. He has been all but invisible this year, but has just recently taken over the Tourism responsibilities from Peeni Henare, who was given the role as a new MP last year.

Labour seem to put a much lower priority on Tourism. Neither Henare nor Cosgrove have issued any press releases on tourism this year.

GDP growth up for June quarter

Statistics New Zealand have announced 0.4% growth in GDP for the June quarter, following a 0.2% increase in the March quarter.

Economic growth boosted by services and primary industries

Growth in services and primary industries supported a 0.4 percent increase in GDP in the June 2015 quarter, Statistics New Zealand said today.

Agricultural production increased 3 percent in the June 2015 quarter, due to increased meat and dairy farming.

“Despite falling milk prices, we’re seeing growth in dairy production,” national accounts manager Gary Dunnet said. “But over the year, agriculture is up only a little, due to dry conditions last summer.”

Food, beverage, and tobacco manufacturing was also up in the June 2015 quarter, due to strong dairy product manufacturing. Inventories of meat and dairy products built up as exports of these goods fell.

Mining also made a partial recovery from recent falls, with a 2.5 percent increase in the latest quarter. The main driver was oil and gas extraction, but this was partly offset by decreases in coal mining and oil exploration.

Collectively, the service industries were up 0.5 percent in the June 2015 quarter, but it was a mixed picture at the lower level – six industries grew and five declined. Growth was driven by business services (up 2.3 percent) and rental, hiring, and real estate services (up 1.1 percent), but these gains were partly offset by a 1.8 percent decrease in transport, postal, and warehousing – the biggest fall since March 2009.

On the expenditure measure of GDP, domestic demand was strong (up 1.3 percent). Household spending was up 0.9 percent, with increased spending on fruit and vegetables, and big-ticket items including cars and furniture. Business investment also increased (2.2 percent) – but this was offset by falling exports and rising imports.

The size of the economy (in current prices) was $241 billion for the year ended June 2015.

More data and analysis: Gross Domestic Product: June 2015 quarter

Reality missing from Greens and Turei

Metiria Turei is now the co-leader of Greens with substantial experience. She was introduced to the Green conference this weekend as “senior female politician in Opposition”. But she is showing signs of missing a reality quotient, and this could damage Green ambitions.

NZ Herald reports on her conference speech.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei says her party’s 25th year has been its most successful yet.

That’s highly debatable.

The party received the highest number of votes in its history, has enrolled record numbers of members, and raised more money than Labour.

But it got a smaller % of the vote than in the previous election, only just maintained the same number of MPs, just lost their and looks as far from being in Government as they have this century.

“If orange is the new black, then green must be the new mainstream.”

Greens are now well established as a major minor party but they are entrenched in a sidestream. Especially with Turei leading them – she appeals to a minority elite that is blind to her lack or reality.

“The longer John Key and his National Party sit in the Beehive, the more out of touch with the lives of New Zealanders they become.”

She may be right to an extent but five times as many voters are in touch with John Key and National than are in touch with Turei’s Greens. It’s hard to see how Turei is in touch with much outside her Green bubble.

“I have to say I feel a little bit like the Bachelorette,” Mrs Turei said. “It’s certainly been a while since I’ve had four men chasing after me to become my partner.

“And while they may not have the rippling abs and paleo diet toned bodies of the TV version, our bachelors are all political Adonises.”

Outside her conference speech Turei was interviewed by Lisa Own on The Nation. Turei was waffly and contradictory. Like:

We are absolutely moving forward with the change of co-leadership this weekend.

I think we’ll see who the new guy is and what changes he might want to make to our direction.

We’re open to what a new co-leader will bring to our caucus and to our party. It’s a very exciting time for us. We don’t change leaders very often, compared to some other parties, and so it’s always good to have someone new, with new ideas about where we should be going and how we should be opening our relationships and the kinds of solutions we should be putting forward to the public.

…a new direction, because, of course, a new person in this role is going to have new ideas about things they might want to change…

But…

The caucus priorities will remain.

Much of our approach to issues will continue the same.

And in one sentence…

the new guy is going to have great ideas about things we should be doing, but we also need to be respectful of our membership and what they want to do, because they are the ones that we serve, and our voters and what they want to see us doing. So it’s a relationship that you build, rather than changing direction or making—

Does a new leader mean exciting change or the same old, dictated by party members.

And then on Green progress:

This is two elections in a row where we’ve hit over the 10% mark. So I think we’re on a trajectory of growth, absolutely. And with the new co-leadership team focused on 2017, I think we will continue to grow. That’s why this time is so exciting for us.

Except it looks more like the Greens have flattened off as if they have hit a Green ceiling. Two elections in a row they got about the same level of support, just over 10%. They were targeting 15% in last year’s election and failed to gain any ground, despite the rest of the left – Labour and Mana – losing ground.

  • 2011 – 11.06%, 14 seats
  • 2014 – 10.70%, 14 seats

They got an increase in votes – 247,372 to 257,359 – but their share went backwards.

Greens were noticeably deflated by last year’s election result, at least a bit despondent. That contribted to Russel Norman’s decision to step down. There was no perception of “a trajectory of growth”.

Talking rubbish doesn’t help bridge the Green credibility gap.

Moving forward, growing our vote, growing our membership, raising more money, these are all… this is all about momentum, and we have great momentum as a party. The last few months have been focused on ourselves, with our co-leadership, and I think that’s been important. Today we elect a new co-leader, a new co-leadership team, and we will move forward from here. There is only… I think there’s only room for growth for us at this point.

In politics there’s always room for growth. And there’s as much chance of decline.

The last few months have been difficult for the Greens.  The election was a reality check that seems to have escaped Turei, unless she is ignoring it and making things up.

Well, the electorate is— The electorate is telling us that we are successful. More people voted for us at the last election than ever before. We’ve only been in Parliament for less than 20 years, and we are already cemented as the third-largest party. Of all of those parties that were involved in the alliance, we are the only ones still here, and we are growing

Yes they are the third largest party – although NZ First support has grown while Greens have stagnated.

“Only been in Parliament for less than 20 years” – they contested as part of the Alliance group in 1993 and 1996, and then on their own as the green party in 1999 they got seven seats. Since then they have had nine, seven, nine, fourteen and fourteen seats. That’s a creditable achievement.

But their support has flattened and they don’t look any closer to getting into Government than they did last century.

And this is in large part due to Turei type hard left idealism that rules out going in to Government with National. Greens put more priority on promoting their socialist agenda than achieving environmental gains.

This will continue to limit their chances of growing and especially their chances of being a prominent player in Government.

And Turei is the the flag bearer of the idealism and intransigence that is likely to keep limiting Green appeal.

Turei The Nation May 2015

That is a reality that Turei either can’t see or tries to pretend doesn’t exist.

Third-largest party which is on the outside, on the periphery, not making the decision, not in power.

But that’s not true. I mean, when we were… When Labour was in government, we had great success with them, including significant budget successes with them. When— Now that National is in government, we’ve done the same through our MOU. So we’ve gotten our policy through with both Labour and National in different kinds of ways, and we are growing, and we are cementing ourselves in New Zealand politics.

The future for the Greens is only success and growth at this stage, and with the new co-leadership team, I think we’ve got infinite possibilities for how we want to extend that growth.

And infinite possibilities for ignoring reality. And for stagnating. And if Labour ever get their act together and if NZ First continue to grow then Greens face a real possibility of shrinking.

Full transcript:

A few minutes ago, I spoke to Metiria Turei and asked her, with Norman gone, is this an opportunity for a change in direction?
We are absolutely moving forward with the change of co-leadership this weekend, and we’re really looking forward to having the new guy working alongside me and working with the caucus and with the party and focus, actually, very much on the 2017 election. Russel will stay as an MP, and the caucus priorities will remain – inequality and climate change. The party commitment to working on the ground with communities remains. So although we’ll have a new co-leader, much of our approach to issues will continue the same. It’s the party that makes all our important political decisions too, rather than the leadership or the caucus, so I think that’s important to note.
So steady as she goes is the attitude you’re taking?
We’ll, I think we’ll see who the new guy is and what changes he might want to make to our direction. But we work collaboratively with our caucus and with our party in making these decisions, so you won’t see any radical shifts in direction. But we will be moving forward towards the 2017 election with fresh blood, with new ideas, but we’ll take a little time to work all those through.
Well, you said it depends on what the new guy thinks, so you’re open to a change in direction?
Oh, absolutely. We’re open to what a new co-leader will bring to our caucus and to our party. It’s a very exciting time for us. We don’t change leaders very often, compared to some other parties, and so it’s always good to have someone new, with new ideas about where we should be going and how we should be opening our relationships and the kinds of solutions we should be putting forward to the public.
We’ll talk a little bit about that later – the relationships – but you said this week that you want a running mate who understands that leadership is about forging a new direction, so what did you mean by that?
Both a new direction, because, of course, a new person in this role is going to have new ideas about things they might want to change, but also that leadership is about service – service to our members and service to our voters. So although a person— the new guy is going to have great ideas about things we should be doing, but we also need to be respectful of our membership and what they want to do, because they are the ones that we serve, and our voters and what they want to see us doing. So it’s a relationship that you build, rather than changing direction or making—
Okay, can you afford not to change direction? Can you get 15% of the vote without changing direction?
We have been fantastically successful, and, in fact, Russel and I have been one of the most successful political partnerships now for a number of years. We’ve led the Greens over two elections to over 10% of the party.
Yes, but you’ve also had nine elections where you’re not part of the government at the end of the day.
And we have worked really hard with other parties to try to form this idea of a government in waiting, and we will try to do that again for 2017. But in terms of the work that the Green Party does, putting solutions to the public, making sure that we have good relationships across the political spectrum, Russel and I in particular have done a great deal of work in that, and it’s been successful. The Green Party is very successful. We’re the only party other than National and Labour to achieve other 10% of the party vote in two elections running. So I think the Greens are doing really well.
But you’re still not in government, and isn’t one of the lessons from the last election that you have maxed out your vote on this road?
Not at all.
You’ve said that you’ve raised more money than Labour last election; you had the highest record of membership. You played nice; you didn’t make 15%. If you do the same, won’t you just get the same? That’s it; you’ve maxed it out.
We set an audacious target so that we work really hard to achieve it. And although we didn’t hit the target, we did have more members, more voters and raise more money at the last election than ever before. This is two elections in a row where we’ve hit over the 10% mark. So I think we’re on a trajectory of growth, absolutely. And with the new co-leadership team focused on 2017, I think we will continue to grow. That’s why this time is so exciting for us.
But the evidence doesn’t seem to suggest that you are on a trajectory for growth, because you have about the same result both times, both elections.
So we’ve been in Parliament now for nearly 20 years, and it’s only been in the last two elections that we have achieved over 10% of the vote. I think that shows that we are both stable and here for the long-term as a third political force in New Zealand politics, that we have the capacity to grow significantly more, and that with a new co-leadership team focused on 2017 that we will.
Some people might see that as being stuck in a rut — not moving, same spot.
Moving forward, growing our vote, growing our membership, raising more money, these are all… this is all about momentum, and we have great momentum as a party. The last few months have been focused on ourselves, with our co-leadership, and I think that’s been important. Today we elect a new co-leader, a new co-leadership team, and we will move forward from here. There is only… I think there’s only room for growth for us at this point.
When you talk about moving forward, well, Labour learned some hard lessons at the last election. After bombing at the polls, it started to ditch unpopular policy. So what policies do you think that the Greens need to flick?
I don’t think we need to flick any, and I think what we now need to do with the new co-leadership team is we will look at our priorities, which at the moment are climate change and inequality, and we’ve proven really successful in putting those issues on the political agenda up to this point, and so building on the success that we’ve created so in our momentum towards 2017. And National would not have raised benefits if there had not been a strong political voice from the Greens on child poverty time after time. A persistent strong voice, particularly in the election campaign. We continue—
But the thing is you don’t look like you’re listening to the electorate. You don’t look like you’re listening to the electorate because your vote is stuck around a certain amount. You say you don’t need to flick any policies and you don’t need any major changes in direction. Are you ignoring what the electorate is telling you?
Well, the electorate is— The electorate is telling us that we are successful. More people voted for us at the last election than ever before. We’ve only been in Parliament for less than 20 years, and we are already cemented as the third-largest party. Of all of those parties that were involved in the alliance, we are the only ones still here, and we are growing.
Third-largest party which is on the outside, on the periphery, not making the decision, not in power.
But that’s not true. I mean, when we were… When Labour was in government, we had great success with them, including significant budget successes with them. When— Now that National is in government, we’ve done the same through our MOU. So we’ve gotten our policy through with both Labour and National in different kinds of ways, and we are growing, and we are cementing ourselves in New Zealand politics. The future for the Greens is only success and growth at this stage, and with the new co-leadership team, I think we’ve got infinite possibilities for how we want to extend that growth.
Okay, in your speech, you say that in the past, people have looked and thought… And this is your words. ‘What would a bunch of hippies and treaty activists know about the economy?’ Is that the problem? That people still see you that way, and without Russel, they are going to perceive you like that?
No, you’ve taken that quote totally out of context in the speech—
It’s how you say people used to see you, but I’m suggesting to you that perhaps that’s the way they still see you, and that might be your problem.
No, it’s not. That’s the point – and you will hear more in the speech if you quote more of it – is that actually our ideas on the economy, our capital gains tax, has been taken up by National; we’ve campaigned so hard for child poverty and raising benefits – that’s been taken up by National. Even Labour has taken our policy ideas, as we saw with capital gains tax as well. We are the thought leaders inside the Parliament, and other parties are taking our policy ideas, because they are tired and struggling to find their own. Now, you know, we welcome that. Please, take our ideas. Put them into place. But there is no doubt that the Greens are the ones who are leading on these issues.
OK, well, when it comes to Labour and your relationship with Labour, do you want Labour’s vote to grow or do you want their votes to come to you? What would be the best thing for the Greens?
Well, we always are going to be in competition and cooperation with Labour around votes, and that’s just the way it is. In an election campaign, I want as many votes as possible, and I don’t care where they come from – Labour, National, from other parties. We want to make sure our ideas— we sell our ideas really well to the public and that the public want those ideas put in place, either in government or in a relationship with government.
Yeah, but where do you think those votes will come from? Where is the growth market for you?
We get votes from both Labour and National. Some elections, it’s quite a similar percentage, and some elections it’s different. But we know that we can get votes from across the political spectrum. That’s what our evidence shows us. And we welcome that, because our ideas for combating child poverty and inequality, for protecting the environment, for smart, green economics – these are ideas that cross the political divide.
OK, well, if they cross the political divide, then isn’t the problem with the Greens declaring that they would work only with Labour and not National? I mean, no one really has to fight for your affections. You’ve got no leverage, no power.
No, what we said is that we’d be more likely to form a coalition relationship with Labour than with National but that we could work across the political spectrum, and we have proven that to be the case. The only reason why—
Policy by policy. But on the outside?
Well, we haven’t been in a government relationship – that’s true. And we are looking forward to that. And I expect that in the next co-leader— male co-leader’s term that we will be in a governing relationship at some point. I’m really looking forward to that challenge. I think that’s going to be a fantastic new step up for the Greens. But in the meantime, we have got our policies through, and that’s the most important thing.
But having identified that as your biggest goal— 
It’s a great goal.
New Zealand First has been bolstered by the win in the Northland by-election. They’re in the centre, where politics are won and lost. So why would Labour choose you, the Greens, over New Zealand First?
Labour knows that the Greens are the growing political force on the left of centre and that they will not govern without us. So they’re coming to terms with that, I think. I’m not worried about—
They can govern without you.
They can’t.
They can if they choose Winston Peters. And Winston Peters has made it clear that he doesn’t want a bar of the Greens.
No, that’s not true either. You know, that’s an old thing from, like, 10 years ago. I mean, that’s ancient. No, Winston and the Greens, we work quite well together, actually, and we’ve got a lot of common policy.
So are you making nice with Winston Peters? Are you fostering that relationship?
We’ve been managing a relationship with Winston Peters for years now and with Labour and others.
No, but are you actively fostering it now with Winston Peters, a relationship?
We’ve worked together with him on the manufacturing inquiry in the last term. We work really well with a number of the MPs, including Tracey Martin. I talk with Winston. We are very committed—
So can you talk him into a coalition that involves—?
Nobody can talk Winston into anything. Let’s be really clear about that.
You can’t talk him into a coalition with the Greens, then?
The best thing we can do is make sure we have good relationships with Labour and New Zealand First and National, where we can, and other parties and put solutions— our green solutions to the public so that they vote for them so we have the strength in an election to be able to negotiate well. That’s the best— that’s what we need to focus on, and I think that’s what the new co-leadership team will.
All right. Metiria Turei, thanks for joining me this morning. But just before we go, how long are you committed to being a leader in the Greens party?
I will certainly be here for the next election.

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1505/S00406/lisa-owen-interviews-green-party-co-leader-metiria-turei.htm