Fitzsimons ‘deeply distressed’ by Green support of waka jumping bill

Ex-leader of the Green party Jeanette Fitzsimons has joined the criticism of the Green Party support of Winston peters’ ‘waka jumping’ bill in an appearance before the select committee hearing public submissions on the bill.

NZH: Former Greens co-leader ‘deeply distressed’ by party’s support for waka jumping ban

A former leader of the Green Party, Jeanette Fitzsimons, says she was “deeply distressed ” her party supported the so-called waka jumping bill to its first reading and she hopes wisdom will prevail.

She spoke about the internal dissent and crisis within the Green Party before the last election over the admission by co-leader Metiria Turei of historic benefit fraud.

She appeared before the justice select committee to speak against the Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Bill, which allows a party leader to oust an MP from Parliament with the support of two thirds of the caucus.

If the bill becomes law, the Greens co-leaders with the support of two thirds of the caucus, could have had them booted out of Parliament.

“Integrity cannot be legislated for,” Fitzsimons said. “It is a matter of conscience and judgment.

“In some cases, leaving one’s party is an act of integrity – as when the party has departed from the policies it took to the election or has abused proper process.

“In other cases it may be just self-serving political expediency.”

Greens have always strongly opposed measures like those proposed in the bill, until they supported the bill at it’s first reading. Some Green MPs have also expressed concern about Green support of the bill.

Fitzsimons also referred to the upheaval in the Green Party before last year’s election.

“Dissent is a valuable part of the political process, ” she said. “Without it, MPs are just clones of their leader.”

Referring to the Greens’ internal strife before the last election when MPs Kennedy Graham and David Clendon withdrew from the party list because they could not persuade Turei to resign, she said she supported their right to dissent.

“I strongly disagreed with the stance of my former colleagues Kennedy Graham and David Clendon took on the actions of co-leader Metiria Turei, and I was highly critical of the way they went about it which was unnecessary and damaging.

“But I would defend to the end their right to freedom of conscience and to express their views in opposition to the rest of the caucus, without being thrown out of Parliament.”

I hope Green staffer and list candidate Jack McDonald hears that. He recently slammed and excommunicated Graham:

“In the context of Kennedy still apparently having many supporters in the Party who were upset he wasn’t allowed back on the list, we need to make sure there isn’t the ability for this to happen in the future and prevent the election of Green MPs whose politics are incompatible with fundamental Green kaupapa.”

See A culture of Green zealotry and intolerance

He could learn a lot from older wiser Green Party stalwarts. Fitzsimons:

“Dissent is a valuable part of the political process. Without it, MPs are just clones of their leader.”

But a seemingly growing number of Greens view dissent, and disagreement with and questioning of their ideals, as blasphemy that should not be tolerated.

It will be interesting to see whether the leader McDonald worships and clones, Marama Davidson, stands by fundamental Green kaupapa and votes against the ironically named Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Bill.

If anyone is respected for their integrity in the history of the Green Party it is Jeanette Fitzsimons.

Greens – selling their soul for baubles for Winston?

The Greens have always claimed they are a party of integrity and principle.

But they appear to be so desperate to have some involvement in the next government that they have virtually given Labour a blank signed cheque and are relying on anothe party to negotiate a deal with NZ First that includes Greens, and that maybe gives the Greens some sort of policy wins.

Throughout the election campaign and since their leader James Shaw insisted that they were campaigning to ‘change the government’ and they couldn’t possibly do any sort of a deal with National. Their integrity was at stake.

But Shaw seems to have capitulated almost equal power that NZ First has  (based on their respective party votes) and handed over their future to Labour negotiators.

The Greens have had a number of meetings with Labour, but Winston Peters has refused to allow them to be directly involved in negotiations trying to form a new government.

It has been reported that Labour have been bound by a confidentiality agreement not to tell the Greens what was being negotiated between Labour and NZ First.

From Stuff: Winston Peters will take both options to the NZ First board after Thursday night

Peters has suggested that if a Government was to be formed with Labour, then the inclusion of the Greens as a headline party would be a “gross misrepresentation”.

The NZ First leader was responding to questions over whether it was his understanding that the Green Party would be voting to accept the Labour-NZ First deal, or whether they would simply be voting to approve their deal in separate negotiations with Labour.

It comes from questions over whether the Greens were at the mercy of Labour to fight their corner in dealings with NZ First.

Peters appears to be treating the Greens with contempt. For someone who demands to be treated with respect, whether he deserves it or not, this is highly hypocritical.

And the Greens are letting him treat them with contempt.

Labour have been left trying to negotiate on behalf of the Greens, an awkward position for them, and a weakened position. Labour will not have been able to push hard for their own benefit and policy wins if they have also had to negotiate for the Greens.

Peters has has ruled out including the Greens in partnership talks, forcing Shaw and his team to negotiate with Labour in parallel and in isolation to NZ First negotiations.

Peters said he had nothing against Green Party leader James Shaw.

“You know full well… I’ve never had a bad word with him, or about him that you could possibly quote because I’ve never said something bad about him in my career.”

Has Peters ever said anything about Shaw? He doesn’t need to say anything to show his disdain for a rookie idealist who has been an MP for just 3 years, a party leader for two, and was left trying to save a highly dysfunctional party 6 weeks before the election when co-leader Metiria Turei and two senior MPs stood down.

Shaw confirmed his trust in Ardern to negotiate a deal that won’t see his party locked out in the cold, or pushed beneath NZ First.

He is relying almost entirely on what Labour negotiate for the Greens. Remarkable.

As Government talks enter into their fourth day, Shaw emerged from a two-hour long meeting with Labour and said he was confident he could trust Labour would argue a fair deal on their behalf.

“Jacinda made fairness one of her principle values in the campaign, I’ve known her a number of years and, I said this before the election, I trust her and she seems to be doing a good job of it.

Ardern does seem fair minded – but she has also shown signs of having a ruthless political streak. And she has a responsibility to put the interests of Labour ahead of the Greens.

It just happens that she needs the Greens, and the Greens need Labour

“It’s got to be a stable and responsible Government that’s going to go the full distance in the national interest. Labour are working very hard on ensuring that that happens. That’s of paramount concern to all of us,” he said.

Shaw said he was confident he would be happy with the deal Labour eventually presented to them, but all the partners had to be “pretty sure” of their Government’s direction to ensure stability.

This is alarmingly vague. It looks like Shaw is so desperate to be a part of the next Government he has handed over everything, Green hopes, Green principals and Green integrity, to another political party that is negotiating with a third party that treats him and the Greens with contempt.

“It’s got to be a stable and responsible Government that’s going to go the full distance in the national interest” is going to be either fraught with disappointment and tension, or the Greens are going to be compliant doormats for a Labour-NZ First government.

Peters may enjoy the power he has imposed over the Greens, but how could he see any respect in using them to enable and prop up a government he has concocted?

The Greens had a huge scare this election, dipping below the make or break threshold in polls before recovering enough to survive.

But survival may be a three year battle if they end up making up numbers to enable a government in which one of the other parties has treated them with open contempt, and the other party tried to poach their policies and votes and then stitched up a deal for them when they needed each other.

And losing respect and integrity is just one problem for the Greens. In an email Shaw sent to part supporters on Wednesday, ironically titled We’ve accomplished so much!, Shaw explained:

Although the Green MPs tithe 10% back to the Party (they always have) we now have sixfewer MPs to pay into the coffers this election cycle.

They have dropped from 14 to 8 MPs.

And right now with the campaign bills still to pay, we have a shortfall despite the chance of now being at the heart of a new progressive government.

They have overspent in their campaign?

They will also have less resources in Parliament – fewer MPs means fewer support staff and researchers.

It could be a tough term for the Greens whether they are a tacked on part of the next Government or not.

And with fewer MPs able to travel (tax payer funded) around the country campaigning the next election could be difficult as well.

Especially if they have sold their soul for baubles for Winston.

Andrew Little’s integrity and reputation

Will Labour leader Andrew Little reconsider the accusations he made against John Shewan in Parliament yesterday? Little has attacked Shewan’s integrity but it might be his own reputation that’s more under threat.

See Little slams Shewan who slams Little and John Shewan on Radio NZ where Shewan says “And it’s very disappointing to hear the statements made today because they’re completely and utterly inaccurate.”

Little has talked about integrity in the past. Last week:

“New Zealand’s reputation is at risk from the reports emerging from the so-called Panama Papers.”

“The Prime Minister must take urgent action to close this loophole to protect the integrity of New Zealand’s tax system and our international reputation for honesty and transparency,” Andrew Little says.

Posted by on April 04, 2016

Integrity. And reputation. Two things that Little could do well to reflect on – both for himself and for the country he wants to lead.

Also from Labour’s website: Meet Andrew Little

My whole life, I’ve had a deep and abiding intolerance for injustice. The injustice I mean is when the powerful and the privileged abuse their position to take advantage of the weak.

Yesterday Little used his privileged position as a party leader in Parliament to attack and criticise Shewan.

It sticks in my craw and I am compelled to stand up to it, to fight it and to end it.

And ironically considering recent suggestions that Little is acting like a dog yapping at every passing car:

It takes a long term view, keeping your eyes on the prize, not being drawn into every battle and skirmish and never giving up on what matters.

In response to Little’s attack in Parliament Shewan said “I absolutely reject any suggestion that I’ve acted in anything other than a totally professional way, and I do object to some of the very misleading so-called facts which are complete myths that are now being perpetrated in Parliament.”

Little  attacked Shewan’s reputation from his powerful and privileged parliamentary pulpit. But his reputation and his future may be at greater risk.

How Little responds to this is a test of his integrity.

The struggle for integrity in politics

Bryce Edwards has another political roundup, this time examining the state of democracy and integrity in politics.

Political roundup: the struggle for integrity

Some soul searching about the state of democracy and transparency in New Zealand public life is warranted at the end of the year. Bryce Edwards looks back at the struggle for integrity in politics in 2015. 

The integrity of governance of any society is dependent on numerous pillars that hold up democracy. Akin to an old roman temple, important institutions such as the Official Information Act, public servants and watchdogs act as the foundations of a corruption-free society.

But in 2015 it became apparent that some of the pillars of New Zealand’s governing arrangements have eroded, making democracy less stable. There have been apparent failings in the OIA regime, transparency of Government ministers and departments, murky deals struck and clampdowns on attempts to get accountability.

It’s a long read with many links to further articles and posts.

It covers:

  • Tightening elite control over information
  • The OIA “Game of Hide and Seek”
  • Taxpayer-funded politicisation
  • Cronyism in government
  • Risks of corruption in New Zealand
  • Government efforts against corruption
  • Saudi Sheep scandal rolls on
  • Erosion of public information