James Shaw promoting Green achievements

The Green Party were always going to achieve far more than in their years in Opposition now they are a part of Government, albeit outside Cabinet and the junior party.

Small parties often struggle to be seen to be having significant wins in the shadow of the major party in particular, and Greens are also in the shadow of Winston Peters.

Party survival is an important consideration.

Promotional emails seem to have slowed down, but co-leader James Shaw has just sent one out. It is quite self applauding, and solicits donations, but this is how he sees Green achievements (remember that this is a sales pitch targeting party members and supporters):

I am so proud of what the Greens have achieved at the heart of government. Your support has enabled us to do so much.  It’s YOU and people like you, who make the difference for the Green Party.

Because you gave us the chance – in government – to realise the dream of becoming a country where our natural heritage and our communities are at the heart of decision-making.

You’ve given us a shot at a country where every person has a place, a community, a sense of belonging, a country where every person is treated with dignity and fairness.

These are the values we bring to the new government and that we will continue to fight for.

Being in Government means we can deliver on our Confidence and Supply Agreement – but it also means so much more. For instance, we got an end to new exploration for offshore oil and gas – yet this wasn’t covered in our agreement.

This was possible because we are partners of this Government, because we are committed to transformational change, and because we can influence what happens at the highest levels.

Here’s what else YOU gave us the chance to accomplish:

  • Secured $14 billion funding package for walkway infrastructure, cycle-ways, buses and light rail
  • Real progress on taking climate action – with more than 15,000 submissions on the Zero Carbon Bill
  • A Green Investment Fund: $125 million dollars in Budget 2018 to set it up
  • Secured a win to wind-down Government subsidies of large-scale irrigation schemes
  • A big increase of $15 million into the Sustainable Farming Fund
  • A commitment that the review of the Overseas Investment Act will look at putting the protection of water at the heart of decision-making
  • Negotiated the largest funding increase for DoC in 16 years
  • Phasing out single use plastic bags
  • Funding for the world’s first Predator Free Capital
  • A world first to provide workplace leave for the victims of domestic violence
  • Over $10 million dollars to pilot a programme to ensure young people have access to timely, quality, mental health services
  • Warmer Kiwi Homes initiative funding two-thirds of the cost of insulating the homes of people on low incomes across Aotearoa
  • Committing to end the gender pay gap and representing women properly in the public sector and on public boards
  • Making headway on country-of-origin food labelling to re-include bacon
  • Leading the way on more open and transparent government – we’re pro-actively releasing our Ministerial diaries so people can see who we’re meeting and why we’re meeting them
  • Leading the way on a more accessible government – we’re on the verge of securing accessibility support for people with disabilities to be able to participate more easily in our democracy
  • Shaping the terms of reference for future trade agreements, so that they actually support and enhance our social and environmental goals, not undermine them.

And that’s not all!

When Jeanette Fitzsimons, a previous Co-leader, left Parliament she said in her valedictory speech, “… we need to find better ways of measuring our economic success, and that the aim should be a better economy, not just a bigger one.”

And now New Zealand Treasury and Statistics NZ are working to set up a comprehensive framework for measuring – not just economic success – but social, and environmental, and cultural wellbeing too. So, in next years budget the Minister of Finance will be required to report on our wellbeing, not just our economic through-put.

It will be interesting to see how ‘wellbeing’ is measured and reported alongside all the budget numbers.

Shaw, Mitchell question Mark on extended Middle East deployment

In Parliament today Green co-leader James Shaw took Minister of Defence Ron Mark to task after the deployment of New Zealand troops in Iraq and Afghanistan was extended.

4. Hon JAMES SHAW (Co-Leader—Green) to the Minister of Defence: Is it his intention to continue the deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq beyond 2019?

Hon RON MARK (Minister of Defence): Ultimately, those decisions are for Cabinet to make. This Government will undertake a strategic reassessment in early 2019. All options will be on the table at that point in time. Those decisions will be made around the strategic situation, our values, our independent foreign policy, and how we think that this Government might make a difference to the lives of the Iraqi people.

Hon James Shaw: Does he agree that continued military involvement of outside forces has actually further destabilised the region and made it easier for terror groups to recruit and has led to an increase in violence rather than a decrease?

Hon RON MARK: No, we don’t. We’re confident that the independent, principles-based decision that Cabinet made yesterday was the right thing to do. I think I would add that for Iraq to become a prosperous nation once again, for its people to enjoy a quality of life that we enjoy, and for them to enjoy the well-being and the support of a good Government such as we enjoy, they need security. Security is paramount to the well-being of the people of Iraq, and I think that is the greatest contribution we’re able to make at this time. But, again, come next year, this Government will reassess the situation.

Hon James Shaw: Does he agree that if New Zealand were to play a role beyond 2019, then the New Zealand public would rather it be focused on building schools and roads and hospitals rather than a seemingly never-ending military engagement?

Hon RON MARK: Mr Speaker, we understand that that is the view of some people, and we would share those views that ultimately that is where we would like Iraq to be. Right now the most important thing is to guarantee security. Right now where we can make a strong contribution, along with our Australian partners, is to improve the quality of the security forces there and thereby lend greater security. For NGOs to be able to deliver to those people, they need security. We’ve seen examples in Sudan where the wonderful efforts of NGOs have been interdicted by the lack of security. I would also point out that in Afghanistan alone this Government over the years since 2001 has put in over $100 million in aid. There’s another $2 million to the UN Development Programme and there is about $3.5 million going into the UN Development Programme around technical assistance for de-mining support.

Hon James Shaw: Well, would he agree that the money that we spend on these military deployments would be better spent on humanitarian aid and reconstruction?

Hon RON MARK: I guess a quick add-up of the cost of all of the deployments that the Government has just announced comes to a grand total of about $31.4 million, bearing in mind that a couple of those deployments are for two years, not one year. Ultimately, the Government will in time—and I think next year—look at how we can make a contribution. It may well be that there may not be a military contribution; the focus may be on humanitarian assistance. Of course we’d like to build hospitals. Of course we’d like to help build schools. Of course we’d like to help re-establish the infrastructure. Iraq, in particular, is looking at a $100 billion bill for reconstruction, but $31.4 million is not going to build a new school, it’s not going to build a new hospital, and it’s not going to rebuild the infrastructure. It can make a substantive difference to the NGOs who are delivering that sort of support and thereby enhancing security.


National’s defence spokesperson Mark Mitchell also questioned Ron Mark.

Hon MARK MITCHELL (National—Rodney): Has he seen the quote “Does he not realise that he sent our brave New Zealand soldiers to Iraq on a fool’s errand, and that training the Iraqi Army to stand and fight is literally Mission: Impossible?”, and does he agree with it?

SPEAKER: Order! Order! Can the member read the question, please? Read it again.

8. Hon MARK MITCHELL (National—Rodney) to the Minister of Defence: Has he seen the quote “Does he not realise that he sent our brave New Zealand soldiers to Iraq on a fool’s errand, and the training the Iraqi Army to stand and fight is literally Mission: Impossible?”; if so, does he agree with it?

Hon RON MARK (Minister of Defence): Yes, I recognise that quote.

SPEAKER: No. The member will finish answering the question.

Hon RON MARK: Yes, I recognise that quote, and on the information I had at the time, I still stand by that statement.

Hon Mark Mitchell: How does the Minister reconcile his statement on Morning Report today that there was never any attempt by the previous Government to work across parties, when New Zealand First declined a briefing, an invitation, to visit troops in Iraq with Gerry Brownlee, Andrew Little, and myself in 2016?

Hon RON MARK: I have never received an invitation from Mr Brownlee or from that member on any visit, and, in fact, that member can enlighten people about the conversation that he and I had on the telephone where that member apologised for not inviting me.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can I ask the Minister as to whether it’s a fact that, contrary to being asked, with respect to consultation, the troops were already there before the invitation was sent to the New Zealand First Party in the first place?

SPEAKER: Order! That is not something the current Minister has responsibility for.

Hon Mark Mitchell: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. There appears to be some confusion. The Minister stood up and said that he’d never personally received an invitation—and I was very clear about the fact that the invitation went to New Zealand First—and the Deputy Prime Minister then stood up and contradicted him and said that we did receive an invitation. Which is correct?

SPEAKER: You’re not serious? Stand up and ask a supplementary, if the member wants to.

Hon Mark Mitchell: Why didn’t the Minister consult with or brief either the New Zealand National Party or the ACT Party before a decision was made to deploy our New Zealand Defence Force men and women into theatres of war?

Hon RON MARK: On numerous occasions, I have taken National Party representatives with me. In fact, I took Mr Simon O’Connor into Iraq and into Afghanistan. In those conversations that we had on that trip, it became very apparent and very clear to me what the National Party’s view was on the deployment. In fact, one would have to be deaf, dumb, and blind not to know that the National Party supported a continuation of that deployment, unless, of course, it’s just now changed its mind.

Hon Mark Mitchell: Has the Minister consulted with the ACT Party?

Hon RON MARK: No, I have not had consultation, but I would say this to that member also, and I would say it to Mr Seymour: the way that we have operated my office is that we make the door wide open. In fact, the member has been into my office for a briefing.

Hon RON MARK: We will always keep the door open, and I am fully ready, at any time, Mr Seymour, to give a full background briefing. Members of the National Party sat in on the bilateral conversations with the Prime Minister of Iraq. They sat in on the bilaterals with the Minister of Defence of Iraq and visited Afghanistan and sat in on the bilaterals with the NATO ambassador to Afghanistan. A member of the National Party has participated at all levels of those conversations and has made it very clear to me that the National Party support it. To Mr Seymour: the door’s open. I apologise for not getting round to you. I would have done that after the announcement.

Hon Mark Mitchell: Mr Speaker, can I just seek some guidance from you, because—

SPEAKER: No, you can’t. The member can ask a supplementary question or, if he has a real point of order, he can do it, but if he trifles with me again, he’ll be losing his supplementary.

Hon Mark Mitchell: It is a point of order, because—

SPEAKER: Well, the way the member does it is stand up and say, “Point of Order!”

Hon Mark Mitchell: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The point of order is simply this: the Minister is talking about taking other members away on trips. That’s not the question. The question was around consultation with Opposition parties before decisions are made on deploying New Zealand Defence Force men and women.

SPEAKER: Between the last two supplementaries, that has been very clearly answered.

Hon Mark Mitchell: Why hasn’t he applied his own high standards to himself in terms of a cross-party consultation and consensus in an MMP environment?

Hon RON MARK: Right at the outset of being sworn in as Minister, I think I made it very, very clear that I sought, for the benefit of the men and women in uniform, to gain as wide a cross-party consensus on defence matters as we possibly can. It is for that reason that we have gone out of our way to invite National Party representatives to attend briefings. It’s for that reason that I have never refused a request from the Hon Paula Bennett. I think there are about two or three National Party members who’ve sought permission to go on to military bases and talk with Defence Force personnel, unlike what happened to me when I was specifically blocked by the National Government at the time.

Party leaders on the election campaign

Chapters on a Victoria University book reviewing the 2017 election by each of the party leaders.

Newshub – Stardust and Substance: the 2017 election through politicians’ eyes

Accounts of political events by politicians themselves can be worse than useless and should be read with great caution. Politicians are simply too close to what happened to really give any insights into events. They’re also often just too practiced in their own spin to be able to reveal any truly interesting or new information. Too often, politician accounts of election campaigns are simply their attempts to assert their own version of history for the record.

Nonetheless, the accounts of the 2017 election by the political party leaders in Stardust and Substance are all well worth reading. Some are more self-serving than others, and they vary greatly in how much they reveal that is new or useful. But all seven chapters from the party leaders help the reader understand what went on in 2017 to make it such an extraordinary election.

They are generally more self promotional than analytical.

Jacinda Ardern – ‘I remember the crunch point’: Jacinda Ardern looks back on the 2017 election

There is no doubt that 2017 will remain the most extraordinary year of my life. But a statement like that doesn’t quite capture the fact that what happened this year had layers that extended well beyond me. In that sense, before I go any further I want to acknowledge three people in particular. The first two are Andrew Kirton and Nigel Haworth. I see the president and especially the general secretary of our party as often the unsung heroes. Their work is unrelenting. They manage and motivate thousands of volunteers, manage our governing body, and ensure we have the funds to run our campaigns in the first place. I salute them.

Bill English: ‘Confident but paranoid’: Bill English reflects on election 2017

Coming into 2017 I was often asked how National, as the incumbent government, felt about the election. My standard answer was “confident but paranoid”, which, as it turned out, proved to be the right mental setting. One had only to look around the world to see that political events had become a bit more unpredictable. The fact that you couldn’t predict where the unpredictable would occur didn’t mean that it wasn’t going to happen, and of course it did.

I want to give some personal reflections on my involvement in the campaign as a leader. I think that the overriding impression for me was just how much I enjoyed it. As someone who had been unavoidably characterised in a certain way because of my finance role, it did take some time to adjust, and for public expectations to adjust, to my new role as a leader in a campaign. There are a number of reasons that I enjoyed it. First was that there was plenty to campaign for, again unusually for a party that had been in government for nine years. I had been personally strongly invested in many of the issues which were debated in the campaign – the economy, obviously, but also all the social issues, poverty, housing, water quality, and the environment, where we had done much intensive work over many years.

Winston Peters: ‘We chose the harder path’: Winston Peters on election 2017

Eight weeks out from the general election, New Zealand First was poised to challenge Labour’s status as the second largest political party – this was a sign: when things are going great you should be worried most. Polling revealed that we were statistically tied with Labour. From our perspective that day would have been a good one for the country to have voted.

It was not to be.

Labour were sagging badly but I think it is very unlikely NZ First would have overtaken them. Greens were picking uop more of Labour’s losses than NZ First.

James Shaw: When the wheels came off: James Shaw on Election 2017

My worst moment of the 2017 election came the day parliament rose to kick off the formal part of the campaign, about six weeks before election day.

Roughly 10 minutes before I had to give the Adjournment Debate speech on behalf of the Green Party, I received that evening’s Colmar Brunton poll results. We were on 4%, the first time during the campaign that we had dipped below the threshold which would see us return to parliament. And because, in many ways, the adjournment speech kicked off the formal election campaign period, it wasn’t a great way to start.

I finished the speech and my colleague Gareth Hughes came and sat down in the seat next to me. He looked at me and said, “Way to go, giving that speech, knowing what you know.” It was a really tough moment, because at that point it seemed probable that I was about to become the last leader of the Green Party and that I had just given the last speech in parliament by a Green Party MP.

David Seymour: ‘We didn’t pay enough attention to the brand’: David Seymour on Election 2017.

As a rookie MP and the sole elected member of ACT, I became the party leader and also entered the executive (as parliamentary under-secretary to the minister of education and to the minister of regulatory reform). I am told that nobody has entered parliament this way since the 19th century, when governments typically lasted only a year or two. The task of carrying off these roles as well as serving the Epsom electorate was always going to be large. In the final analysis it was too large.

Greens trying to attract attention on social, environmental issues

The business end of the Green Party – their ministers – have had a low profile and have been overshadowed by Labour and NZ First. This hasn’t been helped by Julie Anne Genter being on maternity leave, but James Shaw and Eugenie Sage aren’t attention seeker types of MPs anyway. They have largely pout their heads down and got on with their new jobs.

But they are trying to change this, albeit in a very low key way.

Stuff:  Greens look to social issues and rivers in second year of Government

The Green Party is keen to advance social policies in their second year of Government, like a promise to give free mental health services to anyone under 25.

The party put out a release looking ahead to their second year of Government on Saturday morning, despite the anniversary not falling for another month and a half.

Remarkably I went looking for this and can’t find anything other than the Stuff report – I can’t find it on the Green Party website, nor on their Facebook page, nor on the Green or Shaw’s Twitter feeds. What are their PR people playing at?

In it, co-leader James Shaw talks up the party’s priorities for the second year of the Government.

“Our key objectives for our second year in a Government with Labour and New Zealand First will include transforming our social safety net so no child is left in poverty,” Shaw said.

“We’re going to work really hard to address the mental health crisis in New Zealand, working towards accessible mental health services irrespective of where you live or what you earn, with free mental health services for anyone under 25.”

That mental health policy was campaigned on by the Greens and is included in the Confidence and Supply Agreement with the Labour Party – so has a good chance of actually happening.

If NZ First don’t hobble it. Shaw doesn’t sound overly confident here.

But other changes to protect New Zealand’s waterways and introduce a rental warrant of fitness have not been agreed to by the other governing parties.

“No one said this was going to be easy. This Government holds a diversity of views, just like our community does, and everything we work on must be worked through together, as adults,” Shaw said.

It won’t be easy. Not only do Greens need to get Labour into giving their policies some sort of priority, they also have to convince NZ First to back them as well, or National.

“That is the beauty of a diverse Government and a world-leading MMP voting system, the alternative is US-style politics with mega parties that hold all the power, representing the few.”

Lipstick on a pig of a governing arrangement?

The tussles between Labour and Winston Peters are looking ugly enough, and Peters is likely to be even less willing to concede policies and power to Shaw.

As much as Shaw may like to promote a Green wave of progress, he doesn’t seem to be a strong leader and he has a weak political hand to play with.

He isn’t a politician that naturally attracts attention through controversy, and especially after Metiria Turei’s disaster last year he is unlikely to want to risk a stunt approach.

So what else can Shaw do but plug away nicely and quietly? Probably not a lot.

It doesn’t help when the party puts out a release on a Saturday morning, a very slow political news time, and does not make it available on any of the major social media platforms nor their website as far as I can see – and I went looking.

Changing the conversation on climate change to reflect women’s perspectives

A curious comment from Climate Change Minister James Shaw:

NZ climate change ambassador Jo Tyndall & I got the chance to talk with fmr Irish President Mary Robinson & a room full of inspiring women about changing the conversation on climate change to reflect women’s perspectives.

Hard to guess how that might work, or work out.

But one thing I think is certain – women’s perspectives on climate change are going to be as diverse as men’s perspectives. It is not an us versus them sort of issue, and I don’t think it should be played that way.

I have just asked one woman what her perspective and it’s actually quite similar to mine.

Productivity Commission – low emissions economy

James Shaw (@jamespeshaw):

Getting to net zero emissions by 2050 is achievable & starting now is our best option to seize the opportunities and make a just transition says the Productivity Commission. I thank them for their work on a pathway to NZ becoming a low emissions economy


New Zealand Productivity Commission – Low-emissions economy

Final report August 2018

Context

New Zealand is part of the international response to address the impacts of climate change and to limit the
rise in global temperature, requiring a transition of the global economy to one consistent with a low carbon
and climate resilient development pathway.

New Zealand has recently formalised its first Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement
to reduce its emissions by 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. The Paris Agreement envisages all
countries taking progressively ambitious emissions reduction targets beyond 2030. Countries are invited to
formulate and communicate long-term low emission development strategies before 2020. The Government
has previously notified a target for a 50 per cent reduction in New Zealand greenhouse gas emissions from
1990 levels by 2050.

New Zealand’s domestic response to climate change is, and will be in the future, fundamentally shaped by
its position as a small, globally connected and trade-dependent country. New Zealand’s response also
needs to reflect such features as its high level of emissions from agriculture, its abundant forestry resources,
and its largely decarbonised electricity sector, as well as any future demographic changes (including
immigration).

Scope and aims

The purpose of this inquiry is identify options for how New Zealand could reduce its domestic greenhouse
gas emissions through a transition towards a lower emissions future, while at the same time continuing to
grow incomes and wellbeing.

Two broad questions should guide the inquiry.

What opportunities exist for the New Zealand economy to maximise the benefits and minimise the cost that
a transition to a lower net-emissions economy offers, while continuing to grow incomes and wellbeing?

How could New Zealand’s regulatory, technological, financial and institutional systems, processes and
practices help realise the benefits and minimise the costs and risks of a transition to a lower net emissions
economy?

Exclusions

This inquiry should not focus on the suitability of New Zealand’s current, or any future emissions reduction
target. In addition, the inquiry should not focus on the veracity of anthropogenic climate change, and should
only consider the implications of a changing climate to inform consideration of different economic pathways
along which the New Zealand economy could grow and develop.

17.3 Immediate priorities

Achieving New Zealand’s emissions reduction targets requires concerted effort and widespread change.
Among the numerous policies recommended in this report, three areas hold particular priority in
establishing the conditions needed for a successful transition. Change in these areas should be
implemented within the next two years to set the strategy on the right trajectory and avoid New Zealand
incurring unnecessary costs later in the transition.

Reform the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme and introduce biogenic methane into an
emissions pricing system

Ensuring that emissions are appropriately priced is an essential component in New Zealand’s mitigation
strategy. Emissions pricing provides a strong incentive to reduce emissions at least cost. It decentralises
decisions to invest, innovate and consume across the economy to people who have the best information
about opportunities to lower their emissions. An emissions price is also pervasive through the whole
economy – shaping resource and investment decisions across all emitting sectors and sources.

However, the current NZ ETS has a number of weaknesses. The reforms to the NZ ETS set out in Chapter 5
should be a high priority so that the scheme begins to drive behavioural change and changes in land use –
particularly greater rates of afforestation. The emissions price in the NZ ETS will need to rise significantly, so
the sooner this process begins, the more gradual the price increase can be. Also, a higher emissions price in
the NZ ETS will help to identify those emissions sources where complementary policies are required to drive
emissions reductions.

Further, while the NZ ETS should be the primary mechanism to drive reductions in long-lived gas emissions
(such as from carbon dioxide and N2O), a pricing system should also be established for biogenic CH4. This
system, either a dual-cap NZ ETS or an alternative methane quota system, will separately incentivise
emissions reductions of biogenic CH4 in recognition of its nature as a short-lived GHG.

Clear and stable climate-change policies

New Zealand lacks clear and stable climate-change policies. This lack of clarity and political agreement
about longer-term goals has weakened incentives for change and undermined confidence in existing
policies. The Government is currently developing a Zero Carbon Bill that will set a 2050 emissions target and
aims to establish the foundations and institutions needed to meet that target. The Bill should establish:

  • legislated and quantified long-term GHG emissions reduction targets;
  • a system of successive “emissions budgets” that, separately for short- and long-lived gases, translate
    long-term targets into short- to medium-term reduction goals; and
  • an independent Climate Change Commission to act as the custodian of New Zealand’s climate policy
    and long-term, climate-change objectives. The Climate Change Commission should provide objective
    analysis and advice to the Government on the scale of emissions reductions required over the short to
    medium term; progress towards meeting agreed budgets and targets; and barriers, opportunities and
    priorities, to reduce emissions.

Substantial investment in the innovation system

New Zealand’s strategy for its transition to a low-emissions economy should have a strong focus on
innovation. Government should devote significantly more resources to low-emissions innovation than the
modest and inadequate current allocation (Chapter 6). Yet, extra resources are unlikely to yield significant
discoveries to assist in reducing emissions immediately. Rather, the investment will pay off more gradually
throughout the transition. But given the long timeframes involved in bringing innovative ideas to fruition, it is
important that the significant additional resources and infrastructure needed to boost New Zealand’s
innovation system are established quickly.

17.4 Meeting the challenge

New Zealand can achieve a successful low-emissions economy, but there will be challenges. Stronger action
in the immediate future is required, as delayed action will compound the transition challenge and risks
New Zealand being left behind in technology and economic opportunities. Sixteen years ago, the
Government enacted New Zealand’s current climate-change law. Yet, New Zealand has since made virtually
no progress in reducing its emissions, in part due to the absence of political consensus around the
fundamental need for action across the entire economy.

Shifting to a low-emissions trajectory will critically depend on political leadership and fortitude. Inertia and
resistance to change can be expected. The challenge will be one of communication and conveying the
advantages and opportunities of transformational change to the population at large. But, meeting this
challenge will likely be futile without broad agreement across the political spectrum on both the need and
means to make the transition.

This report sets out the policy architecture for New Zealand to transition to a low-emissions economy, while
continuing to grow incomes and wellbeing. Implementing the recommendations in this report will set
New Zealand on the path to meeting its emissions-reduction targets. Inevitably, the journey will be long and
punctuated by change and uncertainty. Technological change, climate-change policy in other countries, and
unintended consequences stemming from mitigation policies could each conspire to slow or derail progress.
While challenging, the transition is achievable given concerted commitment and effort across government,
business, households and communities – up to and beyond 2050.


It is a lengthy report with many findings and recommendations.

Final report August 2018

 

Green climate refugee policy lacking support, refugees

Green leader James Shaw was keen on a new refugee category for people adversely affected by climate change, but has no support from Labour and no potential refugees.

Green Party policy: Welcoming more refugees

The Green Party will:

  • Create a new humanitarian visa for people displaced by climate change in the Pacific.

Climate change will only make the global refugee crisis worse. We’re committed to providing new homes for some of the people who are forced out of their own communities and countries by rising seas and extreme droughts, particularly in the Pacific.

There was no mention of this policy the Labour-Green confidence and supply agreement.

Stuff:  Humanitarian visa proposed for climate change refugees dead in the water

A proposed “experimental” visa for climate change refugees is dead in the water, with the idea gaining little traction among Government officials and Pacific leaders.

Minister for Climate Change James Shaw announced the Government would consider a special visa for Pacific peoples displaced by climate change in October 2017, after a tribunal rejected refugee status for two Tuvalu families.

Shaw, who was overseas and unavailable for comment, told RNZ in October the Government would consider an “experimental” humanitarian visa category as “a piece of work that we intend to do in partnership with the Pacific islands”.

The families argued rising seas would make their lives unsustainable, but climate change is not a recognised ground for refugee status under the UN Refugee Convention.

Minister for Immigration Iain Lees-Galloway said on Friday that Pacific peoples have expressed desire to continue to live in their own countries, and current work is primarily focussed on mitigating the impacts of climate change.

“Responses to the impacts of climate change would likely be considered as part of future discussions on Pacific immigration policies, but there is no specific plan for an ‘experimental visa’ at this stage.”

Not surprisingly, people prefer that problems are prevented or fixed so they can stay in their own countries.

Green Party immigration spokesperson Golriz Ghahraman​ said it was still party policy, but research on the ground showed a visa was likely unsuitable to address climate migration.

“The climate migration issue looks like it’s much broader than us coming up with a visa … Tuvaluans want to continue to be Tuvaluans.

“That became apparent fairly quickly when we started looking into it.”

It looks like the Greens first came up with the policy, then “started looking into it”, research “showed a visa was likely unsuitable to address climate migration” but the climate refugee policy remains.

Perhaps the Greens could do some looking into some of their other policies and see whether they stack up.

 

 

 

Greens confirm they will vote for ‘waka jumping’ bill

The Green caucus decision to vote for Winston Peters’ ‘waka jumping’ bill has been a contentious issue in the party, as they have had a history of strongly opposing similar legislation.

They affirmed their decision to vote for the bill at their conference in the weekend.

RNZ: Green leadership stands firm on Waka Jumping Bill at AGM

The Green Party leadership have dug in their heels and will not be reversing any of the decisions they have made in government.

Party stalwarts Jeanette Fitzsimons and Sue Bradford had hoped the caucus might be persuaded this weekend to pull its support from the Waka Jumping Bill.

Co-leader James Shaw was pushing the party’s biggest wins, ending oil and gas exploration and committing the country to a zero carbon future.

But the concessions they have made got a brief mention in his speech too.

“We haven’t won every debate, and the menu does feature the occasional dead rodent,” he told the party faithful gathered in Palmerston North.

He was referring to the Waka Jumping Bill, described by their own MP Eugenie Sage as a dead rat they had to swallow as part of a coalition government.

One of the party’s founding members, Jeanette Fitzsimons, said it went against everything the Greens stood for, making it clear there were parts of the core base that were still hugely unhappy with that decision.

“I simply don’t buy the line that the government would have fallen,” she said.

“Simply don’t buy the line that Jacinda Ardern and Winston Peters were going to say ‘ah well we don’t want to be in government anymore’ and let it all collapse, because they didn’t get this bill through? I mean, really.”

Ms Fitzsimons said they had tried everything to change the caucus’ mind, but described the eight MPs as a “brick wall.”

That’s not a good sign. The Greens used to promote their practice of the party making important decisions rather than the political leadership.

“This is a compromise that we had to make. I understand the different perspectives on that, but the decisions that we came to as a caucus and a party arrived to this,” Ms Davidson said.

“Because we think that providing New Zealand with stable government, is more important than that one issue,” Mr Shaw said.

That’s bullshit. It’s very difficult to see how Greens making a decision based on important party principles should destabilise the Government. The governing arrangement should not force such a contradictory stance on a party.

Unless perhaps Shaw is not being up front about threats made to him (by Peters and/or Labour) if the Greens don’t vote for the bill.

This is a prominent stain on the green stint in Government that they are going to have difficulty washing off.

I think it’s also fair to ask why Jacinda Ardern has allowed this situation to be forced on the Greens.

Q+A – Marama Davidson and James Shaw

Colrin Dann interviewed both Green leaders James Shaw and Marama Davidson on Q+A last night.

James Shaw on Greens in Government: “you’re not going to please all the people all the time”

Marama Davidson: no campaign on c-word, at a rally for racism I talked about the words used against me

Davidson may have heeded feedback and decided it was not going to be a popular issue to pursue.

 

Shaw opens Green Party conference

There’s a good chance there will be quite a bit of debate at this year’s Green party conference, behind the scenes at least, but up front James Shaw is promoting Green wins through being in Government, as well as acknowledging some of the problems with being a small party in joint power.

Stuff:  James Shaw opens Green Party conference: We’re ‘just getting warmed up’

The party’s two-day Palmerston North conference is their 28th but first in Government, and first with Marama Davidson as co-leader.

Shaw used his Saturday morning speech to recount wins and to remind the party membership that the decision to go into Government was not just made by him, the sole co-leader at the time.

According to Sue Bradford (on Nation) there is tension in the power over leadership power, caucus power and membership power.

“We haven’t won every debate and the menu does feature the occasional deceased rodent. But it just goes to show, you made the right choice to go into Government,” Shaw said – one of 49 mentions of the word “you” in the speech.

Shaw acknowledged that Government was challenging the purity of the Green Party’s values as they were in opposition.

“Our values, our Green kaupapa, are being tested in ways that I just don’t think we faced when we were in Opposition,” Shaw said.

That happens to all parties – it’s just that Greens are experiencing it for the first time.

But he believed this was making the party’s values “even stronger” as they had to be properly challenged and delivered on.

In a way forcing re-evaluations of policies outside the green bubble is a good thing, but it can be challenging, and risks driving divisions.

Most of the sessions – including one named “Election 2017: Learning – Healing – Strengthening” – are closed to media.

That’s normal at party conferences. The public stuff is PR managed as much as possible.

This shows how Green support took a dive over the Metiria Turei issue and Jacindamania.

Polling so far this term…

…shows that Greens have a bit of a challenge ahead.It has levelled off in the MMP threshold danger zone on 5-6%.

They will hope their wins have more influence on voters than their losses and embarrassments.