Getting rid of “National are evil baby-eating doers”

I’ve often seen it joked that left wingers see National as baby-eating evil doers, but here it is actually stated:

Why would the GP want to unbundle from Labour when having an agreement with Labour brings them benefits they negotiated and want?

National are baby-eating evil doers. That’s the whole point.

I presume that’s just rhetoric, but it indicates a distinct distaste for anything about National.

The Greens position is (and has been for a long time) that they will work with any party where there is shared policy. For the Greens to work with National in govt National would have to change its economic, social and environmental policies. That’s not going to happen any time soon.

So Greens would only work with National if changed all their policies to Green policies? I don’t think ‘weka’ speaks on behalf of the Green Party, but I’ve seen this attitude expressed before. It’s completely out of touch with how politics works here, especially under MMP (the MMP that allowed Greens to get a presence in Parliament and recently a presence in Government.

And Greens got into Government without Labour and NZ First changing all their policies to Green policies. A lot of Labour policies are very similar or the same as National policies.

And the Greens have had to accept policies put into practice, like the CPTPP (that is supported by both Labour and National), and introduced bills, like the NZ First waka jumping bill, that the greens still oppose, in theory at least.

So this ‘Greens won’t deal with National unless they change all their policies’ is arrogant ignorance.

It’s nothing to do with the Greens being able to tell supporters that National aren’t evil, unless National stop being evil. Has that happened?

There’s an emphasis on ‘National are evil’, minus the baby eating.  It must just be a Green activist attitude – I don’t see James Shaw or Julie Anne Genter saying National are evil, and both seem prepared to work with National if it means progressing some common policy (as happened in the past over cycleways and house insulation).

“we can at least listen to any offer they give us, doesn’t mean they have to accept it but at least it’d mean Labour couldn’t take the Greens for granted any longer”

But the Greens are already in the position of listening to National make offers. National aren’t making any offers (and as above, they don’t have anything that the Greens are interested in).

National have sounded out Greens on some level of cooperation. They did during coalition negotiations. Simon Bridges did when he became National leader.

Green supporters like ‘weka’ are the ones not interested in listening to anyone, including National, who won’t fully accept Green ideals and policies.

“The other is that they have a stated intent to change how parliamentary democracy works in NZ.”

“Forming a government with National would certainly fall under those auspices I’d have thought”

Rofl. Funny as mate.

Not funny – it’s sad that some Green supporters seem like they will never accept working with National (conveniently forgetting when they have), and would hold their MPs to ‘National is evil’ type nonsense.

If Greens are serious about significantly changing how parliamentary democracy works in New Zealand – Chlöe Swarbrick was sounding out ideas on this on Twitter yesterday – then somehow they need to educate some of their supporters that that means they won’t get all their policies and ideals accepted and implemented, it means compromise, and it also means co-operation with all parties.

And it means getting rid of a “National are evil baby-eating evil doers” mentality, or at least democratically voting against the intransigence of those who promote extreme intolerance of other parties.

Green Party announces significant change to Question Time

James Shaw has announced an interesting change to how they are going to deal with the Green Party questions in Question:

Green Party announces significant change to Question Time

The Green Party has today announced that, from this week, most of its allocation of questions for Question Time will be handed over to the Leader of the Opposition to use, in order to limit the prevalence of “patsy questions” in Parliament and to strengthen the ability of Parliament to hold the Government of the day to account.

The only exception is if the Green Party wishes to use a question to hold the Government to account on a particular issue, consistent with the party’s Confidence and Supply agreement with Labour, which acknowledges the ability for the parties to agree to disagree on certain issues.

“The Green Party has long advocated the importance of Parliament having the powers to hold the Government of the day to account. Question Time is a key avenue for the opposition to interrogate the Government, so this move is a small step we can take to live up to the values we stated in opposition now that we are part of the Government,” said Green Party Co-leader James Shaw.

“Using Question Time to ask ourselves scripted, set-piece patsy questions does nothing to advance the principles of democracy and accountability that are very important to us as a party. We expect the opposition to use our questions to hold us to account as much as any other party in Government.

“We think patsy questions are a waste of time, and New Zealanders have not put us in Parliament to do that; we’re there to make positive change for our people and our environment.

“We don’t expect any other party to follow suit – this is about us leading the kind of change we want to see in Parliament.

“The Greens are committed to doing Government differently and doing Government better and this change, along with our voluntary release of Green Ministers diaries to increase transparency, will hopefully spark more of a debate about how we can bring Parliament’s processes and systems into the modern age.

“We will also make a submission to the Standing Orders Review, which kicks off next year, to advocate for further changes to Question Time. This review is where all parties in Parliament make decisions about how future parliaments will operate and is the best place for all politicians to discuss any long term permanent changes to Question Time.

“The Canadian Government has recently trialled changes to Question Time after Justin Trudeau campaigned to do so. This shows parliament systems are not set in stone and should be open to regular review and change to ensure our democracy is healthy and well-functioning.

“We have reserved the right to use our questions when we have a point of difference with our colleagues in government. Our Confidence and Supply Agreement with Labour allows us to agree to disagree on issues, and the occasional respectful questioning of the Government from within is also an important part of democracy.

“That we can occasionally disagree with each other highlights the strength and flexibility of this Government,” said Mr Shaw.

It will be interesting to see whether National changes their approach to Question Time in response.

UPDATE – James Shaw has responded to media claims that Greens had done a deal with National on this.

No deal, just a principled stand

Do you know what frustrates me about Parliament? Sometimes, it’s nothing but a hollow ritual.

As Greens, we’ve always stood for modernising our democracy, making MPs more accountable and giving the public better access to the levers of power.

So from this week, the Green Party will hand over its allocation of questions for Question Time to the Leader of the Opposition. That means, we will no longer waste Parliament’s time or yours asking scripted, set-piece “patsy” questions directed to ourselves.

It doesn’t mean we’ve given up pursuing issues we care about. When those issues arise, our arrangement allows Green MPs still to ask questions where we wish to hold the Government to account.

So why the change? The questions we’re giving up do nothing to advance democratic participation. Question Time should be about holding the Government to account, the Opposition can better use some of our questions to do that.

This is another example of us leading the type of change we want to see in Parliament. We’re walking our walk.

Learn more about Question Time here.

Q&A – join the Zero Carbon conversation

Climate Change Minister James Shaw has announced “From today New Zealanders can register their interest in being part of the Government’s consultation on what the Zero Carbon Bill should look like”.

If you don’t think ‘zero carbon’ is practical or feasible can you be a part of the conversation?

Sign up to join the Zero Carbon Bill conversation

“We know many New Zealanders want to be part of the discussion on how we reduce our emissions and want to be kept updated in the lead up to formal consultation starting around the end of May.

“So we’ve set up an online registration process on the Ministry for the Environment website for individuals or organisations who want to be kept informed between now and then.

“You don’t have to register to be part of the consultation. Anyone can make a submission. And we’re planning lots of activities before and during the consultation process to ensure everyone knows how they can make submissions and be part of the national conversation on climate change and the Zero Carbon Bill.”

The Zero Carbon Bill will be a cornerstone of New Zealand’s transition to a low emission climate resilient future that will help us achieve our international commitments.

“This whole transition has to be shared by all of us. Consultation has to be with New Zealanders across the country; from farmers and factory workers, to iwi and innovators. We want everyone’s thoughts and ideas.”

The consultation will also cover the role of the new independent Climate Change Commission.  The Commission is intended to take a long-term non-partisan view, provide independent advice to the government of the day, and ensure New Zealand stays on track to meet its climate change goals.

“I’d encourage anyone who’s interested in being part of the discussion on the Zero Carbon Bill to sign up at the Ministry for the Environment’s website here. And tell your friends to sign up too.”

The sign up page: Have your say on the Zero Carbon Bill

What to expect

Zero Carbon Bill

  • The Government has signalled that it will introduce a Zero Carbon Bill in late-2018 to provide a vision for how we transition to a sustainable and climate resilient future.

  • The Bill will see New Zealand put a bold new emissions reduction target into law, and establish an independent Climate Change Commission to keep us on track to meet our goals.

  • Consultation on the Zero Carbon Bill will open in late May. Information on the Bill’s proposals will be released at that time.

So it seems that it’s a bit early to be having a conversation about it.

Shaw will be having a conversation this morning on Q&A.

Shaw first has announced a new Green policy – they are going to give all their ‘patsy’ questions in question time to the Opposition. He says the Government questions are a waste of time, and Question Time should be about holding the Government to account.

This isn’t just talk, it is real action and it’s positive for Parliament, and Shaw and the Greens deserve credit for doing this.

This follows a Green commitment to publish their MP’s diaries as a move towards more open government.

These are fundamental democratic changes that the Greens can differentiate themselves from the other Government parties on.

Shaw was adamant that it isn’t an olive branch towards National.

“The silence of National and Labour on transparency is noted”

Neither of the two large parties, Labour or National, show any sign of following the Green Party example of transparency and a refusal to accept corporate baubles. Neither does NZ First. This is a shame, but it’s unsurprising.

The Green announcement: Green Party announces new transparency measures

Green Party Co-leader James Shaw has today announced two important new transparency measures, which will apply to Green Party Ministers, MPs and staff, to help counter the influence of money in politics.

Green Party Ministers will soon proactively release their ministerial diaries, to show who they’ve met with and why. Additionally, Green Ministers, MPs and staff will not accept corporate hospitality, such as free tickets to events unrelated to their work.

ODT editorial: Green Party transparency welcomed

Transparency is a hallmark of any functioning government and the Green Party says it will continue to aim to uphold that – in Parliament and in Government.

Green co-leader James Shaw recently announced two important new transparency measures which will apply to Green Party ministers, MPs and staff to help show what he says is the influence of money in politics.

The actions are a major step forward in transparency and one which should be held up as an example to other political parties, both inside and outside Parliament.

The power of big business over politicians has become insidious in the United States. It is possible many New Zealand voters will be surprised by the influence of lobbyists in New Zealand.

Because New Zealand is such a small country, MPs, or their staff, often move into areas of influence outside of Parliament while retaining their close ties with the parties with which they previously worked.

Broadcasting Minister Clare Curran was blindsided in Parliament recently when questioned about her relationship with public broadcaster Radio New Zealand. It was revealed Ms Curran, the Dunedin South MP, had met privately with a highly ranked staff member of RNZ.

Then, National revealed an employee of the Prime Minister’s Office promoted Government policy while participating in an opinion segment on Radio New Zealand National, only describing herself as a public relations consultant from a private company for which she no longer worked.

The silence of National and Labour on transparency is noted.

There should be no reason why big wealthier corporates have better or more access to politicians than those organisations who cannot afford to shout free tickets to the rugby or a corporate box at the tennis.

Some will view the Greens’ actions as naive. However, the party must be congratulated and voters should push hard for other ministers and MPs to also start opening their diaries.

Yes, the Greens should be congratulated on walking the transparency walk.

Pressure needs to be put on Labour in particular to front up on this. They have an agreement with the Greens to do this – their Confidence and Supply agreement:

20. Strengthen New Zealand’s democracy by increasing public participation, openness, and transparency around official information.

Labour agrees to work with the Green Party on these and other policy areas as may be identified from time to time, and in good faith.

There is little sign that Labour is living up to their agreement. There is one Beehive release from Associate Minister for State Services (Open Government) Clare Curran that touches on it: Continued effort needed against corruption

“While we continue to hold the position of least corrupt country, and already have high standards of conduct and integrity, we must not be complacent. These results show we are not immune to behaviour and actions that can erode the great work done by the majority of people in the public sector.

“Our focus must be on building and maintaining the public’s trust in the integrity of the public sector, a key enabler in our ability to do better for New Zealand and New Zealanders. I expect a continued commitment to transparency and the highest levels of integrity,” Ms Curran says.

“This government is also committed to reviewing and improving our access to information frameworks and is currently initiating work on human rights in the digital environment.

“Our commitment to open government plays an important role in New Zealand’s democratic system, underpinning the public’s respect, trust, and confidence in the integrity of government.”

That’s just talk from Curran – and she has been embarrassed twice in Parliament over questionable actions of herself and of Government advisor and lobbyist Tracey Bridges.

Greens have shown Curran up by committing to having open diaries and not accepting corporate baubles, while all she seems to have done is waffle and duck and dive.

If all parties currently in government establish more open and transparent procedures and practices then whenever National next gets into Government they should be under pressure to continue with similar levels of transparency and openness.

Talking of National, they don’t make it easy finding their list of MPs on their website. Todd McClay is their spokesperson for State Services – I can’t find anything from him on open government, although Nikki Kaye has called for greater transparency over Partnership Schools.



Greens: Sending lobbyists a message

James Shaw has announced today (via email) that he is “Sending lobbyists a message” – he could do with sending this message to the Labour Party too.:

Progressive change means living our values. It also means staying true to who we are as a Party.

That’s why I announced today two new measures to ensure transparency and counter the influence of money in politics:

  1. Green Party Ministers will proactively release their ministerial diaries, to show who they’ve met with and why;
  2. Green Ministers, MPs and staff will not accept corporate hospitality, such as free tickets to events unrelated to their work.

Greens have always stood for more transparency around lobbying and access to politicians. Now we’re in government, we’re walking the walk.

Other MPs consider being shouted free rugby tickers or an expensive meal just a perk of the job. But it’s not how we do things.

You all deserve to know who we’re meeting with and why. You all deserve to know we won’t accept gifts as a quid-pro-quo for looking after corporate interests in Parliament.

I’m proud to announce yet another small way that the Green Party is committed to doing government differently and doing government better.

You can read more here OR check out my full speech to the Green Party Policy Conference.


Greens may have to support waka jumping bill

The Greens have long been staunchly opposed to the waka jumping (party hopping) legislation, but due to their confidence and supply agreement commitments they may be obliged to back the bill prompted by NZ First. They have been caught out because NZ First did not campaign on this policy (voters would have good cause to question NZ First sneaking this policy in after the election).

From the Labour-NZ First coalition agreement:


• Introduce and pass a ‘Waka Jumping’ Bill.


NZH: Green Party may have to support waka-jumping bill

The bill, which would ensure Parliament’s proportionality in the event that an MP leaves or is ejected from a party, is part of the Labour-NZ First coalition agreement – but needs the support of the Green Party to pass into law.

Young Greens co-convenor Max Tweedie, in a Facebook post last week following a call with the party executive that was screen-shot and posted to reddit, said that the party had no choice but to support the bill.

“James [Shaw] has explained why the Greens are supporting the waka-jumping bill,” Tweedie wrote.

“NZF and Labour, and the Greens and Labour, conducted blind negotiations for the agreement. Labour requested a list of NZF policies that we don’t support, and while we went through, we didn’t even think of the waka-jumping bill.

“As a result, because of the agreements between us, we have to support the bill because our opposition wasn’t flagged.”

A spokesperson for the Greens confirmed that the party did not raise it as an issue during coalition talks with Labour because NZ First had not campaigned on it.

“We looked at the policies that parties ran on during the 2017 campaign. Waka-jumping wasn’t one of them. We are now managing this issue within the Green Party.”

The spokesperson would not say whether the party had to support the bill beyond the select committee, where the Greens hope the bill will be improved.

The Greens have vehemently opposed similar legislation in the past, and co-leader James Shaw has sought to appease the membership by saying that the party’s ongoing support for the bill is not guaranteed.

From the Labour-Green confidence and supply agreement:

Relationship to other agreements

Both parties to this agreement recognise that Labour will be working with other parties both in terms of
coalitions and confidence and supply arrangements.

Labour agrees that it will not enter into any other relationship agreement which is inconsistent with this
agreement and the Green Party and Labour agree that they will each act in good faith to allow all such
agreements to be complied with.

That seems to oblige the Greens to enable the Labour-NZ First agreement to be complied with. That means voting enabling the waka jumping legislation.

Some Greens are not happy.

It would be dishonourable of the Greens not to support the bill too. Caught between the two with no tidy solution – but expect an amendment to the bill that the Greens claim make it ok for them to support it.

This is another challenge of being in Government, especially as the junior of three parties.


James Shaw gaining respect

The Green Party survived the election largely due to the efforts of James Shaw, after the mess left by Metiria Turei’s fall. They then negotiated their way into Government, including three ministerial roles outside of Cabinet (wise positioning).

Now Shaw is slowly gaining respect as a leader in Government. Possibly his biggest challenge will be to keep Green factions happy with the compromises essential in any governing arrangement.

Audrey Young: Elation at winning power has given way to reality of compromise

Shaw was in a Victoria University lecture theatre seeking an acceptance from party faithful that compromise will be necessary if they want a sustainable political future.

His message was that if the Greens want to be part of the 2020 Government, they cannot afford to stand on principle on every issue; they have to focus on the big issues and can’t fight every battle.

It was effectively a commitment to stick to the current Government parties for the next election.

It was also sensible advice from a leader whose standing has risen substantially – inside and outside the party – since leading the Greens solo through its leadership crisis last year and saving it from the precipice of parliamentary oblivion.

But the Greens are better known for being more principled than compromising and that makes for special challenges for them.

Green activists (and some politicians) are known for their uncompromising approach to politics and policies. How they adapt from opposition to the practical realities of being in Government will be important for the Green’s re-election chances, and also for the Labour led Government’s chances of retaining power beyond a single term.

It is early days and patterns are not yet firmly established. The Greens have not yet settled on whether they are an equal part of the three-way Government, or whether to emphasise the technical reality that they sitting outside of the two-party coalition, and claim greater independence.

Certainly, when Ardern takes leave to have her baby in June, Winston Peters as Acting Prime Minister will have to have normalised his historically distant relationship with the Greens.

That will be an opportunity for Shaw and the Greens to get more attention. They will have a female co-leader again by then. But they will be competing with baby-mania, so politics may struggle to be seen.

The events of this week have marked a turning point in the three-way Government because it is the first week in which major differences over major policies have been highlighted.

The first was over the conclusion negotiations of the TPP, opposed by the Greens, and second was over employment law, with a heavy dilution by New Zealand First of Labour and Greens’ policy.

The TPP will play out over the next three months. How the Greens manage their on-going opposition will be important for themselves and for the Government.

For Ardern, who has been promoting her Government as “transformational,” it has become more apparent that the possibility of real transformation are limited in the short term.

It is a sign of MMP in maturity that the differences this week have not been painted by the media as unstable Government or a Government in disarray.

It is also a sign of MMP maturity that the transformations are unlikely to be dramatic.

Shaw appears more ready to genuinely work across the aisle than Labour or New Zealand First.

That’s interesting given that the Greens were adamant it was untenable for them to help National form a government. However being outside Cabinet they have more flexibility than Labour or NZ First.

In his own Climate Change portfolio, Shaw has promised to consult widely including with National before introducing legislation for the Climate Change Commission.

National’s new spokesman on climate change, Todd Muller, said last year he was open to considering support the commission, but he since curbed his enthusiasm and is seeking greater recognition for his own party’s progress in office.

To secure a secure long term path for action on climate change Greens need to get buy-in from National. This is where the Greens can establish credibility as an environmentally focussed party, something they have wide electorate support for.

In his latest email newsletter Shaw focusses on climate:

Every year the Greens deliver a State of the Planet speech, outlining our eco-centric approach to the world in which we live and our ambitions for change. I’ve just given that speech recently in Wellington.

Basically, I outlined that we have a mammoth task ahead because the State of the Planet is bad:

  • The Earth’s mammals, birds, and fish, have declined by 58% between 1970 and 2012
  • 239 million hectares of natural forest cover has been lost just since 1990
  • In New Zealand three-quarters of native fish, one-third of invertebrates, and one-third of plants are threatened with, or at risk of, extinction
  • We are overshooting the Earth’s carrying capacity and simultaneously overloading that carrying capacity using the equivalent of 1.6 Earth’s worth of resources every year
  • More than 8 million tonnes of plastic are dumped into the ocean every year. New Zealanders use 1.6 billion single-use plastic bags every year, many of which end up in our oceans and on our shorelines
  • Worldwide, we use one million plastic bottles every minute. On average, each New Zealanders uses 168 plastic water bottles a year
  • Despite the signing of the Paris Agreement, current atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases are at 400 parts per million
  • There are now 65 million forcibly displaced persons in the world, of whom 22 million are refugees
  • The number of people living in extreme poverty remains unacceptably high with 767 million people living on less than two dollars a day and inequality is increasing at an extraordinary rate.

It is bleak, very bleak. Yet the Greens won’t back down from the challenges facing the planet and our species. And with every passing month and year that we don’t face these challenges head on, means the task becomes even harder.

Obviously, we have huge ambitions for only eight MPs in a three-party government.

And while we’ve got some levers of power now, the change we want to see will require transformation – transforming across the spectrum how we view the environment, the people, and of course how we view the economy.

To get this transformational change will require bringing people to the table in government, in councils, in communities, in businesses, in schools and universities, in families, in households. We must get as many people on board, and as many people doing what they can too.

We want to call everyone in, rather than calling them out – an opportunity to build a better future through collaboration and sharing.

There will always be some who oppose the Greens no matter what, and who oppose doing anything about ‘climate change’ no matter what.

But if Shaw manages his policy ambitions well, gaining credibility and support from across the political spectrum, the Greens stand a good chance of improving their support.

However this may mean keeping the more socialist Green policies a bit more low key, accepting the compromises that fiscal restraint and political realities make necessary.

James Shaw’s ‘State of the Planet’ speech

James Shaw gave the 2018 Green ‘State of the Planet’ speech yesterday:


Five years after the Velvet Revolution that made him President of Czechoslovakia and then the Czech Republic, the former dissident and poet Václav Havel, said that:

“There are good reasons for suggesting that the modern age has ended.  Many things indicate that we are going through a transitional period when it seems that something is on the way out and something else is painfully being born. It is as if something were crumbling, decaying and exhausting itself, while something else, still indistinct, were arising from the rubble.”

I was twenty-one at the time. The Cold War was over. Bill Clinton was President of the United States. Al Gore… was his Vice President. People were talking about something called the World Wide Web. My friend Danyl had told me his workplace – an IBM helpdesk – had something called ‘electronic mail’, which allowed him to write a message on his computer and have it appear instantaneously on the computer of a colleague on the other side of the world.

What a time to be alive.

It seemed to me that Havel’s words were full of a hope that we were on the verge of writing a new chapter in human history, of creating a new, fairer economic system where everyone could flourish without destroying the planet.

Well, I have to say, we’re still waiting. The post-modern ‘sustainable economy’ is taking a jolly long time to arise from the rubble of the modern age. If anything, the rubble of the modern age is accumulating around us in ever increasing piles, threatening to overwhelm us and everything else on the planet, too.

But, although this speech will, at times, foray into the downright bleak, I am enormously hopeful about the future. Because I believe that we, here in little ole New Zealand, have it within our grasp to lead a breakthrough – to finally, actually, put in place the architecture for a truly sustainable economy and to show the rest of the world how it’s done.

Green Party Co-leaders have been delivering a State of the Planet speech just about every year since we got into Parliament in 1999, an eco-centric take on the more ego-centric State of the Nation tradition.

I will start with an assessment of the State of the Planet; and New Zealand’s bit of it. That’s the bleak bit. Then I’ll talk a bit about the latest thinking in sustainable economics – an area of economics that’s becoming mainstream. And finally, I’ll propose how New Zealand can lead the way in moving the theory of sustainable economics into practice – and what a unique opportunity we have, right now, to do so.

By the end, I hope you’ll see that the Greens have a galvanising mission for our contribution to this Government and that you join us in making it happen. I find it is as inspiring as it is urgent. And it is urgent, for the State of the Planet, is, frankly, not good.


We are now living in a geological epoch known as the Anthropocene – so named because the planet’s atmosphere and biosphere have been reshaped by humans at a scale normally reserved for continental realignment, Ice Ages or colossal meteor strikes, every half billion years or so.

One of the defining characteristics of the Anthropocene, as with other epochs, is the extinction of much of the world’s species. It is estimated that by the end of the 21st Century this Sixth Extinction will herald flora and fauna loss of 20 percent to 50 percent “of all living species on earth”. We are overshooting the Earth’s carrying capacity – and simultaneously overloading that carrying capacity – to the extent that we are using the equivalent of 1.6 Earth’s worth of resources every year. Something has to give.

The Earth’s mammals, birds, and fish, have declined by 58 percent between 1970 and 2012. And we’re seeing the largest drop in freshwater species: on average, there’s been a whopping 81 percent decline in that time period. 239 million hectares of natural forest cover has been lost just since 1990.

In New Zealand, three-quarters of native fish, one-third of invertebrates, and one-third of plants are threatened with, or at risk of, extinction. Eugenie, you’ve got your work cut out for you.

OCEANS: More than eight million tonnes of plastic are dumped into the ocean every year. New Zealanders use 1.6 billion single-use plastic bags every year, many of which end up in our oceans and on our shorelines.

WASTE: Worldwide, we use one million plastic bottles every minute. On average, each New Zealander uses 168 plastic water bottles a year.

CLIMATE CHANGE: While there have been glimmers of hope with the signing of the Paris Agreement, current atmospheric concentrations of Greenhouse Gases are at 400 parts per million, the highest concentration of these gases in our atmosphere in at least the last three million years. And despite our perception of our clean and green image, Kiwis have the fifth highest emissions per person in the OECD, and our gross emissions have increased by 24 percent since 1990.

All of this means that eco-systems services – those ecological necessities for human life and wellbeing – are also on the decline:

FOOD SECURITY: There is a third less arable land now than 40 years ago, even though global food production will need to increase 50 percent by 2050 to feed a population of ten billion. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that soil degradation trends have left the planet with about sixty years of harvests remaining. Yet it is estimated that about a third of all food produced is wasted.

FRESH WATER: Nearly fifty countries experienced water stress or water scarcity in 2015, up from just over 30 in 1992; that’s an increase of 40 percent in twenty-five years.

The competition for earth’s resources is fierce:

PEACE & SECURITY: There are now 65 million forcibly displaced persons in the world, of whom 22 million are refugees, 40 million are internally displaced within their own countries.

POVERTY: Although the world has made remarkable progress in reducing poverty, the number of people living in extreme poverty remains unacceptably high with 767 million people living on less than two dollars a day. And while poverty in absolute terms has been cut, inequality is increasing at an extraordinary rate. Over the last twenty years, the wealth of the richest 1 percent increased at just shy of 200 times the wealth of the poorest 10 percent. Just eight men own as much wealth between them as the 3.6 billion poorest people in the world do collectively.

According to research undertaken by OXFAM, in New Zealand in 2017 a staggering 28 percent of wealth created went to the richest 1 percent while there are still hundreds of thousands of children growing up in poverty.


So far, so bleak. Our existing economic model isn’t working.

I believe that growing impatience with some of the consequences of that model led to the change of government last year. Dirty rivers, polluted drinking water, entrenched poverty, growing wealth inequality, road congestion, house prices, homelessness – all of these contributed.

The Deputy Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Winston Peters, has said that this is the beginning of the end for neoliberalism.

But what is it the start of?

The cognitive linguist George Lakoff says that it is absolutely essential to have a compelling alternative frame if the old one is ever to be debunked. One of the reasons why it’s taking such a long time, I think, to get to a sustainable economy is that, although few people would argue against it, no one has been able to adequately describe it, in ways that sounded more credible than the linear, take-make-waste economy of the status quo.

Until fairly recently that is.

Concepts that were sketched out in the 1970s, like Walter Stahel’s Performance Economy, were built on in the 1980s by Karl-Henrik Robert in his Natural Step Framework, and in the 1990s by Paul Hawken in the Ecology of Commerce.

Michael Braungart and Bill McDonough came through in the late nineties and early 2000s with Cradle to Cradle and Janine Benyus’ Biomimicry was a real breakthrough.

In the last few years the Ellen MacArther Foundation’s work on the Circular Economy has brought all of these ideas together in a coherent whole.

Most of these were micro-economic, looking at how individual firms could redesign themselves to become more sustainable in their own right – and there followed a series of inspirational case studies, like Interface flooring, or, here in New Zealand, EcoStore.

But I think Kate Raworth of Cambridge University has probably been most successful in creating a visual model that can compete with our traditional mental models about the economy.

Essentially, two concentric circles, one inside the other.

The inner circle is the ‘social foundation’ of food, water, income, education, resilience, voice, jobs, energy, social equity, gender equality and health – those characteristics that generally trend towards social harmony and stability.

The outer circle is the ‘environmental ceiling’, the planetary boundaries described by Johan Rockstrom and the World Resources Institute.

These are freshwater use, nitrogen and phosphorous cycles, ocean acidification, chemical pollution, atmospheric aerosol loading, ozone depletion, biodiversity loss, land use change and climate change.

In between these two concentric circles is the safe and just space for humanity – an economy in which prosperity can flourish, within the Earth’s operating limits.

Ms Raworth describes this as, ‘Doughnut Economics’.

There are now some very robust models out there – and enough evidence bubbling up from different companies and countries around the world that have been trying on various ideas – to give us a pretty good idea of what a sustainable economy looks like.

The Greens in Government will be using these new models of economic thinking that balance economic and environmental and social outcomes to guide us in our decision making. We urge others to start doing the same.

Let’s talk about what it looks lik in practical terms for New Zealand.

For starters, all our energy – not just electricity, but transport fuel and industrial heat as well – would be drawn from entirely renewable sources like wind and solar, with zero pollution going into air, soil or water. That’s why the goal of 100% renewable energy generation is in our confidence and supply agreement.

We would have zero waste to landfill: waste would be designed out of industrial processes, and what little waste remains would be captured and reused, refurbished or recycled. Eugenie is currently reviewing the Waste Minimisation Act to achieve this outcome.

In fact, zero would be regarded as the goal in a number of areas – greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, air pollution, chemical pollution, nitrogen and phosphorous loading, zero homelessness, and zero people living in poverty.

We’d be designing industrial processes, products and services that regenerate resources rather than deplete them.

Rather than crossing our fingers and hoping that GDP growth would trickle down into poverty alleviation, we’d be distributive by design, consciously building models of commerce that systematically increase wealth across the widest possible base so all of our people benefit.


So we’ve assessed the State of the Planet and New Zealand’s little bit of it, and the news isn’t all that flash. We’ve taken a look at what the economic response might be to try and turn that around and to create an economy where prosperity can flourish within the Earth’s ecological limits.

I believe that New Zealand has an incredible opportunity to be one of the first countries in the world to transition to a truly sustainable economy and to show the rest of the world how it’s done.

So if you cast your mind back, New Zealand has often been the laboratory of new thinking. We were the first to give women the vote, the first to introduce a welfare state, and leaders in the reforms of the 80s and 90s that gave us today’s crumbling economic system.

We were one of the first countries in the world to put in place the architecture of the current economy. In reality, legislatively, it came down to a handful of Acts of Parliament: The State Services Act, The Reserve Bank Act, The Public Finance Act, The Employment Contracts Act, and The Resource Management Act.

All of these have been tinkered with to varying degrees. The Resource Management Act has been comprehensively messed with by every Government since, the Reserve Bank Act we’re only now about to undertake a review of to see if it’s still fit for purpose. But regardless of how much they’ve been played with, these five Acts, more than any others I think, have shaped the economy of the last thirty years.

The Greens in Government now want to look at what the new cornerstones for the next thirty years might be that reshape the New Zealand economy to be one of the first truly sustainable economies in the world – that delivers for our environment and our people.

One of the key characteristics of the sustainable economy is that we have wider goals than simply achieving GDP growth.

We’ve already signalled we are going to immediately include child poverty reduction targets into the Public Finance Act.

I’m proud to be leading a piece of work to establish a more comprehensive set of social and environmental indicators and developing ways to include them in our economic reporting. For example, this year’s Investment Statement will for the first time include an assessment of our environmental stocks and flows. What we count matters. And in order to change behaviours we need to change what we count.

2018 is going to be a busy year for Green Ministers to start to implement the foundations or cornerstones of a new sustainable economy.

I’ll be introducing the Zero Carbon Act, whilst limited to Greenhouse Gas Emissions, will set the economy on a pathway towards living within at least one of our planetary boundaries. It will be the most significant piece of legislation to protect our environment in the history of New Zealand.

Eugenie’s review of how we use the Waste Minimisation Act will mean a move towards eliminating waste by design, and improving our capture and reuse, refurbishment or recycling of whatever is left. It has the potential to revolutionise how we produce, package and use resources.

Julie Anne and Phil Twyford will be releasing a new Government Policy Statement on Transport which will radically shift investment in our transport systems. Julie Anne will also be leading the project to pay women the same as men for the same work, which in itself will lead to a significant shift in the way our economy works.

I’ll be setting up the Green Investment Bank to stimulate the flow of financial capital towards projects and businesses that reduce our climate pollution. We’ll be calling on the world’s leading thinkers to help us design this shift.

Key thinkers on the sustainable economy will be visiting New Zealand this year. Johan Rockstrom of the World Resources Institute, developer of the planetary boundaries framework, will be here working with MfE and myself. Paul Hawken, author of the Ecology of Commerce, one of the first and most influential books in the field of sustainable business, will be over here in March.

My message to those wishing to engage with the Greens in Government is to engage with sustainable economics. It will be win win for you and our country.


My goal for the Green Party, as a part of this new Labour-led Government, is that, by the end of this term of Parliament, we will have put in place the architecture for this great transition to the new economy. That we fulfil Havel’s vision of building something new from the rubble of the old.

This is pretty ambitious for any Government in a single, three-year term. But it is a particularly ambitious goal for a party of just eight MPs out of 120 and only one of three parties in a coalition government. If we’re going to succeed, it’s going to take something of us.

First, we will need to focus unrelentingly on the big things that put this architecture in place and not sweat the small stuff. There are lots of very worthy but small issues that could easily distract us from the already Herculean task in front of us.

Second, we will need to learn the give-and-take of coalition government more than ever before, but also model to our coalition partners the benefits of collaboration. We are not the Government alone, but no party is. On many of the things I’ve mentioned we have a high degree of alignment with Labour and New Zealand First. Regardless, we need them to do the things we want to do, at the very least because their Ministers are responsible for pulling the levers that need to be pulled in order to make this work. We are committed to making this Government work in a sustainable way.

Third, we will need to be in Government again after 2020, and in Government more often than not for the period of the great transition. The reforms we’re going to make in this term we will need to protect and nurture, as well as correct and embellish and add to in the future. The Green Party is the party of the sustainable economy. While the ideas and proposals we’ve put forward and championed for the better part of four decades are now gaining increasing currency amongst other parties, we will need to continue to take the lead if this is going to become a reality over the coming decades.

Fourth, we have to include everyone, including those who, at least for the moment, disagree with us. This is a generational shift we’re talking about and we won’t be in Government for the entire transition. We have to beat swords into ploughshares and make friends of our enemies. I know that there will be many on our side who, with justification, will say, “They had their time – it’s our turn now and time to look after our own, as they looked after theirs”. That is understandable, and tempting. But it is not sustainable.

A feature of the Greens in Government will be to call everyone in, rather than calling them out. An opportunity to build a better future through collaboration and sharing.

This is going to take everyone and it’s going to take everything we’ve got. If we succumb to tribalism over inclusion we will continue down the same path we’re currently on, creating different groups of winners and losers until our social fabric decays under the wear and tear of partisanship. Some of our oldest and closest friends internationally are illustrating just how badly that ends.

Yes, we do need to look after those who have been excluded and marginalised.

We need to look after everyone.

As I said in my maiden speech, “Time is too short for resignation. Things are too bad for pessimism. It is too big a task for petty politics. It’s too important for partisanship. These we must transcend and transform.”

We get to create this future together, or not at all.

No reira, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena tatou katoa

Green plans for female co-leader

Metiria Turei resigned as Green co-leader last August, leaving James Shaw as sole leader since then. Shaw has just announced plans for finding a new co-leader.

Any female MP or party member can put themselves forward, with Marama Davidson, Julie Anne Genter and Eugenie Sage touted as likely contenders.

Timeline announced for Green Party Female Co-leadership election

The Green Party will have a new Female Co-leader by April 9, following the announcement today of an early special election for the position and a truncated campaign period of two months.

The Female Co-leader position has been vacant since Metiria Turei’s resignation in August last year. Green Party Co-leaders are normally elected annually at the party’s AGM but the party executive has decided to bring the election forward in order to fill the vacancy sooner.

“We are keen to get a new Co-leader in place as soon as possible. The party has decided to bring the election of the Female Co-leader forward, with nominations opening next Friday, closing the week after, and then moving into a shorter two month campaigning period,”  said Green Party Co-leader James Shaw.

“The last Co-leader election was drawn out over a five month period and in hindsight was too long. Two months is plenty of time for the candidates to get out among the party members and for members to have their say.

“Like we did when deciding on joining the new Government, we will be using video technology extensively in the campaign, with video calls for members and delegates planned. We are excited about using technology in the campaign and giving all members a chance to connect with the candidates.

“I would advise Green Party member to make sure that their membership is up to date so that they can vote in their branch deliberations and they get to know the candidates and participate in this process.

“A lot’s happened in the period that I have been sole Co-leader, not least that we are now part of Government. It will be great to get a new Co-leader on board as we traverse our first term in power and start to implement good green change and grow our party,” Mr Shaw said.

The Co-leadership will be chosen by Green Party delegates, representing the party’s branches. Branches will have a number of delegates proportionate to their local membership size. The vote will use the single transferable vote system.

Election timeline:

Fri Feb 2 – Nominations open – all female current Green Party members are eligible to run

Fri Feb 9 – Nominations close

Mon Feb 12 – Full list of nominations announced, however candidates can individually announce their candidacy any time after nominations have opened and they’ve filed their paperwork

Sat Mar 3 – Co-leader candidate session at Green Party policy conference in Napier (open to media, details to be advised closer to the time)

Sun Mar 25 – All delegates Zoom (video) call with Co-leader candidates.  This will be a virtual version of what normally happens at AGM with co-leader candidates giving speeches and answering questions from delegates

Mon Mar 26 – End of official campaigning

Mon Mar 26 to Sat Apr 7 – branch consultation and delegates cast their ballots

Sat Apr 7 – Balloting closes

Sun Apr 8 – Ballot counting and winner announced

Spotlight on gender pay gap

More attention is being given to the gender pay gap in New Zealand since the change of Government.

Stuff: Broadcasters silent on pay equity, as Stats NZ plan to measure gender gap

The Government has ordered Statistics NZ to begin measuring the country’s gender pay gap.

Levelling out salaries in the public sector is something the new Government has committed to.

Recently media companies across the world have female co-hosts quitting due to the gender pay gap – citing that doing the same job and not getting the same pay was not right.

Quitting doesn’t fix the problem.

On November 14 last year TVNZ’s Hilary Barry tweeted “Dear Women of NZ, I’ve got some bad news for you. From today until the end of the year you’re working for free.”

Barry is rumoured to be fronting Seven Sharp, which has always had a formula of one male and one female presenter. TVNZ would not comment if there would be any discrepancy in wages for the incoming hosts.

MediaWorks also refused to say whether The Project hosts Jesse Mulligan, Kanoa Lloyd and Josh Thomson, were paid equally. The show returns to screens on Monday.

The article did not say whether Fairfax was asked whether there is a gender pay gap in their media operations.

Mark Greer, owns Hawke’s Bay business services company Bizdom​.

Greer questioned if the Government would even be able to tackle the topic, because it was one that was a lot more convoluted than a simple tweak to legislation.

“I would be concerned if the Government started saying I had to have certain percentage of females and males. I just don’t know if the Government can do anything about [decreasing the gender wage gap].”

The Government can ensure that there is pay equity in the public service. They can also encourage and pressure private companies in to doing likewise – having good statistics will help with this.

The Labour-Green confidence and supply agreement includes:

12. . Eliminate the gender pay gap within the core public sector with substantial progress within this Parliamentary term, and work to ensure the wider public sector and private sector is on a similar pathway.

“Substantial progress within this Parliamentary term” and “ensure the wider public sector and private sector is on a similar pathway” is vague and indicates no confidence in rapid change.


But new Statistics Minister James Shaw believed there was an onus on his department to gather the data, so the Government could fix it.

It was too early to know exactly how it was going to be measured, Shaw said in a written statement.

That statement from Shaw appears to have been to the Sunday Star Times, I can’t find it anywhere online.

Utopia – you are standing in it! has posted:

Not sure to what to make of this because extensive data is already collected.

From this link:

Summary and recommendation

We consider that median hourly earnings from the New Zealand Income Survey (NZIS) is the best measure for calculating the gender pay gap.

We recommend this measure for three reasons.

  • Hourly earnings measure pay for a fixed quantity of work.
  • The median is a better measure of ‘typical’ pay than the average (mean).
  • NZIS collects individuals’ income from paid jobs, which allows us to build a picture of how pay is distributed across the population.

Using the NZIS measure, we find that in the June 2015 quarter the gender pay gap was 11.8 percent. This means that a typical male earned about 12 percent more for an hour’s work than a typical female.

The gender pay gap has generally been decreasing since 1998, and has fluctuated in the last few years.

What does the gender pay gap look like in New Zealand?

In the June 2015 quarter, median hourly pay for males was $24.07 and for females it was $21.23. The gender pay gap was 11.8 percent. This means that a typical female earned about 12 percent less for an hour’s work than a typical male.

Graph, Gender pay gap, calculated using median hourly earnings, June quarter 1998 to 2015.

It was trending down at the end of last century but didn’t change much during the Clark government years.

Was it the Global Financial Crisis that closed the pay gap slightly from 2008? That looks likely because it is trending up again.

Does this reflect an entrenched pay disparity, or is it because females are still far more likely to interrupt their careers to raise families? Or females don’t put such a priority on high earning jobs? It’s probably a complex mix of all of this.

Sometimes it can be pure business economics. All Blacks earn substantially more than their female counterparts the Black Ferns, so male players will be able to be paid substantially more.

In other fields it can be more complicated. Do male TV presenters attract better ratings and more advertising revenue than female presenters? Is this because they are given better opportunities, better shows, better time slots? It will be difficult to determine these things simply through statistics.

Aged care workers have recently had large pay increases to address a court ruling that there was real disparity. This should also apply to mental health workers and others, but comparing different types of jobs can be difficult, and there’s a risk if creating a snowball effect – if one industry succeeds in proving greater worth then others will want to catch up or keep ahead. It can be complicated and continually evolving.

Better statistics help understand the situation and trends (or lack of trends), but I think it is also important to look at more than this to get a real picture of the size and scope of the problem.

See also Alison Mau: It’s time to come clean on how big the pay gap really is

The Government’s push to collect data on the gender pay gap might just be the first meaningful step to solve an intractable problem.

Like the five stages of grief, the worldwide discussion on the issue looks to be moving past denial and into anger; although academics and the more savvy business leaders have known for some time that the gap is there and should be nixed (because that makes good business sense) it has taken a series of resignations by high profile media women to bring it sharply into focus for everyone. This is unfortunate and unfair – why should it be the injustices done in ivory towers that get all the ink – but true.

Starting with big businesses makes sense as they’re the ones who employ the bulk of New Zealanders, and can carry out the work without too much cost or disruption. Maybe now’s the time, then. Coupled with whatever Statistics New Zealand comes up with after Minister James Shaw’s directive, we could start seeing a real difference.

Information is power, and right now, what we don’t know is most certainly hurting us.

Better statistics will help, but a comprehensive understanding will need more than that.