The Nation – James Shaw and fiscal responsibility

On The Nation (9.30 am Saturday, 10:00 am Sunday)::

Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand co-leader James Shaw MP on the party’s joint fiscal responsibility pledge with Labour and its plans for election year.

See Labour-Green ‘budget rules’

Shaw and Grant Robertson put up a good show yesterday, but Shaw has to contend with Metiria Turei and the potential cost of her social agenda.

The left hasn’t wholeheartedly supported this move, with some dismayed that it seems to be little change to the so-called ‘neoliberal’ agenda.

NZH: Higher spend needed than under Labour/Green rules: Council of Trade Unions

Higher spending is needed than allowed for under an agreed set of economic rules between Labour and the Green Party, the Council of Trade Unions (CTU) says.

…the CTU, which represents more than 320,000 union members in 31 affiliated unions, is concerned about the limit on new spending the rules impose.

“We support higher levels of Government activity and investment than these rules permit. There is an urgent need. Many countries who are more successful than us socially and economically have much greater government activity,” CTU president Richard Wagstaff said.

“If an incoming Labour/Green Government is serious about fixing the problems we have in our education, health, housing and other public services, if it’s going to correct the imbalances we have in terms of pay equity, if we are going to really tackle income inequality and our environmental challenges together as a nation, then it will need to be prepared to invest significantly. That will test these rules as they stand.”

Also hovering over the joint Labour-Green campaign approach is Winston Peters and NZ First.

Shaw – the rules are new, and the first time two parties have a shared framework.

The Greens are still doing the numbers on their own tax package – it will be broadly in line with what they’ve said in the past.

Shaw supports Labour’s idea for a review of the tax system.

Shaw is promoting maximum votes for the Greens to ensure they have more say in a coalition arrangement. But the Greens are the credibility weak link.

Shaw won’t talk about specific cost cuts in relation to roading and to defence.

That’s a problem promoting something without any specifics at this early stage of the election year.  Shaw is trying to promote Green fiscal responsibility but can give no details.

“I will accept that will not get everything we want… and neither will the Labour Party” says Shaw on coalition negotiation.

SAS – should we have special forces?

Shaw says it’s important we should have an inquiry.

He doesn’t have any particular view on any particular part of the military.

New Zealand troops in Iraq? Would you pull the pin on that? “Not up to us….coalition”.

James Shaw says Kiwi troops could stay in Iraq with Donald Trump’s forces if Labour-Greens take power.

Paddy indicates what the likely news story on at 6:00 pm will be about:

Labour-Green ‘budget rules’

Labour and Greens, headed by Jamews Shaw and Grant Robertson, have launched a joint attempt to present themselves as economically responsible.

Liam Dann at NZH has Big Read: Can these politicians be trusted with the economy?

They aren’t revealing tax policy detail or spending plans, so what exactly have Labour and the Green Party cooked up with the Budget Responsibility Rules they’re signing up to today?

The parties have formally committed to staying in surplus, paying down debt and keeping core crown spending at about 30 per cent of GDP.

“It’s an important signal,” says Labour finance spokesman Grant Robertson.

“We understand that voters in September are looking for parties that are responsible with the finances but will also address the big issues around housing and health and education.”

The rules aren’t specific on policy – for example, the statement on tax is pragmatic and vague enough to allow the Greens to keep campaigning on a carbon tax.

But they do represent a statement of intent, one which is politically notable for the way it has been handled, in tandem by the respective party machines.

The message is clear, simple and directed at business and the financially comfortable middle classes who have been stubbornly loyal to National for the past nine years: vote for us and we promise won’t ruin the economy.

As the headline suggests, it is a big and detailed read.

Not addressed is an obvious difference between Labour and the Greens – Andrew Little has made it clear Labour won’t increase tax (but with some caveats) while Greens have a big shopping list.

Greens announced through Facebook:

We’ve created new budget rules with the New Zealand Labour Party to help us build a sustainable and stable future for everyone.

This links to:

Budget Responsibility Rules

The Budget Responsibility Rules will allow us to govern responsibly.

Economic sustainability goes hand in hand with environmental sustainability. Both are about living within our means and leaving the world better than we found it.

Our Budget Responsibility Rules show that the Green Party and the Labour Party will manage the economy responsibly while making the changes people know are needed, like lifting kids out of poverty, cleaning up our rivers, solving the housing crisis, and tackling climate change.

  • Deliver sustainable surpluses
  • Reduce debt
  • Prioritise long-term investments
  • Be careful with expenditure
  • Build a fairer tax system

We will judge the success of our policies by improvements in the living standards of New Zealanders, improvements in key environmental indicators, and improvements in the economy.

We will establish a body independent of Ministers of the Crown who will be responsible for determining if these rules are being met. The body will also have oversight of government economic and fiscal forecasts, shall provide an independent assessment of government forecasts to the public, and will cost policies of opposition parties.

For New Zealanders to have enduring quality of life, prosperity, and security, governments need to manage revenue and spending decisions carefully. Good fiscal management is a core part of what it means to be a good government.

The Budget Responsibility Rules enable us to govern responsibly and transparently with Labour, while we invest in our priorities.

Read the full Budget Responsibility Rules here.



Interesting Wellington Central contest

Wellington Central was always going to be an interesting electorate to watch this election, with Grant Robertson going up against  James Shaw.

While the Green Party has historically sought party votes only and nodded and winked at the Labour candidates for the electorate votes now he is party co-leader Shaw will want to be seen as popular with voters.

Results from 2014:


While Robertson won the electorate vote easily Labour came third behind National and Greens in the party vote.

National’s candidate for the last two elections, Paul Foster-Bell, was challenged for candidacy and withdrew, announcing he would resign at the end of this term.

National’s canddiate has now been announced. Stuff: National chooses Nicola Willis for Wellington Central seat

Former John Key adviser and Fonterra executive Nicola Willis has been selected unopposed as National’s candidate for the Wellington central seat.

She replaces Paul Foster-Bell who pulled out once it became clear she had the numbers.

Robertson must still be clear favourite to win, but Willis will be wanting to give things a good nudge.

And much may depend on how Shaw approaches his campaign. How much help will he want to hand Robertson?

The electorate result won’t change the overall outcome of the election.

In association with Labour’s Memorandum of Understanding with the Greens Andrew Little has said that Robertson as Finance Minister is not negotiable.

Robertson is likely to get a high list placing, his current ranking of 3 seems likely. And if his re-election via the list is at risk (that’s possible if Labour support collapses further) then Labour are unlikely to form the next government.

But what if he loses his electorate seat? That would give Greens some justification for arguing for a more significant say in Finance.

Are Greens happy to be subservient to Labour this election? Or will they campaign more strongly in electorates?

It is likely to improve their party vote if the fight for electorate votes as well. When they imply ‘vote for my party but vote for them’ then there must be more chance of both votes going to ‘them’.

James Shaw’s Green vision

Green Co-leader James Shaw looks towards the election in 2017.

Are you excited about a Green/Labour Government?

Kia tau te rangimārie o te Rangi e tū nei

o Papatūānuku e takoto nei

o te Taiao e awhi nei

ki runga i a tātou.

Tīhei mauri ora!

(May the peace of the sky above, of the earth below, and of the all-embracing universe rest upon us all. Behold, the essence of life!)

He mihi nui ki ngā mana whenua o tēnei takiwā, Taranaki Whānui, tēnā koutou katoa mō tō manaakitanga.

(Greetings to the mana whenua o this area, Taranaki Whānui, thank you so much for your hospitality)

Ki a koutou e te whānau o Te Rōpū Kākāriki, harikoa ana ahau ki te kite i a koutou i tēnei rā.

(To all of you of the Green Party, I am so happy to see you all today)

Tēnā tātou katoa.

Thank you.

Thank you for stepping up and signing away the next seven months of your lives, to be the change that is coming to our amazing country.

There is a mountain ahead, which we have to climb, if we want to make history on September 23rd and form the first ever Green-Labour Government.

This country deserves no less from us.

Welcome to election year!

Today we can boast more party members than ever before, and also that we will likely field more candidates in the election than ever before.

This is a real vote of confidence in the future of the Green Party. And, actually, in the future!

We build on the best ever result for the Green Party in last year’s local body elections. There are now more Greens sitting around Council tables all over the country, than ever before.

For many New Zealanders, that will have been their first time voting Green.

And as we all know the first time is always the hardest.

By the end of this year, we will have new Members of Parliament elected from a list of people who are farmers, scientists, lawyers, teachers, local councillors, sports people, musicians, climate change negotiators, landmine campaigners, small business owners, Maori, Asians, Pasifika, young people, and many, many more.

We are, though, all out of former tobacco lobbyists.

Look around you. You are more diverse. You look more and more like the faces of modern New Zealand.

And we need that if we’re going to grow our vote and build a bigger, broader, deeper Green Party and Caucus – one that can exert real influence at the heart of a progressive Government.

So let’s look after one another and let’s stay focused on the goal ahead.


Now, have I mentioned the mountain we have to climb?

National is a political machine: well financed, disciplined, and sensitive enough to the polls to know when the tide is turning against them and when to adopt another one of our Green policies.

They have a new leader. Well, new-ish.

To be fair, Bill English has more of a moral compass than the last guy. The last guy had to consult polling data before he could tell you what he believed in.

I don’t agree with all Mr English’s values, but he does have a conscience.

In Question Time in Parliament, he actually tries to respond to the questions. It saddens me that this counts as unusually deserving of praise.

Certainly he should not be under estimated. At a time when politics around the world has taken a huge step into the unknown and the uncertain, being boring may not be Bill’s weakness, but his strength.

And he has been the architect of everything that National has done – or not done – for the last nine years in Government.

And that is why I want him to enjoy his retirement.

Because for all he might be a decent enough person, his lack of agility as Finance Minister has meant that our biggest problems are now worse today than ever before.

National has had nine years to address the growing crisis in Auckland’s housing market.

By one measure Auckland is now the fourth most unaffordable city in the world. By another, it is the most unaffordable.

National has had nine years to decouple the growth of carbon pollution from our economy.

We now emit 19 percent more greenhouse gas emissions than we did in 2008.

National has had nine years to address major congestion in our cities.

Aucklanders are now spending the equivalent of almost 12 working days every year, sitting in traffic, and the gridlock only appears to be getting worse.

National has had nine years to create real prosperity, yet there are still so many people working two or even three part-time jobs but just can’t make ends meet.

National has had nine years to stop the pollution of our beautiful rivers and lakes.

Last year, more than 5,000 people got sick drinking the water out of their taps in Havelock North.

National has had nine years to lift our most vulnerable children out of poverty, yet 212,000 children still live in poverty – the same number as in 2008.

No child in Aotearoa should live in poverty.

We’re going to fix that.

No river should be unfit to swim in; no aquifer unsafe to drink from.

We’re going to fix that.

And no Kiwi family should go without world-class health and education.

We’re going to fix that.

New Zealand has a government that believes that it has reached the limit of what it can do to lift its own people out of poverty and into greater opportunity.

Come September 23rd, we’re going to fix that.


Today, I want Kiwis everywhere to know what you can rely on us for in Government and how we intend to govern.

Our Memorandum of Understanding with Labour was a strong first step for us.

The MoU is not just a commitment to work together to change the government, it is the foundation stone on which we are building a solid, long-term, relationship with Labour.

One that is going to last the distance.

We all know that Government involves compromise. It is, in fact, a defining feature of MMP.

And if we are to govern responsibly and for more than one term, we’re going to have to work together with Labour.

And we won’t always get our own way.

And neither will they.

I believe most New Zealanders want to see their elected representatives rise above petty partisanship to work together for the good of the country.

Coalitions are, of course, worked out after Election Day, when we know what the numbers are.

But our MOU with Labour shows Kiwis that there is a steady, alternative government-in-waiting.

So that’s my first commitment to you and to the people of New Zealand.

A Green Government will be a stable government. A government that you can depend on to stand for progress and sustainability.

A government that you can rely on to go the distance and to work through our differences, for the greater good of our people and our planet.


I have to tell you that my experience of working with Andrew Little over the last few months, has given me a lot of faith that we will be a great team in Government.

Not in spite of our differences, but because of them. A creative tension between two progressive parties, with different heritages and different ways of seeing the world.

In a few weeks, Grant Robertson and I will announce our shared principles for how we manage the country’s finances when we’re in government.

This will give New Zealanders confidence that we’ll invest in what they value, and do so in a way that properly manages the country’s budget.

New Zealanders deserve more transparency from their politicians.

The Green Party has always stood for this. And we will always provide that transparency.

Like when we had our policy commitments independently costed for the 2014 general election.

Like when Metiria announced last year our intention to set up an independent Policy Costing Unit to ensure all political parties’ policy initiatives are properly costed.

Or like in 2009, when she released our MPs’ expenses to the public. Today, that’s standard practice for all of Parliament.

That’s my next commitment. A Green Government will be held to the highest standards of transparency, responsibility and accountability.


Well, that’s how we intend to govern. More important is what we are in Government for.

I want to be able to visit families around this country and have them know that we have got their backs.

I want families to know that we’re using all the resources of Government on the things that are going to most improve their lot in life.

I want them to know that a Green Government will invest in the basics so that all our families, including those who are hardest up, have what they need to provide for their children.

Central to this is income.

Income that means families can feed and house their children, support their education, and do the normal things we expect for our kids, like visits to the beach or school trips.

Think back to the schools of your childhood. How many still have the pool where you first learnt to swim?

How many of them are still completely free to attend?

And how many still have kids who come from all walks of life?

We all want children living in homes and neighbourhoods where they are nurtured to reach their full potential.

And that means getting alongside parents, whanau and caregivers, doing all that we can to support them.

Ensuring families are healthy and educated is a foundation for our society and for our economy.

It is a fundamental responsibility of governments to enable this.

That’s my third commitment to you and to the people of New Zealand.

A Green Government will be committed to decent incomes, housing, and education for all New Zealanders.


A couple of weeks ago I met with Dr Eric Rignot, a climate scientist from NASA, who was out visiting New Zealand.

That’s right. I met a rocket scientist and I forgot to get a selfie.

The latest UN report on climate change is four years old, and relies on data from four years before that.

Dr Rignot is deeply worried about the new data that NASA is seeing coming out of the Arctic, Greenland and Antarctica.

Ice shelves that models suggested were going to disappear in 1,000 years could well disappear in 100 years.

Climate change is not just the greatest challenge of our time.

It is the greatest challenge of all time, the most far-reaching consequence of the industrial revolution.

In New Zealand, the three sectors with the highest emissions are agriculture, transport and energy.

And in all three– in fact right across the economy – there is a new industrial revolution taking place.

This high-value, low-carbon, clean-tech, green economic revolution, is not just the solution to climate change.

It is also the greatest economic opportunity in at least a generation, rich in well-paid jobs, investment, and industry.

Our greatest risk is that we are twiddling our thumbs and letting this opportunity pass us by, and at the same time missing our emissions reduction target by a country mile.

So this is my next commitment to you and to the people of New Zealand.

A Green Government will commit to clean energy, clean transport, and clean agriculture, for a truly sustainable economy.


Climate change may be the greatest challenge of all time, but it’s not the only one we face.

New Zealand has an extraordinary natural heritage. Our forests, our mountains, our rivers and lakes, our beaches, are our most precious taonga.

In many ways they make us who we are as a nation. For Maori, the connection is even more literal than that.

But predators and habitat loss mean around one-third of all plants and animals are listed as threatened or at-risk.

And for another third, we don’t even have enough data to know whether they’re safe – or on the brink of extinction.

In 2015 I announced a climate plan that would reforest over a million hectares of marginal pastoral land.

Yes, that is a lot of new jobs – but beyond that, healthy forests don’t just soak up carbon emissions, they provide habitats for our endangered birds and help to clean up our rivers and streams.

Then last year, I announced a plan to increase the levy that international visitors pay, which would, over time, put more than $1 billion into the effort to make New Zealand predator-free, and save our most at-risk birds from extinction.

My mother grew up on a farm near Ōpōtiki, in the Eastern Bay of Plenty. When I was growing up, she would tell me stories about how she and her sisters and brother would swim in the creeks and rivers around the farm.

Occasionally, they would catch eels. These days, in many parts of New Zealand, you’d be more likely catch a disease.

Today, I’d like to announce a new initiative to keep our rivers and lakes alive and to protect the quality of the water that comes out of our taps.

New Zealanders shouldn’t have to question their access to – or the safety of – fresh water.

A Green Party in Government is going to set a crystal clear bottom line on drinking water.

We intend to strengthen the law around how aquifers are protected under the Resource Management Act.

Our aquifers are water bodies of national importance, so we will update the Act to ensure that future development does not put them at risk from contamination and overuse.

Protecting our fresh water is something so basic, we’ve mostly taken it for granted. We can no longer be so complacent.

Nearly half of all New Zealanders rely on aquifers for their drinking water. Increasing intensification in the agricultural sector and poorly planned towns and cities are putting this at risk.

Companies are bottling and exporting fresh water – without paying for it – while at the same time communities are on water restrictions and boil notices.

A small tweak to the Resource Management Act will require that all those responsible for administering the Act recognise the importance of our aquifers to our health and to the health of rivers, lakes and streams.

Maori, of course, have known this all along. Water is and has always been a taonga left by ancestors to provide and sustain life.

This new initiative will help protect our water. But I’m more ambitious than that. I want to restore the health of New Zealand’s rivers, lakes, and aquifers.

Contrast that to Nick Smith, who on Thursday responded to the challenge of cleaning up New Zealand’s rivers by lowering his standards.

He announced that rivers that are only safe enough for wading or boating will now be re-labelled as safe enough to swim in!

Minister, I can smell the e. coli on your breath as you lean towards me!

We say, no more. Not on our watch.

This is my ultimate commitment to you and to the people of New Zealand.

A Green Government will be absolutely, relentlessly committed to protecting and restoring our forests, our birds, and our rivers.


So that is what you can count on a Green Government for.

We will be a stable Government that you can depend on to go the distance.

We will be held to the highest standards of transparency, responsibility and accountability.

We will work for decent incomes, housing, and education for all New Zealanders.

We will invest in clean energy, clean transport, and clean agriculture for a sustainable economy.

And we will protect and restore our forests, our birds and our rivers.

That is our commitment to you and to Aotearoa. That’s what you can depend on us for.

And yes, I know Bill English will say his Government is committed to those things too, and we should all just keep voting for them.

Well, let me tell you, National make announcement after grand, sweeping announcement: Swimmable rivers. Predator-Free. Electric cars. Housing. Climate change.

But look at their results after nine years in Government.

More people unable to get into their first home – or worse, actually homeless.

More polluted rivers than when they came to office.

More endangered species. More motorways. More oil and gas exploration. Higher emissions.

National are a whirlwind of activity and announcements, but devoid of results.

A Green Government will measure our success, not by mere activity, but by our results.

The former United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said, “We are the first generation that can put an end to poverty and we are the last generation that can put an end to climate change.”

I believe him. And, in government, we will do everything in our power to make it happen.

Kiwis need to know they can trust the water that comes out of their tap.

They need to know that they can trust that their families will be able to make ends meet.

They need to know that they can trust their Government.

That they can trust us.

That’s what this election is about.

Now, let’s go win this thing.

Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa.

National MP stands down from challenge

In November it was announced that someone would challenge list MP Paul Foster-Bell to be the National candidate in the Wellington Central electorate – see National MP challenge in Wellington Central.

National list MP Paul Foster-Bell, who stood in Wellington Central last election against Grant Robertson and James Shaw, is being challenged by Nicola Willis, who appears to be backed by John Key.

Foster-Bell has just announced that he will stand down from selection and won’t contest the election.

It sounds like he may be jumping before he was shoved aside.

Foster-Bell was ranked 46th on the National party list in the 2014 election. He is currently ranked at that same 46 on National’s website.

Candidate votes in Wellington Central in 2014:

  • Grant Robertson 19,807 (Labour 9,306)
  • Paul Foster-Bell 11,540 (National 14,689)
  • James Shaw 5,077 (Greens 11,545)

Will a better National candidate convert more party support into electorate votes? With a higher profile Shaw may split  more votes with Robertson.


Green response to PM’s statement

Green co-leader James Shaw’s response to the Prime Minister’s statement.

JAMES SHAW (Co-Leader—Green): E Te Māngai o Te Whare, tēnā koe.

I would actually like to start by congratulating the Prime Minister on his speech, which successfully disguised how dull the statement was that got distributed this morning. It contained a whole bunch more half measures and a sort of pointless tinkering around the edges that will not—will not—fix any of the long-term challenges that this country is facing, whether it is housing affordability, or whether it is homelessness, climate change, child poverty, and so on. He did say that he will encourage more oil exploration, but has he not noticed that all of the big oil companies are actually abandoning their explorations here in New Zealand? It is like he is a salesman of fax machines. Nobody is buying them any more. He says he is going to crack down on multinational tax evasion. Well, what has he been doing for the last 8 years? Tell me that. He is going to continue to flog his hyper-targeted vulnerable children’s strategy, ignoring all evidence that no dent is going to be made in child poverty until incomes start to rise.

Today’s statement to Parliament showed, if anything—like last week’s state of the nation speeches—one thing: we have got the vibe and they have got the shivers. The Greens’ and Labour Party’s state of the nation—[Interruption] I am just getting warmed up, Todd. I am just getting warmed up. The Greens’ and Labour Party’s state of the nation speeches last week showed that New Zealand has a well-organised, a stable, a ready, and an energised Government-in-waiting, a Government that has values and a vision—a vision of a country that is prosperous, that is inclusive, that is compassionate, that is innovative, and that is productive.

In his state of the nation speech, Mr English announced that if re-elected, this Government will make a commitment to having more police in New Zealand, thus matching other parties’ commitments to restoring vital public services that have been run down by his Government—that was it. Providing his assessment of the state of the nation and his vision for the country, the best that he could say was: “Me too.”

A day before that, he announced that on 23 September, the Government will change, and I would like to thank him for continuing his predecessor’s convention of announcing the election date early in the year. When the county does finally get a proper written constitution, I do hope that it will include a fixed election date. Christmas has a fixed date, and the turkeys did not have any say in it.

When he announced the election, the Prime Minister said that this election would be all about growth. He said it was going to be all about growth. Well, let me tell you what is growing. You have got growing greenhouse gas emissions. You have got growing water pollution. You have got growing endangered species lists. You have got a growing house price bubble. You have got a growing cost of living. You have got a growing dairy farm debt. You have got growing unemployment. You have got the kind of growth that, if it was growing on your body, your doctor would pack you off to a specialist pretty darn quick.

Under this National Government—

Hon Member: Probably that homeopathic stuff though.

JAMES SHAW: How’s it going?

Mr SPEAKER: Order!

JAMES SHAW: Are you having fun? Under this Government—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The level of interjection coming from my far right is now excessive. It will cease.

JAMES SHAW: Under this Government, we have growth without prosperity. I get irritable whenever anybody says in passing that National is somehow the “party of business”. A long time ago, I worked for one of the world’s largest accounting firms. I co-founded a small business, which is still growing strong today, and I have worked with people and with projects in about 30 different countries around the world. Can I tell you that nowhere before have I seen contracts that are as badly written as the ones that these guys write.

Last week we found out that they put $9 million into a fund and got bought out for $10.2 million, which sounds pretty good, because it means that they made a cool $1.2 million profit. Meanwhile, their business partner, US tech billionaire Peter Thiel, invested $7 million, which is $2 million less than the Government invested, and he made $23 million profit—minus a $1 million donation to charity—and Peter Thiel’s citizenship papers came with a $22 million upside. It is a bit of a surprise that Peter Thiel does not believe in Government, given how well he has done out of this one. He has actually done twice as well as that Saudi sheep farmer, who only got $11 million out of this Government, in return for, um, uh—oh, no, nothing at all. It was in return for nothing at all. Maybe we should have thrown citizenship papers in to sweeten the deal. That way, he and Peter Thiel could have cleared customs quickly together, and then caught a cab to SkyCity. Give me a break, “party of business”.

I do want to talk about some businesses that are doing some good in the world—businesses like Taupō Beef & Lamb, founded by Mike and Sharon Barton. It is one of the leading environmentally-friendly farms in the country. It is not only not polluting the water, it is actually cleaning up Lake Taupō while it does business. It is making a heck of a profit and it is struggling to meet demand. It is doing well by doing good.

Samantha Jones and Hannah Duder of Little Yellow Bird make organic-cotton fair-trade uniforms in India for clients here in New Zealand, but their business model actually supports girls from the Indian communities in which they work to stay in school, supports women to get trained for the workforce, and they extend microcredit loans for women to start businesses. Sam and Hannah are building a sustainable, ethical clothing brand that their customers here in New Zealand want to be a part of. They are doing well by doing good.

Eat My Lunch—set up by Lisa Wong and Michael Meredith—operates a “buy one, give one” business model, where the lunch that you buy yourself pays for another one for a hungry kid at school. It is supporting 40 schools with over 1,300 lunches every day. It is doing well by doing good.

Zealong Tea Estate, which converted a Waikato dairy farm into New Zealand’s organic tea producer, is selling tea to China at a huge premium—a premium that it can charge only as long as it can demonstrate that the tea is “100% Pure New Zealand”, organic, pesticide-free, and grown with pure water, clean air, and rich soil. It is doing well by doing good.

It is not just start-ups and entrepreneurs that are doing well by doing good. Airways Corporation has helped reduce carbon emissions from airlines by 37,000 tons every year. It estimates that that saves its customers $16,000 in fuel costs. It is doing well by doing good. Z Energy—currently the No. 1 retailer of concentrated dinosaur juice—has invested $21 million building the country’s largest biodiesel plant, turning the agriculture industry’s waste fat into low-carbon fuel. It is doing well by doing good. Interface is one of the world’s largest carpet manufacturers, making nylon carpet from discarded fishing nets that are clogging up the reefs and the ocean floors of the Philippines. It has actually doubled its revenues in the past 20 years through its mission of becoming the world’s first fully sustainable enterprise anywhere in the world and showing the world how it is done. They are doing by doing good. These are the innovators and the social entrepreneurs and the pioneers who are showing the way.

And, I hear my friends on the other side of the aisle saying in response to all of this: “Seeing as the private sector and the communities and the charities are doing so well all by themselves, why does the Government need to act? The invisible hand of the market seems to be doing just fine.” And if that were true—if the invisible hand of the market was resolving all of our challenges for it—why is it that New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions have increased 19 percent since 2008, which is when this Government came to office? Why is it that you still cannot swim in 62 percent of our rivers without the risk of catching some horrible disease? Why are people all over the country now worried that the 5,000 people who were poisoned in Havelock North represent some kind of canary in the mine, and maybe we cannot even trust the water that comes out of our taps anymore? Why is it that around a third of all plant and animal species in this country are at risk of extinction? Why is it that Auckland is the fourth most unaffordable city in the entire world to live in? Why is it, in a time of record low inflation, that living costs for families are higher than their ability to meet them? Why is it that kids are still hungry or living in cars?

Well, it is because those people—the innovators and the social entrepreneurs—do not have a Government that backs them or the future that they represent. The Prime Minister’s statement today once again shows that we have a Government that looks to the past. It looks to flog enough dead horses to fill an entire animal graveyard: more offshore oil exploration; new coalmines; high intensity, high pollution, low-value commodity agriculture—a Government that by its own admission has reached the limit of what it thinks that it can do to lift its own people out of poverty and into greater opportunity.

Just as there are businesses that are showing what leadership looks like, so too are other Governments around the world showing us what leadership can look like. Ireland will be the first country in the world to divest all public money from fossil fuels; National will not go there. Dutch trains will now be 100 percent powered by renewable wind energy. In New Zealand we are actually ditching electric and aiming for 100 percent diesel freight trains. Canada has put a $53 per tonne price on carbon emissions; National is too timid to go there and to put a proper price on pollution. The UK introduced a mere 5p charge on plastic bags and within 6 months there was an 85 percent drop in plastic bag use in the United Kingdom. The Japanese passed a recycling Act in 2001—16 years ago—that means that they now send only 5 percent of all waste to landfill. They actually recycle 98 percent of all their metals—metals that are valuable commodities in industry. New Zealand? Tumbleweed thing.

In Germany—the fourth largest manufacturer of motor vehicles in the world—you will not even be able to buy a fossil fuel powered car there after 2030. In the Netherlands and in Norway you will not be able to buy a fossil fuel powered car after 2025, which is only 8 years from now. And in New Zealand? In New Zealand, the National Government’s goal is to get nearly 2 percent of all vehicles to be electric by 2021—nearly 2 percent. Wow! Such vision. Many ambition. Very leadership.

As the former Saudi oil Minister once said, the Stone Age did not end for lack of stone, and the oil age will end before the world runs out of oil. But we have a Government that is stuck in the Stone Age: too timid, too ignorant, or too scared of the vested interests that it represents to put in place policies that have been proven to work in other countries—and, I might add, policies that were often put in place by conservative parties that are the brother and sister parties of this National Government and they are too scared to follow. The Prime Minister’s predecessor famously once said that at least when it came to climate change, New Zealand should not be a leader but a fast follower. This Government is not even following, let alone fast. Because it does not want New Zealanders to be leaders, other countries are taking advantage of what could be the greatest economic opportunity of a generation—the opportunity of a sustainable, smart, green economy that works for and includes everyone.

Kiwis want to be leaders. I am inspired by the huge crowd of people who came together to fund the purchase of Awaroa Beach and add it to our national parks. While we are on national parks, I am inspired by those who forced the Government to abandon its plans for mining in the most precious parks a few years back. As Ricky Baker’s buddy Hec said, New Zealand is majestical and New Zealanders want to keep it that way.

I am inspired by the people who forced the Government to accept even a handful more of those displaced shell-shocked refugees from Syria last year in the midst of the greatest humanitarian crisis since World War II. I am inspired by those innovators and social entrepreneurs who are building a better world from the ground up. That is why we need to change the Government. New Zealanders deserve a government that backs them to be leaders. Today’s statement by the Prime Minister just shows how stuck in the past this Government is. It is time to change the Government, and change is coming.

Opposition parties at Ratana

Yesterday it was the turn of opposition parties to make their pitch to Maori voters at Ratana.

Andrew Little criticised others for political bickering but he also bickered at National and the Maori Party, and he won’t have been happy about Gareth Morgan and Winston Peters hijacking headlines with their war of words.

The ODT reports Labour leader emerges from Ratana unscathed

Labour leader Andrew Little has emerged from his Ratana visit unscathed and confident his party’s relationship with the influential Maori church has been restored.

Mr Little arrived at the pa near Wanganui under pressure to restore Labour’s relationship with the Ratana Church. The Maori Party, which recently won the support of the Kingitanga Movement, made a strong pitch for Ratana’s support yesterday, calling for a “One Maori” movement.

Speaking on the pa, Mr Little he said he took the relationship between Labour and Ratana seriously. Rather than simply turn up for the headline event, his MPs had been meeting with the church regularly over the last 12 months.

He wooed the church’s 30,000 followers by pledging to financially support its centennial celebrations in 2018 if Labour was in Government. Ratana was “an important figure in the history of Maoridom” and were “entitled to some support”, he said.

Mr Little also pledged housing support for both Ratana and Maori generally, saying a Labour Government would help improve Maori home ownership rates – which are currently about 25%.

That could look like some election bribing.

Mr Little also criticised Prime Minister Bill English’s comments at Ratana yesterday. Mr English told Ratana members to “reawaken the spirit of enterprise” among Maori because Government had “reached the limits of what government can do – government grants, programmes, more public servants.”

Mr Little responded: “I come here to say that’s an abdication of leadership and an abdication of the responsibility of Government.”

Ratana Church senior secretary Piri Rurawhe told the Herald that Mr Little’s comments were “well received” and there was none of last year’s criticism.

Bill English seems to have received a good reception at Ratana on Monday despite Little’s criticism.

And Little also took a swipe at the Maori Party:

Speaking to reporters after his speech, Mr Little described the Maori Party’s claims about Ratana as “high-level trash talk”. He has all but ruled out a post-election coalition with the Maori Party and the Mana Movement, who are considering an agreement to work together.

Labour seem to be worried about the potential threat of the Maori and Mana parties to their party vote and their Maori electorates.

But the biggest attention seekers were Morgan and Peters. ODT: Morgan, Peters trade insults at Ratana Pa

Gareth Morgan and Winston Peters have traded insults at Ratana Pa today over whose political party is best for Maori.

Mr Morgan, who recently formed The Opportunities Party, “implored” the Ratana members to “call out” the New Zealand First party and Winston Peters because of their anti-Treaty of Waitangi views. He compared Mr Peters with former Act Party leader Don Brash, saying they were “black-and-white facsimiles of each other”.

Mr Morgan went further, describing Mr Peters as “nothing more than an Uncle Tom” and saying that he “gets away with this anti-Tteaty stuff” because he is Maori.

“The old adage that you can’t be racist against your own race – I don’t accept that excuse.”

Mr Morgan also urged the crowd at Ratana to give The Opportunities Party its party vote, saying it was the only party which would “take the Treaty of Waitangi conversation to non-Maori”.

He reiterated calls to make te reo Maori compulsory in schools and to create an Upper House in Parliament which would identify breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi in law-making.

When Mr Peters took his turn to speak at the pa, he only briefed touched on Mr Morgan’s comments.

“Excuse me for laughing, but it’s a long time since I have been ravaged by a toothless sheep,” he said.

He added that Mr Morgan was another rich man trying to enter politics, describing him as “a thinned-out version of Kim Dotcom”.

Criticising Mr Morgan’s proposed constitutional reforms, Mr Peters said Maori did not want an Upper House. “Seventy-five percent of them just want a house.”

He said Mr Morgan was “riding a motorbike through Mongolia” while he was defending Maori as a lawyer and in Parliament.

I suspect both Morgan and Peters were using their Ratana appearances to target wider audiences.

James Shaw spoke for the Green party but he must have been too nice, the media don’t seem to have given him much coverage.

This Herald headline wasn’t referring to Shaw’s input: Fighting talk as politicians visit Ratana

Green Party co-leader James Shaw talked of his party’s agreement to work with Labour, to address the issue of Maori poverty. He said Maori and Greens shared a focus on caring for the land, and the number of Maori voting Green had trebled in the last few elections.

“The Maori vote is becoming more powerful, and it’s more powerful when expressed with unity. This year you can vote for the status quo or vote for change, for being closed and defensive or open and welcoming, for fear or hope.”

And from Maori Television: Criticism, challenges, promises and jokes at Rātana

“We will field more Māori Candidates in more Māori seats then even before,” said James Shaw from the Greens.

It looks like Maori electorates and Maori party votes will be keenly fought after this election.



State of Labour-Green nation

In an unusual move the Labour and Green parties are having a joint ‘State of the Nation’ speech, on 29 January. Both Andrew Little and Metiria Turei will outline their party and joint plans for the year.

Posted by Andrew Little on the Labour Party website:

Labour and Green Party to host joint State of the Nation event

Posted by on January 17, 2017

For the first time Labour and the Green Party are holding a joint State of the Nation event.

Labour Leader Andrew Little and Green Party Co-Leader Metiria Turei will speak about their priorities for the year in Auckland on Sunday 29 January.

The leaders will discuss the social and economic challenges and opportunities facing the country and present a vision of the stable, responsible, alternative that the parties will offer New Zealand.

Labour/Green Party State of the Nation event
When: 2pm Sunday 29 January
Where: Mt Albert War Memorial Hall
773 New North Road, Mt Albert, Auckland

Posted by James Shaw on the Green Party website (curiously):

Labour and Green Party to host joint State of the Nation event

James Shaw MP on Tuesday, January 17, 2017 – 08:57

For the first time Labour and the Green Party are holding a joint State of the Nation event.

Labour Leader Andrew Little and Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei will speak about their priorities for the year in Auckland on Sunday 29 January.

The leaders will discuss the social and economic challenges and opportunities facing the country and present a vision of the stable, responsible, alternative the parties will offer New Zealand.


Labour/Green Party State of the Nation event

When: 2pm Sunday 29 January

Where: Mt Albert War Memorial Hall

So they are identical announcements. Obviously both parties are keen to be seen as working together closely.

A different slant on it from Turei via email:

For the first time in history, we will be holding a joint State of the Nation event with the Labour Party.  This is a historic event where we will be starting off the year with our combined vision for Aotearoa New Zealand.

Will you join us?

Labour Leader Andrew Little and I will speak about our priorities for the year, plus the social and economic challenges and opportunities facing the country.  But most importantly, we will present a vision of the stable and responsible alternative our parties will offer Kiwis like you.

The event will be held at 2pm Sunday 29th January at the Mt Albert War Memorial Hall 773 New North Road, Mt Albert in Auckland.  RSVP today.

If you can’t join us in Auckland, we will be live streaming the event on our Facebook channel.  We will send out a reminder on the day so that you can be part of this important moment, which shows the important friendship between the Labour Party and the Green Party.

Who labels themselves a feminist?


Bill English ignited a bit of a furore about feminism when he responded to a question saying he didn’t quite know what the term means. Paula Bennett added to the excitement by failing to state that she was a fully committed 24/7 feminist.

RNZ: PM wouldn’t describe himself as a feminist

Prime Minister Bill English says he is not a feminist; in fact, he claims he does not know what that means.

Asked whether he was a feminist, Mr English said he would not describe himself as a feminist.

“I don’t know quite what that means.”

He made the comment after his deputy and Minister for Women Paula Bennett told RNZ this morning she was a feminist “most days”.

The previous Minister for Women, Louise Upston, said she was not a feminist, however the new minister, Mrs Bennett, said she was one, most days.

“You know there’s some days when I don’t even think about it and I’m getting on being busy, but I still get a bit worked up about some of the unfairness that I’ve seen, mainly for other women and not for myself these days.”

There was a rapid response to this ‘news’ on Twitter, with journalists and opposition MPs expressing outrage.

It was quickly pointed out to English and the world that…

…the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines feminism as ‘the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities’

Most people would agree with that, but it’s not that simple. In fact that definition was cherry picked from Merriam-Webster, which also details:

Definition of Feminism

1: the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes

2: organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests

Definition of feminism for English Language Learners and for Students

: the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities

: organized activity in support of women’s rights and interests

Medical Definition of feminism

: the presence of female characteristics in males

Oxford has a different definition:


The advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.

It’s possible to agree with and be an advocate for equal rights without focussing specifically or only on women’s rights.

The Urban Dictionary goes into more detail with as number of definitions – this is their ‘top definition’:

The belief that women are and should be treated as potential intellectual equals and social equals to men. These people can be either male or female human beings, although the ideology is commonly (and perhaps falsely) associated mainly with women.

The basic idea of Feminism revolves around the principle that just because human bodies are designed to perform certain procreative functions, biological elements need not dictate intellectual and social functions, capabilities, and rights.

Feminism also, by its nature, embraces the belief that all people are entitled to freedom and liberty within reason–including equal civil rights–and that discrimination should not be made based on gender, sexual orientation, skin color, ethnicity, religion, culture, or lifestyle.

Feminists–and all persons interested in civil equality and intellectuality–are dedicated to fighting the ignorance that says people are controlled by and limited to their biology.

Feminism is the belief that all people are entitled to the same civil rights and liberties and can be intellectual equals regardless of gender. However, you should still hold the door for a feminist; this is known as respect or politeness and need have nothing whatever to do with gender discrimination.

I suspect a few staunch feminists would rankle at that comment about holding doors open. I hold doors open for women, sometimes, and also sometimes for men. It depends on the situation.

There was some initial anti-English reaction from Green MPs but the Green Party later circulated on social media:

“I don’t really mind if people call themselves a feminist or not a feminist…what really counts is what they do.” – Prime Minister Bill English.

We agree, that’s why we’re proud to stand up for women.

They then detailed ‘7 ways the Greens stand up for women every single day’ – but a blog post was more staunch:

Last week, our new PM Bill English announced his upcoming Cabinet, with Paula Bennett being appointed Minister for Women. Today, English said that he “doesn’t know what feminism means,” following on from Bennett’s earlier comments that she calls herself a feminist “some days”.


Not only do the Greens understand what feminism is, we work to stand up for the rights of women in Aotearoa and around the world. Every. Single. Day.

Greens on Twitter:

I responded to that:

Quickly proving my point – to some people being a feminist is more than equal rights.

There was an interesting post and comments on this at Dim-Post in Feminism! in which Danyl pointed out

I guess I know what twitter and all of the Green and Labour Party MPs have been talking about today. This poll conducted by a Feminist charity in the UK is a pretty typical example of the various surveys about public attitudes to feminism (I’m not aware of any similar work in NZ). Most people will say they believe in gender equality but very few people will self-describe themselves as feminist:

When split out by gender, women were more likely to identify as feminist, with nine per cent using the label compared to four per cent of men.

But men were more supportive generally of equality between the sexes – 86 per cent wanted it for the women in their lives – compared to 74 per cent of women.

Sam Smethers, the charity’s chief executive, said: “The overwhelming majority of the public share our feminist values but don’t identify with the label. However the simple truth is if you want a more equal society for women and men then you are in fact a feminist.

I suspect the results are similar for New Zealand, and that National knows this which is why we’re having this little sideshow.

A comment on the Merriam-Webster definition quoted:

But that’s a foreign definition. Let’s try the Women’s Studies Association of New Zealand: “We believe that a feminist perspective necessarily acknowledges oppression on the grounds of race, sexuality, class and disability, as well as gender. Māori are the tangata whenua of Aotearoa. We address racism and promote biculturalism in our work and activities as aims of our organisation.”

That’s a fairly wide description.

I did some very limited research in New Zealand (I asked a couple of women):

What is feminism? Equal rights for women.

Do you agree with it? Yes.

Do you see yourself as a feminist? Ah…no…um…

I’m with them. Except that I prefer to look beyond equal rights for women, to equal rights for everyone.

But even that can get complicated. Even in a relatively equal society equality is an ideal that has some limitations. Here’s a few.

  • Criminal prisoners don’t have equal rights of freedom.
  • Prisoners and non-residents don’t have the right to vote.
  • Children don’t have equal rights of adults – they are restricted from getting drivers licenses, marriage licenses, they can’t legally drink alcohol or fight for their country.
  • None of us have the right to trespass on the private property of others.

But we all have the right to choose whether we label ourselves as feminists or not.

Key’s last Question Time as PM

Key attended his last Question Time as Prime Minister in Parliament yesterday – he doesn’t do Thursday’s in Parliament.

Labour had wisely chosen to look ahead and focus on National’s leadership contenders, but Winston Peters and James Shaw addressed questions to Key.

Both Peters and Shaw set themselves up for free shots from a relaxed looking Key, who obliged.

Peters and Ron Mark started flashing scorecards during questions but this was stamped on by the Speaker.

But Key set himself up by interjecting into Andrew Little’s first question.

ANDREW LITTLE (Leader of the Opposition): My question is to the Minister of Finance. Does he stand by his statement—

Rt Hon John Key: Oh, God, I’m irrelevant already.

ANDREW LITTLE: John, it is all over. It is all over, brother.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Again, as I said yesterday, I can sense the excitement in the air, but we will still conduct question time under the normal rules.

ANDREW LITTLE: It is not the excitement; it is the relief on the face of the Prime Minister.

3. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS to the Prime Minister: Does he have confidence in all his Ministers; if so, why?

It turned out to be a swipe at Bill English, Jonathan Coleman, Judith Collins and Paula Bennett, and gave Key the opportunity to praise them. The exchange concluded with:

Rt Hon Winston Peters: How can he possibly have confidence in all of his Ministers when all we are hearing from his answers and from the spills coming out of caucus is terrible instability, feuding, backstabbing, fighting, all sorts of secret calls—so much so that it has fallen to New Zealand First to look like the epitome of stability?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Well, when you have a caucus of one, it is reasonably easy to be stable. But the member may have noticed that on Monday—the last time you held up a sign it said “No” and it should have said “Yes”.

Shaw also tried some lame jibes at Ministers who are contenders for promotions.

7. JAMES SHAW to the Prime Minister: Does he have confidence in all his Ministers?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes.

James Shaw: Does he have confidence in Jonathan Coleman, and does he even know what he looks like?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Yes. I am pretty sure he is the one that is just over there. But, you know, given he has been in quite a number of my Cabinets, and I am awake for most of them—absolutely.

James Shaw: Does he have confidence that if Judith Collins becomes Prime Minister, New Zealand will not wake up one day and find itself tied with Zimbabwe on the Transparency International corruption index?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I have absolute confidence in Judith Collins, and I have absolute confidence in all of my caucus and my Cabinet colleagues.

James Shaw: Does he have confidence that if Steven Joyce becomes the finance Minister he will not lose the entire surplus on one of those roulette wheels he gave to Skycity Casino?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Here is a prediction: when the Skycity Auckland Convention Centre opens in, I think it is, 2019, from memory, it will be a sparkling asset used by many convention-dwellers, both internationally and locally. It will not cost a cent of taxpayer or ratepayer money, and, if it is true to form, the Labour Party members, who will still be in Opposition, will be coming over to the opening, just like they did when they objected to the hobbits and so many other things in the past.

James Shaw: Is the real reason that New Zealand’s productivity is so low because every working-age New Zealander has been bored to death listening to Bill English?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: If that is his test, then I should introduce him to his own caucus colleagues. Man, they are not exactly people I want to party with when I leave Parliament—let me give you a clue. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I dealt with the showing of those visual aids by New Zealand First earlier. If it continues again from any of those members, they will be leaving the Chamber. I do not want to have to issue that warning again.

James Shaw: Now that he knows who his likely successors are, is he tempted to turn round and say: “Actually, Bill, I’ve changed my mind.”?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Definitely not. As I said on Monday, it has been a great privilege to be Prime Minister of New Zealand for the last 8 years and to lead such a fantastic Cabinet and caucus. I am immensely proud of what this Government has achieved, but, as I said on Monday, I have called time on my own political career, and I will not be turning back on that decision.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: In his long and successful tenure as Prime Minister over the last 8 years in this House, does he recall a day when the Greens have put more effort into their questions?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No, but it is good to see that they are getting the hang of it, because they are going to be asking questions for a very long time.