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 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.