Sustainable NZ could help Labour, Greens as well as environment

The newly launched Sustainable NZ Party has been criticised a puppet party set up to either give National  coalition option they are currently lacking, or compete with Green votes to try to stop the Green Party making the 5% threshold,

But if SNZ makes it into Parliament (this is a long shot but possible) they could help Labour or the Greens (if the get back in) as much if not more than they could help National.

SNZ in Parliament could give Labour a choice between them and the Greens, giving them more coalition bargaining power.

SNZ could also give Labour or Labour+Greens an alternative to NZ First for a coalition.

A Labour+Greens+SNZ coalition should have a strong environmental mandate, far stronger than currently with NZ First in the mix.

The Greens have actually reacted with “it only strengthens democracy when we have a diversity of people running in general elections”.

And even if National and SNZ form a coalition, that must be better for environmental policy implementation than National on their own or with ACT.

The bleating from the left seems more old school politics where parties like Labour think they should be able to effectively rule on their own, or as far as the Greens are concerned worried about self preservation (the threshold), or seeing themselves as the exclusive champion of environmental policies.

Martyn Bradbury at The Daily Blog: The real purpose of National’s new ‘Sustainability NZ Party’

The point of Sustainability NZ for National is not to get over 5% and join them in Parliament, it’s to take just enough green voters away from the Greens so as to sink them under 5%.

That’s just one possibility. Voters may see differently – two environmental parties could be better than one.

If we had a Green movement that wasn’t more focused on meaningless consensus and middle class identity politics, they could see this challenge off from Sustainability NZ, but because of the shrill alienation the Greens  manage to create, this could be the plot to rob them of any representation post 2020.

He also takes a swipe at the Greens. The bitterness of someone with no party to support.

Voters could dump the Greens from Parliament regardless of SNZ. If that happens and SNZ manages to get in then we must be better off than being left with National versus Labour.

MickySavage at The Standard: Sustainable Party launches

The Sustainable Party, National’s sock puppet party designed to weaken the Greens has launched.

That’s a negative Labour reaction, without stopping to think through the possibilities.

At a time when the world is in a crisis caused by run away climate change there is only very oblique reference to this most pressing of problems.  It should be centre and front of any policy announcement by a so called environmentally focussed party.  That it is not speaks volumes.  And that the policy is being used to try and wedge the Greens on  Generic Engineering shows the real motivation behind the party.

The Greens should be challenged on their ridiculous entrenched anti-GE position,

Of course the reality is that this party is a puppet party, designed to cause as much grief as possible to the Greens.

And he refuses to accept that late stage capitalism and unfettered greed and growth are the cause of our problems.  That economic disparity and ecological decline are happening hand in hand because they are symptoms of the same problem.  Instead he claims that his party is  “pro-progress, pro-technology and pro-science” and seems to think that eternal economic growth is possible.

This sounds like knee jerk anti-new party syndrome – established parties seem to hate newbies with new approaches. They seem to feel threatened.

Beyond the overreaction of political bloggers, RNZ – Sustainable New Zealand political party: Other parties unruffled

The Greens said they were “not too fussed” about a potential rival, saying in a statement the ‘teal’ vote was miniscule.

“We think National are the only ones likely to lose support,” it said.

“However Mr Tava is welcome to give it a go – he has every right to and in fact it only strengthens democracy when we have a diversity of people running in general elections.”

Yes, under MMP more parties in Parliament strengthens democracy, giving major parties more options to get genuine majorities to progress policies.

Former Green MP Sue Bradford did not think Sustainable NZ would take many votes from the Greens.

“While Mr Tava talks about being willing to go with National or Labour or anyone else I think it’s pretty clear that they are positioning themselves very much on the right side of the political spectrum with all their talk of working with business…

Funny, Bradford equates “talk of working with business with “very much on the right side of the political spectrum”. Even Russel Norman appeared willing to talking with businesses, and James Shaw certainly is willing.

Apart from the fringe far left healthy business is seen as an integral part of the way we live.

Forest & Bird chief executive Kevin Hague said more voices for protecting the environment was a good thing, but he thought the party might struggle to get a coherent message through.

“Much of the destruction of the environment has been the result of commercial exploitation and it seems like their economic policies may not be ones that would actually change that, so we look forward with interest to see what the full suite of their policies might be,” he said.

Mr Hague said focusing the majority of their policies on the environment, could place them at a disadvantage too.

“If they say they’re just going to have environmental policies that is going to make them pretty much a lame duck within Parliament on most issues.

Not necessarily. All parties in Parliament have to make decisions on issues they don’t have policies on.  That doesn’t make them lame ducks on those issues.  And where parties have policies on issues the reality is that most parties have to compromise on their own policies most of the time.

Labour’s 2020 campaign chair Megan Woods said they had not yet discussed the prospect of working with the party.

Ms Woods said however it would not change anything about their campaign and Labour would just be focused on telling its own story.

“[The] launch comes as no surprise, this has been well signalled, but what it does show yet again is that National still has a big strategic dilemma around a lack of coalition partners,” she said.

If she or Labour thought things through it could be a positive change for them – providing they can win more votes than National next election.

Newshub: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern throws doubt on Vernon Tava’s Sustainable NZ

Jacinda Ardern has hit out at the newest political party Sustainable New Zealand, saying the Government is already catering to the environmental needs it’s offering.

“I do believe that environmental matters are a huge focus for this Government and I don’t see that there’s necessarily a space that [Sustainable NZ] need to fill,” the Prime Minister said Monday.

But Labour leader Ardern questioned the need for Tava’s party in the current political space, asking reporters at her post-Cabinet press conference: “What is the political issue that they are trying to solve?”

Ardern said the current Labour-Green-New Zealand First Government is already doing plenty for the environment, pointing to the Zero Carbon Bill that passed its final reading last week.

She also reflected on the $181.6 million funding boost over four years given to the Department of Conservation in Budget 2018 – the largest bump in conservation funding since 2002.

“If they claim that they are operating in an environmental space… I’d say that it’s being very well catered for by this Government,” Ardern said.

How well the environment is being catered for is debatable, and could be better catered for if SNZ replaced NZ First as a coalition partner for Labour+Greens.

SNZ could compete with votes that could otherwise go to Labour, and that’s not what a party leader wants.

But for non-aligned people like me another party option to vote for is a good thing. I don’t think there are any current parties in Parliament that deserve my vote. I’d like more options, and SNZ looks to be potentially a good one.

SPCA criticised for anti-1080 ‘news’ article

The SPCA has been under fire for supporting anti-1080 protests.They say that “the welfare of all animals should be viewed equally” p- which includes pests like stoats, rats and possums that many people and organisations are trying to get rid of. 1080 is a major tool in reducing pest numbers, especially in remote parts of the country where trapping and other labour intensive methods aren’t practical.

The SPCA advises on ways of campaigning against the use of 1080.

On their website:  1080 – what is it, and what can be done about it?

Is SPCA against 1080?

SPCA is against the use of poisons to kill animals due to the level of suffering they cause, as well as the nature of their use. We would like to see a ban on the use of poisons such as 1080, because these substances cause such intense and prolonged suffering to animals that we believe their use can never be justified.

There should be greater emphasis on looking for solutions that would enable species who cannot be completely removed, to co-exist in the environment instead. SPCA also encourages the research and development of humane alternatives to species control, including the replacement of lethal methods with humane non-lethal methods, such as limiting reproductive abilities.

What does SPCA think about ‘pests’ in New Zealand?

Although SPCA does not regard the lives of one species over another, we do recognise that there is a concern regarding the impact of so-called ‘pest’ animals. Sometimes it is necessary to capture certain animals or manage populations of species for various reasons, including biodiversity, conservation, and sustainability.

In these instances, methods that are proven to be humane and effective should be used. The welfare of all animals should be viewed equally, and people should recognise that they deserve protection from suffering pain or distress, regardless of the species or where they came from. Whether an animal is native or introduced, any measures taken to manage their impact or numbers must recognize that these animals are sentient and have the capacity to experience pain, suffering, or distress, regardless of whether they are viewed or classed as a ‘pest.’

What has SPCA done to ban the use of 1080?

SPCA are deeply concerned over the use of 1080 and other poisons and are working hard to achieve positive change. As a charity, SPCA has limited resources, but the use of 1080 and other poisons is a priority for us as an organisation. SPCA are working wherever we can to change the law, publicly speaking out against the use of 1080 wherever possible.

Why can’t SPCA Inspectors stop 1080?

SPCA’s Inspectorate are bound by New Zealand’s current laws specified in the Animal Welfare Act 1999, which unfortunately allow for the use of 1080 under a permit system and within permitted drop-zones. Therefore, if a poison is used to kill an animal and meets requirements, there is currently no legal course of action SPCA Inspectors can take. This is because no offences have technically been committed, even though the poison has likely caused the suffering, pain and distress to the animal.

What can I do to ban the use of 1080?

There are many things you as a member of the public can do to help end the use of 1080, including:

1.You can sign or create a petition to the government:Once a petition is closed a member of parliament must be asked to present the petition to parliament. This may be your local MP but does not have to be. Once presented in the House of Representatives, the petition will be considered by a select committee. At this point it may become open for submissions, allowing individuals to give their feedback in more detail.

2.You can sign up to MPI and NZ Government to receive alerts when select committees are accepting submissions: The more people who voice their opposition to 1080 use via submissions when opportunities arise, the more likely that the government will be to reassess the approach. You can sign up to receive alerts by following the link:

3.You can make your voice heard by meeting with or writing letters to members of parliament: It is particularly powerful to meet with government representatives in person, or at least to talk to them on the phone.

Hopefully, if enough people and organisations make their voice heard in opposition to the use of inhumane ‘pest’ control methods such as the use of poisons, the law will be changed and will no longer allow the legally sanctioned inhumane treatment of ‘pests’.


Forest and Bird responded:  SPCA 1080 position will lead to cruel deaths and extinctions

Forest & Bird says the SPCA’s statement calling for 1080 to be banned shows a naïve failure to understand how nature works in the wild, and they will be seeking a meeting with the organisation to discuss its position.

Forest & Bird CE Kevin Hague says “The SPCA’s statement on the use of 1080 is seriously misinformed, and contains errors of both fact and logic. Their position reflects their history of caring for domesticated animals such as cats and dogs, without understanding the needs of New Zealand’s native animals and ecosystems.

“While the idea of stoats and rats peacefully coexisting with native birds sounds great, the reality is that an estimated 25 million native birds, eggs, and chicks are cruelly eaten alive by introduced predators every year in New Zealand.

“This is the terrible death that countless native animals across New Zealand suffer every night.

“The SPCA’s position on 1080 is a blow to their credibility. It’s sad to see them promoting flawed logic whose outcome is the extinction through being eaten alive of treasured animals like our kiwi, kereru, and kokako.

“Without scientific, ethical, and precision pest control, of which 1080 is a key tool, there is no way to protect our native animals from the overwhelming numbers of introduced predators. Giving up 1080 would lead to an ecocide of huge proportions in New Zealand, and the SPCA need to understand this is the outcome of their pest control position.”

RNZ: SPCA criticised over article supporting 1080 ban

SPCA chief scientific officer Anya Dale…

… has clarified the organisation’s position.

“The SPCA’s position is that all poison’s cause prolonged and intense suffering to animals, both native and non-native, and as such it is very difficult to justify so it’s important to note that the SPCA is not opposed to the management of animal species, provided that it’s justified and humane and we absolutely support the innovation into alternatives to the use of poisons to manage species in New Zealand.”

When questioned over whether this meant the organisation wanted 1080 to be banned, Dr Dale reiterated the above statement.

She said that there needed to be more investment in alternatives.

Forest and Bird chief executive Kevin Hague…

…said that trapping was not a viable alternative.

“Anyone who is involved in trapping understands that trapping alone simply cannot cover the extent of the country that we need to be able to cover to control these pests. What it shows is they have a level of naivety around what’s required to protect our native animals and birds.”

OSPRI, the partnership organisation between primary industries and the government that is tasked with eradicating TB…

…agreed that alternatives to 1080 did not exist.

OSPRI’s research and development manager Richard Curtis said it budgets $2 million a year for research, of which half a million is for projects looking at alternatives or reductions to 1080.

He said there were two main pest-control research projects that the organisation had been working on but both of them would still poison the animal.

Mr Curtis said that biological alternatives were researched in the ’90s but found to have a low-likelihood of effectiveness.

“Biological alternatives are actually very complex and frequently don’t work… so at the moment we’re not investing in that space.”

TVNZ:  SPCA, Forest and Bird butt heads over call for 1080 ban – ‘a blow to their credibility’
Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage…

…has supported the use of 1080, saying last month that it is a “critical tool” in the fight against species which damage the environment and attack native species.

In 2017-18, $4.8 million was provided for 1080 alternative research, and that investment increased to over $7 million in 2018-19.

“The best alternative at the moment is trapping, which is already used extensively across New Zealand,” Ms Sage said in Parliament in December.

“The Government is supporting a range of research into different compounds, including things like PAPP, which is very effective for stoats; things like sodium nitrate; microencapsulated zinc phosphate paste; and also into traps like self-resetting traps,” Ms Sage said.

When asked if she supported or saw a future for alternatives to 1080, Ms Sage said “absolutely”.

“Aerial 1080 continues to be a critical tool if we are to prevent the regional extinction of kākā, kiwi, and species like that, but alternative research is well under way.”

The welfare of pests like stoats, rats and possums versus the survival of native species?

“We desperately need sensible drug law reform.”

Chloe Swarbrick:

We saw exactly what was foretold by Green MP Kevin Hague. We have seen the proliferation of psychoactive substances and their harm increase as a result of a lack of regulation. The chemicals have got nastier and cheaper to produce and throw together.

“We are going to be seeing a significant increase in harm” , former MP warned in 2014 when Parliament revoked interim licences for Psychoactive Substances, forcing the issue underground. Sadly, Kevin was right. We desperately need sensible drug law reform.

CHLÖE SWARBRICK (Green): E Te Māngai, tēnā koe. Tēnā koutou e Te Whare. I rise tonight to speak to the Psychoactive Substances (Increasing Penalty for Supply and Distribution) Amendment Bill. To begin with, I would like to acknowledge the sponsor of this bill, Simeon Brown, who I’ve met with about the contents of this bill to discuss my concerns. My concerns are perhaps best summarised, in a nutshell, in reference to the point made by the Hon Nick Smith about how this bill represents a practical measure to combat drug use and drug abuse, addiction, and harms. To that point, I would say that practical measures work. This bill will not work. This piece of legislation is contrary to all of the evidence, to every piece of advice that we know with regard to how we tackle drug harm that is currently rippling through our communities.

I want to acknowledge, to begin with, the loss of lives that have been experienced in communities throughout this country: the sons and daughters that have been mentioned, but so too those who are homeless and jobless and amongst the most vulnerable in our society, which the research and evidence and coroners’ reports show are typically the users of these synthetics.

I think that all politicians, fundamentally, want the same thing here. We want reduced harm, we want safer communities, and we want investment in solutions that will actually work. So I think it makes a whole lot of sense to unpack how we got here and into this mess to begin with. In the early 2010s, synthetic substances began to emerge on the market, and what Parliament found is that we could not legislate to keep up with emerging substances by using the flawed model of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975. In 2011, the Law Commission provided a deeply comprehensive report on the efficacy of that Misuse of Drugs Act 1975, and it recommended a complete repeal and replacement of the legislation, which was simply not working to reduce harm. It also recommended new regulations for emerging substances.

In 2013, the Psychoactive Substances Act, which this amendment would change, was passed unanimously in this House. It was heralded internationally as a world first to provide sensible regulation for new psychoactive substances, but that optimism quickly dwindled. It contained a provision in its original sections for the interim licensing of products that hadn’t yet been reported or complained about, but in May 2014, after the problem became visible as a result of the regulations that were imposed around that interim licensing, such as where they could be sold, politicians responded to moral panic and all parties at the time, except for the 14 Green MPs in the House, voted for those interim licences to be revoked. Speaking to that knee-jerk revocation of those licences, Kevin Hague, who is a former Green MP and health spokesperson, on the third reading of that Psychoactive Substances Amendment Bill warned about what would happen, and I quote: “Prohibition takes supply out of the hands of regulated, controlled retailers and instead puts that supply into the hands of criminal gangs or other illicit suppliers. Unfortunately, what that means is … the drug dealer on the street [or] in the alleyway behind the shop[s] at Naenae and the drug dealer in the tinny house are not subject to [the] same controls. Those people supplying the demand … will not go away as a result of [a] bill [that] tonight will not be checking … for their ID or for proof of age. We should expect that supply to people under age will increase as a result of this bill. Those people will not be making a distinction between those products that are low risk and those products that are high risk. We should expect that the supply of products that are high risk will increase as a result of this bill. Those people, those illicit drug dealers, will, in addition to having a range of psychoactive substances—those currently legal and … illegal—have, in another pocket, … drugs like methamphetamine. So the product of this bill will be that … demand, which will not go away [will actually be increased]. We are going to [see] a significant increase in harm.” And what did we see? We saw exactly what was foretold by Green MP Kevin Hague. We have seen the proliferation of psychoactive substances and their harm increase as a result of a lack of regulation. The chemicals have got nastier and cheaper to produce and throw together.

I want to quote here from a user from west Auckland who was interviewed by Vice Media, who stated, and I quote, “You get all these people addicted, like actually [expletive] addicted, and then you just take it away and [you] make it illegal? Of course it’s gonna go underground, and people are gonna start making [expletive] that is harmful.”

I also want to speak to the experience of the CEO of Lifewise, Moira Lawler, who is one of the providers of the Housing First model, which is often celebrated by many in this House as a perfect way to tackle homelessness by way of wraparound services. Moira, in relation to the synthetics crisis, stated, and I quote, “[We] had one of our whānau arrested and charged with dealing and one of the things the police said [which] really stuck [in my mind] was that their unit was full of coins. You don’t make your fortune dealing synthetics … [but] People use it because it’s all they can afford.”

We’ve also had the police submit on this bill, saying that they are not going to arrest their way out of it. We have had ample evidence, as has been quoted by previous speakers, such as from the likes of Massey’s SHORE & Whariki—the research centre—which states “Experience from overseas is that increasing penalties for drug trafficking increases convictions and prisoner numbers while [having only] a minimal impact on drug prices and availability.”

In 2017, when media reported that at least seven people had died from synthetic usage, former Prime Minister Bill English said it was an issue of personal responsibility and denied Government intervention was needed. That death toll from synthetic use rose to 25 in 2017, and now to 45 in 2018, and I am glad that the National Party has now changed their position from labelling this an issue of personal responsibility, because that is far too often an abdication of political responsibility.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Well, support the bill—support the bill.

CHLÖE SWARBRICK: Political responsibility, Dr Nick Smith, looks like the boldness to do what works.

On Monday of this week, I was at the opening of the harm reduction conference in Christchurch. It was timed to commemorate 30 years of needle exchange in New Zealand, which was introduced in 1987 by health Minister Dr Michael Bassett in the Lange Government. Due to that policy 30 years ago, New Zealand has a prevalence of HIV among those who inject drugs in New Zealand of 0.2 percent compared to 13 percent internationally. At the bill’s introduction, Dr Michael Bassett stated “I do not think it is possible to have a perfect solution when the position is … a balance of awfulness.”

No one here is saying that drugs are cool or fun; what we are saying is that they exist and we have to deal with that. We have to reduce harm, and if we want to do something, why do we not do something that works? This entire system is broken, and we have known it for a very long time. We have known it because the evidence and the advice provided to politicians shows—[Interruption]

ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Poto Williams): Order! Order!

CHLÖE SWARBRICK: —that increasing penalties will not reduce drug accessibility—

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Two years is inadequate.

ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Poto Williams): Order, Mr Smith.

CHLÖE SWARBRICK: —or affordability. We must treat drugs as a health issue, and that looks like taking them out of the shadows and providing regulation.

When people imagine regulation, they think of a free-for-all. They think of chaos. They think of bringing the issue into the light. But what we have right now in the shadows is chaos. Anybody anywhere in New Zealand who wants drugs can access them. Drug dealers, as was stated by Kevin Hague, are not checking ID, nor are they checking the safeness of the substances that they are flicking off. We know that arresting these dealers is only going to result in further dealers popping up, because the evidence shows it. So if we want to do something that works, we have to follow the evidence.


Green differences over 1080

Groups and individuals have staunchly opposed the use of 1080 to control pests like possums and rats, but the Department of Conservation and conservation groups see it as an essential tool in protecting native species.

Some take extreme measures. RNZ: Loose nuts threaten DOC staff safety

There are fears for the safety of conservation workers and contractors after recent attacks on their vehicles.

In three instances wheel nuts on the vehicles were loosened in acts believed to be connected to protests over the Conservation Department’s use of 1080 poison for pest management.

In the most serious case a contractor avoided injury when a wheel came off while he was driving, after its nuts had been loosened.

DOC director-general Lou Sanson said toxic bait had been put in a staff letterbox and he had also seen other threatening posts on Facebook recently.

“Threats to put wires across gullies to bring down helicopters and a number of brochures put on DoC vehicles depicting targets of helicopters.”

He said it was extremely disappointing as DoC staff were working hard to try and preserve New Zealand’s native birds.

“Rats, stoats and possums have been winning. We know we can turn it around and we have.”

“Keas have made a great recovery in nearly 20 percent of the Southern Alps and there has also been an amazing recovery in kākā and mohua in South Westland.”

Mr Sanson said people had a right to protest but it had gone too far.

There seems to be a difference within the Green Party on this.

Newshub: National MP accuses Marama Davidson of undermining Conservation Minister

National MP Sarah Dowie says Marama Davidson has undermined fellow Green Party MP and Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage with comments over 1080.

Ms Davidson said on Wednesday protesters who threw dead birds and fake pellets on the steps of parliament had “valid concerns”.

“We need to listen, and we need to have community-led conversations about this,” she told Stuff.

“They are trying to be heard, and we will need to keep listening.”

“There are some concerns about 1080 but it is the major tool we’ve got in the tool box to assist particularly in the more remote and mountainous areas,” Ms Sage told Stuff in June.

Ms Dowie said it was not a good look for the Greens to have two MPs apparently disagreeing about the poison.

“Ms Sage will be highly embarrassed by Marama Davidson’s comments to the anti-1080 lobby,” she said.

“She’s basically undermined Ms Sage’s efforts with respect to the protection of our biodiversity.”

Ms Dowie said the division may go even further, considering another governing party’s stance on the poison.

“New Zealand First actually campaigned on banning the use of 1080,” she said.

Both National and Labour say 1080 is the most effective pest control tool New Zealand has. They have the support of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, the Department of Conservation, the Environmental Protection Authority, and lobby groups including Forest and Bird, Federated Farmers, WWF and Ospri.

A tweet from ex-Green MP Kevin Hague yesterday:


There seems to be a clash between the environmental Greens and the activist Greens.

‘Vote for Nature’

Ex Green MP Kevin Hague on Facebook:

At Forest & Bird we have been working really hard to bring conservation and environmental protection to the fore this election. These ‘cinderella’ issues have been perpetually ignored at elections, with the consequence that they languish with poor funding and government policy that just makes things worse.

In her report on the plight of native birds (80% in trouble) the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment called the situation desperate. Nature needs our help.

We need to restore and protect for the inherent value of the natural world, because human beings are part of that world too and depend on it, and because our entire economy is based on the idea of a clean, green country where people cherish our wonderful environment.

We have succeeded! Conservation and environmental protection have become issues that the political parties have been forced to respond to.

To keep these issues at the front of voters’ minds we made a website with information about party policies on key issues.

Valedictory Statement – Kevin Hague

One of the best and most widely respected MPs have his valedictory speech in parliament today. Kevin Hague missed out on the Green party co-leadership last year – he could have made a real difference for them in that position – but has now chosen to move on the lead NZ Forest and Bird.

Draft transcript:



[Authorised Te Reo text to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]

I used to do a lot of sailing. Ian and I—our first yacht was a 24-foot cutter and we would often be the smallest boat at Great Barrier Island or around the Hauraki Gulf in the various anchorages.

I remember in 1988, during Cyclone Bola—and some might question the decision to go sailing—we were anchored in a bay in the outer part of the Coromandel Harbour. The wind was so strong that the anchors would not hold. Together with many other boats, the two of us kept a 24-hour anchor watch.

We would anchor in the most sheltered part of the bay, and then the wind would sweep us across the bay. We would turn on the outboard motor, punch back into the wind, set the anchors again, and hope that they would hold for a little while longer. We did that again, and again, and again. The wind kept up for more than 24 hours, and we were exhausted, but eventually the anchors did hold.

Eight years of Opposition has felt something like that. Going to work each day, standing up for what we believe in, but losing almost all of our arguments—not because we were wrong, but because of the Government’s superior numbers and the resources of Government.

I guess for me, what we have had to do is to find a way to pick ourselves back up and punch back into that wind, into the storm. But now my watch has ended. It has been an enormous honour to serve in this role, to stand here and to know that along with my Green colleagues I represent an enormous number of New Zealanders who share our vision and our values.

I leave here proud of the work that I have helped to do.

I also leave here with some regrets. I have projects that I believe in passionately that I will not be able to see through to their conclusion. It goes against the grain for me to leave work unfinished.

I am leaving behind people who matter a great deal to me. I have friends right across this House and right across the political spectrum. I will not get to be a Minister, with the opportunity to implement policy in Government, and I think I might have done a pretty good job of that.

Hon Members: Hear, hear!

KEVIN HAGUE: Thank you. But despite those regrets, I have no doubts. I want to thank the Green Party, all of its members, the staff, the volunteers, and other MPs for the opportunity to do this work and for their support and friendship while doing it.

Those people who have worked in the Green Party’s parliamentary team have been outstanding, and I especially want to thank those who have worked in my own office—Joanna Plows, Sophie Belton, Nerei Kanak, Linda Veyers, Tasi Vaonga, Ridian Thomas, and the incomparable Jen Lawless.

You have seamlessly hidden my flaws from the world while simultaneously doing all the real work. Thank you very much.

I am grateful for the wonderful support that I have enjoyed over the years from the Parliamentary Service team and from the Office of the Clerk. I think, in particular, I am probably one of the biggest users of the Parliamentary Library and the travel teams, and they have always been fast, efficient, and reliable. I said earlier that I have friends across the House.

It has always seemed to me that positive relationships stop disagreement about some issues from getting in the way of collaborating on others.

I particularly want to acknowledge colleagues from all parties who have served with me on the Health Committee, and my great friends Ruth Dyson and Louisa Wall with whom I worked closely on marriage equality and other issues, and Nikki Kaye. Nikki and I worked together on a bill to completely overhaul the adoption law. I want to extend to Nikki my very best wishes for her recovery and swift return to this House.

I want to thank members of the Press Gallery, past and present. I have pretty much always felt that I had a fair run from you, and for the biggest issues that I worked on, you were also great partners in the pursuit of truth and justice—thank you.

Always, the work in Parliament has been made possible by others working in the community. It is a role that I have played in the past, and to which I return now.

As most people do, I think, in preparing this last speech, I went back to my first. As part of that speech, I set out some of my hopes for my Parliamentary career and some of the expectations that I knew that others held.

I talked about the hopes of cyclists that I would help make roads safe and well-engineered for all users, and for a national network of off-road cycling tracks.

I want to express my thanks to the Prime Minister for the great opportunity to work alongside him as co-sponsors of Ngā Haerenga, the New Zealand Cycle Trail network.

That project has achieved what we hoped for and more.It created lots of employment, it has provided a major boost to regional economies, and it has got loads more people riding their bikes more often. Those people are now demanding better cycling facilities in towns and cities as well. The trick now will be to sustain and grow that network, and it would be fantastic to see a multi-party agreement to make that happen.

I said in that maiden speech that people who love wild rivers and our natural world for its intrinsic values would be looking for me to make a contribution.

I led a major Parliamentary campaign alongside Forest and Bird—it is a fantastic organisation, is it not—Whitewater NZ, and the Wild Rivers coalition that led to the Mōkihinui River being saved. My campaign was based on how Lake Manapōuri was saved. I set out to get people all around the country to care about what happened to a place and to animals and plants that they had never, and probably would never directly experience, and it worked.

New Zealanders love the rivers, forests, oceans, and animals of Aotearoa, and they want to protect them.

I was also pleased to work with Kate Wilkinson to conduct major field trials of resetting traps, a project that has laid one of the main foundations for daring to believe that Sir Paul Callaghan’s vision of a predator-free New Zealand was possible.

I said in that speech that the gay and lesbian communities and the wider rainbow family would look to me to keep delivering on the promise of equal rights and opportunity. I have worked on a number of projects over the past 8 years, most notably the successful campaign for marriage equality.

I leave behind three important ones: better health services for transgender New Zealanders; the petition that is currently before the House for an apology and for wiping the convictions of gay men who were convicted of consensual sexual activity between adults before homosexual law reform; and my campaign to have the Education Review Office required to audit the safety of all schools for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students.

We showed in 2014 that most secondary schools do not provide such a safe environment, and that the Education Review Office never exposes that. Perhaps as a farewell present?

There are a couple of areas where I have been proud of a contribution I did not expect to make. I worked hard to expose what I called a sick culture of disentitlement in ACC. Major improvements were made, and I praise the then Minister, the Hon Judith Collins, but more still is required—more change is still required.

I also warned New Zealanders that the insurance industry and small government ideologues have not given up on their plan of a privatised ACC, and vigilance is still required.

But the work that I am proudest of is that that I did in the aftermath of the Pike River tragedy. I have felt a heavy responsibility for that work, and I have been pleased to contribute to a major overhaul of workplace health and safety regulation in this country.

But I have been frustrated and angry that nobody from the board or from the senior management of Pike River Coal Ltd has been held to account, or will ever be held to account, for what has occurred, and that 29 men still have not been brought home to their families.

The other area where I know people hoped that I would be able to make an impact is health, and, in particular, increasing Parliament’s understanding that health outcomes are the result of people’s circumstances and environments, like poverty, housing, and how empowered their communities are, rather than individual choices, and goodness knows I have given enough lectures on that topic in this House.

I regret that successive Ministers of Health have preferred to adopt an adversarial approach to their portfolio. I believe that much more could have been achieved by working together across the House on health.

Economists seem to agree that funding for health services has dropped cumulatively and in real terms by almost $2 billion since 2008, while something like $20 billion has spent on roads of national significance, for example. To me, that suggests that the priorities are entirely the wrong way around.

It seems essential to me that Government should seek to ensure that every person has the basics that will enable them to have a decent life: enough good food, clean air and water, warmth and shelter, the means to good health and education, and a decent income.

In this country, a growing number—far too many—do not have these basics, and worse, access to them is unfairly distributed. Remedying these problems should be the purpose of Government—that is what Government is for.

The economy is not some force of nature; it is a collection of tools that we can re-engineer to help us meet those social goals.

Instead, far too often, people are sacrificed in the interests of the economy, and that is fundamentally the wrong way around.

The same is true of the environment. When the natural world is seen as a set of resources to service the economy as raw materials or waste disposal, we know that something is fundamentally wrong. Restoring and conserving a sustainable relationship with nature should be the other fundamental goal of Government, which the economy should serve.

Our country is run as though people and the environment need to serve the economy as inputs to the firm, and this needs to change entirely.

When people are homeless because of land banking and kids go hungry because wages and benefits do not even cover the basics; when they have avoidable health conditions that scar their entire lives because of poor-quality, overcrowded housing; when landowners are still cutting down lowland forest, draining wetlands, and allowing their stock into rivers because there is money to be made; when the last Maui’s dolphin plunged towards extinction because we prioritised the oil and fishing industries, something is fundamentally wrong.

When our very species is at grave risk because governments around the world refuse to take decisive action on climate change lest it harm business, then we know that making people and the environment serve the economy has reached its logical end-point of self-destruction.

There are also areas where change is desperately needed but where successive Governments have taken no action because of what I believe is political timidity.

There are others, but I want to single out drug law reform, adoption law reform—which I have already mentioned—and assisted dying.

These are all areas where the member’s bill process is poorly suited to considered reform, and where a solid public mandate already exists for change. These are also areas where archaic law harms people in terrible ways every day, so I appeal to all parties to please be brave, and stand for something.

Finally, I want to give my thanks to those who have been on this journey with me: my friends, especially those in whose houses I have so often been a terrible guest, arriving late and leaving early, and those who have had to put up with me not being around for their important occasions.

Thanks to my family, some of whom are able to be here tonight, and above all thanks to my partner Ian.

In this House our partners and families pay a great price in enabling us to do this work, and I extend my respect and thanks to all of yours.

When I entered Parliament, I said that I wanted to dedicate my time here to the memory of my mum and my sister. I hope that they would have been proud.

I leave here now to take on another really exciting challenge. I know that those who come after me in the Greens will bring new skills, knowledge, and energy that I could not have contributed.

But in leaving I feel that I have done my best, I feel I have made things better, and I go with my integrity intact. I wish you all the very best.


Radicalisation of the Greens and Labour

Losing Russel Norman last year and now losing Kevin Hague are blows to the Green Party. Their replacement MPs move Greens more towards a radical social activist party.

Norman did a lot to try and ‘normalise’ the Greens, to make them appear as if they were credible on business and economic matters in particular. He succeeded to an extent.

But last year he decided to move on (to Greenpeace). He was replaced by next on the list, Marama Davidson, who is more of a social activist who has attracted some attention, currently to the forefront of the inquiry into homelessness.

Hague tried to take over Norman’s co-leadership position but was rejected. Hague was one of  the Green’s best assets as a practical and hard worker who backed his principles but was prepared to work with anyone from any party or political leaning to try and achieve results.

Hague is now moving on to head Forest and Bird. So both he and Norman have moved on to environmental roles, and away from the Green Party.

Hague’s replacement will be next on the list, Barry Coates. He used to head Oxfam, and  aid organisation that has become more active in promoting social reform.

Coates has been leading anti-TPP protests in New Zealand. Social activism.

Norman’s replacement as co-leader, James Shaw, has not made a huge impression yet.

Greens’ other co-leader Metiria Turei has been involved in social activism for some time.

Greens could soften their radicalisation somewhat if they elevated Julie Anne Genter, but despite quiet rumours there is no solid sign of Turei stepping aside or down. Fortunately Genter at least looks to be a stayer at this stage.

While Greens do promote environmental issues such as clean rivers and climate change they appear to be moving more towards social activism with a strong socialist tinge.

Greens were ambitious last election so were disappointed not to increase their share of the vote in 2014, despite Labour’s weakening. They seem to have hit a Green ceiling.

This year they have entered into a Memorandum or Understanding with Labour so they can campaign as a combined Labour-Green ticket.

Labour under Andrew Little’s leadership also seem to be trying to move left and have also become more involved in social activism, promoting a number of petitions and joining the Greens in the homeless inquiry, and also appear in part at least to oppose the TPP.

With the growing radicalisation of the Greens and their closer association with a more radical Labour it’s no wonder Winston Peters sees growth potential for NZ First in the centre.

Greens and Labour may think their future lies in popular movements similar to Bernie Sanders in the US and Jeremy Corbyn in the UK but neither of them have succeeded yet beyond exciting a vocal minority.

While our next election is probably more than a year away Greens and Labour have tied their colours to the campaign mast – fairly red colours with a tinge of green. They either know something about the future intention of voters that isn’t apparent, or are taking a huge punt.

It’s probably about 50/50 whether National would need NZ First to form the next government. It’s closer to 90/10 that Labour+Greens would require NZ First.

A more radical Greens+Labour plus the determination of Peters to remain an unknown quantity will be a hard sell to voters. Add to that recent policy announcements on education and housing indicate an attempt to outdo Labour’s large spending promises and we could have a fairly radical option next year, versus National plodding along.


The Hague convention

This type of MP behaviour and earned respect from across the spectrum could be described as the Hague convention.

will be a genuine loss to Parliament. He is good to work with – always, principled, clear, fair and constructive. Go well Kevin

Congratulations to on the new role. I enjoyed working with Kevin when I was Minister of ACC. Kevin was always sensible.

Thank you for your service and comradeship in Parliament, . I’m sure you’ll do great work at

There’s been a lot of other signs of respect for Kevin’s convention of working positively with whoever it took to try and achieve a better outcome.

And I don’t recall him doing negative, he was issue and result focussed, and didn’t seem to get drawn into the dirty side of politics.

It would be good if the Hague convention could become a normal way of doing politics in New Zealand rather than stand out as the exception.

Hague to leave Parliament

Kevin Hague has announced that he will leave Parliament to head Forest and Bird.

He stood for Green co-leadership last year but was beaten by James Shaw. He has been their health, conservation, ACC, Sport & Recreation and Rainbow spokesperson.

Kevin will be a big loss to the Greens. He is their most practical, pragmatic MPs, prepared to work with whoever could help achieve goals.

He will be an asset to Forest and Bird. before becoming an MP in 208 he was CEO of the West Coast District Health Board.

He will be replaced on parliament by next person on the Green list, Barry Coates, who has previously headed Oxfam and who has been prominent organising anti-TPP protests.

‘Govt cowardly on euthanasia’

Not just the Government – some opposition MPs and parties could be seen as unwilling to address an important issue for many people too.

A lead item on Stuff:

‘Govt cowardly on euthanasia’

John Key supports euthanasia but he won’t make it a Government bill – is it time for a rethink?

The actual article headline is less provocative:

Lecretia Seales lives on in a health inquiry into euthanasia that kicks off this week

A petition was handed to MPs at Parliament, which sparked an inquiry into voluntary euthanasia.

Wellington was home for Matt Vickers for a long time – it’s also where his love and memories of his late wife Lecretia Seales live on.

Seales died from in June last year after a long battle with cancer that ran hand-in-hand with a courageous fight to win the right to choose to end her own life. Hours before she took her last breath she learned her legal battle had failed.

On Wednesday Vickers will be the first of 1800 people to speak to a parliamentary inquiry into euthanasia, instigated by a petition in the name of former Labour MP Maryan Street and the Voluntary Euthanasia Society.

The petition, which garnered 8795 signatures and cross-party support, came in the wake of Seales death.

It demanded the committee examine public opinion on the introduction of legislation “which would permit medically-assisted dying in the event of a terminal illness or an irreversible condition which makes life unbearable”.

More than 21,000 submissions later – the most ever received by any select committee – Vickers will pull up a seat at 8am in front of a panel of MPs to explain Lecretia’s story.

“Lecretia was very strong in wanting a choice, that wasn’t a weakness of character. She wanted to be able to exercise her strength by having a choice,” he said.

The submission process is an opportunity for the country to “honestly and unashamedly talk about the end of our lives without fear”.

The problem is that generally MPs and parties don’t want to be associated with discussing euthanasia despite strong public support for change.

And the chair of the Parliamentary committee has caused some concern.

While in Wellington Vickers will also launch his book, Lecretia’s Choice, and already one member of the select committee intends to read it – chair and National MP Simon O’Connor.

The Tamaki MP is Catholic and spent almost a decade studying for the priesthood with the Society of Mary before deciding he couldn’t be a politico and a cleric.

Vickers, much like Street and Seymour, is concerned about O’Connor chairing the committee – all three question how someone publicly opposed to euthanasia can chair an inquiry into it.

But some MPs from different parties are promoting the discussion.

National MP Chris Bishop stood alongside Seymour, Labour MP Iain Lees-Galloway and Green MP Kevin Hague when Parliament received Street’s petition in June.

Bishop supports the inquiry and Seymour’s bill and says while O’Connor chairs the committee, “he’s not doing the whole inquiry – he’s only one person”.

Seymour says O’Connor should apologise before oral submissions kick off on Wednesday for “soliciting submissions from a certain point of view which happens to coincide with his own beliefs”.

“If you look at the way Simon’s behaved you’ve got to be pretty concerned … it’s really quite shameful given you get paid an extra $20,000 to be a chair.”

“He’s got every incentive, he’s an ambitious guy like most people in Parliament, and if he wants to be a minister one day then he has to actually play a straight bat and be seen to play a straight bat.”

Seymour versus National:

Even Prime Minister John Key supports euthanasia and Seymour’s bill and said the select committee inquiry is proof “it’s quite possible without a bill being in Parliament to have a good and open discussion about the issue”.

The Government has no intention of picking up Seymour’s bill but Key says “at some point it’s bound to be drawn”.

According to Seymour, every Government is reluctant to pick up controversial issues and this National government isn’t alone – homosexual law reform, abortion law and marriage equality also came out of members’ bills.

“All governments have been cowardly on controversial issues, not just this one.”

And some opposition parties. ‘Not a priority’ is a cop out.

He also blames several senior Ministers in Cabinet being strongly opposed to euthanasia for blocking it.

He wants a public conversation that does some myth-busting.

I hope the committee listens well and does this inquiry justice.

I strongly believe that with adequate legal protections freedom of choice for individuals who are dying should be paramount – and certainly choices about our own lives should not be illegal.