James Shaw: Green AGM speech

Green co-leader James Shaw gave the leaders’ keynote speech at the party AGM.

Video is about 17 minutes into this (after Little’s speech):

That’s not Shaw and Turei in the video still, it just shows what it wants, which is Andrew Little (obviously) and the person doing sign language.

James Shaw, 2016 AGM speech – Change Starts Now

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!

He mihi nui ki ngā mana whenua o tēnei takiwā, Ngāi Tahu, Tuahuriri, tēnā koutou katoa mō tō manaakitanga.

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

Ka mihi hoki ki a koe Andrew, me te rōpū reipa, tēnā koutou.


Nō reira, tēnā tātou katoa.

This is the moment.

When New Zealand elects the first Labour – Green government in 18 months, this is the moment we will remember.

We will look to the agreement that we signed with Labour this week.

We will look to when Andrew Little joined us at our AGM.

We will look to the moment when we sent a message of hope to New Zealand that change is coming.

Andrew, I welcome you here today. We welcome you. Thank you for coming.

In the time that I’ve gotten to know you, you’ve demonstrated to me that you’re a person of great integrity. You are someone who brings people together. And you don’t shy away from trying to tackle the really difficult challenges.

That’s why I want to work with you. And that’s why I felt I could sign our agreement with you this week on behalf of the Green Party.

Like us, Labour has a commitment to taking on the tough problems, the long term structural challenges in our society: the economy, health, education, jobs, the environment.

Labour also has a track record in government of having done that – the Super Fund, Working for Families, Kiwisaver – these are multi-decade solutions to structural challenges in New Zealand society.

That’s why this Memorandum of Understanding between Labour and the Greens is so important.

It’s why Andrew’s presence here today is a break in the clouds.

Labour and the Greens have different histories. We have different values. We don’t agree on everything.

But we share a belief in the ability of government to transform things for the better. To find real solutions to real problems.

To find jobs and homes and hope for those that need them.

The first Labour Government helped transform New Zealand into the great, caring compassionate society that many of us were born into.

Over the months I’ve been in Parliament, and particularly in the year I’ve been Co-leader, I’ve travelled a lot around the country.

And one of the things that has really struck me has been the growing sense of discomfort about what kind of country we’re becoming.

Families living in cars and garages. Poisoned rivers. Saudi sheep scandals.

From the doorsteps of suburban New Zealand to corporate boardrooms, people are telling me that this doesn’t feel like the country they grew up in.

And it’s not the country we want to become.

It doesn’t sit with our sense of compassion and fairness, our love of our land, of how we think about ourselves.

My hope is that with the first Labour-Green government we’ll find ourselves again.

Since we signed our agreement with Labour, some commentators have asked me – why not go with National?

My answer is that in eight years, we’ve seen no evidence that National are willing or able to tackle the big challenges.

They have dealt with the superficial, they have allowed and encouraged the big structural problems to grow – they have simply plastered over the cracks.

When they should have been building houses.

My answer is that there is no substance to what they do. Their focus is on making it sound like they’re a good government, not actually being one.

They are more concerned about managing the politics around serious issues like poverty and pollution than they are about solving the problems.

This government wants us in a perpetual state of distraction over what it pretends to be doing.

Faced with the really big challenges in front of New Zealand and the world today the National Government throws its hands up in defeat, or resorts to playground-style “she did it” blame tactics.

My answer is that in fact their real “accomplishments” are things they never talk about.


The poisoning of our lands and waters.
The rapid decline and threat of extinction for hundreds of our native species.
A catastrophic increase in our greenhouse gas emissions.
More and more trucks clogging our roads.
A housing crisis and a homelessness crisis.
Hundreds of thousands of children growing up in poverty.

These are things they never campaigned on, never sought a mandate for, because they are things that the majority of New Zealanders oppose.

But they are the real legacy of this Government.

The challenge of government lies in actually confronting and solving those very real problems.

In the last few weeks we’ve learned that the Minister of Primary Industries can’t do anything to prevent illegal overfishing and dumping of fish stocks.

The Housing Ministers – there are three of them, because no single person can create a housing crisis this terrible on their own – can’t do anything about the homeless crisis.

The Social Development Minister can’t do anything about child poverty.

The Finance Minister can’t do anything about the property bubble.

All of their knowledge and talent and ingenuity is dedicated to pretending these aren’t real problems, and then coming up with pretend solutions to them.

Plastering over the cracks.

But these are real problems that cause real damage to our wildlife and our precious places, to the economy, to jobs and to the social fabric of New Zealand.

Whenever National is confronted with these real problems, their ideological blinkers get in the way and they pretend they’re powerless.

That is why we need change. And change is coming.

I want to give New Zealand a better vision of the future.

It’s a future where, on your weekends away, you’ll go to sleep at night safely knowing that the same beach that you’re enjoying now will still be here for future generations, unthreatened by rising seas.

In the morning, you’ll be woken by a dawn chorus from flocks of birds that once bordered on extinction.

After lunch you’ll pack the family into your electric car and head safely home on uncongested roads while your kids count the containers on the freight trains running on the tracks alongside you.

If you’ve got time, you might even stop by a river on your way home – and actually swim in it!

On Monday morning in New Zealand, you’ll catch the tram into town, and head off to some social enterprise or a clean-tech start-up, for a day of meaningful work, making the world just a little bit better and, while you’re at it, earning a fair day’s pay.

When you’re done, you’ll head back to your warm, dry, family home, a place you can call your own, secure in the knowledge that at the end of the month you’ve got enough to pay the rent or the mortgage and still put plenty of food on the table.

Your neighbours will be from all walks of life. The children of Syrian refugees will play with those of Chinese migrants, Pasifika and Tangata Whenua and seventh generation Pakeha.

Some will be doing well, some will be getting by.

But they’re you’re neighbours, and when someone gets into trouble, you pitch in to help out. Our communities will be connected, caring.

That’s the country I want to live in. That’s the future I’m committed to.

It’s not flashy or grandiose. It’s not science fiction. It’s just a better world and it is entirely possible.

If we change the Government. And change is coming.

And when people say to me, “OK then, I’ll vote for change, but why should I vote Green?” I’ll say to them, “I’m glad you asked me that question, Andrew!”

You should vote Green because we’ll protect our lakes and beaches and sea beds, because we’ll bring our endangered species back from the brink of extinction.

You should vote Green because we will clean up our rivers and make sure that those who profit from the use of water recognise that nature doesn’t come for free.

We will stop pretending that climate change isn’t a problem. Isn’t, in fact, the greatest challenge of our time. Of all time.

You should vote Green because the Green Party can and will start one of the most important shifts to take place in New Zealand over the next fifty years – the transition to a low carbon economy.

You should vote Green because we can and will build an economy and a society that works for everyone.

And you should vote Green because we will put the people of New Zealand back at the heart of our democracy.

We want policies to be written by experts and policy specialists, not lobbyists.

We want the voices of children, families and communities to be heard.

And we want Te Tiriti to be properly recognised – in practice – not just in words.

The difference between the Green Party and National is that we know that New Zealand can be the fairer, smarter and cleaner place that all Kiwis want.

National is still making excuses for why we can’t.

But changing the Government isn’t just about Metiria and me, and it’s not just about Andrew and Annette.

It’s about you.

I believe that a Labour – Green Government after next year’s General Election is entirely possible.

There’s only about five points in it, between the Labour-Green bloc and National, and I believe that the momentum building behind us, as a credible, stable alternative government, could get us over the line.

But I gotta tell you, we need to get real about what we’re up against.

National has built a formidable political machine, with millions of dollars and powerful vested interests behind it who are desperate to preserve the status quo.

In order to take on this machine, we need you. And we’re going to need everything you’ve got.

We need you on the streets, we need you on the phones, we need you on Facebook, on Instagram, at parties, spreading the word, building the movement for change.

Sure, we don’t have millions of dollars, but we’ve got two important tools at our disposal that National doesn’t.

The first thing we’ve got, which National demonstrably doesn’t, is vision.

A vision of a truly sustainable and inclusive country that, actually, all Kiwis want.

And that is much, much more potent than National’s line that this is as good as it gets.

And the second thing we’ve got, is you.

It’s time for a Government that cares. It’s time for government that puts our people and our natural world at the centre of everything it does.

It’s time for a Government that realises that when our environment and society is stronger, our economy is stronger.

It is time to change the Government. And change is coming.

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


Little’s Green AGM speech

Andrew Little’s speech from the Green party AGM today.

Video: Facebook

That is perhaps an unfortunate

Andrew Little’s Speech to Green Party AGM 2016

Thank you very much.

I have accepted the invitation to speak to your conference out of a profound sense of responsibility.

I am here because I believe those on the progressive side of politics owe it to New Zealanders to offer the hope that change is possible.

We must show that there is a real alternative. A credible alternative.

An alternative government that can transform our economy, end our housing crisis and restore a sense of hope and optimism to Kiwis who have been struggling.

One that will ensure all New Zealanders get a fair reward for the work that they do and that no one is left out or left behind.

An alternative government built on a new politics of inclusion, ambition and optimism.

One that builds on the things we are proudest of about our country, and that removes the barriers which stop us living up to our potential.

I want to sincerely thank you, and the leadership of the Green Party for this invitation.

I want to particularly acknowledge your co-leaders Metiria Turei and James Shaw. I have to say I have learned a lot from working with them.

I have learned from James the importance of matching your tie to your political colours. He really does have every shade of green in that wardrobe.

And from Metiria, that you can live in a castle and still be a republican!

In all seriousness, I have thoroughly enjoyed working together. As members of the Green Party you can be genuinely proud of two talented and dedicated leaders, backed by a hardworking Caucus.

After eight years, the current government has lost touch.

With an economy tilted in favour of those at the top, with rising unemployment and declining real wages, it’s time for a change.

With a deep housing crisis, plummeting homeownership and children forced to sleep in cars, it’s time for a change.

With a health system stretched to breaking point and an education system going backwards, it’s well past time for a change.

We owe it to the young couples worried they’ll never be able to buy a home because our housing market is out of control.

We owe it to the elderly who’ve paid taxes all their lives only to be told they can’t have the surgery they need because there’s not enough money in the health system for them.

We owe it to our kids – I owe it to my son – to do our part in the fight against climate change – because they don’t have a future if our planet doesn’t have a future.

And here in Canterbury, we owe it to the thousands of people who this government has let down.

People like Loretta Te Paa who I met on a visit here a few months ago.

When the earthquake struck, Loretta and her family were living in Woolston. Their home was ruined so they had to move into a cold, tiny flat in the Linwood temporary village.

They were told they’d be there for 26 weeks.

They were stuck there for three and a half years.

People like Loretta and her family, they deserve better.

They need a government that will back them and stand up for them.

They won’t get that from the current government.

We saw this clearly just last week – they produced a budget that did nothing to solve our housing crisis.

That cut money from health in real terms while freezing spending in our education system.

It’s a budget that actually forecast falling wages in the years ahead.

And look at the way they’ve slashed the social safety net and thrown people on the scrap heap.

They sell off state housing and say community providers can do the job instead – and then they cut the funding to those providers.

They say their social investment approach will target programmes at people most in need, and then they underfund those programs.

They say it isn’t economic to provide emergency housing – so instead they pay hundreds of dollars a night to put some of our most vulnerable people in motels – and then give them the bill.

Just look at the issue of rising homelessness we are now confronted with.

More than 40,000 people sleeping in cars, in garages, in severely overcrowded houses. Sleeping on the street.

Children as young as 11 living under bushes in South Auckland.

That’s not New Zealand. That’s not the country we are proud of.

And the Government’s only response, when not blaming others, is blaming homeless people themselves.

So this week they say the homeless don’t want to be helped, they quite like being homeless.

And this from a Government eight years in office.

When did we decide that was the kind of country we wanted to be?

When did this kind of poverty become ok?

Because we all know it’s wrong.

We’re a wealthy country.

This kind of thing doesn’t have to happen.

It happens as the result of political choices.

Well we can choose a better way.

We can choose to lift people out of homelessness.

And together that’s exactly what we’ll do.

So here’s my message to the Prime Minister: You’ve had eight years. Take some responsibility. Act like a grown up and stop blaming others.

But this isn’t the only issue they’re failing New Zealanders on.

Take their absolute lack of ambition on climate change.

On protecting our environment.

On standing up for our neighbours in the Pacific.

Look at the way this government ducks any moral responsibility on the world stage, from the refugee crisis to the treatment of Kiwis on Christmas Island.

Look at all they’ve done in the last eight years and think about the all the damage they could do if we give them another three.

We can’t let that happen.

We can’t be a successful country when more and more of the gains from our economy go only to the few at the very top.

We can’t be a successful country when the dream of homeownership is slipping away.

After eight years, it is very clear, if we want New Zealand to succeed, we have to change the government.

More and more New Zealanders are telling me there needs to be a change.

But they are cautious about the alternative.

New Zealanders might have real concerns about the current government, but they aren’t going to blindly vote for a change without reason to believe they are trading up.

And if we are serious about being that change, then we’ve got to earn it.

We can take nothing for granted.

We have to be disciplined and focussed as well as bold and courageous.

New Zealanders won’t trust us with the responsibilities of government unless we show them we are ready.

18 months ago, I made the decision to run for the leadership of my party because I could see that things had to change.

I saw a country in which more and more of the nation’s wealth was going to those at the very top, and those who worked for a living were struggling to get a fair share and struggling to get ahead.

That’s not the New Zealand I want to be part of. It’s not the kind of country I want to leave to my son. We’ve got to change it.

In the last 18 months, Labour’s made great progress.

Our caucus is working well together.

We’re reforming our party.

And we’re building a policy platform that can serve as the core of the next progressive government’s agenda.

But in an MMP environment, that alone isn’t enough.

In our country, under our system, governments must be built on lasting, mature relationships between different parties that share a common vision for the future.

That’s why we’ve been strengthening our relationship and cooperation with the Greens.

We’ve worked closely on issues like our Manufacturing Inquiry and the future of our education system.

We’ve worked together to get the government to agree to devolve more power over the Canterbury recovery to smart local people on the ground.

And we attended the Paris Climate Conference jointly as opposition members of the official delegation.

It’s against that background that this week Annette King and I signed the memorandum of understanding with the Green Party.

We are building a stronger relationship because that’s what the future demands. That’s what New Zealand needs.

This won’t always be easy.

We won’t agree on every issue.

We are different parties and we come from different movements, each with our own approach and our own traditions and our own way of seeing the world.

There will be points of real difference and debate and disagreement.

But we can deal with them respectfully and maturely.

I know this because I know that together, we share a vision for a stronger, fairer New Zealand.

It’s a much more hopeful and optimistic vision for our future than the one the current government is pursuing.

The leadership I bring to the next progressive government will deliver a better future for our country.

The government I lead will operate under the principle that the economy is not an end in itself, but a means to the end of delivering a good and decent life to our people.

For us in Labour, at the core of our political tradition, at the core of my own beliefs, lies the dignity of work. The ability to earn so you can stand on your own two feet and chase your dreams and ambitions.

That’s what we stand for. Every New Zealander having that chance.

We stand for a responsible state which ensures no citizen is denied the basics that allow them to participate in our society and reach their potential.

What are those basics?

A warm, dry, safe home. A quality education. Healthcare that’s there for you when you need it. And a safe and secure community.

We know that wealth must be created before it can be shared.

We support an economy that creates the next generation of jobs, which adds to the nation’s wealth, which modernises our economy and improves our standard of living.

And we know that development that contaminates the air we breathe, that chokes our lakes and waterways, or that damages our planet doesn’t serve our people and that we can and must do better.

Those principles will guide the Government I lead and they will guide me as Prime Minister.

We will reform our economy so it works for everyone, not just the few at the very top.

That means more good jobs, higher incomes and everyone getting a fair reward for their effort.

It means fixing this housing crisis.

After eight years we will do what this government has just never been able to get the hang of:

Build. More. Homes.

We will restore the Kiwi dream of homeownership.

We will address the housing crisis and we will build state houses so that every Kiwi can have a roof over their head.

Under the government I lead, older people won’t need to wait for years in pain.

We will end the cuts in health and make sure Kiwis get the care they need.

And we will recommit our country to the principle of free education.

We will put money back into our struggling public school system and we’ll stop shovelling money into charter schools that are more interested in making money off kids than teaching them.

And we will deliver three years free post-school training and education. Because lifelong education is the path to a better future.

The government I lead will make our country a leader in the fight against climate change.

And the next government will stand up for people in Christchurch that this government has forgotten about.

We’ll get cracking with the central city development, and we will sort out the mess at Southern Response and EQC.

People have waited too long. They deserve better.

And let me be very clear on one more thing: the government I lead will make fighting child poverty a top priority.

We will not accept children going to school hungry or going to sleep in bedrooms that make them sick.

We’ll feed hungry kids in schools and we will bring in proper rental standards so that every child in New Zealand grows up in a home that is warm and safe and dry.

We won’t listen to the cynics who say the problem is too big or too hard. Who say that poverty is just a fact of life.

We won’t give up on lifting every child out of poverty.

I won’t give up. It’s not who I am.

Next year, New Zealanders will have a clear choice.

On one hand a tired, out of touch government that is increasingly looking after only the few at the very top, and that has presided over a stalling economy, growing inequality, and an endless housing crisis.

Or they can choose a new, progressive government – our government – with a better plan for the future.

Our government will back people to get ahead, and reward their effort and ambition.

Our government will deliver a better, fairer New Zealand.

In the next 18 months, let’s send a simple message to New Zealanders:

There is a real alternative.

It’s time for a change.

Together let’s change this country.

Let’s build a better New Zealand.

Let’s do this.

And we can do this together.

Thank you.