Climate change and racism: “All the oppressions are connected to earth destruction”

Recent publicity about the possibility of a Blue-Green party that focuses mostly on environmental issues brought up the old arguments about how the Green Party has always been an advocate for both environmental and social justice policies.

This dual purpose has been unbalanced by the relative obscurity of Green co-leader James Shaw, being very busy as Minister of Climate Change, and the activities in social media of the other Green  co-leader Marama Davidson, who covers more social issues. But Davidson has linked one of those social issues, racism, with climate change.

A tweet in November:

Today:

Green Party donation versus party policy

The Greens have been bequeathed a $350,000 donation, their biggest ever and tens times larger than the limit proposed in their policy.

Green Party policy on donations includes:

Election Financing

  • Initiate a review of the overall operation of campaign finance rules, including rules around donations and spending caps and non-political party election activities
  • Introduce tighter limits on anonymous donations, place an annual limit of $35,000 on total donations from any single person or entity, and introduce a ban on overseas donations

The Greens tend to get smaller donations, but in 2016 the Greens received a donation of  $280,000 from the estate of Elizabeth Riddoch.

Last October Greens urge political donation reform

The Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson says New Zealand is open for corruption under the current rules around political donations.

She told Morning Report powerful businesses can gain influence with large donations.

“I think New Zealanders would be quite keen on a conversation on how we get big money out of politics,” she said.

“What we’ve seen around the world is that those with particular interests can have millions or hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of influence on political policy.

“We’ve already seen a $100,000 donation to the National Party being questioned, from someone who is a powerful businessman.

“I want to see equal access and not just big money having undue influence over our political system.”

“New Zealanders are starting to understand we could go down a slippery slope here”.

She said a cap on donations would give Kiwis more confidence in the political system.

But now $350,000 donation to the Greens, from late party member’s estate, the largest to a major political party in almost a decade (NZ Herald)

A $350,000 donation to the Greens in December is the largest single donation to a major political party in almost a decade.

It was also the largest to the Green Party in its 30-year history.

It was made by Betty Harris on December 13 last year. She died in January 2018 and the donation was part of her will.

The Green’s general-secretary Gwen Shaw said the party was very grateful for Harris’ donation.

She had been a party member since 1999.

“She was a lovely woman; never made a fuss but just got on with whatever she thought she could do to improve the world.”

Harris lived in East Auckland and was an active supporter of her local branch, particularly when she was younger, Shaw said.

A bit of ‘do as I say, not as I do’, but money is money, ‘gratefully accepted’, despite being contrary to Green policy.

What if Greens had been successful in placing ‘an annual limit of $35,000 on total donations from any single person or entity’?

In that situation if an amount larger than $35,000 was bequeathed to a party what would happen? If the party couldn’t legally accept it, what would happen to the money? Would the estate have to redistribute it elsewhere?

 

 

Climate change linked by Greens to inequality, power, corporations

It’s common to see Greens link climate change and environmental issues with a major reform of the world’s financial and business systems.

They don’t seem to recognise the good that large companies, big money and corporations have done for the world. They have also inflicted significant problems. But is a war on big business the best way to combat climate change?

One of the ways of dealing with climate issues is to develop alternatives. Socialist style governments are unlikely to lead the way or succeed there.

The motives of the Greens are admirable, but the means with which they want to achieve major change is, at best, a huge experiment that is certain to be difficult to achieve smoothly if at all.

 

Marama Davidson claims to have ‘outed’ anonymous donations

Green co-leader Marama Davidson has received support (and some criticism) after she claimed to have outed anonymous donations made to the National Party. These are donations that were disclosed by National by April in accordance with electoral law.

Davidson:

I’ve called for ALL parties to bring public confidence back to our system and step up to tighter rules. The vast majority of our donations were less than $100 (over 85%) and the ave amount was 48 bucks.

I don’t know that the public cares much about party donations.

Greens get a lot of small donations – they regularly ask for small donations from supporters. But I’m not sure why they feel that larger donations should be more strictly controlled.

There is a chance that large donors expect something in return from the parties they donate to. I’m sure that unions who make large donations to Labour hope for union friendly legislation from a Labour led government.

Greens focus on small donations – but they also use their donor and support base to lobby, via petitions, via bulk submissions. What is the difference apart from their method? Greens may in fact be using donors directly in their lobbying more than some big business donors.

Yesterday Davidson followed up, claiming to have ‘outed’ National:

Davidson has claimed to have ‘outed’ donation information that was filed by April this year with the Electoral Commission, and is easy to see here:

https://www.elections.org.nz/sites/default/files/bulk-upload/documents/national_party_-_annual_return_2017.pdf

A Green Party media release from Davidson: $3.5 million in anonymous donations to National in 2017, it needs to be fixed

Over $3.5 million in anonymous donations to the National Party in 2017 shows why we urgently need donations reform in Aotearoa New Zealand, Green Party Co-leader Marama Davidson said today.

“$3.5 million in anonymous donations is a huge sum of money, it is unlikely this is made up of coins or small notes dropped in a bucket of given at a bake sale.

“This spells out powerful vested interests tipping huge amounts of money into the coffers of the National Party, hiding behind anonymity.

“With this scale of funding comes influence, and at the moment we don’t truly know who these powerful vested interests are that are influencing our politicians. Our Parliament is ripe for influence by big corporations, and potentially corruption.

“It needs to end. After this past few weeks it is clearer than ever that New Zealanders want big money out of politics. It is time for our Parliament to be returned to the community.

“The Green Party are calling for anonymity to only be maintained for donations under $1000. This means that small donations at local fundraisers aren’t mired with red tape, but also means politicians will find it much harder to hide donations from powerful vested interests”.

In other words, she wants to protect the Green way of fundraising but wants to restrict the way other parties fundraise. Given that this would impact on Labour and NZ First as well as National I doubt that she will get much support.

It seems to be more ‘Green way or the highway’ anti-big business rhetoric.

‘Cash-for-candidates’ claims and party funding

The Jami-Lee Ross saga has raised to issue of whether candidates can influence candidate selections with donations.

I think that Colin Craig’s and Gareth Morgan’s money may have influenced their candidacy, but they are extreme examples.

It is difficult separating financial interests from political interests these days. Prospective candidates wanting to stand especially for National or Labour and especially for an electorate need to be in a position job-wise and financially to spend months campaigning, likely for more than one election.

It seems common for both the large parties to give first time candidates a go at a hopeless (for the party) electorate before earning their right to stand in a winnable electorate .

NZ Herald: National Party denies cash-for-candidates policy

The taped conversation between Simon Bridges and Jami-Lee Ross is opening the National Party to accusations of a cash-for-candidates policy, prompting the Green Party to call for sweeping changes to political donations.

Despite Ross’ comments on the recording, Bridges said this morning that he did not believe they discussed candidacy at the dinner.

“This was a very convivial dinner and we did not discuss that.”

He denied National Party list places were for sale.

“We have incredibly robust processes to become a Member of Parliament. It involves selection processes and competition … and what that’s about is the best man or woman winning the job on their merits.”

They do have contested selections, but that doesn’t rule out influence for a variety of reasons. And it doesn’t rule money (costs) being involved. Some National MPs have paid Simon Lusk and Cameron Slater to enhance their selection prospects, or probably more accurately, paid to fuck over opponents.

His comments were supported by National MP Melissa Lee, who said: “I did not pay to actually get here, and I don’t think anyone else has either.”

But it will have cost them money and probably also lost earnings opportunities, that’s the reality of modern democracy.

I think the Greens have always been opposed to big business donations.

But Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson said the recording suggested that National list positions could be bought.

She said the current law allowed too much room for anonymous donations, and New Zealanders deserved to know who was trying to buy influence.

“It could be oil and gas. It could be tobacco lobbying. The Greens have an ethics committee to approve all donations over $5000. We will not accept – and have refused in the past – any donations that don’t sit with our charter.

I don’t think any party will want to be seen to have accepted unethical donations.

“It’s very clear that at the moment we are a bit ripe for corruption, and this is why the Greens are calling for powerful vested interests and big money to get out of influencing political parties.”

Large donations for The Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand include:

  • Philip Mills $65,000 (November 2016)
  • James Jenkins $30,080 (April 2015)
  • Spoon Limited $48,295.40 (August 2014)

Should it be assumed that they are not trying to buy influence? If so, should it be assumed that any large donation is not designed to buy interest unless proven otherwise?

Another donation to the Greens:

  • Estate of Elizabeth Beresford Riddoch $283,835.99 (August 2016)

It would be safe to assume that a dead person couldn’t demand influence, wouldn’t it?

NZH:  Greens say big donation a mystery

The Green Party has received its largest ever donation, and says it knows nothing about the donor.

The party declared a donation of $283,835 last week from the estate of Elizabeth Riddoch.

Did they do a full ethics check first?

Helm said most of the Green Party’s fundraising was based on small, regular payments.

“We do have a quite comprehensive fundraising programme but a large bequest like this is extremely unusual for us.

“We tend to get a lot of small and medium-sized donations from people who perhaps have some disposable income but aren’t the very wealthy in society.”

So there could be some self interest involved trying to curb large donations when their own donations are mostly small and medium sized. As all the Green economy companies grow and thrive what if they offer to donate to the Green Party? Would that be seen as unethical?

Davidson called for sweeping changes, including removing anonymity for donations over $1000, capping individual donations at $35,000, banning overseas donations and increasing public money for campaigning.

They want state funded political parties. There’s a real danger that would favour parties already in Parliament, like the advertising funds dished out for election campaigns.

But New Zealand First leader Winston Peters disagreed.

“I don’t believe the taxpayer should be funding political parties to the degree that the Green Party says. The reality is, if you’ve got a consumer demand politically, people out there will back you.”

He said New Zealand First had never taken money in exchange for political influence, but the recording told a different story for National.

“It’s clear from those tapes that the National Party has a cash-for-candidates policy.”

It wasn’t clear.

What is clear is how brazen Peters is claiming “New Zealand First had never taken money in exchange for political influence”. It is unlikely to be a pure coincidence that fishing and racing donors to NZF happen to be pleased about the policies that Peters coincidentally gets pushed through as a priority in their coalition arrangements.

Party donations will always be contentious. And cast aspersions of influence will always be a weapon used by opponent parties.

Green involvement in water quality, rangatira and kaitiaki rights

Although Labour’s Environment Minister David Parker introduced Action announced for “a noticeable improvement in water quality” this is a big deal for the Green Party, who ensured water quality would be addressed in their Confidence and Supply Agreement with Labour.

Under ‘Sustainable Economy’:

5. Provide assistance to the agricultural sector to reduce biological emissions, improve water quality, and shift to more diverse and sustainable land use including more forestry

Under ‘Healthy Environment’:

7. Improve water quality and prioritise achieving healthy rivers, lakes and aquifers with stronger regulatory instruments, funding for freshwater enhancement and winding down Government support for irrigation.

a. The Resource Management Act will be better enforced.

I can’t find much on this in the media, but Green co-leader Marama Davidson said this via email – not surprisingly and justifiably Greens see this as a win for them:


Our streams, rivers, and lakes are precious to all of us. Freshwater is the lifeblood of our communities. That’s why we’re pleased that today the Government is continuing work to deliver on the Green Party’s commitment to clean up our rivers so they’re clean and healthy for our kids and grandkids.

The Green Party have long championed cleaning up our waterways and protecting them from pollution.

Russel Norman spent a summer kayaking several awa highlighting the growing pollution. When National slashed the freshwater standards Catherine Delahunty toured the country to restore them, and last year we made rivers a priority in the 2017 election campaign.

Together, we’ve put cleaning up our rivers on the political agenda. And today, with the Greens at the heart of Government, we’re making tangible progress.

As part of our agreement with Labour, we’ve secured prioritising healthy rivers, lakes, and aquifers.

Because of that, today the Government is announcing:

  • A comprehensive work programme to clean up our most at-risk catchments
  • Strengthening the National Policy Statement on freshwater
  • A new environmental standard to protect water
  • Improvements to the RMA
  • Beginning work on catchment-by-catchment allocations

We’ve still got a long journey ahead to make our rivers healthy and safe to swim in. But, today’s announcement shows this government is flowing in the right direction.

However, a key area that we think needs strengthening is to properly recognise that Māori have rangatira and kaitiaki rights over water, as guaranteed by Te Tiriti o Waitangi. We’ll continue to push for this to be honoured.

Protecting the environment and recognising Māori rights go hand-in-hand.

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.

Nation interview – Marama Davidson

Green co-leader is calling for an enforceable warrant of fitness for rental homes – a regime that will check out rental properties before they can take on tenants.

She said this policy hasn’t been costed, and it is Green policy so won’t necessarily get Government support.

When challenged on the apparent dominance of NZ First in policy achievements Davidson repeatedly rattles off Green achievements.

She says that the Greens always have been and remain a strong feminist party when challenged over her ‘c-word’ campaign – she seems to have learnt from that misstep and responded fairly well here.

Green candidate John Hart:

Interesting question from to about whether the Greens are an equal partner in Govt, based on NZ First and Green wins. So much depends on what each base wants, is willing to budge on, not just the number or $ value of policy wins.

But it would be fascinating to see an attempt at an objective metric

Greens confirm they will vote for ‘waka jumping’ bill

The Green caucus decision to vote for Winston Peters’ ‘waka jumping’ bill has been a contentious issue in the party, as they have had a history of strongly opposing similar legislation.

They affirmed their decision to vote for the bill at their conference in the weekend.

RNZ: Green leadership stands firm on Waka Jumping Bill at AGM

The Green Party leadership have dug in their heels and will not be reversing any of the decisions they have made in government.

Party stalwarts Jeanette Fitzsimons and Sue Bradford had hoped the caucus might be persuaded this weekend to pull its support from the Waka Jumping Bill.

Co-leader James Shaw was pushing the party’s biggest wins, ending oil and gas exploration and committing the country to a zero carbon future.

But the concessions they have made got a brief mention in his speech too.

“We haven’t won every debate, and the menu does feature the occasional dead rodent,” he told the party faithful gathered in Palmerston North.

He was referring to the Waka Jumping Bill, described by their own MP Eugenie Sage as a dead rat they had to swallow as part of a coalition government.

One of the party’s founding members, Jeanette Fitzsimons, said it went against everything the Greens stood for, making it clear there were parts of the core base that were still hugely unhappy with that decision.

“I simply don’t buy the line that the government would have fallen,” she said.

“Simply don’t buy the line that Jacinda Ardern and Winston Peters were going to say ‘ah well we don’t want to be in government anymore’ and let it all collapse, because they didn’t get this bill through? I mean, really.”

Ms Fitzsimons said they had tried everything to change the caucus’ mind, but described the eight MPs as a “brick wall.”

That’s not a good sign. The Greens used to promote their practice of the party making important decisions rather than the political leadership.

“This is a compromise that we had to make. I understand the different perspectives on that, but the decisions that we came to as a caucus and a party arrived to this,” Ms Davidson said.

“Because we think that providing New Zealand with stable government, is more important than that one issue,” Mr Shaw said.

That’s bullshit. It’s very difficult to see how Greens making a decision based on important party principles should destabilise the Government. The governing arrangement should not force such a contradictory stance on a party.

Unless perhaps Shaw is not being up front about threats made to him (by Peters and/or Labour) if the Greens don’t vote for the bill.

This is a prominent stain on the green stint in Government that they are going to have difficulty washing off.

I think it’s also fair to ask why Jacinda Ardern has allowed this situation to be forced on the Greens.

Q+A – Marama Davidson and James Shaw

Colrin Dann interviewed both Green leaders James Shaw and Marama Davidson on Q+A last night.

James Shaw on Greens in Government: “you’re not going to please all the people all the time”

Marama Davidson: no campaign on c-word, at a rally for racism I talked about the words used against me

Davidson may have heeded feedback and decided it was not going to be a popular issue to pursue.