Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary Bill appears to be still stalled

National MP Nick Smith introduced the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary Bill to Parliament in March 2016.

The sanctuary was a part of both governing agreements between Labour and NZ First and the Green Party, but after the bill was transferred to incoming Labour Minister of the Environment David Parker the bill seems to have stalled. In nearly three years it hasn’t progressed from it’s Second Reading.

Smith recently stated:

“It is embarrassing for the Coalition Government that it has made no progress on the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary after 18 months in Government.  The Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary Bill, originally in my name but transferred to David Parker with the change in Government in 2017, has sat on the bottom of Parliament’s Order Paper for 18 months.

Timeline:

8 March 2016 – Bill introduced to Parliament

15 March 2016 – First Reading

22 July 2016 – Select Committee

15 September 2016Govt remains committed to Kermadec sanctuary

The Government is disappointed it has been unable to reach agreement with Maori fisheries trust Te Ohu Kaimoana (TOKM) on the Kermadec/Rangitahua Ocean Sanctuary, despite lengthy negotiations, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith says.

“We have tried very hard to find a resolution with TOKM, with 10 meetings involving ministers during the past 10 months. TOKM wanted to be able to maintain the right to fish and the right to exercise that at some time in the future. We wanted to protect the integrity of the sanctuary as a no-take area.

“The Government has amended the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary Bill to provide a dual name, the Kermadec/Rangitahua Ocean Sanctuary Bill, to include Maori in the new Kermadec/Rangitahua Conservation Board, and to provide for their inclusion in the 25-year review. We remain committed to the changes to the proposal despite not being able to secure an agreement with TOKM.”

24 October 2017: Governing Agreements

Labour NZ First Coalition Agreement:

    • Work with Māori and other quota holders to resolve outstanding issues in the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary Bill in a way that is satisfactory to both Labour and New Zealand First.

Labour-Green Confidence and Supply Agreement (24 October 2017):

8. Safeguard the healthy functioning of marine ecosystems and promote abundant fisheries. Use best endeavours and work alongside Māori to establish the Kermadec/ Rangitāhua Ocean Sanctuary and look to establish a Taranaki blue whale sanctuary.

11 May 2018Winston Peters says the Greens can have a Kermadec Sanctuary – with a catch

Hope for a Kermadec Sanctuary is back on the table and NZ First leader Winston Peters is confident he can do a deal with the Green Party by the end of the year.

The deal would involve a compromise from the Greens though – accepting that the sanctuary won’t be a 100 per cent no-fishing zone.

While the previous government’s bill to establish it passed its first reading unopposed in 2016, iwi bodies and fishing companies subsequently filed legal action against it. NZ First, which has close ties to the fishing industry, raised serious concerns about the legislation.

To keep the fishing industry happy and to ensure iwi with fishing rights under the Treaty of Waitangi are on board, Peters is proposing a mixed model that allows for roughly 95 per cent marine reserve and 5 per cent fishing.

Peters says it’s entirely possible to preserve species while allowing a small percentage of fishing to keep interested parties on side.

He said the Greens would need to decide whether it was more important to have the best part of a sanctuary, or no sanctuary at all.

23 June 2018 – David Parker address to the Forest & Bird Annual Conference

I am also trying to progress the Kermadec Rangitāhua Ocean Sanctuary, which I have Ministerial responsibility for. I am working to see if I can find a way through that.

24 July 2018Winston Peters confident of Kermadec Marine Sanctuary deal by end of year

Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters is confident the deadlock over the Kermadec Marine Sanctuary can be broken by the end of the year.

Environment Minister David Parker and Mr Peters have been working on a compromise for the best part of this year.

Mr Peters insisted an end-of-year deadline was realistic.

“If we keep working on this issue with the level of commitment that has been exhibited thus far then it’s very likely we can have it resolved by the end of 2018.”

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson said there was more than one way to uphold Treaty rights and keep the Kermadec Islands a sanctuary.

“We’re committed to a sanctuary, it’s with our confidence and supply agreement with Labour and that’s what we’re committed to keep working towards. I haven’t actually seen details of exactly what Mr Peters and Mr Parker might be working on.”

Greens seem to have been sidelined.

12 February 2019Prime Minister’s Statement at the Opening of Parliament

Cabinet will also consider options to resolve outstanding issues around marine protection for Rangitahua/the Kermadecs.

While the sanctuary Bill seems to have stalled since 2016, despite the coalition and C&S agreements, it seems to remain stalled.

Nick Smith: Kermadec sanctuary lost at sea

World Oceans Day today highlights the Government’s failure to make any progress on the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary in the past 18 months, Nelson MP Dr Nick Smith says.

There seems to have been little progress since mid-2016, nearly three years ago.

“New Zealand has responsibility for one of the largest areas of ocean in the world, yet less than one per cent is fully protected. The Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary would protect an area twice the size of New Zealand’s land mass, 15 per cent of our ocean area and it would benefit hundreds of unique species, including whales, dolphins, turtles, seabirds, fish and corals.

“Nothing has been done by the Government to progress the Sanctuary, despite commitments in the Coalition Agreement with NZ First and the Confidence and Supply Agreement with the Greens to establish the sanctuary.

“National will continue to push for the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary. There is strong public support and between National and the Greens, there is a clear majority of Parliament in favour of its establishment.

“We support progression of the Government Bill now at second reading stage. I also have a Member’s Bill in the Ballot to make progress if necessary. The Government needs to make progress on this Sanctuary a priority.”

So why has this bill stalled?

Is David Parker not doing enough to push it?

Are negotiations with Maori interests still getting nowhere?

Are NZ First holding out for their deal or no deal?

Government under-delivery continues with ‘dismal’ social welfare tweaks

The Government year of under-delivery continued last week with an announcement of social welfare reforms tweaks being buried on Friday afternoon when it would have been anticipated that most news coverage would have been of Pike River mine re-entry – which also didn’t deliver.

Green co-leader Marama Davidson sounds deflated and resigned to under-delivery this term at least.

Yes I affirmed that these first steps and changes have come too late for too many.

I know change is long overdue, and people deserve support now. Can guarantee I’m committed to that change and the hard work it requires. It’s right people demand we just sort this out asap.

Sue Bradford:

“The government’s response to the findings of the Welfare Expert Advisory Group (WEAG) is dismal.”

A Welfare Expert Advisory Group was set up with an expectation it would report back with transformative reforms – which it did, with 42 recommendations. But the Government announcement on Friday indicated that only one of these would be implemented straight away, and another two would have to wait another year. And these are really only relatively minor tweaks.

In the 2017 election campaign the Green Party nearly died in a ditch when  co-leader Metiria Turei launched a major promotion for social welfare reform by revealing her experiences with claiming more benefits than she was eligible for. Support for the Green Party slumped.

Turei resigned and the Greens survived the election, but their number of MPs dropped from 14 to 8, and their share of the vote dropped from10.7% to 6.3%. They managed to negotiate their way into Government with Labour, but outside of Cabinet, and with what have turned out to be vague commitments. On social welfare the Confidence & Supply Agreement states:

Fair Society

10. Overhaul the welfare system, ensure access to entitlements, remove excessive sanctions and review Working For Families so that everyone has a standard of living and income that enables them to live in dignity and participate in their communities, and lifts children and their families out of poverty.

In April 2018 Marama Davidson was appointed as the new female co-leader of the Greens – Marama Davidson wins Green Party co-leadership race

She spoke about winning back voters who the Green Party had lost to Labour in the 2017 election – but also reaching out to new voters from her own background in poorer communities.

“In order to be a genuine and relevant voice for modern Aotearoa, we need to reflect its diverse reality. We need more members from all backgrounds and communities,” Davidson said.

“I know what it is to struggle to find a home to rent. I know what it is to not have enough food for your tamariki. And I know that no parent should have to go through that.”

“The community I come from is at the coalface of the most pressing issues we face as a society: rising poverty and inequality, the housing and homelessness crisis, polluted rivers and poor health and education outcomes.”

She said a massive economic shift was needed to a system that put the wellbeing of people and the environment above simple GDP growth.

Co-leader James Shaw said Davidson’s campaign had “lit a wildfire through the party.”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called Davidson to congratulate her.

“The Green Party is a valued confidence and supply partner of this Government and I look forward to working with Marama to build a stronger, fairer and more inclusive country,” Ardern said.

“I am sure our work will be strengthened with the addition of Marama Davidson helping to leading this important work alongside me, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters, and Green Co-leader James Shaw.”

It looks like Davidson has not strengthened much if anything on social welfare reform.

The Welfare Expert Advisory Group (WEAG) was established in May 2018, with twelve ‘experts’ appointed. The Terms of Reference stated:

1. …It is timely at this critical juncture to evaluate whether our social welfare system remains fit for purpose in contemporary New Zealand.

2. The Government’s vision is for a welfare system that ensures people have an adequate income and standard of living, are treated with and can live in dignity and are able to participate meaningfully in their communities.

Objective

5. The Welfare Expert Advisory Group (the WEAG) is being established to provide advice to the Government on options that could best give effect to its vision for the future direction of the social welfare system.

They delivered their Report to the Minister for Social Development on 26 February 2019.

On Friday afternoon (3 May 2019) the Government announced that “its vision for the future direction of the social welfare system” would amount to a few minor tweaks.

Marama Davidson’s initial response promoted just one of the tweaks:

The Confidence and Supply Agreement between the and commits to removing excessive sanctions. This starts with today’s announcement.

In response to comments on Twitter she acknowledged the failure to deliver urgent reform.

Davidson:

I know change is long overdue, and people deserve support now. Can guarantee I’m committed to that change and the hard work it requires. It’s right people demand we just sort this out asap.

She sounds disappointed and deflated.

Sue Bradford (The Spinoff): No hope for progressive welfare reform from this government

The government’s response to the findings of the Welfare Expert Advisory Group (WEAG) is dismal.

It appears the only substantive welfare reform we can expect during this parliamentary term is the removal of the financial sanction against sole parents who can’t or won’t name their child’s father. That’s great, but that’s it.

Both Labour and the Greens went into the 2017 election promising the elimination of this sanction. It could have been axed as soon as they took power. Instead, it is now clear that the government has deliberately delayed action until the WEAG reported back, just so they could point to at least one reform of substance after the expenditure of $2 million on the working group.

The sole parent sanction won’t be removed until April next year, and the Government has confirmed there will be no backdating.

…I am so angry that this government has not had the courage of any convictions in responding to the WEAG’s heartfelt mahi.

We are seeing the weakest possible response to the WEAG’s sterling efforts. There is no commitment to any significant change during this parliamentary term. To talk about transforming welfare in three, five or 10 years as Sepuloni does is simply meaningless.

Any beneficiary expecting a sudden onset of empathy from this government can forget about that, apart from those who will directly benefit from the ending of the naming-father sanction.

None of the existing lot are going to do anything serious. It would require a kind of courage and commitment not in evidence when it comes to standing up for the rights and wellbeing of beneficiaries. The Greens have a legacy of fine welfare policies and Marama Davidson and others do seriously support the kind of recommendations made by the WEAG. However,  this is not backed up by the practice of the Greens in this term of Parliament, near-silenced in their role as support party, and with a tendency to skitter away from hard battles under any kind of pressure.

That’s scathing of the Government, but especially scathing of Bradford’s own Green Party (she may have ditched them now but was an MP and stood for leadership in the past).

If we’re ever going to hope for transformative and progressive welfare reform, it is now clear it will need to be championed by a party that is not yet in Parliament.

There is no sign of such a party, so it not just a dismal under-delivery, the outlook for social welfare reform looks dismal.

 

 

 

No questions asked (no sanctions) welfare

One of just three changes as a result of the Welfare Expert Advisory Group report is contentious – it will remove (next year) a sanction (reduction in sole parent benefit) for mothers who don’t name the father of their child or children:

The Government will scrap the discriminatory sanction that cuts income to women and their children if the name of the child’s father is not declared to the Government.

Removing the section 192 sanction will cost $113.4 million over 4 years and will come into effect on 1 April 2020.

The Green Party has wanted a range of sanctions and requirements for getting benefits removed for some time. It was championed by Metiria Turei as she crashed and burned her political career just before the 2017 election, and her successor as Green co-leader, Marama Davidson, has also promoted much higher benefits with no questions asked.

It doesn’t actually start today, it starts in April 2020.

National imposed the sanctions and oppose their removal. Stuff: Government to scrap benefit sanction for solo mums, among welfare changes

National’s spokeswoman for social development, Louise Upston, said her party disagreed with the bulk of the report, “which would see fewer obligations imposed on beneficiaries and fewer incentives to get back into work”.

“Increasing the abatement threshold for people on benefits means people can keep more of what they earn. This is a welcome incentive to encourage more people into work.

“National believes that New Zealanders should be given a hand up, not a hand out and those who can work, should.”

ACT leader David Seymour…

…said removing sanctions on women who don’t name the father of their child is a complete reversal of position for Labour.

“In 2004, Social Development Minister Steve Maharey said: ‘It is a rort, and I have said time and time again in this Parliament that fathers must front up to their obligations, and we will make sure they do … It is not unreasonable to penalise financially those who do not.’

“This change will mean taxpayers will assume greater responsibility for supporting children, rather than their fathers.

Auckland Action Against Poverty…

…said it was glad to see the Government “finally taking action to stop punishing sole parents and children”.

It urged the Government to also ensure that every woman who had been penalised by the sanction received back pay, however the Minister told media this would not happen.

From the WEAG report:

The current benefit system is based on a one of conditionality and sanctions. We heard overwhelmingly through our consultation that such a system diminishes trust, causes anger and resentment, and contributes to toxic levels of stress. The application of obligations and sanctions in New Zealand (and elsewhere) is problematic.

The empirical literature provides no single, overarching answer to whether obligations and sanctions in welfare systems bring about the desired forms of behavioural change, such as movement into paid work or whether the positive effects of obligations outweigh the negative (Watts & Fitzpatrick, 2018: 111).

Research does indicate that obligations and sanctions can be costly to administer and comply with and have many harmful unintended consequences that compound social harm and disconnectedness (for example, movement in and out of insecure jobs, interspersed with periods of unemployment; disengagement from the social security system; increased poverty; increased crime to survive; worsened ill-health and impairments) (Economic and Social Research Council, 2018; Watts & Fitzpatrick 2018; Butterworth et al, 2006; Kiely & Butterworth, 2013; Davis, 2018). There is even less evidence that non-work-related obligations and associated sanctions achieve the stated aims of intended behavioural modification.

A high number of obligation failures15 are disputed (46%) and almost all (98%) of these disputes are upheld with the failure being overturned.

Require mutuality of expectations and responsibilities

The current obligations and sanctions regime must be immediately reformed into a system of mutual expectations and responsibilities that are applied according to the circumstances of the individual. They must be applied in a way that meets the values of the system, with robust checks and balances to mitigate potential negative impacts on individuals and their families and whānau.

Removing the father naming sanction makes it easier for fathers to avoid responsibility.

The report recommended a range of obligations and sanctions be removed.

  • the requirement to complete specific activities before a benefit is granted (pre-benefit activities)
  • the sanction where benefit payments stop if people have a warrant out for their arrest, and continue data matching with the Ministry of Justice and take a proactive supportive approach to contacting these people
  • social obligations that require people receiving a benefit to take all reasonable steps to have their children enrolled with a medical practice, be up to date with their Wellchild/Tamariki Ora checks and be attending early childhood education or school
  • pre-employment drug testing and provide specialised support for people with substance use disorders
  • the mandatory work ability assessment for people with health conditions or a disability and link workability assessments to return to work plans
  • the requirement to reapply for a benefit every 52 weeks – MSD is expected to provide full and correct entitlements through regular reviews (at least annually)
  • work obligations when an additional child is included in a benefit (the subsequent child rule)
  • the sanction on not naming another parent (was section 70A in the Social Security Act 1964 and is now section 192 of the Social Security Act 2018).

Only the last of those is being being removed by the Government, so most sanctions will remain.

The cost of removing the s192 parent naming sanction is estimated to cost $113.4 million over 4 years, which is $28.35 million annually.

“Around 24,000 children will be significantly better off as a result of this change, with many sole parents’ incomes increasing by an average of $34 a week,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

That’s a lot of children with unnamed fathers.

Doing some calculations the budget suggests about 16,000 solo mothers will have an income (benefit) increase, that’s a lot who don’t name fathers – it’s nearly a quarter of the total of about 60,000 receiving Sole Parent Support  (some of those will be fathers).

Why don’t mothers name fathers?

Some will genuinely not know who the father is, or will be uncertain. And some mothers will have legitimate reasons for having nothing to do with fathers.

In other cases men named as fathers may deny they are the parent.

And there must be some arrangements of silence of convenience, where the mother doesn’t name the father so he doesn’t have to pay maintenance, but under the table support arrangements are made.

$28.35 million annually is not a lot in the whole scheme of social welfare, which has a current  annual budget of $30.6 billion.

This is a small win for the Greens, but when the sanction is removed many children and low income families will be better off, which generally is a good thing.

It may cost a bit more as more solo mothers are likely to choose to not name the fathers, which is likely to reduce the number fathers paying maintenance, but this is likely to be not substantial.

“Stop infantilising us. I personally hate the Rainbow whanau/family nonsense.”

Some sensible words from @aniobrien on the Israel Folau fallout, and some strong words to Green MPs, who are politicising lesbians and gays, on their “Rainbow whanau/family” nonsense.

Just as there are diverse gender and sexuality preferences, there are diverse views within the LABC…XYZ – everyone who is not purely heterosexual (if that exists) – groups, communities and individuals.

I’m not a lesbian or gay but I agree with what Ani says about Israel Folau’s insistence that anyone who doesn’t ‘repent’ follow his beliefs will go to some sort of hell.

Dismissing Folau is entirely the decision of Rugby Australia and it is likely that he breached his contract with them by bringing the sport into disrepute. This is simply Folau reaping the consequences of his actions. This isn’t the first time he has courted controversy.

Folau has rightly been publicly condemned, however I don’t think his speech should be subject to legal measures. It is not illegal to be offensive. It is not illegal to practice religion. Nor should it be.

Just as I have a right to call Folau a religious nutbar with a habit of hypocrisy who is reaping what he has sowed, he has the right to say I am going to hell for being a total homo. Hilarious because hell doesn’t exist!

Hell is a threat rather than a place. It’s been used as the ultimate bogeyman, a place equivalent of Knecht Ruprecht just as heaven is a place equivalent of Saint Nicholas/Santa – age old threat/reward trick.

Ani then lays into politicians who are politicising homosexuality.

There has been a lot of pearl clutching by heterosexual politicians invested in portraying lesbians and gays as fragile and on the precipice of suicide. I really wish they would cut it out. We are one of the most resilient groups of people on the planet.

I have a few messages for NZ politicians who’re politicising me & other lesbians and gays:

  1. Stop with the irresponsible suicide rhetoric. All research shows that this creates a self-fulfilling prophecy and risks contagion. You can support us without invoking dodgy suicide stats.
  2. Stop infantilising us. I personally hate the “Rainbow whanau/family” nonsense. Partly because our “community” has never been so divided & partly because it sounds like a kindergarton play group.
  3. Stop conflating transgenderism with homosexuality. Folau didn’t even mention trans people. We are not synonymous. We are very different & piggy-backing them on to all of our issues is unhelpful.
  4. Stop hyperbolising what hate speech is. 50 people were massacred in Christchurch & when you lump in offensive speech with the hate & violence of the man responsible for the terrorist attack you insult their memory.
  5. Stop undermining free speech principles. When you censor & restrict speech it is those in power who dictate acceptability. This means minority groups & those challenging systems of oppression are the first to be silenced.
  6. Stop virtue-signalling & playing identity politics & for the love of goddess please focus on the policies that acutely affect us – you know like our planet becoming rapidly uninhabitable. I’m looking at you
  7. Start listening to all of your constituents – even those you don’t agree with.
  8. Start basing your policy decisions on science and fact not the ideology of a small minority. Most of us do not want to be governed by the religion or belief systems we don’t subscribe to. We are a secular nation.
  9. Start leading by example. Divisive messaging does not solve anything. Your mates in your (not so) secret Facebook groups might cheer you on, but it is not smart politics or good for NZ.
  10. Start speaking up. I know a great number of you can see the harm that comes from this brand of silencing, divisive identity politics. It’s time to get brave and say something.

Divisive messaging does not solve anything. Can you take that on board Marama Davidson? Golriz Gharaman?

Marama Davidson lays into the blame game

The degree to which Marama Davidson takes her arguments here is alarming, especially for a political party leader.

While most of the country is coming together with a common purpose of sympathy and empathy, she seems to be intent on blaming and dividing.

Yesterday from her speech in Ministerial Statements — Mosque Terror Attacks—Christchurch

I know that we must work together, all of us, to become an Aotearoa where everyone is safe to pray, or not—an Aotearoa where people are safe to be who they are.

I also acknowledge the calls from those in Muslim communities to ensure that we tell the truth right from the start. I note the Muslim voices highlighting the truth that New Zealand has a long history of colonial policy, discourse, and violence that sought to harm indigenous peoples. As tangata whenua, I am aware that we need to build connections now more than ever, to heal, and to create loving futures for everyone.

There are some major contradictions in this.

So what do we do now? I am energised by the signs of people now reflecting on their own bias and prejudice and committing to fighting racism with all their might.

We have a big shift ahead of us. We have lessons to learn. We have conversations to have. It’s just that this seems like it was too big a price to pay to get us to this point. In closing, to our Muslim communities, we love you, not just because you are us, but because you are you. Kia ora.

Davidson needs to learn that those of us who have some colonial history in our whanau are also part of ‘us’.

She is correct in saying “we must work together, all of us” – she just needs to learn what that actually means, and she needs to learn that divisive speech is contrary to what she is imploring here.

 

Parliament – Ministerial Statements – Mosque Terror Attacks

Opening and Prayer:

SPEAKER: Salaam alaikum. As part of our expression of sorrow and of our hope following the terrorist attack in Christchurch, I have invited Imam Nizam ul haq Thanvi to say a prayer. He will do so in Arabic and then it will be repeated in English by Tahir Nawaz. Following this, my colleague Adrian Rurawhe will say the parliamentary prayer in Te Reo, and it will be repeated by Anne Tolley in English.

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN (Prime Minister): I wish to make a ministerial statement relating to the Christchurch mosques terror attacks. Assalam alaikum, peace be upon you, and peace be upon all of us.

Hon SIMON BRIDGES (Leader of the Opposition): As New Zealand woke on 15 March 2019, none of us could have imagined the horror and terror about to be unleashed on our people.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First):

MARAMA DAVIDSON (Co-Leader—Green):

DAVID SEYMOUR (Leader—ACT):

 

Transcripts: Ministerial Statements — Mosque Terror Attacks—Christchurch

Marama Davidson: “I had to pull the party together”

Marama Davidson is a radical activist who has struggled to work with the realities of being in Parliament, and especially the realities of leading a party in Government.

She had an opportunity to mmake a mark while co-leader James Shaw is busy being a Minister trying to establish the Greens as a party in power, but she is still more of a niche politician trying to appeal to a wider audience.

She has a long way to go to lift the Green Party out of Labour’s shadow, and the big challenge here is to do this without appearing to be too left wing radical, which would deter support from those who prefer the greens as an environmental party.

Newsroom – Davidson: very Green, very outspoken and a lot to prove

On the reality of last year’s Green leadership contest:

But all was not well behind the scenes. The contest brought to the fore an identity crisis for the very soul of the party. At its heart was a question of whether the Greens were radical enough — and whether, as a party of Government, it would naturally move further to the centre, losing its activist raison d’être.

Eugenie Sage and Julie Anne Genter were prospects for taking the leadership position left vacant by Metiria Turei.

Then there was Marama Davidson. Entering Parliament in 2015, she was the least experienced potential contender and initially hesitant to run. But she was popular with the party’s activist left, who lobbied strongly for her to put her hat in the ring in the hope she would counterbalance Shaw’s perceived corporate-ness and pull the party back to the left.

Sitting down one year later, Davidson admitted the time after the leadership battle was difficult.

“We went through some tough stuff and none of it was very secret,” she said.

“I had to pull the party together”.

But has she?

But the first few months were difficult. The Greens had haemorrhaged staff through the first half of 2018, stretching the party’s back room. The chaos came to a head in June when the party forgot to lodge its Parliamentary questions.

Then further chaos erupted in August, when Davidson told a protest she would reclaim the C-word because she was sick of being slandered with it online. The episode quickly spiralled out of control.

Looking back on it now, Davidson is mostly disappointed the story became about the appropriateness of the word, rather than the fact she was campaigning against the online abuse she received.

Observers felt it showed a lack of focus from the Green leadership as the campaign drew ever more attention, diverting people from the party’s work elsewhere. Less time thinking about climate change, more time thinking about, well, the c-word.

That didn’t pull the party together.

Davidson still has a lot to prove — especially to the hard left of the party who lobbied so effectively to elevate her to the leadership. Criticising the Government from her position is hard — some would say impossible.

Davidson could go harder in future. She thinks one of the main reasons the Maori Party didn’t survive was because it failed to properly hold the National Government to account. She sees continuing to put pressure on Labour as being essential to the Greens’ survival in Government.

On the other side of the equation, concessions won by Davidson from within Government, like Phil Twyford’s work on improving rental properties, are significant but hardly enough to take back to a hungry electorate in 2020.

There is the suggestion this has meant some on the hard-left of the party are dissatisfied with her leadership.

On Sunday, she will make a speech to party members at the Greens’ summer policy conference about the wellbeing budget and the environment.

She has made that speech: Marama Davidson – Summer Policy Conference

The conference has some big decisions to make, not least of which is whether to sign the Greens up to another round of Budget Responsibility Rules for the next parliamentary term.

With both Davidson and the membership strongly opposed, its likely the party will junk the rules for the next election. However Labour, which will control the finance portfolio in any future left-wing Government is likely to sign back up.

The looming question for the Greens is whether or not they can force the larger party’s hand – getting them to release, or even loosen the purse strings in any future Government.

RNZ: Greens want wide-ranging tax reform

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson wants a capital gains tax to be just the start of wide-ranging tax reform.

There’s real doubt Labour will even go for the CGT.

Speaking at the party’s summer policy conference Ms Davidson told members that resistance to a tax on capital gains came from a wealthy elite who are holding the country’s political system hostage.

She said the Greens want more reform including a tax rate for the richest 1 percent and taxing polluting big businesses and housing speculators.

Davidson was asked about this on RNZ this morning, and she came across as waffly and unsure. Outside her radical Green circles, her comfort zone, she struggles.

It may be to soon to judge whether Davidson is more asset or liability for the Green re-election chances. She has to find an assured and credible way of talking to a wider audience.

I see no sign of her pulling the party together. More like the opposite.

 

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.