Greens want 50% house price drop

On RNZ this morning Metiria Turei said she supported up to a 50% drop in house prices.

Auckland house prices need to drop 50 percent – Greens

Auckland house prices should be deliberately reduced by up to 50 percent over a period of time to make the market affordable again, Greens co-leader Metiria Turei says.

Ms Turei said the only way to reverse that was to slowly bring prices back down to three or four times the median household income.

She told Morning Report the Green Party was considering what timeframe would work without crashing the market and hurting people who already owned homes.

“The only way to prevent a bust, and to protect families in the short and long term is to lay out a comprehensive plan, which means using every comprehensive tool that we’ve got so that we can slowly bring down house prices so that they’re reasonable.”

She backed this up (without the numbers) with this:

Responsible house price reduction needed to avoid bubble bursting

Auckland housing is unaffordable and a responsible Government would have a sensible plan to reduce house prices over time, while protecting families with mortgages, the Green Party said today.

“The simple fact is that housing in Auckland is totally unaffordable and if we don’t take action to bring house prices down, we will have a whole generation of people locked out of ever owning their own home,” said Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei.

“In around 10 to 15 years’ time, we’d like to see families on the median household income buying their first home for about three to four times that income – not 10 times like it costs now.

“I want to be very clear that we are talking about a responsible, carefully managed reduction in house prices over a period of time like 10 to 15 years.

“The Green Party is putting together a plan for how to reduce house prices responsibly and gradually, and that will include making sure people who’ve recently taken out big mortgages to buy a home are safe and secure.

“We know housing isn’t affordable for families now, so the only way to protect people from market instability is to lay out a plan using every tool we’ve got to slowly bring down house prices to a reasonable level.

“Nobody, including the Green Party, wants to see the housing market crash and equally nobody thinks the current situation can go on like this.

“It’s a fundamental part of Kiwi values that people who work hard should be able to afford their own home.

“Our plan for more affordable housing will include building more houses, a capital gains tax (excluding the family home), and restricting non-resident foreign buyers,” Mrs Turei said.

Back to RNZ with Labour’s reaction:

The Auckland Council’s chief economist had suggested bringing prices down to five times the median household income by 2030, she said.

Labour leader Andrew Little said Ms Turei’s declaration that Auckland house prices should be deliberately reduced was irresponsible.

There was no way a Labour-led government would consider the idea, he said.

“We have a very clear plan. It’s not about crashing house prices. It’s about stabilising prices.

“We don’t want to cause undue economic harm to those who – in good faith – have bought homes, entered into mortgages. That’s not a responsible approach.”

Labour and the Greens recently struck a co-operation agreement, including a no-surprises policy.

This seems like a planned announcement by the Greens, and they are likely to have known it would be a bit of a surprise to Labour.

So who is right?

I don’t think a 50% reduction in values is a sound target. Too many risks.

For a start it’s probably impossible to plan house prices over the short term let alone over a decade or two. There are too many factors that are hard to control, and major ones of those are international.

I think if house prices drop by more than  20% it  starts to put recent purchasers at risk of going into negative equity, so dropping much more than that must be highly questionable.

Perhaps there needs to be some middle ground – some drop in values, limiting increases in values by ensuring adequate land supply, and and working more towards raising wages to meet somewhere in the middle.

Ideally. If that were at all possible.

 

Labour’s new co-leader

Perhaps this was a Freudian slip by Andrew Little’s office in a letter sent out by Labour and the Greens this week, announcing the parties’ joint inquiry into homelessness.

LabourCoLeader

A possibly unobservant Metiria Turei signed off as Labour Party Co-leader.

Ten dirty rivers?

At the Green party AGM Metiria Turei launched a new (sort of ) policy to target ten rivers for cleaning up.

Stuff: Green Party launches campaign to point out dirty rivers

A travelling campaign to highlight 10 major rivers in need of a clean up has been launched by the Green Party at its annual conference. 

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei unveiled the campaign during her keynote speech, saying the Government needed to lift its “wadable” standards. 

But while the campaign was new, the policy was not. Turei said it wasn’t just Green Party members that were being targeted, it was an issue “of enormous importance” to all New Zealanders. 

In what appears to also be doubling as a data-gathering exercise, a new Green Party website requires petitioners to register with email addresses. 

“The best hope for our rivers is that we change the Government. Today’s petition is an opportunity for New Zealanders to demand rivers clean enough to swim in. 

The 10 filthy rivers: 

  • Wairua (Northland)
  • Kaipatiki (Auckland)
  • Waikato
  • Tarawera (Bay of Plenty)
  • Tukituki (Hawkes Bay) 
  • Waitara (Taranaki) 
  • Ruamahanga (Wairarapa) 
  • Manawatu
  • Waikirikiri/Selwyn (Canterbury) 
  • Mataura (Southland)

The following day on Stuff/Taranaki Daily News: Green party looking to clean up quality of Taranaki’s Waitara river

The sewage-spill plagued Waitara river has made a list of 10 waterways around the country the Green Party wants cleaned up. 

Waitara has been plagued by sewage leaks this year, with three sewage discharges since February. 

In the Green Party’s campaign information it states the Waitara river is impacted by nutrients and sediment from dairy farming upstream. But its recent issue with sewage overflows haven’t gone unnoticed. 

“If you thought raw sewage going into rivers was a thing of the past, think again,” it says. 

“When the sewerage system at Waitara, north of New Plymouth in Taranaki, is overwhelmed by heavy rainfall, raw sewage spills into the river and ends up in the sea.”

However the following day, also from Taranaki Daily News: Green Party’s Waitara River claims slammed as baseless by council

Green Party claims that the Waitara River is so polluted it is unsafe for bathers have been described as “baseless” by councillors.

But the claims were refuted by the Taranaki Regional Council during a meeting of its consents and regulatory committee on Tuesday.

“The Green Party’s facts are totally misaligned with reality,” council chief executive Basil Chamberlain said. 

“It’s sad for the community of Waitara who can right now swim in their river 95 per cent of the time.”

The council’s director of environment quality, Gary Bedford, said he could find “no factual base to the Green’s claims”.

“We test the Waitara River every week during peak bathing season and have found it swimmable for 95 per cent of the time,” he said. 

 Bedford stressed that the council’s water quality data was publicly available and audited by Niwa to ensure its accuracy.

“It’s important to point out that if the bacteria levels reach even one point above the threshold it’s deemed at risk,” he said. 

Water spokesperson for the Greens Catherine Delahunty said the rivers selected in their top 10 didn’t necessarily represent the dirtiest in the country.

“We wanted ten from different regions from around the country that showed the different types of threats and problems rivers are facing, but which also highlighted the potential solutions for cleaning them up,” she said.

But the Taranaki Regional Council claims have fallen on deaf ears at Green HQ. Today Metiria Turei continued the 10 rivers campaign unchanged. Via email:

We’ve chosen 10 rivers to focus on, to find out what’s wrong and how we can clean them up again – we want your support for this campaign, can you add your name?
 
We can do it! Aotearoa has the resources and the know-how to clean up our rivers and protect the wild places that we love.

Our reward at the end of the hard work? The magic sound of a big splash and a shriek as that kid hits that sparkling, cold water.

How could anyone argue against that?

Taranaki Regional Council claim they have already done the hard work on the Waitara River.

Metiria Turei’s AGM speech

Metiria Turei’s keynote speech to the 2016 Green AGM/conference in which she announces a  clean river policy (Greens have campaigned on cleaning up rivers for years but there must be something new in this).

“I am the River, and the River is me”
Metiria Turei
Speech to Green Party AGM, 5 June 2016

Tenei au e tu whakaiti nei, i raro i a Ranginui i runga i a Papatuanuku, e titiro ki nga maunga whakahi me nga tini uri of Tane

Kei aku nui, kei aku rahi, e te ti, e te ta, tena koutou katoa.

Ki ngā iwi me ngā hapū katoa o te rohe, mihi atu ki a koutou e pupuri tonu ana ki te mana o te whenua nei.

A ka huri au ki te hunga Kākāriki – anei tātou kei mua I nga kaupapa o te ra nei, anei taku mihi aroha ki a koutou katoa.

E rere kau mai te Awa nui
Mai i te Kāhui Maunga ki Tangaroa
Ko au te Awa, ko te Awa ko au

The Great River flows
From the Mountains to the Sea
I am the River, and the River is me

This whakataukī speaks of the awa, the river, as an indivisible and living whole from the mountains to the sea, its tributaries and all its physical and spiritual elements. It speaks of the indivisible connection that we have as people, all people, to the life that comes from water.

Ko Tararua te maunga, Ko Ruamahunga te awa, Ko Metiria Turei ahau.

One of my rivers, my awa, is the Ruamahanga which flows from the beautiful Tararua Ranges, down through the Wairarapa lowlands. It winds lazily down to Lake Onoke before it meets Raukawa Moana and then Te Moana nui a Kiwa.

And I say it is worth saving.

The Green Party says it is worth saving.

My awa is a stunningly beautiful river. In the old days the abundant tuna, longfin eels, were a taonga for my tupuna and they still are. The Ruamahanga was the lifeblood of the rohe, its beating heart.

But now its lifeblood is diminished – and that’s why we need to Change the Government.

When my dad and his brothers and sisters were growing up, the river was their playground. They learned to catch tuna off its banks.

But in recent years, our river has been treated badly. She leaves the ranges pristine, but then she meets Masterton, where for decades, sewage was dumped into the river.

She passes by farms where farmers have taken water from her to grow their crops and filled her with nitrogen run-off. She has been tampered with so she no longer flows into Lake Wairarapa.

Sediment washes into her, which clogs her up like someone with a bad cold. By the time she reaches Lake Onoke, the pristine water from the ranges is unrecognisable, as is the river itself.

This is the same story that’s repeated throughout the country. Rivers so poisoned by pollution they’re not safe enough for kids’ to swim in, let alone drink from.

National likes to say this is just the way it is.

And they’re right, this is the way it is when you choose to defend polluters, rather than to protect our rivers.

This is the way it is if you ignore the risk to our environment, to our society, and yes, to our economy.

But our rivers don’t need to continue their decline.

That’s why we need to Change the Government.

Because the alternative, is that if we clean up our rivers, we bring them back to life again. And the good news is we can. Aotearoa has the resources, and we have the know-how to clean up our rivers and protect the wild places that we love.

We just need a Government prepared to make it happen.

So next year, when are in Government – with the Labour Party – the Green Party will set out to save New Zealand’s rivers. I’m pledging today that we will make our rivers clean enough to swim in again.

We’ll save our rivers because it is the right thing to do.

We’ll save our rivers because we believe it’s time for New Zealand to be the cleaner and fairer place that all Kiwis want. Our rivers, like our kids, can’t afford to wait any longer.

We will show what’s possible and in so doing we’ll annihilate one of the lies of this National Government: the lie that our rivers are beyond hope, and that the best we can get is water clean enough to wade through.

We know it will take a strong Government committed to protecting our environment and working alongside every community to save our rivers. And the Greens are ready to do just that.

So we have identified 10 precious and loved rivers to highlight how bad government has injured them and how good government can help fix them.

• The Wairua
• The Kaipātiki/Lucas Creek
• The Waikato
• The Tarawera
• The Waitara
• The Tukituki
• The Ruamāhanga
• The Manawatū
• The Waikirikiri/Selwyn
• The Mataura

From the Mataura in the South, to the Wairua in the North, we will be touring each of these rivers, looking at all the things that threaten them – from over-intensified dairy farms to sewerage to industrial pollution.

And we will look at all the solutions people in our communities are coming up with, the solutions that will clean them up and protect our rivers from pollution.

We will work with iwi and communities who are already champions for these rivers and help build even more support through a Swimmable not Wadeable rivers petition.

We will inspire and be inspired by the amazing work of thousands of New Zealanders who every day are protecting the birthright of our kids by protecting our rivers and our environment.

I want all of us in this room, and all of our members and supporters, to get in behind this campaign.

I want you to talk to as many people as possible about it.

To ask them if they think our rivers should be swimmable.

And to ask them to sign the petition to make that goal a reality.

Lots of us are out campaigning at the moment for the Local Body Elections. That campaign is a great opportunity for the Greens to be talking about the importance of rivers. And the rivers campaign is a great opportunity to build our Local Body campaign.

Because I know that New Zealanders everywhere care deeply about water. It’s a great way to connect with people about Green values.

Because I know that the Green Party is leading the way on solutions and others are taking notice.

National is taking notice – and believe me it knows its weak response to pollution and to giving our water away for free is hurting it.

When people are standing up and saying no, National notices.

When more and more farmers are getting behind environmental initiatives, National notices.

When even Dairy NZ is beginning to say that less intensive farms, organic farms, with added value are more profitable than a high volume, high impact approach – National notices.

National is getting its wake up call on this issue. But National will continue to do as little as they can, for as long as they can.

That’s why we need to Change the Government.

In Government the Green Party will do all we can to limit the amount of pollution going into rivers so that they are safe for our kids to swim in.

The Green Party will put a moratorium on new dairy conversions, support land based sewage solutions, put filters on stormwater drains, and plant and fence land around waterways.

We will put a price on the commercial use of water and use that for water restoration projects by hapu and communities. The Ashburton people have our full support.

Our National Environmental Standard (NES) for water quality will require councils to ensure that our rivers are clean enough for swimming.

This will support the National Policy Statement on water and help bring it into effect. We would make sure it set maximum levels for nitrate, phosphorus, zinc, cadmium and other pollutants allowed in our rivers.

And we support Maori as kaitiaki of water.

This is just the start. There is so much more.

Already, people like you, all around the country are working to clean up their rivers. You’ve already started showing the National Government what can be done, and you’ve already started making New Zealand the cleaner and fairer place that all Kiwis want. You’re doing what’s right, what’s needed, to protect the precious places that we love.

And for that hard work I think the Government should have your back.

That’s why we need to Change the Government.

Because the National Government honestly doesn’t care if you and I go without the things we treasure, like clean air and water, if its friends can get further ahead.

John Key thinks our rivers are in pretty good shape. That tells me that the so called brighter future that National promised is really only for its chosen few, and it’s costing the rest of us our way of life.

In last week’s Budget we learned that you and I are subsidising industries that are belching out climate damaging carbon, to the tune of $2 billion.

We’re effectively paying those industries to pollute. Meanwhile, we’re having to subsidise them by putting more and more public money into cleaning up the rivers they’re polluting.

The $100 million promised in the Budget by the Government is only $10 million a year, and the money doesn’t kick in for years. That isn’t enough to clean up our waterways, and doesn’t address the causes of pollution like intensive dairying.

The supposed Freshwater Improvement Fund of just $10 million a year is a drop in the bucket of what is needed to make our rivers safe for swimming.

And on top of that the Fund can be used for irrigation!

That’s right, like a cow pooing in the creek, the fund is already so fouled it can be used to further pollute the waterways.

This is typical National Party, talk big, do bugger all.

Thankfully for my awa, the Ruamahunga, there are lots of people who are working hard to restore her health – my hapu, Ngati Moe, are planting native shrubs at the edge of the river to soak up nitrogen run off and are working to restore fat and healthy tuna and other native fish and Wairarapa farmers committed to protecting the river from nutrients. There are changes being made to the sewerage system, working groups listening to the community about what they want for the river, and volunteers getting kids interested in replenishing her with tuna too.

Yes, you can still swim in the upper reaches of the Ruamahanga, and many do. It’s glorious up there, before it hits the towns. And yes, there are still some tuna, but they need help getting down to the sea on their once-in-a-lifetime journey to breed.

And yes, I agree, water is necessary to grow crops and keep livestock healthy.
But what the National Government doesn’t appreciate is that water – like the rest of nature – is never free.

When National gives water away and allows businesses to pump their pollution into our air and waterways for free, the rest of us bear the cost.

We always bear the cost.

You and I know, that if we really want clean rivers, if we want a fair country that’s as good as it can be, we need to change the Government.

By backing those who’re already well ahead, National is denying young families the chance to buy a warm, safe home for their kids to grow up in, it’s robbing us of the rivers we love to swim in, and it’s costing New Zealand the opportunity to make the transition to a cleaner, more prosperous future.

The Green Party understands that in order to have the best country possible, we need to take care of ourselves, of each other and the rivers and wild places that we love.

We think it’s time for New Zealand to be the cleaner and fairer place that all Kiwis want. But for it to happen we need a Government prepared to do all it can rather than as little as it can get away with.

To do what’s right, not just what’s easy.

Aotearoa New Zealand can have clean rivers, we can have warm houses and we can have meaningful jobs that pay enough for families to thrive, if we make good changes now.

Our ten rivers campaign shows what’s possible, with a Government prepared to do all that it can.

We can make rivers clean enough to swim in again.

So let’s get started and let’s CHANGE THE GOVERNMENT!

Turei’s speech

Metiria Turei is a far more accomplished and effective communicator than James Shaw and Andrew Little. She actually has the Green crowd buzzing with her AGM keynote speech.

Her big announcement is a Clean Rivers policy that she wants a ‘Green Government’ to implement, to clean up the rivers and waterways so they are safe for swimming.

I have no argument with the ideals of this, and most people would probably agree in principal. But whether there are practical ways of cleaning up waterways faster is more questionable.

For all her appeal to the converted she will have trouble appealing to a wider audience with her over the top ‘National does not care!’ and ‘do bugger all’ and ‘they are so terrible for this country’ rhetoric.

I’ve watched Turei’s speech live on Facebook, 70-80 viewers isn’t many.

I was going to post the transcript here but there hasn’t been one posted on the Green website. Perhaps we aren’t getting one.

Understanding memorandums and Winston

Andrew Little:

People all over New Zealand come up to me on the street and say, “Do I know you? You look familiar. Are you famous?”

Metiria Turei:

And I laugh, and say to them, “In a manner of speaking, yes, I suppose you could say that! Tee-hee!

“Andrew, you need to loosen up! How about I play a merry jig, and you dance to it? Here goes! One, two, three, four!”

Winston Peters:

“Words fail me. I’m lost for words. No, don’t interrupt; I haven’t finished talking.”

I hop into their bed.

I get good and cosy, and commandeer the hot water bottle. I adjust the reading light, and make sure I have the most pillows. But something still isn’t right.

“I should be in the middle,” I say. “Make way.”

We settle in for a good night’s sleep. But Little snores, so I throw him out. I can’t afford to be seen sleeping with Turei, so I throw her out, too.

“Get some rest,” I tell them, “because I’m going to need you to carry me in my bed right up until November next year. Do we have an understanding?”

Understood.

Steve Braunias: Secret Diary of The Labour-Green pact

Mixed Green messages on National

It was notable that at yesterday’s launch of the Labour-Green Memorandum of Understanding Metiria Turei did all the speaking for the Greens alongside Andrew Little.

Both Turei and Little kept repeating that the MoU was focussed on changing the government and wasn’t looking beyond next year’s election.

1. Our Purpose

a) The parties agree to work co-operatively to change the Government at the 2017 election.

So there was no commitment to any possible coalition arrangements after the election.

But there’s two things that muddy the Green waters – James Shaw, and the Green party membership who are supposed to decide what happens.

Newshub reports Greens waver on ruling out National

Co-leaders James Shaw and Metiria Turei seem to have differing opinions on whether they’d accept an unlikely offer to side with National, should it get them into power.

Mr Shaw says the party’s first preference is Labour — hence yesterday’s show-and-tell of the two parties’ memorandum of understanding.

“When we’ve cooperated, both of our polls have actually gone up — and when we haven’t cooperated, we’ve tended to take votes off each other,” he told Newshub this morning.

“Preference” is the key word here — Mr Shaw wouldn’t rule out National altogether, saying it’s up to the membership.

That has always been what the Greens have said in the past – any coalition arrangement should be decided by the membership, not the leadership.

But Ms Turei says it is “absolutely definitive” the party is committed to removing National from power.

“Our 100 percent commitment is changing the Government because they are so terrible for this country,” she told Paul Henry this morning.

Transcript from this morning:

Paul Henry: Same question to you Metiria, if National come to you after the election and they have the better deal for the environment than Labour will you shaft Labour?

Metiria Turei: We are committed to changing the Government.  National has left new Zealanders living in their cars rather than dealing with the housing crisis, allowed the pollution of our waterways, allowed the climate pollution.

We will not tolerate a Government that does so much harm to our country any more.

Paul Henry: So that is definitive, that is definitive, you have completely ruled out shafting Labour.

Metiria Turei: Look our party makes the final decision later next year, but I am telling you now our one hundred percent commitment is to changing this Government because they are so terrible for this country.

So the membership get to decide but Turei is 100% committed to what she and Labour have decided.

She sounds like she is 100% against doing any coalition deal with National already.

How much say did co-Leader Shaw have? He looked like a spectator yesterday.

Did the Green Party membership get a say in the Memorandum?

Perhaps Turei is confident she can convince the membership to do it her way. If Greens get an opportunity.

MoU a poll punt?

Labour and Greens have described their Memorandum of Understanding as being a game changer, but is it more of a punt on being a poll changer?

Labour has been fading in party polls for years, and it’s party vote has been sliding for five successive elections:

  • 2002: 41.26%
  • 2005: 39.10%
  • 2008: 33.99%
  • 2011: 27.28%
  • 2014: 25.13%

Greens rose as Labour fell, but seem to have levelled off – they seem to have hit a Green ceiling.

 

  • 2002: 7.00%
  • 2005: 4.66%
  • 2008: 6.72%
  • 2011: 11.06%
  • 2014: 10.70%

 

In the MoU launch yesterday Metiria talked about it being positive for polling, and that was repeated by James Shaw on Breakfast this morning: “when Labour and Greens cooperate both of our polls go up”.

Launching the symbolic MoU this far out from an election seems aimed, initially at least, at pushing their polls up.

This is also the line Labour staffer/consultant Rob Salmond is spinning too, in a post at Public Address – Labour and the Greens in a tree…

At present, the right is polling around 48%, the left around 40%, and New Zealand First has around 10%. Since the last election the left is rising while the right is falling. We’re right at the bottom of the range where the right can be re-elected on its own. With any further poll movement over the next 15 months, it will be not be clear on election night 2017 who the Prime Minister will be. 

The progressive left is now back in the game.

That makes it the right time for the left to cooperate, with the aim of consolidating the current positive trend and making the opinion change faster.

Like the Green leaders Salmond thinks that the symbol of cooperation will push this trend.

There’s a stream of academic research about this, most prominent in Sona Golder’s (2006) book The Logic of Pre-Electoral Coalition Formation. That research provides evidence that parties who cooperate before an election, rather than campaign completely independently, ultimately are more likely to win government. That’s a pretty good reason to formalize things.

Except that we are not heading into an election campaign, that’s a year away. Is there any research on mid-term cooperation?

…the academic research suggests moves to provide voters with more certainty and more unity in a potential governing coalition tends to get rewarded at the polls.

Labour have tried several political moves already this year to try and turn around their polling. Without any obvious effect.

So they appear to be trying a different stunt at an unusual time of the electoral cycle.

Sometimes, and most strongly, that’s a pre-electoral coalition.

But an MOU achieves at least some of the same goals  as a coalition agreement, and so we’d expect at least some of the same electoral rewards.

Labour seem to be punting on a less strong MoU that is not pre-electoral “so we’d expect at least some of the same electoral rewards”.

This seems to be quite a gamble. Izogi at Public Address points out:

Trying to extrapolate the future based on a chart like this, which shows the declared effect happening once before, is dodgy at best.

Salmond has tripped over his data analysis and political strategy before.

If this doesn’t improve the polls for both Labour and the Greens what then?

What if the polls deteriorate further? Ditch the MoU and try something else? Ripping up the agreement will be easy, but it will be a lot more difficult undoing the symbolism of a Labour-Green combo.

It will take several months to see what effect the MoU has on the polls (complicated by other factors that could affect polls).

The Greens have long wanted stronger more open cooperation between themselves and Labour, but until now Labour have not been willing.

Labour needs their polls to improve. Andrew Little needs his polls to improve. Otherwise they will be increasingly written off as a credible major party – the MoU is already seen as an admission by Labour that they are now one of several lesser parties.

Greens can probably survive unscathed if this doesn’t work. But it looks to be a big throw of the dice for Labour, and a play that now used can’t be used again in the actual election campaign next year.

The MoU looks like a big punt on the polls for Labour.

Wide support for new Children’s Commissioner

Youth Court Judge Andrew Becroft has been appointed as the new Children’s Commissioner.

NZ Herald: Outspoken child advocate overcame doubters

Mr Becroft, now 58, has been Principal Youth Court Judge for 15 years. He is an active member of the Karori Baptist Church and chairs the Tertiary Students Christian Fellowship.

“Most of the serious young offenders are really struggling with neurodisability disorders including fetal alcohol syndrome, traumatic brain injury, autism spectrum disorder, dyslexia and communication disorders,” he said.

This appointment has support across the political spectrum.

His appointment as Children’s Commissioner was welcomed yesterday across the political spectrum. Labour MP Jacinda Ardern, who was consulted on potential candidates, said Mr Becroft would be “fantastic”.

Green co-leader Metiria Turei said the decision was “exciting”.

Good to see that Ardern was consulted and that she and Turei strongly support Becroft.

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley said Judge Becroft would be seconded to the role for two years in what Ms Ardern described as a “change-manager” role to monitor CYF’s transformation into a new agency with a huge $1.3 billion annual budget to buy extra education, health, employment and social services for the families of about one in every five New Zealand children.

Judge Becroft said the proposed changes were a “visionary” approach to tackle the nation’s “utterly unacceptable child abuse and neglect record”.

“I hope there is an opportunity for even more of that vigorous debate to say this cannot continue and how is it that it is happening,” he said.

The CYF transformation and Becroft’s appointment will hopefully ensure ensure big steps forward in the State care of children.

Labour stuck between a Green rock and an NZ First hard place

The Labour Party is foundering in election and poll support and floundering between the Green Party and NZ First.

Up until and including the 2014 election Labour went it alone, hoping to get a high enough vote to cobble together a coalition.

Since then they have sent out signals that they have given up trying to be a major party in a head to head contest with National and instead hope to win back power with the support of both the greens and NZ First.

This in itself is a major shift in status.

Following their three election wins under Helen Clark’s leadership Labour formed coalitions with Alliance, Progressives, NZ First and United Future.

Greens were excluded, notably in 2005 when Labour chose to snub them to get Winston Peters’ support.

But now, after a poor 2014 election getting only 27% and continuing with similar levels of support in polls Labour has been forced into looking for pre-election alliances to try and convince voters they are a credible government-in-waiting.

Labour and Greens have shown some signs of working together and have made noises about forging some joint policy positions.

But Labour probably needs something like 40% to be able to succeed with only the Greens. Polls put the Greens mostly between 10% and 15% but they tend to rise when Labour recedes.

A Labour-Green government doesn’t look likely. And even if the two parties jointly looked like getting enough support there seems to be electoral resistance to a government

And Labour seems to accept they will have to depend on the support of NZ First as well as Greens if they are to form the next government.

But it’s well known that Peters doesn’t particularity like the Greens, and is unlikely to want to play third fiddle to Labour and the Greens in a coalition.

NZ First support is rising. If they beat the Greens in next year’s election Winston would be second fiddle, but he still may resist playing a similar tune to the Greens.

Another problem is that while the Greens are keen to present themselves alongside Labour as a joint alternative to National Winston has made it clear he won’t play along.

Stuff reports: Winston Peters says no chance of joint policy with Labour, despite Andrew Little’s claims

NZ First leader Winston Peters doubts it was “deliberate” but says Labour leader Andrew Little is wrong to say there are plans for the two parties to jointly campaign on policy.

Earlier on Sunday Little said he was talking with both the Greens and NZ First, separately, about issues where there is common ground that they could campaign on ahead of next year’s general election.

He said the public would know “well in time for next year’s election” where all three parties line-up and where there are differences.

“In terms of specific joint policy announcements, we’re certainly not there yet, but between now and the next election I certainly wouldn’t rule out (joint policy) with either of those parties.”

But Peters says his position not to discuss potential coalition governments, or joint policy, hasn’t changed in 23 years and he “won’t depart from that now”.

“We row our own boat and we formulate our own policy.”

One thing Peters has remained staunch about is not giving any indication which way NZ First might swing in coalition negotiations.

National haven’t needed to consider NZ First as an option after each of the last three elections. It is more likely they may need NZ First to successfully form a fourth term government.

Peters knows this well and will want to keep his options open right up to next year’s election.

So Labour can’t campaign as a Labour-Green-NZ First alternative.

Their difficulties don’t end there.

They are left trying to present a joint Labour-Green alternative, and have said they will offer joint policies.

But this pulls Labour left and towards the Greens, which will make them less attractive to both voters as a whole and to NZ First.

I very much doubt that Peters will want to be seen as a tack on to Labour-Greens.

So if Labour are to get a chance to form the next government they may have to throw out all their joint policies developed with the Greens in order to make any headway with NZ First.

Greens are determined to finally get into a meaningful position in government and won’t be happy with that at all.

On top of this Peters seems to look with disdain at party leaders who have barely been in Parliament for five minutes – and both Andrew little and James Shaw have only become party leaders this term.

Metiria Turei has been around for longer, first getting in to Parliament via the Green list in 2002 and becoming co-leader in 2009, but I haven’t seen any sign of a rapport between Peters and a former candidate for the McGillicuddy Serious or Legalise Cannabis parties.

Peters rightfully sees himself as an elder statesman but may think that that should equate to leading a coalition – and leading the country.

Little has a huge challenge ahead of him to try and negotiate this political minefield and present himself and Labour as a credible alternative.

It looks like Labour are caught between a Green rock and a NZ First hard place.

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