Green budget leans towards the environment

The Green parts of the budget lean heavily towards environmental causes, with less addressing the social issues that Metiria Turei would have championed, and who her successor Marama Davidson is passionate about.

Perhaps this is at least in part due to James Shaw being sole Green leader through the coalition/confidence & supply negotiations as well as for most of the their term in Government to date, and now being the only-co-leader with Ministerial clout.

In Greens defend share of wins after NZ First gets triple the cash NZH lists the Green ‘wins’, which I separate out.

Environmental $454.5m:

  • Conservation funding – $181m
  • Home insulation – $142.5 million
  • Green Investment Fund – $100m
  • Sustainable Farming Fund – $15m
  • Climate Commission – $11m
  • Overseer farm management tool – $5m

Social $155.1m:

  • Midwifery services – $103.6m
  • Expansion of Household Economic Survey – $20m
  • Te reo teaching – $12.5m
  • Youth mental health services – $10m
  • Sexual abuse services – $7.5m
  • Welfare system review – $1.5m

Total: $610m

Greens say that they also support policy wins for Labour and NZ First – but National broadly supports many of them as well.

Shaw’s main focus is on environmental issues, and ik think the same can be said of the other Green ministers, Julie Anne Genter and Eugenie Sage. I think that is reflected in the environmental balance here.

The social wins are important enough midwifery appears to be facing a crisis, and while relatively very modest the boost for youth mental health and for sexual abuse services are very worthwhile.

The welfare system review, something Turei championed, gets a kick the can down the road sort of pittance.

I think that Labour will have no problems with Greens getting credit for addressing the environment, but Jacinda Ardern has designs on things like being a ‘child poverty’ warrior herself.

The strong leaning towards environmental funding is a good thing for the Greens – I think many voters will support a lot of this.

How much Shaw can accentuate this versus Davidson’s strong preference for promoting social and socialist issues may play a big part in the Green’s next campaign and in their chances of surviving the threshold cut next election.

Nothing left for the Metiria mission?

No valiant last stand on the environment – instead the Greens went social red and bled.

Has james Shaw admitted that in effect there is nothing left for the Greens? That’s what the party seems to be promoting.

That’s quoting Shaw from Q+A yesterday:  Green Party co-leader James Shaw on a tumultuous week

ShawQA

I supported her decision to share her story with the public in order to get this conversation going about how we treat poverty in New Zealand.

He refers to ‘her decision’ and not to it being a Green Party decision.

I knew it was a big risk for her to take, and that she was going to take some hits, and that’s played out but it was really her choice…

About risks for Turei and not about risks to the Greens.

…here’s the thing. For fifteen years she has been trying to get this conversation around poverty going, right, we’ve tried everything, we’ve tried Members’ Bills, we’ve tried policies and campaigns, we’ve done virtually everything we could.

Except consider a coalition arrangement with National, the party in power for nine of those fifteen years – Turei in particular seems to have been staunchly against it.

And, at this point sharing her story was pretty much the last thing we had left.

And if we had just released a policy it would have been over and done with in forty eight hours.

Jessica Mutch: But she’s had to pay the ultimate political sacrifice in that she will not be able to be a minister if you are to form a government.

James Shaw: She has, and I think that shows her commitment to this cause, it shows her commitment to this mission.

…what is yet to come is the remaining seven weeks of the election campaign and Metiria is going to continue up and down the country, standing up for people who are trapped below then poverty line.

Jessica Mutch: In terms of the ministerial position, before Jacinda Ardern rang on Friday morning, was she going to tough it out?

James Shaw: Ah look, the decision was Metiria’s to make, right. And so from Thursday night forward she was working through what are the options, and she made that choice.

What I get out of this was that after fifteen years of wanting to drive social welfare change this was Metiria’s decision, it was her decisions, and it was her last throw of the dice.

It was her passion, and while she did have other options she didn’t want them, it was her way or the highway.

Metiria gambled her political future on her mission.

The Greens allowed Metiria to gamble the party’s future on her mission.

And the likely result now looks like less influence from the Greens in Parliament, less ability to make a difference.

And not a bit of environmental (green) policy involved. I wonder what the result would have been if the Greens had made a major play like this on water quality, or climate change?

Instead the Greens went  social red and bled.

According to Shaw there was nothing left for them but this gamble. If it fails as looks to be the case that means nothing left in the Green tank?

 

Labour targeting social and infrastructure deficits, not financial

Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says that a Labour government would target infrastructure deficits and social deficits’ and revise the Government targets on lowering financial deficits.

NZ Herald: Debt targets to be revised under Labour-led Government says Robertson

National increased the debt as a result of the global financial crisis and the Christchurch earthquakes from 5.4 per cent of gdp in 2008 to 24.3 per cent now. The deficit peaked at a record $18.3 billion in 2011.

The current target of reducing net debt to 20 per cent of gdp by 2020 will be replaced by getting it down to 10 to 15 per cent by 2025, Joyce recently announced.

But Robertson says that Labour will have a different priority and will revise that.

If Labour’s Grant Robertson is the next Finance Minister he will ditch the new ambitious net debt target set by Steven Joyce as part of the 2017 Budget or the current target.

“We believe there are infrastructure deficits and social deficits that are going to need some investment before we can get to the 20 per cent target,” Robertson said.

“We will review and revise those targets once we are in Government and we’ll see where we get,” said Robertson.

“The last time Labour was in office we got debt down close to zero so of course we are in favour of reducing debt.”

He said the numbers Joyce had “plucked out” for the 2025 target was where Treasury’s longer term forecasts were going anyway.

Greens are on the same page as Labour. This was been written into the Labour-Green fiscal responsibility code.

The wild card is Winston Peters.

Meanwhile New Zealand First leader Winston Peters says the Government will present a surplus on Thursday only because it has underfunded many public services including in health, education, police, conversation and housing.

“The Government will have to explain how there is a surplus after addressing all the reasonable demands that need money spent on them,” he said.

“If this Thursday’s Budget does not do that, then claims of a surplus will be without credibility, plausibility or integrity.”

What that means in practice, and whether Peters will come out of coalition negotiations with credibility, plausibility or integrity, won’t be known until late September at the earliest.

 

Poll on ‘Problems facing New Zealand’

Roy Morgan has a poll on what New Zealanders think are the major problems facing us.

When asked about the most important problem facing New Zealand:

  • Economic issues 40% (down 1)
  • Government/ Public policy/ Human rights issues 26% (up 5)
  • Social issues 15% (down 5)
  • Environmental issues 7% (up 1)

With National being seen as the strongest party on dealing with the economy this isn’t a surprising result. And it suggests why the Greens struggle to get traction with the environment a relatively low concern.

A breakdown of the most important Economic Issues facing New Zealand:

  • Poverty / The gap between the rich and the poor 18%  (down 2)
  • Unemployment/ Job security 8% (up 2)
  • Cost of living/ Increasing prices/ Financial hardship/ Household debt 5% (unchanged)
  • Economy/ Financial crisis/ Recession/ Inflation/ Exchange rate/ High dollar 5% (down 1%)
  • Low Wages 3% (up 1)
  • Christchurch Recovery & Rebuilding 1% (up 1)
  • Foreign Ownership/ Selling our Assets 1% (unchanged)
  • Need to Increase Exports 1% (down 1)

A breakdown of the most important Government/Public Policy/Human Rights Issues facing New Zealand:

  • Housing shortage/ Housing affordability 10% (up 4)
  • Government/ Politicians/ Leadership/ Government Spending 9% (up 1)
  • Education 2 (up 1)
  • Health Issues/ Disease/ Obesity/ Poor Health 2% (up 1)
  • Benefits Given to the Maori/ Inequality Between Maori and Other Ethnic Groups 1 (unchanged)
  • Health System/ Shortage of Doctors/ Health Services 1% (up 1)
  • Immigration/ Refugees 1% (down 1)

A breakdown of the most important Social issues facing New Zealand:

  • Child Abuse/ Lack of Care of Children/ Bringing up Children Wrongly 3% (up 1)
  • Social Apathy/ Lack of Values/ Lack of Empathy Toward Others/ Intolerance 3% (down 1)
  • Breakdown of Family Unit/ Family Violence 2 (unchanged)
  • Crime/ Law & Order 2% (unchanged)
  • Drugs/ Alcohol Issues/ Drink Driving 1% (unchanged)
  • Greed/ Materialism 1% (unchanged)
  • Racism/ Racial Tension 1% (unchanged)
  • Social Welfare System 1% (unchanged)
  • Violence/ Gangs 1% (unchanged)

The problem with this is people may have varying levels of concern about different issues but can only choose one.

These findings come from a special New Zealand Roy Morgan survey conducted with New Zealanders aged 14+ asked what are the most important issues facing New Zealand and the World today.

In New Zealand, a cross-section of 1,002 men and women aged 14 or over were interviewed by telephone in March 2015. Respondents were asked: “Firstly, what do you think is the most important problem facing the World today?” and“What do you think is the most important problem facing New Zealand today?” The research conducted was bothqualitative (in that people were asked to use their own words) and quantitative (in that the ‘open-ended’ responses were analysed and ‘coded’ so that the results could be counted and reported as percentages).

Derek Handley on doing business better

‘Tech entrepreneur’ Derek Handley was interviewed on The Nation on Saturday.

He talked about significant changes in approaches to doing business over the past twenty years, with a focus on doing good for society and the environment rather than just making money.

You’re involved in a project with Richard Branson called the B Team, now it’s aimed at getting companies to tackle social problems, isn’t it, through business. But I’m wondering why should companies focus on doing good in the world as well as doing well financially? Why is that beneficial?

Well, first of all it’s not just social it’s also environmental. I think the overall vision is that business is a stakeholder in the whole of the community and the whole society, and if you just silo making money and not worry about how you make it and how it impacts society and how it impacts the environment, that’s a very last century view on the world.

The view that we have with the B Team is that the way you make money, the way you create wealth, must have positive impacts for society and at the same time, given the challenges we have with the environment, help innovate and solve those issues.

And that in fact will become the new way of competing, the new way of differentiating yourself.

So we think that it’s not like an either/or, it’s like an and/and, and actually that that’s the way that people want to lead and the way that young people want to work.

While capitalism has never solely been about making money regardless of any social or environmental cost it is evolving towards promoting a greater good for society.

There will always be some who see wealth-seeking as all important. There will always be some who like to display their wealth via  trinket status symbols like large houses and expensive cars.

But there is more personal satisfaction or prestige for some in demonstrating social and environmental responsibilities.

But is it a problem convincing other people that that’s a good idea?

I think in the last 20 years it’s been building, right. But if you look at the last year we’ve already had an enormous amounts of traction.

So if you look at Apple for example, Steve Jobs never really worried about these things, but Tim Cook has come out very strong, he came out a few months ago asking any investors, any hedge funds who didn’t believe in their environmental policies to sell their stock. That’s really bold leadership.

We have more and more CEOs and global leaders who are doing that in business because they understand you can’t just leave your values at the door, go to work, screw up the planet, not worry about the impacts on society or the workers you have in China, make money and be happy.

So I think the more Tim Cooks that come out of the woodwork, the more this movement will start to pick up.

Peer pressure to be more than selfishly rich can work amongst rich and successful business people.

In saying that, you have described capitalism as a teenager that’s just figuring itself out, so I’m wondering, how do you think that will look when it’s all grown up?How will it look and behave when capitalism’s grown up?

I think it looks like a merger of the things that we currently silo. So we currently silo politics, civil society, non-profits, business and we think of them as discrete things.

And I think the future looks like a hybrid – if you’re going to be an entity in the world you need to do it sustainably, you need to create revenue that will keep you alive, you need to address social issues and make money.

So what’s happening is these sectors are starting to merge and they’re starting to play together. So business will look more and more like different sectors that we traditionally think are not business. And that’s what I think, you know, is currently happening.

It’s not new but there seems to be good growth in doing business better.

Market regulations and state imposed socialism are necessary parts of the modern capitalism-socialism mix but common sense promoting common good on a voluntary basis could become a powerful factor in getting a better balance.

A better society and a healthier environment are good for business.