Sustainable NZ could help Labour, Greens as well as environment

The newly launched Sustainable NZ Party has been criticised a puppet party set up to either give National  coalition option they are currently lacking, or compete with Green votes to try to stop the Green Party making the 5% threshold,

But if SNZ makes it into Parliament (this is a long shot but possible) they could help Labour or the Greens (if the get back in) as much if not more than they could help National.

SNZ in Parliament could give Labour a choice between them and the Greens, giving them more coalition bargaining power.

SNZ could also give Labour or Labour+Greens an alternative to NZ First for a coalition.

A Labour+Greens+SNZ coalition should have a strong environmental mandate, far stronger than currently with NZ First in the mix.

The Greens have actually reacted with “it only strengthens democracy when we have a diversity of people running in general elections”.

And even if National and SNZ form a coalition, that must be better for environmental policy implementation than National on their own or with ACT.

The bleating from the left seems more old school politics where parties like Labour think they should be able to effectively rule on their own, or as far as the Greens are concerned worried about self preservation (the threshold), or seeing themselves as the exclusive champion of environmental policies.

Martyn Bradbury at The Daily Blog: The real purpose of National’s new ‘Sustainability NZ Party’

The point of Sustainability NZ for National is not to get over 5% and join them in Parliament, it’s to take just enough green voters away from the Greens so as to sink them under 5%.

That’s just one possibility. Voters may see differently – two environmental parties could be better than one.

If we had a Green movement that wasn’t more focused on meaningless consensus and middle class identity politics, they could see this challenge off from Sustainability NZ, but because of the shrill alienation the Greens  manage to create, this could be the plot to rob them of any representation post 2020.

He also takes a swipe at the Greens. The bitterness of someone with no party to support.

Voters could dump the Greens from Parliament regardless of SNZ. If that happens and SNZ manages to get in then we must be better off than being left with National versus Labour.

MickySavage at The Standard: Sustainable Party launches

The Sustainable Party, National’s sock puppet party designed to weaken the Greens has launched.

That’s a negative Labour reaction, without stopping to think through the possibilities.

At a time when the world is in a crisis caused by run away climate change there is only very oblique reference to this most pressing of problems.  It should be centre and front of any policy announcement by a so called environmentally focussed party.  That it is not speaks volumes.  And that the policy is being used to try and wedge the Greens on  Generic Engineering shows the real motivation behind the party.

The Greens should be challenged on their ridiculous entrenched anti-GE position,

Of course the reality is that this party is a puppet party, designed to cause as much grief as possible to the Greens.

And he refuses to accept that late stage capitalism and unfettered greed and growth are the cause of our problems.  That economic disparity and ecological decline are happening hand in hand because they are symptoms of the same problem.  Instead he claims that his party is  “pro-progress, pro-technology and pro-science” and seems to think that eternal economic growth is possible.

This sounds like knee jerk anti-new party syndrome – established parties seem to hate newbies with new approaches. They seem to feel threatened.

Beyond the overreaction of political bloggers, RNZ – Sustainable New Zealand political party: Other parties unruffled

The Greens said they were “not too fussed” about a potential rival, saying in a statement the ‘teal’ vote was miniscule.

“We think National are the only ones likely to lose support,” it said.

“However Mr Tava is welcome to give it a go – he has every right to and in fact it only strengthens democracy when we have a diversity of people running in general elections.”

Yes, under MMP more parties in Parliament strengthens democracy, giving major parties more options to get genuine majorities to progress policies.

Former Green MP Sue Bradford did not think Sustainable NZ would take many votes from the Greens.

“While Mr Tava talks about being willing to go with National or Labour or anyone else I think it’s pretty clear that they are positioning themselves very much on the right side of the political spectrum with all their talk of working with business…

Funny, Bradford equates “talk of working with business with “very much on the right side of the political spectrum”. Even Russel Norman appeared willing to talking with businesses, and James Shaw certainly is willing.

Apart from the fringe far left healthy business is seen as an integral part of the way we live.

Forest & Bird chief executive Kevin Hague said more voices for protecting the environment was a good thing, but he thought the party might struggle to get a coherent message through.

“Much of the destruction of the environment has been the result of commercial exploitation and it seems like their economic policies may not be ones that would actually change that, so we look forward with interest to see what the full suite of their policies might be,” he said.

Mr Hague said focusing the majority of their policies on the environment, could place them at a disadvantage too.

“If they say they’re just going to have environmental policies that is going to make them pretty much a lame duck within Parliament on most issues.

Not necessarily. All parties in Parliament have to make decisions on issues they don’t have policies on.  That doesn’t make them lame ducks on those issues.  And where parties have policies on issues the reality is that most parties have to compromise on their own policies most of the time.

Labour’s 2020 campaign chair Megan Woods said they had not yet discussed the prospect of working with the party.

Ms Woods said however it would not change anything about their campaign and Labour would just be focused on telling its own story.

“[The] launch comes as no surprise, this has been well signalled, but what it does show yet again is that National still has a big strategic dilemma around a lack of coalition partners,” she said.

If she or Labour thought things through it could be a positive change for them – providing they can win more votes than National next election.

Newshub: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern throws doubt on Vernon Tava’s Sustainable NZ

Jacinda Ardern has hit out at the newest political party Sustainable New Zealand, saying the Government is already catering to the environmental needs it’s offering.

“I do believe that environmental matters are a huge focus for this Government and I don’t see that there’s necessarily a space that [Sustainable NZ] need to fill,” the Prime Minister said Monday.

But Labour leader Ardern questioned the need for Tava’s party in the current political space, asking reporters at her post-Cabinet press conference: “What is the political issue that they are trying to solve?”

Ardern said the current Labour-Green-New Zealand First Government is already doing plenty for the environment, pointing to the Zero Carbon Bill that passed its final reading last week.

She also reflected on the $181.6 million funding boost over four years given to the Department of Conservation in Budget 2018 – the largest bump in conservation funding since 2002.

“If they claim that they are operating in an environmental space… I’d say that it’s being very well catered for by this Government,” Ardern said.

How well the environment is being catered for is debatable, and could be better catered for if SNZ replaced NZ First as a coalition partner for Labour+Greens.

SNZ could compete with votes that could otherwise go to Labour, and that’s not what a party leader wants.

But for non-aligned people like me another party option to vote for is a good thing. I don’t think there are any current parties in Parliament that deserve my vote. I’d like more options, and SNZ looks to be potentially a good one.

Sustainable New Zealand Party launched

The Sustainable New Zealand Party was launched yesterday, They will be led by ex-Green Vernon Tava.

This has been signalled for some time. They will be aiming to attract people who want an environmental party without the ‘socialist’ leaning of the Green Party, which has been showing signs of tension, especially over the more moderate collaborative approach of James Shaw.

Sustainable NZ look like being a bit like the Shaw Greens without the Marama Davidson Greens.

Some on the left complain that it’s just an attempt to take Green votes to the extent that the future of the Greens could be in jeopardy, as they only just beat the 5% threshold last election and are struggling to please even some of their own supporters.

(Someone mentioned online that Labour may gift the Greens the Dunedin South electorate that Clare Curran is vacating, but that is just rumour, and they would be far from guaranteed of winning Dunedin South. A lot of their Dunedin support comes from Dunedin North which covers the university area, and grew support through the efforts and successes of Metiria Tuirei).

I have voted for both the Greens and Turei in the past, but would strongly consider voting for Sustainable New Zealand – an environmental party without the more extreme social policies of the Greens.

RNZ: Sustainable New Zealand Party to prioritise water, native species, economy

Sustainable New Zealand has launched in Wellington this afternoon with its leader stating the party’s willingness to work with any political party will set them apart from other environmental groups like the Greens.

Refusing to consider doing a coalition deal with National has put the Greens in a relatively weak bargaining position. They rely on Labour getting them into power, and Labour know this.

Party leader Vernon Tava said until now if someone wanted to vote for the environment, they would have had to vote for a party which had been a “clearinghouse for left-of-Labour activist movements”.

“This has excluded many of us, perhaps most of us who genuinely care about the environment, but don’t accept this requires some sort of evolutionary overturning of the economic system.”

He said polluted waterways, diversity and climate change were too important to be dealt with by any party committed to occupying the opposition benches half the time.

Its top three priorities are water, saving native species from extinction and sustainable economic growth.

Among the party’s policies is to invest $1 billion in conservation.

The party is aiming for 10 percent of the vote next election.

That’s ambitious, but it could be possible to at least beat 5%. The Greens polled 10-16% last term before the Metiria induced crash just prior to the election (they dropped as low as 5% and ended up getting 6.3%).

Mr Tava said it was extremely ambitious, but there were plenty of people in the centre of politics who were mobile with their votes.

He said so far the membership of the party had been broad.

“It is a really clear spread across many different former parties of political support, we’re not just taking votes off of National.

“We’ve got disgruntled Greens, we’ve got some people who voted for Jacinda last election, people who have supported National in the past, even some New Zealand First people have even joined the party,” he said.

I think there is certainly space on the political spectrum for a party prepared to work with either Labour or National. The big question is whether they can look like getting close enough to 5% to attract maybe voters.

  • Facebook:
    Sustainable New Zealand is a political party that will contest the 2020 general election on the basis of putting the environment first with an economic vision to transition us to a sustainable future. We will be able to work with any party in government.

https://www.facebook.com/sustainablenewzealandparty/

  • Twitter:
Sustainable New Zealand Party
@SNZparty
Environment-focused party for NZ. Working with any party to get the best deal for water, wildlife, fisheries, soil, and climate change mitigation & adaptation.

Website: https://sustainablenz.org.nz/

What We Stand For

We all know that New Zealand is blessed with one of the world’s most beautiful natural environments. We also know that this paradise is slipping away from us. Government after Government has ignored our most pressing environmental concerns. It is time for a new political party that champions a politics of sustainability, putting the environment first.

Sustainable New Zealand is neither left nor right wing but is focused on sustainability.  We are able to work with parties of the left or right to get the best deal for the environment. Sustainable New Zealand’s approach is to work with business to innovate and to correctly price ‘externalities’. We will be led by the science when finding solutions and developing policy. Our future will only be sustainable with technological and scientific innovation.

Sustainable New Zealand’s focus is on being ‘practical environmentalists.’ We will work with rather than against our farmers. We favour a regulatory light-touch where possible but with a willingness to act decisively on core issues. We will foster innovation to transition our economy from one that relies on chopping down, digging up, burning or milking something for economic growth to one that is environmentally-benign and makes us all richer. We know that nothing is free. We need to be prosperous to ensure that we can afford to look after our people and our environment.

Our Top Priorities

1. Protect our Water.

We will improve the quality of water in our rivers and streams, and on our beaches. We will strengthen controls to stop run-off from farms polluting waterways and ensure that waste is better managed to stop plastic getting into our water and food chain. We will ensure that there is a long-term investment plan for water infrastructure across New Zealand.

2. Save our Native Plant and Animal Species.

We will fund scientific research into introduced predator control methods, including gene-editing technologies. We will fund initiatives for community groups and farmers to control introduced predators, protect waterways and set aside land for habitat.

3. Improve our Resource and Waste Management.

Waste is a resource. Our resources are finite and we must remove, reduce, reuse and recycle to make sure we have a future. Ultimately, we must transition to a circular economy; we would make this a core function of government.

4. Expand our Reserves and Protect the Ocean.

We will promote sustainable fisheries management, balancing the interests of commercial and recreational fishers. We will prohibit bottom trawling and purse seining (huge nets) in NZ waters.  In addition to regulation we will ensure that we can protect what is important to us by investing in our navy and air force to defend our Exclusive Economic Zone.

5. Dealing with Climate Change.

We will work to establish a bipartisan approach to dealing with Climate Change. We support the approach of the Zero Carbon bill. We will establish a Climate Change Commission and follow their advice to reduce global emissions, including putting a fair price on emissions. We will always seek to offset any additional resource or pollution charges with a corresponding reduction in income and/or company taxes.

Wrong data analysis of ‘teal vote’ support for the Greens

*/With the possibility of a Blue-Green party being raised again questions are being asked about whether there might be  enough voter support for another environmental party.

However the wrong questions are being asked – of ‘current Green voters’, and those who voted Green last election. They strongly prefer red over blue, or Labour over National.

Stuff: ‘Teal’ vote within Green Party minuscule, data suggests

Data suggests the supposed “teal” section of National-leaning Green voters is tiny.

But data from the New Zealand Election Study, a long-running scientific analysis of voter behaviour, suggests the overwhelming majority of current Green voters lean left.

The study consists of a survey of 3445 respondents following the election, who are asked a huge variety of questions. Their votes are validated and the results weighted to the wider voting public.

Fully 84.42 per cent of those who party voted Green said they would prefer Labour to lead the Government. Just under a tenth (8.47 per cent) picked National while 5.02 per cent said they didn’t know and 2.09 per cent said they didn’t want either party to lead.

Furthermore, these voters overwhelmingly rated themselves as left-of-centre politically – far more than Labour voters did.

Roughly three quarters (74.63 per cent) of Green voters rated themselves as left-of-centre on a ten point scale. Another fifth (20.1 per cent) either “didn’t know” or put themselves in the centre. Just 5.26 per cent rated themselves as right of centre.

This compared to just over half (50.58 per cent) of Labour voters who rated themselves as left-of-centre.

But there were only 6.27% of voters who chose Greens in the 2017 election. This was well down on the 10.7% who voted green in 2014, and much lower than up to 15% they were getting in polls two years ago. That’s a lot of potential voters who could consider an alternative environmental party.

There could easily be voters who chose National, Labour or NZ First last election. Or people who didn’t vote because they didn’t like any of the parties on offer.

The best way of determining possible levels of Blue-green party support is to poll everyone and ask them, and not limiting the data analysis to dedicated Green party voters.

And the only way of knowing for sure is to stand in the next election, and see what all voters indicate their preference.

‘Preliminary discussions’ on Blue-Green party

National’s lack of partner parties is a real problem for them under MMP. They either have to take a punt that they can become a single party government, something that has never been allowed by voters under MMP. Or they can hope that a new party starts up that can either be anchored by an electorate MP, or can get 5% (also something never achieved by a new party under MMP).

There has been talk of a more business friendly environmental party for years. The Green Party has often been criticised for it’s fairly extreme social stances, and this limits it’s support from b=voters who want a strong environmental voice in Parliament. Co-leaders like Metiria Turei and Marama Davidson are well supported on the left, but deter more moderately minded environmentalist leaning voters.

Lucy Bennett reports that Blue-Greens movement could be National’s answer to toppling Ardern

Talk of a new centrist green political party which could potentially partner with National in a future government coalition is starting to become more than just speculation.

It is understood preliminary discussions among interested parties have already been held on creating a party that combines economic and environmental credentials, filling a demand not already taken up by existing political parties.

It is also understood former Green Party leadership contender and one-time National candidate hopeful Vernon Tava is the front-runner to lead the party.

James Shaw probably wouldn’t be out of place in a Blue-Green party but I doubt that he would jump the Green ship – unless a Blue-Green startup looked like cannibalising Green party support to the extent that they were at risk of missing the 5% cut?

Tava told the Herald on Sunday a party that had the environment at its heart was missing from the political landscape and it was a great idea. He would consider leading such a party.

“It’s certainly something I would take seriously,” he said.

“I’ve always said it’s a great idea and what we need.”

Despite his Green Party origins, Tava has close links to National Party figures and was campaign chair for National MP Erica Stanford, who holds Murray McCully’s old seat of East Coast Bays.

There has been talk for some time about the possibility of other small parties to bolster National, but National will want to ensure any such party does not carve into its own vote.

National leader Simon Bridges said it was no secret National wanted to see new parties emerge this year.

“What would be most pleasing to see is parties that are additional to National’s support base. Not just for the National Party, but for the public, a genuine green party and an indigenous Māori movement are two reasonably likely scenarios this year,” he said.

Of course National would love to see partner party options for them. But would a Blue-Green party help National take over power from Labour?

I’d certainly be interested in some sort of Blue-Green party. I have voted Greens in the past but have concerns over their strong social/socialist stances. I have concerns about how far left a Labour-Green coalition might go.

But I would be most likely to support a Blue-Green party that was independent and would be willing to partner either National or Labour (or Labour-Greens).

If a Blue-Green party looked to be largely a National puppet party I would be disappointed and I think many other potential supporters would be too. I doubt that it would succeed. If National jacked up an electorate for a Blue-Green party I suspect that wouldn’t go down well with many voters.

I could easily get enthusiastic about genuine independent Blue-Green party as long as it would sit in the middle-ish and drive the best deal it could get out of any other parties who were voted into Parliament.

 

 

Ex-Green Tava on Turei

Vernon Tava stood for Green co-leadership in 2015 when Russel Norman stood down from Green co-leadership and resigned from Parliament. The position was won by James Shaw.

In February this year Tava resigned from the Green Party – Top Green resigns and says party has become socialist:

A former top Green official .and leadership contender in 2015 has resigned from the party because he believes it has lost its way and  he is now working with National.

As for the Greens, he said he began to part ways with them because he began to doubt whether the environment was seriously at the top of their agenda.

He also began to doubt that there was any genuine will on the part of the party to work with the Government whoever they were.

That was a central theme of his campaign for the party co-leadership in 2015.

He said the charter’s values of ecological wisdom and social responsibility were neither left nor right.

And he went on to suggest he would be happy in Government with National.

Metiria Turei strongly opposes supporting a National led government returning.

“The Green Party should be the sustainable axis around which every government turns, he said.

But he didn’t win the leadership, and he watched as the party signed its Memorandum of Understanding with Labour, and that was enough.

“When I stood for co-leader one of the great things about that was that we travelled around the country and I was contacted by a lot of the older, founder members who thought it was no longer the party of Jeanette Fitzsimons and Rod Donald.

Greens tend to claim that the environment and social issues are inextricably linked and you can’t promote one without the other.

Tava disagrees, and has come out and said Metiria Turei’s attitude proves the Greens aren’t 100 percent pure:

We are now entering the third week of Metiria Turei’s welfare fraud scandal with less than eight weeks until the election, and it is still a story.

Labour have distanced themselves, understandably concerned that her stance is anathema to the political centre; her welfare policy announcement has been eclipsed, and it seems that she has done irreparable damage to both her personal integrity and the Green brand.

Turei’s lack of contrition is irksome. Her evasion of any sense of personal responsibility in saying that the Government “made me poor and it made me lie” have infuriated both law-abiding beneficiaries and those of us who get up and go to work each day.

While there is probably wide sympathy for the difficulties faced by beneficiaries who struggle financially, there are probably many people who are troubled by Turei’s no fault, no blame attitude to rorting the system.

Saying, as Turei does, that the solution to poverty is “simply to give them more money”, without conditions or obligations to seek work, and that fraud is an acceptable means of obtaining whatever money one feels they need, makes a very poor case for redistributive justice through taxation and does little to end dependency.

More money and less punitive conditions for beneficiaries is a very worthy issue to campaign for, but Turei and her supporters seem to fail to see that there are potential with a no questions asked taxpayer handouts alongside approving of fraud if you think your need warrants it, on a moral basis, and on a state dependency basis.

The cost is another factor not thought through – if being a beneficiary provided a comfortable income and a comfortable home with no requirement to work or to be honest then the number of people wanting a free lunch as well as a free breakfast, tea and everything else they felt they ‘deserved’ could surge.

Lawmakers cannot credibly advocate breaking the law. Turei has been in Parliament since 2002 and seeks the position of Minister of Social Development, but has been unable to answer questions about how she could pursue prosecutions against those who would defraud even the more generous entitlements she advocates.

Politicians from other parties, including Andrew little and Jacinda Ardern, have said that MPs cannot condone breaking the law.

Turei’s defenders wax lyrical about the “privilege” of her critics. Ironically, she is indulging in another, more insidious, form of privilege in inciting fraud and attempting to argue some kind of moral justification. Others who follow her example will not be able to evade the consequences that someone on her considerable taxpayer-funded income is able to.

This is deeply irresponsible. Benefit fraud is not civil disobedience, nor is it a noble protest against a supposedly unjust system. It is cheating.

There is another privilege being pushed – the privilege of being something other than white and male. It has become common to see the opinions of white males being rubbished and discounted on Twitter.

It seems that benefit fraud is acceptable to Turei and her supporters as long as you are female, brown and have children.

The tension between being a protesters’ collective or a parliamentary party has always been an issue for the Greens, but Turei has gone a lot further than merely admitting legal wrong-doing – she has condoned it.

Metiria Turei may have secured a hard-left segment of the Green base and appealed to demographics who tend not to turn out on election day, but it will be at the cost of a far larger group of voters disappointed to discover the party that earlier this year claimed that “honest politics is what we stand for” is not 100 percent pure after all.

What Turei seems to want looks like 100% pure socialism. I’m not sure whether all her supporters see that.

But Tava looks male and looks white-ish so his views may mean 0% to the Green Party he has left. Same as mine.

Tava leaves Greens (not his cup of tea)

In 2015 Vernon Tava stood for the Green co-leadership when Russel Norman stepped down – James Shaw won that contest.

Politik has reported that Tava has now left the Greens as he thinks they have become too socialist (which is a common view outside the Green Party).

Top Green resigns and says party has become socialist

A former top Green official .and leadership contender in 2015 has resigned from the party because he believes it has lost its way and  he is now working with National.

As for the Greens, he said he began to part ways with them because he began to doubt whether the environment was seriously at the top of their agenda.

He also began to doubt that there was any genuine will on the part of the party to work with the Government whoever they were.

That was a central theme of his campaign for the party co-leadership in 2015.

He talked about the primacy of environmental values in the party and said the party should re-focus on its core Green values.

He said the charter’s values of ecological wisdom and social responsibility were neither left nor right.

And he went on to suggest he would be happy in Government with National.

That’s something the Green Party, and especially co-leader Metiria Turei, seem staunchly against.

“Currently we say it is not enough that you care about the environment and that have a concern for ecological wisdom and social responsibility but you must also identify as left.

“And in doing that we alienate all the people who might share those values.

“Conservation, after all, can be inherently conservative.

“We leave these people out.”

He said the party needed support from across the spectrum because the problems facing the country were too urgent and too pressing.

“The Green Party should be the sustainable axis around which every government turns, he said.

I’ve voted Green in the past, and I would strongly support an environment focused Green Party that was prepared to deal with any government, no matter which party led it (that doesn’t mean I would vote for them but I would give them serious consideration).

Currently Green support growth seems to have stalled. It’s hard to see much change to that as they seem to promote socialist policies more than environmental ones, and hitch themselves to Labour only.

Tava:

“I  had joined what I thought was an environmental party and I did find that on the whole, it was more of a socialist party.”

Tava says his fundamental question of the Greens was to ask how serious they were about the environment.

“Is it that we will only protect the environment when it feels good or will do what it takes to work with whoever is in Government.”

“When Russel Norman really started going after John Key, a lot of us were very unhappy about that.

“It was like we’d burned the bridge, and the party was traditionally always meant to be above the fray, and you didn’t hear Jeannette Fitzsimons or Rod Donald making personalised attacks against people.

“So there was a feeling, and a lot of founder members did express this to me.”

The focus and feel of the Green Party has certainly changed a lot since the days of Fitzsimons and Donald.

Tava is not alone in that view — postings on “The Standard” website yesterday over the Greens disappointing showing in the Mt Albert by-election make frequent reference to the party being the true left wing party.

This prompted a response from lprent, who posted National bolster their moribund blue-greens and a standard grump:

FFS: Individuals write here and have individual voices. “The Standard” is a dumb computer program that allows them to discuss their opinions to each other. Give attribution to those making comments or posts rather than to the machine.

He sort of has a point but The Standard (commenters at) often refers to ‘the media’ and named media outlets as being culprits without attribution to individual voices, it’s very common elsewhere as well to generalise about sources.

But his point loses it’s impact when you see anonymously authored hit job posts like Poor Tory Farrar – is ‘Natwatch’ a dumb computer program? Without an identifiable voice who can blame people referring to it as ‘The Standard’?

Back to the Greens, Prentice’s post and some of the comments adds some interesting points to discussions on where the Greens fit in now, who they appeal to, and whether they can break through their support ceiling with their current approach closely allied with Labour.

One late comment from ‘s y d’ is actually quite perceptive:

To summarise.

The Green Party will be stuck on 11% cos most of us are just too poor to be able to give a fuck about streams, dolphins, driftnetting, fracking, mining or the next thing to be destroyed in the ceaseless march to elysium.

Only the rich get to choose to go hiking, everyone else can get the bus, or get in their 1998 nissan sentra.

The poor, the deprived, those in poverty generally worry about their own predicaments on a day to day basis, they are likely to not much thought to the environment.

Neither are they likely to give much thought to voting, they are probably  a significant part of the ‘missing million’.

This is a bit of  Green dilemma. Are they really green, or have they become too red for voters?

Kevin Hague favourite for Green leadership

It’s not surprising to see it reported that Kevin Hague is the frontrunner in the Green co-leadership race, ahead of James Shaw. I would have been surprised if either of the other two, Gareth Hughes and Vernon Tava, were seriously contesting.

Radio NZ reports Two-horse race for Green Party leadership.

With two weeks till the votes are counted, initial reports put experienced MP Kevin Hague out in front alongside the party’s newest MP James Shaw.

Mr Hague, Mr Shaw and fellow MP Gareth Hughes, as well as Green Party member Vernon Tava, are standing to be the Greens’ male co-leader following the resignation of Russel Norman.

This is probably a bit soon for Shaw, having only just become an MP last year. Tava was always going to be an outsider from outside Parliament.

I think either Hague or Shaw would be a good bet for the Greens.

Mr Hughes said it showed the strength in the Green Party that all four could potentially lead the party.

Anyone could potentially lead the party. Some would be better than others.

I’ll be cheeky and quote alongside that:

Metiria Turei is the sole nomination to be re-elected as female co-leader.

Does that show a weakness on the female side of the Green Party? Maybe, maybe not, incumbents often go unchallenged.

It could be difficult for the new male co-leader not to be overshadowed by Turei. Hague is probably the one who could match and balance her best.

So Hague is my favourite to get the nod, but the Greens sometimes have funny ways of thinking.

Green leadership contenders

There’s been no more nominations for the male co-leader position vacated by Russel Norman so there will four contenders:

  • Kevin Hague
  • Gareth Hughes
  • James Shaw
  • Vernon Tava

I think the leading contenders will be Hague – experienced and reliable – versus a contrasting new hope for the future, James Shaw.

My pick is the safer option, Hague. Shaw’s time will come – he had initially said he wouldn’t stand this time due to only being an MP for a few months but changed his mind.

Tava has some interesting ideas but with no chance of being an MP for the next two and a half years, and has said he doesn’t know if he will stand for the Green list in 2017, so I don’t think he has much chance.

Hughes may appeal to some Greens with his ‘do what members choose’ approach but his reliance on ‘hey Clint; guidance must count against him, ultimately people like leaders who are prepared to lead.

There’s been just one nomination for the female co-leader position. Metiria Turei has tweeted:

Whew! Reckon my chances are pretty good…

But she points out there’s still a vote:

Yep.  We have a no confidance option for delegates who dont want to vote for me (or any candidate)

I don’t know if the vote is made public but I’d expect Greens to avoid controversy over Turei being elected without a solid endorsement.

The voting will be done at the Green AGM on 30 May so that’s another 6 weeks in leadership limbo with Norman phasing out.

And Turei has had a low profile over the last month, maybe contemplating her own future, maybe not wanting to dominate the leadership as Norman fades away.

Green leadership contenders on spying

The Nation had a panel discussion with the four Green male co-leader contenders (note that there could, nominations don’t close for another month).

They were asked about the GCSB and spying.

Vernon Tava: “extremely carefully circumscribed”, “far, far stronger oversight”, “treated very, very carefully”, “extremely tight rein”.

James Shaw: “rules around it have to be very clear”, “ transparent oversight”. He seems to contradict himself with “I think the thing that we’ve had in the last few years that people have become increasingly worried about is this idea that everyone is being spied on” but “I think there’s sort of an expectation in our society that that’s OK”.

Gareth Hughes: “I support NZ having domestic intelligence abilities with appropriate oversight and transparency, but we should not be spying on other countries”, “I think we should have a GCSB with appropriate oversight, and I think they should be supporting our companies to prepare themselves against cyber-attack intrusions”.

Kevin Hague: “I definitely would bail out of Five Eyes, and I would shut down the GCSB. I think, uh, that isn’t to say that there isn’t a place for surveillance, provided that there is a reasonable cause and that is independently verified. Um, and I think Gareth’s right that it could be the police that actually carries out that function.”

No GCSB, no foreign surveillance or intelligence seems to be a very naive position to have. It’s not likely to happen with both National and Labour seeing the need for the GCSB.

Greens complained that they don’t have a member on the Security and Intelligence Committee but if they oppose the GCSB and any foreign surveillance or intelligence gathering perhaps their exclusion shouldn’t be surprising.

3 News Transcript:

Is there a place for spying in our society? Vernon?

Tava: It needs to be extremely carefully circumscribed. There are people— you know, we’re seeing with the 1080 threat. You know, we’re seeing there are people who want to do malevolent things. But we need far, far stronger oversight and far less politically oriented oversight than we’re seeing now. It needs to be treated very, very carefully.

So it’s OK to spy as long as you keep a tight rein on it?

Tava: Extremely tight rein.

James?

Shaw: Yeah, I agree. I mean, I think the rules around it have to be very clear. There has to be transparent oversight. People need to understand what we’re doing. I think the thing that we’ve had in the last few years that people have become increasingly worried about is this idea that everyone is being spied on. You know, countries have spied on each other from time immemorial. Uh, for, you know, trade deals. Uh, you know, wars. All that kind of thing. I think there’s sort of an expectation in our society that that’s OK. I don’t think that there’s an expectation that it is okay to spy on everybody.

So, Gareth, is it OK to spy on people?

Hughes: I support the police having intelligence-gathering, uh, abilities with appropriate oversight. When it comes to the Five Eyes network, you know, I’m a dad. I teach my kids to do what’s right. Spying on our friends and allies. Spying on our major trading partner, that’s not right.

So leave Five Eyes and shut down the GCSB?

Hughes: I believe NZ should get out of the Five Eyes network. I don’t believe it’s in our economic interest. I don’t believe it is the right thing to do. I support NZ having domestic intelligence abilities with appropriate oversight and transparency, but we should not be spying on other countries.

But you name-checked the police, then. You said it’s OK for the police. What about the GCSB? Yes or no?

Hughes: I think we should have a GCSB with appropriate oversight, and I think they should be supporting our companies to prepare themselves against cyber-attack intrusions.

So, Kevin, bail out of Five Eyes as Gareth says?

Hague: Yeah, I definitely would bail out of Five Eyes, and I would shut down the GCSB. I think, uh, that isn’t to say that there isn’t a place for surveillance, provided that there is a reasonable cause and that is independently verified. Um, and I think Gareth’s right that it could be the police that actually carries out that function.

But are you aware what damage that would do to us to bail out of that agreement?

Hague: I don’t see any damage. What are you thinking of?

Economic damage with our trading partners.

Hague: Yeah, I don’t believe it would result.

Hughes: How do you think our major trading partner, China, feels about us gathering their data? How do you think our allies and friends in the Pacific feel about it? Now, two decades ago, NZ stood up for an independent foreign policy. What we see now is we’re part of this—

Well, in the Pacific, a lot of the island nations have said they are not bothered by it. They accept it.

Hughes: And, to be frank, they’re in a different power situation vis-a-vis NZ. I don’t think they want, seriously, us to be surveilling and scooping up all of their communications.

Green financial n…n…nou…nous…nah

The four Greens who have put themselves forward to replace Russel Norman as co-leader have a bit of homework to do if they want to get up to speed financially.

They were interviewed on The Nation this morning and 3 News reports  Green candidates fumble financial questioning.

Three of the four candidates for the Green Party leadership have failed to answer general knowledge financial questions.

Co-leader Russel Norman, renowned for giving the environmentally-focused party financial credibility, is resigning his leadership.

Green Party MPs James Shaw, Gareth Hughes and Kevin Hague, as well as party co-convenor Vernon Tava, have thrown their hats in the ring.

And financial hats are not their strength.

Mr Hughes thought the inflation rate was around two percent. It’s 0.8.

Mr Hague thought economic growth in the last year was 0.25 percent. It’s 2.9.

Mr Tava thought the Official Cash Rate was 7.8 percent. It’s 3.5.

“That’s the sort of data I could just look up on my phone right now,” Mr Tava said in his defence.

It’s very hard to be on top of all things in politics but these are fairly basic financial questions.

Perhaps whichever of them becomes co-leader will hand over financial responsibility to Metiria Turei.