This election and the next more than ever are screaming out for an environmental party to hold the balance of power, Alex Tarrant says; The Greens need to split or grow up and focus only on environmental issues

By Alex Tarrant

The Metiria Turei covfefe over the past few weeks has laid one thing bare above all others: The Green Party needs to take a long, hard look at itself and then split or grow up and focus purely on environmental issues.

This election and the next more than any before are screaming out for an environment-focussed party to hold the balance of power. We’re not getting anything remotely resembling that from the Greens.

If they were focussed on what it says on the tin, there were ample opportunities for the party to boost support over the past few months and highlight required, sensible input on what Environment Commissioner Jan Wright says is the largest inter-generational issue facing this country.

Swimmable rivers, water pricing, criticism of the government’s climate change policy, the rise of electric vehicles, synthetic meat and milk, Trump’s anti-Paris Agreement stance, polluted drinking supplies in rural towns, Auckland public transport.

Sure, they’ve made noises on all the above. But what has had them leading news cycles in the lead up to the election campaign? Turei on social welfare, and the Party’s decision to back National’s families package.

Even the announcement of the Greens’ list focussed on the young urbanites the party is seeking to bring into Parliament this election. Did you know that list included a Wairarapa sheep and beef farmer in a position high enough to get into Parliament if they pull one out of the bag?

There is an internal debate within the party over how ‘friendly’ they should be to the farming community as work progresses on agriculture policy. Newsflash: As some things stand, there will be scope for headlines like, ‘Greens – we want to help farmers’ and ‘Greens offer financial support to farmers who reduce stock numbers’.

I’m not kidding. There could be some serious environmental and climate change policy about to be announced that doesn’t just have a go at everyone who works the land and gives the impression that all cows should be shot and we should all go eat carrots and drink soy the rest of our lives.

But there is no way these policies will receive the respect and attention they deserve because of the social welfare-focussed coverage which has painted the party into a corner with cobwebs on the Left.

There is no way these policies will provide any input to a National-led government after 23 September. And Winston Peters’ re-found hatred of the Greens means they might not provide input into a Labour-led government’s work programme either.

Whether Turei was right or wrong to commit and admit to minor benefit fraud I’ll leave to others. I must say, I respect Turei very much. She has been an unbelievable driving force for the party over the 12 years she has been in Parliament.

No doubt, the Greens’ stance on social issues has attracted some of its voting base. But it is time that part of the base is allowed to drift back to other parties of the Left. The Labour Party needs every half percentage point of the party vote that it can muster. The party that created Working for Families should be trusted to improve on the policy by focussing on beneficiaries as well.

On Maori rights and sovereignty, the Maori Party should be trusted to push that agenda in Parliament. Let Winston Peters have his racially charged beef with them, and only them.

The Greens are currently facing another challenge. Gareth Morgan’s TOP is quickly making inroads into some of its liberal urban voting base. I’m still not certain TOP will hit 5%. Any number below that will be wasted vote. That will be at the expense of the Greens the most.

The best defence would have been for the Greens to be an environment-only party. Sure, polling may have been less than the 11% they’re on currently. But surely at least 7 percentage points of that support would remain from the strong environmental base – that should be more than enough to cover for National’s shortfall this election.

It would also make it easier for New Zealand First to swallow a Labour-NZF-Greens coalition. If the Greens were an environment-only party, no more criticism from Peters on its stances on social issues and Maori sovereignty – leave these to Labour and the Maori Party.

Remember, the Greens have ruled out working with National not because of environmental policies. It’s because of National’s stance on social welfare.

It is time for the Greens to plant some organic fertiliser and grow up. I remember in 2011 in the green room (sorry) after a Sky TV election debate I took part in, John Key saying he believed the Greens should be able to get themselves in a position where National had to turn to them to form a government within the next few elections.

This partly may have been wishful thinking as Key would rather have gone with the Greens than Peters. But I would bet bottom dollar that the Greens’ failure to become a mature third party in New Zealand that could work with National as well as Labour dismayed him. The icing on the cake for Key would have been the formation of a ‘Blue-Green’ government.

The icing on the cake for the Greens should be getting into a position where they hold the balance of power. They are nowhere near that. If the Greens don’t act now, the events of the past few weeks may be irreparable.

New Zealand politics needs a solid environmental party prepared to force both majors (and Peters) to make strong, sound, and perhaps hard decisions on the environment and climate change policy. A mature third party that isn’t distracted by social issues which anchor it firmly on one side of the fence.

Let others take those fights to the electorate. It might require the party to split, but the Greens should start doing purely what it says on the tin. Only this way will they ever be in a position to hold the balance of power and effect inter-generational environment and climate policy changes.

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment or click on the "Register" link below a comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current Comment policy is here.

99 Comments

I plan to vote for the Greens because of their economic policies. If they abandon that, then I won't be voting for them.

Inequality is economically harmful.
http://www.oecd.org/newsroom/inequality-hurts-economic-growth.htm

I'll never vote for a single issue party.

@ocelot , the Greens are watermelons , Green on the outside but red on the inside

Sounds good to me. Look at what the first Labour government in NZ achieved:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Labour_Government_of_New_Zealand

Those policies of the post depression 1930's and WW2 when a huge number of people worked for the Government , are now discredited and clearly no longer work .

Labour needs to move into this century if it wants to get ahead and govern again

If you can elaborate or provide links to back up what you claim, I'm open to being influenced.

From what I can tell, socially spent money is often far more economically effective than privately spent money. Public schools are more beneficial economically than superyachts of the same value for instance. Everything in moderation obviously.

This article helps explain how a decrease in inequality is economically beneficial:
https://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jun/04/better-economic-growth-...
Many businesses have ample capacity, if only they had customers with the disposable income, if they've only got a few customers with all the money to fight over, they're not going to be able to make many sales. Marketing is taking an ever increasing amount of business operating costs these days. Without being able to extract any more money than people have to spend. That very example is actually discussed in this game theory video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9Lo2fgxWHw

This is nothing new. the more obvious solution would be for all parties to adopt sensible evidence based environmental policies. Elections can then be decided according to matters upon which rational people can disagree, and the science can be left to those that know what they are talking about.

There is a little problem with that, and that is that not everyone agrees what sensible is, who is going to decide which scientist we are going to listen to. Just in the last few weeks we have had the environmental court turn down the application to destroy some native bush for a dam. It just so happens that I agree with this decision because while to some it might just be a few hectares, to others, such as me, it is the constant chip, chipping away at what we have left on the premise of, oh it's only a little bit. But its not, its a little bit more and another little bit more, and a bit more today and another bit more tomorrow. People call for balance. If we were to agree on that, then we would have to re-establish half the country in native bush, we have so unbalanced it already.
It is a good idea, but good luck with getting it settled as to what constitutes sensible environmental policy. All I know is, we really cannot afford to be degrading the environment any further, and if we can settle on that, maybe we can work on even more improvement

If a proposal came along to drain a natural lake in order to put photo voltaics on the riverbank there, would you support that?

No

No.

No. For all the general reasons - one is biodiversity. But for photo voltaics specifically - there is no need to. Big centralised generation is so 1950s. Distributed generation is the way. PVs on all roofs. The national grid restructured commercially to support local generation/use and sharing nationally with our existing big batteries, namely hydro.

You have a good point. The chipping away is always in the same direction - anti-nature. It operates on a small scale too - living next to regenerating bush my well meaning council add a few signposts one year - set in concrete, adds a couple of benches for oldtimers like myself - set in slabs of concrete, another year they decided the old wood fence that stopped vehicles driving into the bus could be replaced by a row of fat square wooden posts each buried in its own square concrete base that is about 8 times larger than the post.
A decade ago the Greenhithe ridge was green and now it has houses poking out of it and the trip down the Puhoi river passed a couple of old farmhouses - no longer. It is just so easy to say a little bit more can go but when gone it is gone forever.
Of course with a gov policy of population increase (this year 2.1%) we will keep gently losing our natural heritage.

I feel like it is constant chip away at private property rights . How can we stop this ?

Good comment & good advice therefore it will not be listened to. You see the Greens themselves are the only body that can give good comment and advice concerning the Greens.I mean I respect & understand the majority of their environmental concerns & would vote for them in that regard, but while not exactly socialist, the remainder of their platform is way too far left for me, unnecessarily biased, so if the environmental issues are the main "Green Thing" how on earth are you going to progress them if you then place yourself in an overall political position unpalatable to the majority of the electorate. Self defeating I would say.

Think about it carefully, green and capitalism really are a bit like oil and water, in fact that is not a bad analogy for it, at all.

Got it. The water vaporises & you are left with the oil.

Well one thing I know for sure is, you can't drink oil, and in a drought no-one prays for oil

Agreed. It's interesting that at the end of the 19th century nobody much had any idea as to what use, let's say crude, oil was. At least for energy that is. World War 1 took what potential there was and strapped it to a rocket. Hence all the sudden interest in places like Iraq and imposition of relative selective borders by the Western powers. So up until the internal combustion engine, who needed oil.

If you got no water, you also got no need for oil on account of you'd be a bit dead

It affects them on individual issues too. Here's what I said about the Greens' political strategy in the Listener last year, in the context of NZ foreign trusts:

"But it seems you’ve got a bigger problem. Long ignored, the elephant in the room has grown to monumental proportions. Half green, the other dark crimson. Whatever the issue, even sharp political discourse means naught when the commentariat tars you with a self-administered brush that pigeonholes even sensible debate as socialist ravings.

Face your demons and pick a colour. Any colour, it’s your call. Then we’ll know who you really are. If you choose Red, ditch the party label misnomer and hitch a ride in Labour’s saddlebags. They’ll drop you when not required, but you’ll have influence when things are tight.

If you choose Green, you might select the hue of your partner based on your principles, not theirs."

From:
http://www.noted.co.nz/money/investment/opinion-what-s-blocking-effectiv...

@ Ron: Yes I've been amazed at how naive most Kiwis are in regard to money laundering or perhaps they're just turning a blind eye in favor having seen their house prices rise so rapidly (Which is actually biting us all in the butt economically in the long term because it's a false economy).

And how National just choose to ignore the problem, along with the begrudgingly acknowledging that there actually is a housing crisis but still isn't willing to do anything beyond a tokenistic measure, to prevent what caused it in the first place.

I for one will be voting for Labour, since they seem to be the only ones that have enough backbone to do anything about deterring Foreign Buyers and restricting money laundering (Well at least by taxing the buggers).

It seems that the vast majority of kiwis, don't really know how money laundering works and how even professional people can get sucked in to it with out realizing at first. We could include as many articles on the subject with pretty information graphics but it still doesn't appear to hit home with them.

So here's a different angle for you kiwi's out there that have Netfilx. Go and watch; 'Ozark' which is a very gripping new series about a Financial Advisor who get sucked in to money laundering. Perhaps then you'll have an idea about that level of corruption that ends up effect all our lives in one way or another.
Warning, the Ozark trailer is a bit graphic: https://www.netflix.com/nz/title/80117552

@CJ099
You're very right, curiously very few seem to u/stand what it's really about, or why it matters.

I replied to "two otherguys" (belatedly, so it disappeared below radar) the other day on a fascinating (if non-scientific) study of how some key Govt agencies appear to view laundering too. Here:

http://www.interest.co.nz/news/88916/collusion-allegations-germany-bofa-...

Gareth did a piece recently too, ostensibly on FSP, but curious to see accountants (and maybe lawyers?) perfectly happy to have no idea who their clients might be. Here:

http://www.interest.co.nz/business/88955/after-leaving-trail-destruction...

All politicians are "naive" to it not just kiwi. Just probably less likely the kiwi ones are as complicit. $1 trillion can't be put under mattress and has to be processed through most of the world's largest banks - no one else has the scale.

" According to the document, the global market in drug trafficking has an estimated annual global value of between $426 billion and $652 billion (USD), making it the second most lucrative illicit market measured after that of counterfeit and pirated goods, which is estimated to generate as much as $1.13 trillion annually."

"The drug money laundering business is a staple and important part of global banking. Money laundering is one of the things bankers do well. They should, they practice every day. It is not a one off rogue teller or rogue ofice. It is not something the bank does once and never again. Amex did it many times. HSBC has a history. You only have to go back to the murkey and bloody AGIP affair to find the same names and the same widespread conspiracy to commit financial and legal crimes. Dig deep enough and you’ll find the names of politicians, senior ones and find yourself meeting some of the people who make sure the truth of such matters does not come out and whose job it is to protect the guilty and do their dirty work.

Drug money, criminal at the start of its journey, is still crminal at its ‘respectsble’ end. Drug Money is criminal and dirty no matter how many times it is laundered, by no matter how many banks. The bankers know this better than anyone. Yet they do it every day, every week, every year and every decade in every major financial centre and everyone knows it."

http://www.talkingdrugs.org/report-global-illegal-drug-trade-valued-at-a...
http://www.golemxiv.co.uk/2012/08/a-word-about-banks-and-the-laundering-...

But that doesn't make it acceptable. We should be taking more stringent preventative measures against money laundering or at least collect more significant tax revenue from it. Even China has woken up to that one, by massively reduce their shadow banking (Private money laundering).

The problem is that it has destabilized property markets around the globe but we seem to be one of the main focuses for it with significant lack of controls.

Alex has a dream - the parties of the left behave sensibly , divvy up the vote potentially available to them in the optimal way and win. Fat chance ...

You can't just focus on the environment. Being in government is about governing a country, i.e. the people.

My (politically neutral) point (and perhaps Alex's) is different.

Currently, some people will vote only Green or Labour, for the issues Ocelot describes. Many others see Green as 'red', and many non-left inclined voters won't vote Green, although many perhaps would like to, but are put off by the left/red hue.

If Green was genuinely primarily a green party, it would be easier for National, NZF, TOP, Act and UF voters to support them too, not just the Labour-leaning and environmental activists which seems their current base. With party or electorate vote, depending on their own electorate conditions.

Currently, it seems to me, Green tied to Labour hobbles both, attracting many of the same voters.

Green as actually green, attracting votes from all hues, could have many more seats. And in MMP that is what counts. Not whether a party like Green is 'the' government, but whether it holds the balance of power. Both to decide who leads government, and for more Cabinet seats themselves. Blue-Green and Red-Green are just as feasible governments, but while Green tie themselves to just one, they hobble themselves.

They've probably left it too late for this election. That suits NZF of course, most likely on current polling to hold the king making power. But Key was probably right. That is a position that Greens could have, in future elections.

In general I agree with the principals you are talking about.

But you need to consider the actual "green" issues. They all stem from one thing - Human Civilization.

Look at NZ history.
- The arrival of Polynesians led to a major mega-fauna extinction event. (All species of Moa, Haast's Eagle, etc...)
- The arrival of Europeans led to a major flora extinction event. (Deforestation across 80% of the country to provide farm land)
- The growth of both populations has led to major land/water/air quality issues.

You cannot focus solely on the environment without direct negative impact to current society. Which kind of defeats the point of being in charge of Society.

up
15

My inclinations are towards environmental concerns but those contradictions are why I, and I'm sure many others, have a problem with the Greens. They seem to have been fully taken over by the social justice warrior element. For example NZ first have a more comprehensive policy regarding reform of the current disastrous inshore fisheries regime being administered by MPI -Ministry of Extinction.
Their response to concerns about excessive immigration is to insultingly label them xenophobic or worse. Never mind the hundreds of thousands of Kiwis suffering poor wages and a housing crises as a result.
They have said they would not be in favour of policies aimed at a lower birth rate because it would be racist. How they work that out is difficult to fathom - religious or cultural factors maybe but racist? Then there's this business with benefit fraud, the fact that their co leader seems to think it acceptable is bad enough but their solution (basically pay plenty to reduce the incentive to cheat and turn a blind eye to fraud when it does happen) is dripping wet in the extreme. Does anyone still believe that encouraging welfare dependency is a good idea?
I agree - stick to the green issues.

It's not just the greens. It's democracy. You don't get into power catering to only 5% of the population.

All the parties are the same...

Greens have to move away from solely environmental policies.
Labour have to move away from the unions.
National have to move away from the farmers.
Winston has to move away from the Blue rinse brigade
Maori Party have to move away from only applying to Maori.

You have to appeal to the widest range of people. Sadly, at this point in time voters just don't care enough about the environment. It's a human thing. In 50-100 years when we can barely survive on our own planet we will all care, but by then....oh well.

Fair enough Noncents, though with MMP it would be nice to have the option, as a voter, of favouring your priority and allowing the eventual coalition partners to provide balance in other areas that are less of a concern.

up
10

Well said David George. the Green party ain't Green in my view. As you describe they are against lower birth rates 'because that would be racist -- ?? and then ??. To achieve a stable population is the most effective thing we can do to ensure human survival. Greens so tied up with themselves they could not agree on that or if they did, and could never organise it.
New Zealand could be a rich, small, high income, highly educated, high tech country with minimal environmental impact and vast wilderness areas. Where the fish jump from the sea as they did 300 years ago. I wish.
What we would get from the Greens would be a crap housetruck, housing cold children looked after by an entitled loser.

Name me one political party that is prepared to even pop its head above the parapet where human overpopulation of the planet is concerned, anywhere, in the world.

Sadly PocketAces - can't think of any.

O course China did, but not 100% sure if I should count their single party state there, but they did it.

Western governments should promote the fact that their populations are stabilizing, even declining somewhat, as a great achievement of the modern system. Something that the rest of the world should seek to copy and not something that needs to be fixed.

Well, no, not really, because instead of embracing this, they are importing people from other countries to keep the growth fires well and truly stoked.

Australia is suffering again from its large immigration and refugee counts

Raised terrorist alerts, airport delays, person screenings to enter airports, Federal Police everywhere, police raids, arrests

Noncents, regret my knowledge on this is insufficient but has a Green Party ever won an election outright & gained a parliamentary, or similar, majority in its own right? And if so how long did that particular government actually last. The only reason I raise this point is that the NZ Green Party is relatively recent compared to say their German equivalent. If these longer established equivalents have not made it yet then it would seem our lot are far being in government and governing the people and therefore surely, in order to effectively promotetheir agenda, would be better off in the tent, rather than doing something from the outside into the wind.

I can't think of anywhere that has had a green majority. But then I am not an expert by any means on the topic.

Going on memory, NZ Greens are probably at the most popular point they have been in terms of total seats in parliament. Although the last electorate MP they had (possibly only?) I can think of is Jeanette Fitzsimons.

I think the greens are vitally needed in politics, but probably not in their own stand alone party.

Personally I think they would be better served by disbanding and joining up with the other parties as MPs.

Imagine how much better off we would be with an actual Green Environmental Minister in National? Rather than sitting in opposition.

Did you know - Green Party Perception - all cows should be shot

quote from Alex Tarrant above
"There is a debate within the party over how ‘friendly’ they should be to the farming community as work progresses on agriculture policy - there will be scope for headlines like Greens offer financial support to farmers who reduce stock numbers’ - gives the impression all cows should be shot"

Now Check this out
27 June 2017, Dr Jan Wright Environment Commissioner told us GHG emissions in NZ have increased 64% since 1990

NZ Statistics tell us that Livestock Numbers NZ from 1972 – 2015 have hardly changed
http://www.stats.govt.nz/browse_for_stats/environment/environmental-repo...

So what is causing the 64% increase in GHG - it's not the cows

"NZ Statistics tell us that Livestock Numbers NZ from 1972 – 2015 have hardly changed"

Hardly changed?
- "Dairy cattle increased 68.9 percent, from 3.84 million in 1994 to 6.49 million in 2015."
- "Increasing trend in dairy cattle and total cattle"

Granted total stock numbers haven't changed, but replacing Sheep with Cows (an animal 5-10x its size) is definitely going to have an impact.

Then there is all the added processing.
Shearing once-twice a year, slaughterhouse once/twice a year and its relative processing/transport

vs

Milking twice daily, running countless hundreds of tankers, processing factories, and then onwards transport of milk powder, cheese etc... not to mention the vast increase in imported feed, irrigation, fertiliser, etc...

I agree with your principle though, it's not the cows themselves at fault - its the people.

Sheep have also declined from a peak of 70 million to a bit over 23 million. Certainly from a farming perspective, a cow is roughly the equivalent of 10 sheep.

Rubbish
Cow 6-7 SU
Sheep 1.1-1.3 SU
So more like 5x

its not the cows"
Of course it isn't the cows - how could a 69% increase in the number of 800kg dairy cows since 1994 possibly affect our GHG emissions?

To a large extent the dairy cows have merely replaced sheep and beef cattle. In any case the livestock (via the bacteria in their gut) are just facilitating the short term carbon cycle. The grass absorbs carbon from the air as it grows which is stored as flesh and bones by the animal or released back into the atmosphere as CO2 and methane. Essentially it's the same whether the stock are involved or not as insects, wild animals, bacteria and fungi would complete the cycle anyway - even including the methane.

@two otherguys
Just replied to CJ099 about my (belated) response to your BOLO the other day, then saw you in this thread too. Link above :-)

Thanks for the follow up Ron

The Greens seem to know nothing substantial about the environment; there is so much that they could campaign on. They are either ignorant or they are not Green

In fact a lot of Green ideas are actually wrong and would probably lead to worse environmental outcomes - for example a blanket ban on GE, and a naïve belief in organic agriculture (as opposed to sustainable agriculture).

Sorry but you do not have my support on GE

I followed the following case of a farmer in Perth who had organic certification and his next door neighbour decided to plant some Monsanto GM seed some of which blew over the fence and the first guy lost his certification - and his farm - and his family - just like that - as easy as

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-09-03/organic-farmer-steve-marsh-loses-g...

This is tantamount to what is playing out in the big-smoke with synthetic cannabis - they don't know what they're putting in their mouth

GE and just about everything else we do equates to monoculture and that is about as far away as you can get from a healthy environment. The thing that is not sustainable is the number of us.

agree entirely - the Greens simply don't seem to know what being green would & should entail.

I completely agree with your characterization of the internal divide forming. I also think that TOP has a far wider audience than many people realize. If they are going to take a proportion from the Greens, it may very well be the typically non-commital on election night. Up until now, the Greens have had the strongest environmental policies, but voters from across the spectrum needed to capitulate in order to get their voices heard. I don't think choice is as harmful as you believe it to be.

Gareth Morgan is on track to become Kim Dotcom of this election. He will attract 2% of vote that would otherwise go to the Greens and waste it .
Go TOP ! Death to fat cats ! ( or is all cats ?)

Or....he might be the Donald Trump of this election!? There's a whole heap of 'us' out there that think Gareth's policies have issues, but we're gonna vote for him....anyway. Something's got to give with status quo, and one term of a Disruptor might just do the trick....everywhere.

" might be the Donald Trump of this election!?" - I am no fan of Gareth but he does not deserve this type of abuse.

I can't see Gareth being crowned God Emperor somehow.

This is a difficult topic, which I am not sure there is a 'socially optimal answer'.

Alex seems to be implying that in NZ's MMP environment -the socially optimal answer is for there to be a big broad based party of the centre-right -National and a big broad based party of the centre-left -Labour and a number of smaller parties with narrow specific identities in the centre -NZ 1st, Greens, Maori. Then voters can choose between the centre right or left party or a narrow specific identity party of the centre which can go into coalition with either of the bigger party. This outcome has a certain 'keep it simple stupid' appeal.

But there is no guarantee this 'socially optimal' political choice is what would occur. I believe that what John Key had in mind with the Greens becoming a centre party is that National would become the only big broad based party and that voters would be given a choice of either voting for his one big, stable, dominant political party or they could vote for a smaller political party -Maori, NZ 1st, Greens to keep National 'honest'. I think John (and his rightwing supporters in big business, msm, rural community....) would have done everything in their power to permanently remove the real opposition -the big broad based centre left party -Labour.

I believe that National and its supporters have a strong self-entitled belief (maybe there only real ideological belief) that they are the party of natural government in NZ. Engineering an outcome where National is the only big dominant broad based party I think is high on their wish-list.

P.S Green party policies/political strategy is for the members to decide on. Ultimately, if Alex or anyone else doesn't like Green party policy approach they are free to join the party and attempt to improve its direction from within.

P.P.S MMP is a bit of an arse of a political system -it doesn't give voters a clear choice of who will govern them. There is no clear government party and opposition party.

P.P.P.S Democracy is a bit of an arse -when there is only two political choices -these seem to decay over time to two terrible choices -Trump vs Hillary.

P.P.P.P.S “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.” Winston Churchill

P.P.P.P.P.S. And the other big bottomless counterproductive problemThe calibre of the MP's. You have to admit some dreadfully inept & non productive MPs have entered parliament since MMP. Not saying that the lot before that did not include some idiots as well, but the ratio of them must have increased markedly. Never ever was any reason to increase to 120 MPs, and that is what the Royal Commission stated as well.

"P.P.S MMP is a bit of an arse of a political system -it doesn't give voters a clear choice of who will govern them. There is no clear government party and opposition party."
- true and kind of ironic in the context ( it was the Greens and the crypto-Greens who pushed MMP through in the first place ).

Core green issues would attract more party votes. Clean water, insulation, solar etc appeal to all in NZ. Blend them with ultra left stuff and its no wonder they are called the watermellon party, green on the outside, and red on the inside. Ultra left is very niche here, and should be the NZ commie party, and standalone for those that want that for NZ.

I don't think they are that far left. Most of their policies make sound economic sense.

Just because they are called the greens doesn't mean they have to be only about the environment (just like labour don't have to just be about labourers). They wouldn't get 12% of the vote if they were just environmentalists. They are effectively the progressive party of NZ

I would have to agree with Alex on this one, except for his assertion their party vote would drop significantly. If Green dropped the communist economic agenda and focused on environmental policy, I would say they would get more votes, not less, as they would draw votes from across the Left-Right wing spectrum, since the environment affects everyone. At this point in time, I could never even consider voting for them as the damage they would cause far outweighs any positive environmental impact. In terms of the discussion of what other "green" parties around the world have achieved in parliament, I would say NZers care more about the environment than a lot of countries which are overpopulated to the hilt (who, to be fair, have much bigger issues such as not dying to terrorist attacks).

Just as Nats and Labour having too much vested interest to ever try to reduce house prices to affordable levels, I suspect the Greens similarly have too much vested interest in paying people more to not work. How about raising minimum wage to pay workers more and making beneficiaries do community jobs and gain both work ethic (getting out of bed and doing something productive) and also benefit other workers in the community who are footing their bill.

What this NGO talks about;

http://pureadvantage.org/

Is the kind of focus I wish we had from a green/environmental political party in NZ.

Pure Advantage sticks to its knitting. But its knitting is by no means a narrow focus - its about our environment underpinning a more productive economy.

Nice, simple message and focus - with members coming from energy, transport and business/economic disciplines with a non-negotiable commitment to productivity and environmental sustainability.

The Greens do propose to raise the minimum wage, and reduce the tax rate for lower paid workers. It is a bit unfortunate the media focus has been on the benefit increases, but understandable given the Turei event.
I think the problem arises from the system, either you are on a benefit , or you are working. For people on a benefit trying to transition to work, theres to many sticks and not enough carrots. To my mind , Someone in Metiria's position back then, should have been encouraged to find ways such as extra flatmates to better their position , not punished for it .

I agree with this analysis. There are plenty of middle class votes in traditional national urban areas they would pick up if they ditched the "progressive" platform and focused on environmental issues.

I doubt if greens, NZfirst or ToP could do more damage to the bulk of the people of New Zealand than National have done over the last nine years. I also think that voting for Labour or National is a totally wasted vote and will remain so untill we get a leader like Jeremy Corbyn. Someone who at last will truly represent the people and NOT big business.

Nice discussion everyone - thanks. A few comments: 

Ron - thanks - yes agree.

On Greens perhaps getting bigger vote if they just focus on environment - I agree. My point is that of the existing base they should be able to surely keep 7% ish and then attract more from elsewhere.

On voting for the Greens because of their economic policies: I grant this is a draw to them. I'm disappointed that Labour dropped many policies like CGT and didn't take things like UBI further - perhaps because of the Greens holding on to certain policies.

Of course, the Greens could still have these and their social welfare stance as secondary policy platforms - ie 'we like these ideas but they won't be deal breakers; what will be deal breaker is the environment'

The Greens are still the best-placed party to be one that can hold the balance of power on an environmental platform. But they're increasingly distracted by social welfare and other issues that they're effectively putting as bottom lines, that Labour/Maori Pty should be allowed to lead the discussion on - perhaps with some of the Greens rump by getting involved in those parties?

And also, for anyone wanting to have a go at National this weekend, then just wait for tomorrow's column. It tackles 'that' export/GDP goal, climate change and augmented reality...

Cheers,

Alex

Alex says '........The Green Party needs to take a long, hard look at itself and then split or grow up and focus purely on environmental issues......" You are so right Alex.
What we have is Turei not only being a fraudster proudly, but promoting the idea. Not just taking the taxpayers money, (who incidentally are often poor themselves), what worse still undermining the whole legal and moral system.
I have a strong environmental view, but I don't even see the point of finding out what the Greens policy actually is, because seem clear it's not something that interests them.

Why only green, all party should think and talk about environment. At the same time if green party is in politics why should they talk only about environment and nothing else.

Something is wrong somewher

"All parties should think and talk about the environment " yes they should, but they don't. look at nationals refusal to do anything on climate change even after signing the Paris climate agreement. It's scarey how little our government will do if it doesn't have to. Green issues have be centralised for maximum impact.

I think the Greens just got put out to pasture with their recent antics.

Socially , our circle of friends, all , without exception horrified at the leader of the Green party boasting that she defrauded Social welfare .

And some were actually previous Green voters , big on environmental issues .

At the last election there was record voter turn out, for National, and because of that portly German fellow.

At this election there will be record voter turn out, for Nation, and because of Turei the fraudster.

In my circle of friends horrified would be the right word too, she will be (unwittingly) Nationals trojan horse this election.

I have always voted green as I think environmental issues outweigh the importance of financial issues long term. This year I will vote top If I think they can get 5% as being central and possibly holding the balance of power they will be able to achieve more.
Love this article, I think they would get more votes and be more effective as just an environmental party.

I have been saying this exact same thing for the past two elections.

Bring the on the environmental party!

Whenever I think of the green party I think of 2 things. More excuses and the provision of more govt money for the unmotivated and their policy of legalising drugs. Two extremely dangerous policies.

@uninterested , not to mention condoning benefit fraud , which goes against the sensibilities of virtually all us middle class New Zealanders .

Social welfare is there for stability and to help folk in need, and the money comes from ordinary workers pockets, so , defrauding or rorting the system is not welcome

Boatman,

So,was it ok when Bill English did it,by double-dipping on the housing allowance? Or is it somehow different when 'respectable' middle-class people screw the system?
Fraud is fraud and should be treated as such,but the justice system seems to come down much harder on benefit fraud than middle-class fraud. Strange isn't it? How many effectively game the system with their family trusts? How many of the rich rort the system through fancy tax avoidance schemes? And yes,I do know something of that industry as I once in it-something I am not proud of now.

Are your serious? legaslising drugs dangerous? Have you not noticed the danger not legalising has created? The wealth and influence of drug cartels is all around us. All because we allow them a monopoly on a vice many prefer. It's nuttier than nuts.

Portugal legalsied 14 years ago. ..

"The reality is that Portugal’s drug situation has improved significantly in several key areas. Most notably, HIV infections and drug-related deaths have decreased, while the dramatic rise in use feared by some has failed to materialise."

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/portugal-decriminalised-d...

Nothing new.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressive_Green_Party_(New_Zealand).
It tried in the first MMP election, and got 0.26% of the vote. It had some pretty influential "green" people in it to .
I am a Green Party supporter, I also run a midsize business. Do I agree with all their policies, of course I don't. But I do see where they are coming from , with the "socialist" policy. I would prefer they had more support for small businesses, and for farmers trying to do the right thing. Actually they do support farmers, it is just overshadowed by the "dirty dairy" message.
In theory, it could split in to a "blue" and a "red" green party , and each retain more than 5 % of the vote. Collectively they may get more than the 10 -15 % the Green Party will get . It is interesting that the TOP party , who propose a universal income eventually( how much more socialist can you get than that ?), are cast as a blue green party. I don't see it myself . If i wasn't voting green , they might be my second choice, but i wouldn't vote for them if I didn't think they will get 5%. This election will be too close to waste a vote. At the moment I don't see them getting it , mainly because no new party ever has(without a existing MP).
At the end of the day, I think the Green decision to rule out working with National is the correct one. The country needs change, National has made it clear they are going to continue with more of the same , regardless of the coalition partner required.
NZ First would not make a significant difference to that , except in Northland , where they would gain some worthwhile concessions. Possibly some superficial concessions on immigration as well, but a vote for NZ First is really a potential vote for National to continue as it is .

@solardb, no criticism, but something I've always found fascinating from a political science perspective, and several people here have made the same observation.

They reckon TOP is good enough to consider voting for, but think it won't get 5%, so won't 'waste' their vote. Yet it might be just that thinking that ensures TOP [or whatever party in that position] doesn't get 5%, so in reality the vote is 'more' wasted because it supports a lesser-favoured party (typically a status-quo party), and especially because if the vote was made according to the voter's actual preference (by all who have that preference), TOP [or whoever] clearly has a much greater chance of reaching 5%, and (in MMP) potentially make the very difference that such voters want, but voted against.

I understand tactical voting, splitting party/electoral vote (especially in some electorates), etc. That all makes perfect sense, but this has long puzzled me. I assume the behavioural scientists have looked into it, if anyone knows?

Ron, fair observation.
I would vote for a party that had no hope of getting 5%, if they really had policies that appealed to me, and/or i liked their candidates.However, this election is going to be very close, and I would consider voting to ensure a change in govt, more important. I was really using Top as an example off a supposed blue green party I might consider voting for iff the green party went too far left. However I do not think the current national party is a good choice for a 4th term, and would not vote for any party not likely to go with the left bloc.

Green = OPM and 'Kumbayah'.

Not a wonderful economic or strategic mix....

I would never vote Green , and I am fed up with National , Labour offer only tax and spend policies and , Winston cannot be trusted , so I think TOP has to be an alternative

LOL

ACT are better than TOP

... Labour should ACT quickly , and TOP their little leader , put NZ First , rather than sink further in the polls , just a GNATS whisker away from oblivion ... then there'll be GREEN shoots in springtime for Labour ...

I wonder how it would look if Colmar Brunton got responses from cell phones seeing as landline ownership is falling rapidly, and they will soon be the preserve of the better off and the elderly. Best as I can ascertain, Colmar Brunton are still polling landlines only.

A bit late to this thread unfortunately.

I couldn't agree more with the author. This kind suggestion will get little traction at Interest.co as the readership is predominately far left leaning and they will view this as a subversive attempt to undermine the left as a whole.

There is a huge opportunity for a blue/green party in NZ, I can see them getting a number of seats in parliament the same way that ACT and UF do now with blue voters giving their party vote to National and local to a blue/green candidate.

There is a consensus on the left that right voters don't care about the environment and that couldn't be further from the truth. We're the ones with yachts in the gulf, batches on the Coromandel and chalets on the mountains and we don't want to see those areas spoiled.

correction - there is a huge MARKETING opportunity for a blue/green party....

But its a total oxymoron. Like sustainable growth. Like green capitalism.

I agree that the main threat to the environment is more people/growth, all of the sustainability challenges are exacerbated by more people/growth.

Doesn't mean that a environmental party shouldn't be in shared power, plenty of things we can clean up in our back yard. And people learning about sustainability doesn't hurt either.

I don't have a lot of time for people who are all problems and no solutions.

LOL, actually I'd beg to differ, in fact it actually shows just how extreme right you are.

Ahh steven... I've missed you.

If voting against a benefit fraudster is far right wing then I'm far right

If voting against robin hood policies is far right wing then I'm far right

If I feel like a shouldn't have to apologize for being a man is far right wing then I'm far right

"We're the ones with yachts in the gulf, batches on the Coromandel and chalets on the mountains and we don't want to see those areas spoiled." You are also the ones who want to shut off access to the ordinary folk to them

"shut off access to the ordinary folk to them" how exactly do I do that? There are public roads leading to all these places, a free market to buy into them and no toll to sit on the beach or mountain if you so choose.

If you want to buy a slice you have to earn it. I've never met a person at the islands, on the beach or on the chair lift that hasn't earned the right to be there.

Alex, right on the button IMHO. This is why I quit the Green party and joined TOP.

so I am one of these,
"The Greens are currently facing another challenge. Gareth Morgan’s TOP is quickly making inroads into some of its liberal urban voting base. I’m still not certain TOP will hit 5%. Any number below that will be wasted vote. That will be at the expense of the Greens the most."

Will TOP make 5%? I doubt it but there is next election for a freshly started party.

PS I still follow some of the Green MPs is starkly evident that really if ever a party deserved the term "watermelon" it is they, of course that is indeed how the party is made up so its actually 'above board".