What needs to be done to ensure the left doesn't fail NZ as it did the US and UK, according to 22-year-old Green Party candidate Chlöe Swarbrick

What needs to be done to ensure the left doesn't fail NZ as it did the US and UK, according to 22-year-old Green Party candidate Chlöe Swarbrick

By Jenée Tibshraeny

Will the left fail New Zealand as it did the US and UK?

Chlöe Swarbrick is on a mission to make sure it doesn’t.

The 22-year-old won the confidence of 29,098 Aucklanders who backed her to be Mayor. She now has her sights set on helping refresh the left in national politics.

The day after Donald Trump was crowned President-elect in the US, Swarbrick announced via a video posted on social media, she would run for the Green Party in next year's election.

While she claims her announcement wasn’t influenced by the Trump victory, her comments around there being a “tide for change” against a global backdrop of people unhappy with the status quo, appeared rather timely.

Swarbrick appealed to New Zealanders not to fall into a “trap of hatred and fear”.

But are we really going down this path?

The injustice of homelessness and accidental millionaires

Speaking to interest.co.nz in a Double Shot Interview, Swarbrick says: “I do think that there is definitely a feeling as though injustice is kind of on the rise…

“We know factually that one in a hundred New Zealanders are homeless, but on the other side of the coin, 65% of New Zealanders own a home and a lot of them are accidental millionaires.”

“A lot of people feel as though they aren’t progressing in their lives. That social mobility is decreasing. No matter how hard they work, they’re not able to move up the rungs, so they’re looking for something to blame.

“Unfortunately I think that quite frequently that thing to blame is a scapegoat. People are looking for change - any kind of change, and unfortunately it is for the most part right now manifesting in rather negative change.”

Swarbrick would like to see “progressive” change.

She says the US election and Brexit reflected a “failing of the left” as neither the campaigns of Hillary Clinton, nor the ‘remain’ camp, promised the change people were looking for.

“I’d really like to see us as the left galvanise next year to present a really strong, viable alternative option for progressive change in New Zealand.”

Greens should better communicate their ‘progressive vision’

While a number of her supporters, disillusioned with politics, wanted her to start her own party, Swarbrick believes her values are well aligned with the Green Party.

Asked whether she believes the Green Party needs to evolve, she acknowledges the challenge is communicating the party’s “progressive vision”.

She maintains the public’s perceptions of the Green Party are at two ends of the spectrums. On the one hand they believe it’s losing its heart by trying to appeal to too many people, yet on the other, they think the party is solely focussed on climate change.

“[But] if you actually investigate and you look at what the Green Party represents, it is a progressive New Zealand. There’s a plethora of different areas which they are hitting, which would encompass a lot of the legislative change that we need to see.”

Swarbrick believes she has a realistic view of politics.

“What I found working in journalism [at bFM] is that there are actually a lot of politicians with great intentions, but quite frequently, they are unable to action them as a result of the political machine as a whole.”

Swarbrick has never considered, nor been asked to join the National Party, even though the way the polls are looking, this would give her a better shot at being in government next year.

International leaders need to challenge each other

Swarbrick says she admired Green Party co-leader, Metiria Turei, for standing up in parliament to say she would not congratulate Trump on his victory.

“I do think that you can have respect for the democratic process, but you can still challenge international leaders.

“I think that’s actually going to become a lot more important in the next few decades as the world becomes more globalised.

“Right now… international leaders do put up with each other in some sense or another and there isn’t all too much talk about international regimes. I think the dialogue is going to shift in that respect definitely.”

RMA the ‘whipping boy’ for housing woes

As for policy, Swarbrick has been pro housing densification in central Auckland.

Asked how she would address the tension between the Government passing reforms to the Resource Management Act (RMA) to streamline the consenting process around building, and the Green Party lamenting it for undermining the environment and the democratic process, Swarbrick says she’s concerned the legislation has become a “whipping boy for every single problem ever to do with building”.

“It is the amorphous red tape that we keep talking about.”

She supports Sir Geoffrey Palmer in saying we need to look at the RMA as a whole, “instead of making all these cuts from a 25-year-old piece of legislation”.

While Swarbrick points out only 10% of consents are notified, so require public consultation, she says the consenting process needs to be improved.

She would like to see local councils’ consenting departments better resourced, so that they could use technology to make the process more transparent.

This could include giving applicants a timeline, updating them on progress and notifying them when there’s a hold-up.

Restrictions on foreign property buyers a must

As for migration, Swarbrick says: “I haven’t done anywhere near enough investigation into it to be able to tell you, this is the level it should be.”

Yet she stands firmly by the Green Party in supporting restrictions on foreign property buyers.

She is weary of not creating a moral panic around the issue, where people accuse “the Chinese”, who are actually New Zealanders, of pushing them out of the property market.

“We do need to acknowledge very strongly that it is an area where racism and xenophobia can become quite pertinent and can become the subtext for the conversation…

“We need to be able to talk about immigration as it affects people.”

‘Changing the tone in the way that we do politics’

While Swarbrick would like to be largely defined by her policies, she acknowledges her age informs her life experience, perspectives and prejudice.

Asked who’s mentored and helped her get to where she has, she credits her father.

“I was a really precocious and annoying child. Anybody who’s been with me through schooling, or even at tertiary can testify to that. I’m the person who always puts their hand up to challenge or question the notion that’s being put forward.”

Swarbrick says her father picked up on that and engaged her in political discussions from a young age.

She says Gandhi’s mantra that ‘an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind’ has always resonated with her, and comes to the fore in the context of international politics.

“We do need to stop blaming people and we do need to have a conversation. We do need to stop shutting each other down for bigotry.”

Swarbrick’s mayoralty campaign taught her a lot, which she aims to bring to national politics.

“I found time and time again, if you give people respect, you get it back and I think that it’s all about changing the tone in the way that we do politics.”

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?

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maybe chloe will need a harder edge when she comes up against some of the old reptiles in the other political parties,being nice about everybody doesnt work.and maybe focus on new zealand exclusively,I dont think voters in NZ want to hear about brexit or trump,not everybody is an expat although they are well represented on this site.

I had huge respect for Chloe during the Mayoralty campaign for generally acting on evidence and facts while others carried on the usual rubbish, however...

A large amount of this respect was lost unfortunately while watching The Nation (or maybe Q&A) when she absolutely fluffed around with any answer to do with immigration - and appeared to just run out the usual "Oh well Winston's brought it up so it's probably just racism and xenophobia" angle without answering with anything of substance whatsoever - a real shame.

Hopefully you follow through with some "investigation" as you've mentioned above because the instant you just dance around any answer to a matter of this importance you slide down hill in my opinion.

Other than that, great!


Sorry, but you expected substance from a 22 year old with Z.E.R.O. real world experience?

Surely, we as voters, should at least expect our politicians to have served some time living and working as the rest of us do... she has barely graduated from one institution and is going straight into another.

The issue with the left is that they groom these same career politician archetypes from the cradle to the House and then say "Oh, but look at this fresh faced thinking?"... Chloe Swarbrick is the same as Jacinda Ardern, Grant Robertson and Helen Clark before her. Never had a real job, always seen politics as the end game.

So you think we need 120 old people running the country? Is having a few young people in parliament really that bad?


More young people would be an excellent thing. So long as it isn't handed to them on a plate for dubious reasons like that twerp in Southland.

That is ridiculous hyperbole that doesn't warrant further response other than to agree with Kakapo - Todd Barclay is in the same basket.

A little bird tells me the good folk of the Southland National party have buyers remorse with Mr Barclay and are looking for a replacement.

The experienced staff got the hell out with remarkable speed, which is telling. And nobody was willing to reveal to media what had actually been going on.

And Little Mr Tobacco Industry Plant has shown himself to be a complete fool lacking in judgement.

Yes the was remarkable loyalty in closing ranks. He needs to sort his act out as theres all sorts of fires going on down here with southern DHB, gridlock in Qtown and ag training at Telford in disarray, all under his watch.

It just looks inherently shady that some wet-behind-the-ears kid with his only background being in the crooked business of lobbying is handed a safe electorate for life. Who saw that as worthwhile, and what are they getting out of it? What does Toddy have to do to pay whoever owns him back?

Whatever it is it clearly has nothing to do with being an effective voice for his electorate.

Whole thing stinks to high heaven.

Best case scenario, tobacco industry want somebody in Parliament to be their bitch well into the future. Peter Dunne won't last forever.

Chris Bishop as well, so got their bases well covered.

Expect? Maybe not, young people seem incredibly afraid to speak up against anything that even flirts with being called a racist / xenophobe.

Having said all of that, the people you speak of with loads and loads of "real world experience" give the same answer she does in regards to Immigration - particularly the current lot in power who appear determined to get as many low skilled people into the country as possible - at any cost.

And if you're going to harp on about "Career Politicians", at least have the decency to not isolate it to the "Left" - if you honestly believe that you're only kidding yourself.

What the private sector equivalent of the following career paths:

Student Union > NZUSA > Labour / Greens
Student Union > UNITE > Labour / Greens
University > [Non-discript "action" group] > Labour / Greens


You can argue it, but fundamentally, until that changes I can't ever see the left as a viable voting alternative.
James Shaw is maybe the first of a new breed that I can respect, anyone else is a seat filler.
Harsh reality of a, sadly, impotent opposition.

Todd Mclay, Chris Bishop then? Tobacco lobbyists? You could argue the Nats are just former lobbyists for big business

What's a "real" job? Ms Swarbrick has opened a cafe - http://thespinoff.co.nz/politics/13-11-2016/chloe-swarbrick-why-i-chose-... and clearly doesn't seem to be putting all of her eggs into the politics basket.

I voted for her in the Auckland mayoral campaign primarily because she tried to achieve something, rather than standing back and complaining. That is what I, as a voter, look for in a politician.

Also, if she turns out to be a "career politician", is that really any worse than someone being a career bricklayer, or career accountant? Or do you require your tradespeople and professionals to have gone out and experienced other occupations before you engage their services?


"Also, if she turns out to be a "career politician", is that really any worse than someone being a career bricklayer, or career accountant?"

Yes, it is worse.
Professionals and tradespeople serve apprenticeships. Even accountants, lawyers and medical professionals have to spend years doing the "grunt" work before they are unleashed upon their unsuspecting client / patient base.

I deal with graduates all the time who think they are God's gift by virtue of acing university and therefore know everything... only to quickly find out that they know nothing of practical value.

Chloe Swarbrick becoming a MP is the equivalent of graduating University and immediately being made Partner of a firm, senior physician or being put in charge of a gang of tradesmen without serving an apprenticeship.

Difference is, as a MP, your decisions aren't limited to the lives of a single patient / client - they potentially impact everyone within a constituency.

So to reiterate. Yes, it is worse. Far worse. So I do expect more.

Well put.

I'm not following you. You appear to be suggesting that the longer someone spends doing a job, the better they will be at it. By that logic, all politicians should start early, so by the time the reins of power get handed to them, they will be well experienced at the craft of politics.

Or are you suggesting that politicians should have a long and diverse set of experiences before entering politics? In which case I repeat my question of whether it is only important for politicians to have a diverse set of experiences, or do you impose that criteria on all you deal with?

Of course you can choose your examples to suit - I wouldn't expect the CEO of a fashion label to be a 70 year old man for example.
But it wouldn't hurt to have the views of the young represented in parliament - even if they are apparently always wrong.

Nah. She MP not PM. Backbench is an apprenticeship. You want an amateur non-professional brain surgeon on their second career break from being a taxi Driver)?

Amateur politicians suck. Look at local government.

So a career foreign exchange guru has something to do with the real world?
I think our great leader has not lived in the real world either and that is a fault not an asset.

Thats a bit unfair suggest a 22 year-old has no substance , she may be naive , but she has to start somewhere .

Its a pity her views dont quite coincide with my views , because she is quite likeable , is clearly ambitious , and has a great future

For some people politics is their life work, like Bernie Sanders. I don't think that is necessarily a bad thing, it can be for some, for others it is a mission for them. It should not be the exclusive realm of the old and the rich, that would be even worse.

Being 23 yrs old she has known nothing but inward migration (and she's probably raised on refried Marx).
On The Nation she poo- hooed Winston as "moral panic". This is what Spoonley claimed over PI immigration, however Clydesdale won the day.

If the left wants to be ever get back into government it needs to stop the identity politics - identity politics divides people into groups and is more hate-filled than anything Trump has said or even allegedly said. While I have some sympathy with the Greens it is clear that they don't want people like myself in their group. In fact, they would rather if I didn't exist or at the very least that I would just go away. The condescending attitude of the left makes it un-electable. Also the Greens' not joining in the congratulations of Donald Trump just makes them look petty.

Its called divide and conquer. The left hates you because they can't control you. Period. When the Greens speak, I turn my back.

In my opinion , the Greens , ( who should be a small effective but powerful lobby group focused solely on environmental issues ) are , in their current form, a total waste of time, energy and effort .

They simply oppose everything , wade into debates they dont understand , they are so far left that Stalin would be proud of them , and never , ever offer any constructive , practical or realistic alternatives .

Yes, indeed. It does seem that the left has become very intolerant of divergent views. They want to control thoughts now - totally unacceptable in a free society.

Is that view based on fact or what some mates told you at a BBQ?
I think most of the greens policies are actually quite sensible. Yes they do go a bit far at times, just as National go a bit far right at times. I'm not a greens voter by the way.

Agree with both boat and jimbo in parts. I don't mind their environment or even some economic ideas. Can't stand the mission to change society into their view of "correct".

I think we have moved past the idea that progressive change actually delivers anything new ..??? ( tweaking the existing trends seems to define the term " progressive change' )

I remember celebrating Obama becoming President.. in 2008... I really thought this young Black, intelligent, amazing guy was going to deliver the promise of radical change.. .. I think people intuitively had a sense that REAL change was needed...

Obama failed to deliver...from the get go he surrounded himself with an administration that was the..."same old"... ( and..I'm not blaming him..... Maybe it is the political "system" itself ...I guess )

I think Brexit and Trump might have more to do with this.... A reaction to the empty promises of change and to the "grey bureaucracy " that defines political correctness.. A vote against the "system". ( It goes beyond having an unhappiness of the current status quo or a failure of the left ).

Your response to the question regarding Housing and the RMA is a good example... There is good reason the RMA has become the whipping boy.... and there seems to be a grand Canyon between the original intent of the RMA and how it is actually being used...
My guess is that radical change is required here..?? etc,...etc..

Chloe I do wish u all the best in your Political journey...
If I could "wish" something for you it would be that u get a group of wise , experienced, knowledgeable people , who have had a full lifetime of experience ( ie. they are older ) and have them sit around a table with you ....
Finding radical answers, based on first principle understanding, to whatever the issue is..
eg...You mention Geoffrey Palmer... He would be a good start..

Bring the wisdom and experience of old age together with the reckless spirit of adventure of youth .....AND radical , meaningful change can happen...???

Wishing u all the best..!!! ( At some point I might well vote for u..!!! )

"If I could "wish" something for you it would be that u get a group of wise , experienced, knowledgeable people , who have had a full lifetime of experience ( ie. they are older ) and have them sit around a table with you"
Isn't that what you are criticising Obama for?????

I have no idea who Obamas' "Mentors"... who his "guiding lights" ...were..??

I'm talking about a group of people , outside of the system, who can help one learn and understand...?
eg Maybe someone like Hugh Pavletich, in regards to housing...etc.....

I was talking about Obama choosing people for jobs, who had been used before, in a previous decade, by a previous administration..
To me it suggested .."the same old".... rather than a step for meaningful change..

Brilliant to see new young and energised people entering the political scene. Good on you Chloe.
'One in 100 Kiwis are not (factually) homeless'. That assertion by the left is an academic construct arrived at by a recent redefining of what the word 'homeless' means. The 'bedroom deficit' that is central to this redefinition consigns my perfectly functional shared bedroom upbringing to a state of 'homelessness'. Absolute nonsense.

I agree with u middleman...
It is a form of corruption ... to redefine something until the "numbers" become what u want...
( the way we define foreigners in regards to house buying springs to mind )
The statistics become misleading and meaningless.
Is it done on purpose.... or is it a lack of common sense..??

The ' justification' used by academics to support their homlessness proposition is 'internationally recognised measures'. As though the international context were, by definition, wholly applicable to that of NZ's. When we know that it most certainly is not. Widely differing population and housing densities, divergent social attitudes to living alone, views on intergenerational family cohabitation etc are all issues that make imposition of some ideal international standard a nonsense. So - to answer your question: an academic must know that citing 'international standards' as justification for a new definition of homelessness, is not a robust platform from which to launch. Therefore you'd have to suspect political motivation.

many thks middleman.... that makes sense to me.!

Same thing happened with 'poverty' - a strong emotive word is hijacked by academics and weakened in the public eye until they need a new word. Or in this case, tack 'child' in front of it. It's a sign the evidence doesn't stack up when you need to resort to using strong emotive terms.

Lucky Mr Google can check out assertions to determine the truth. Mr Google shows that the Censuses definition of homelessness hasn't changed for at least the last three surveys. file:///C:/Users/brendonh/Downloads/nz-definition-homelessness-update.pdf

So I can say the Census doesn't consider sharing a room with a sibling as being homeless middleman. That must be a relief to know you childhood wasn't as deprived as you thought.....

Also interesting facts are 41,000 are homeless according the definition that the Census uses -meaning they are dependent on others allowing them to couch surf, or they live in places not considered ‘homes’ such as campgrounds, garages and cars or they are on the streets. This works out as 1 in 100 kiwis in the 2013 census and has worsened from 1 in 120 kiwis in 2006 and 1 in 130 in 2001. http://www.otago.ac.nz/news/news/otago613529.html

Come on Brendon....middleman was using that expression as a metaphor...

In the past:
I've lived in a boarding house for a yr.... . ( noone there considered themselves homeless )
I've slept in a mates garage for 6 mths..I never considered myself homeless.
My sister has a friend who pretty much couch surfs , rather that rent a place.... She does not consider herself homeless.

I have Pacific Island friends who tell me that they feel compelled to share their homes with extended families...for various reasons.. ( kinda like its a cultural imperative )... They don't describe the situation of their relative as being homeless...
Elderly parents living with their Adult kids .... is that homelessness..???

Come on... get real... there are not... 1 in a hundred homeless... use some commonsense .
( I'd love to know how a census actually gets into the hands of a truly homeless person.?? )

Just like there are more than 3% foreigners buying Auckland houses if one uses the "commonsense" definition of a foreigner... ( ie.. foreigner is anyone who is NOT a permanent resident )

USA employment figures are another example... u have to dig into the measures to get a sense of "true " unemployment...

Are u going to label me as some kind of heartless right wing Capitalist..??? ( I'm ONLY arguing about corruption of definitions to suit an end...... )
ie.. It allows Chloe to state...as a FACT... that there are One in One hundred that are homeless

Surely u have have had enuf of the "anti-common sense" that is "Political correctness"... in all its subtly corrupt forms ???


I personally cannot stand Chloe. Someone who is 22 and exudes the perception that she thinks she is perpetually the smartest person in the room, just doesn't do it for me. Her bio (coupled with the insistence that her name be spelled with an umlaut, without purpose in English phonology) reads not too differently to the prose of which her big orange nemesis would describe himself.

I will concede that in the beginning she did do well to factually base her arguments. However as the limitation of knowledge and political savvy prevailed, the iconic lefty wishy-washy rhetoric replaced it.

She's young and keen. I was nowhere near as articulate and savvy as her at that age. Cut her some slack, she will harden up and refine her arguments with time.

Yeah agreed. She needs to lose the calculator watch though. Not a good look when working with budgets.

I agree. And no one should fault her for being proactive.
However, I disagree that she should be cut some slack for her short comings. Politics isn't a nursery school. As an MP elect, you are a pillar of democracy and you do a disservice to any of your constituents with any indiscretion of ineptitude.

But, all in all, I just love irony. As much as she would loathe to admit it, we can draw many parallels between her and the Trump.

She's good for the property Council as she's pro immigration

oh.. u are a hard Man Nymad..!

The promblem the left had (has) it became another 'elite'. Big government - protected employees of vast number - esoteric trendy policy - interest mainly in maintaining the rights and pre eminence of their government agency incrowd.
If Chloe can fix that -all strength to her.

I liked the fact she is a millennial who is politically engaged but she is making a huge error seeking to enter parliament at such an early age. She would have been much better served building her life experience and then using her obvious skills down the track to make a real impact. She risks her fresh brand by becoming just another out of touch career politician who gets enveloped by the system.

Good on her, but as with a lot of Green thinking now ... confused.
There is no "progressive future" - If the Greens dont recognise carrying capacities and ecosystem wide thinking then theres not much hope in others doing so. The simple fact the promote the idea of just turning off the fossil fuels shows the naivety.
All progression (im imagining shes thinking things are going to get "better") requires increasing amounts of energy ... energy always precedes technology - without energy the tech is useless. And more energy is something we havent got. If she started talking about the regressive future id listen.

Commitment to an ideological cause as being someone's highest priority, is the best way to progress in a political party and a crap way to be a helpful politician.

You are never going to become a helpful politician unless you are ideologically committed to a cause.

Being clever is not a pre-requisite for a successful political career. Nor does it necessarily ensure politicsl survival .

Maximum of 8 years as an MP is what we need. No more career politicians.

That would probably preclude any young people entering politics, so, no thanks. It would also mean the world would not have the Bernie Sanders etc, so again, no thanks

Critique this Chloe
The distinctive feature of the New Zealand economy is that land is an important input into the productive process. This is obvious with the agricultural,fishing and forestry sectors but it also applies to international tourism. In a simple model of the New Zealand economy where the supply of land is fixed, and New Zealand’s isolation means it is not a ‘natural’ location for the production of a broad range of internationally traded goods and services, then an increase in the labour supply through large scale immigration will reduce the
marginal product of labour. As a result:

Real wages will fall

Owners of land will benefit

There will be an outflow of ‘native’ labour in search of higher wages in Australia

The economy will be bigger, but average incomes will fall

Resources will flow into low value service production.

National 50.0% (+2%)
Labour 28.0% (+2%)
Green 11.0% (-2.0%)
NZ First 10.0% (-1.0%)
Maori 1.0% (-0.8%)
United Future 0.0% (nc)
ACT 0.0% (-0.5%)
Mana 0.0% (nc)
Conservative 0.2% (-0.1%)
And to think NZ First has no infrastructure. People answer the phone and a foreign accent asks them who they are going to vote for: the O.K Parties or the Racist one?

after brexit and trump I don't think you can rely on conventional polling it is a different world say one thing do another

“Social media analysts continually sounded the alarm that all of the polls were not reflecting the actual situation on the ground in the pre-election landscape,” he added

"Xenophobia, Racism, Moral Panic" Cries Chloe The Knowie on The Nation

China today is extraordinarily homogenous. It sustains that by remaining almost entirely closed to new entrants except by birth. Unless someone is the child of a Chinese national, no matter how long they live there, how much money they make or tax they pay, it is virtually impossible to become a citizen. Someone who marries a Chinese person can theoretically gain citizenship; in practice few do. As a result, the most populous nation on Earth has only 1,448 naturalised Chinese in total, according to the 2010 census. Even Japan, better known for hostility to immigration, naturalises around 10,000 new citizens each year; in America the figure is some 700,000 (see chart)


Ethnocentrism is not a White disorder and evidence is emerging that immigrant communities harbour invidious attitude towards Anglo Australians, disparaging their culture and the legitimacy of their central place in national identity.


Young women of Latin and Turkish origin living in Melbourne find it hard to see any Australian culture. Some see a vacuum; others see a bland milieu populated with ‘average-looking’ people. In contrast, they feel that their own migrant cultures are strong. They ‘get through more’. If there is any Australian culture it is, in their opinion, losing ground to migrant cultures.


Useful Fools
Corrin Dann
you don't want to get immigration down , to fall though, do you. I just got to say something. I saw you in a speech after the budget and you were in a big room of business people, now some of those were the biggest business minds of the country and you stood up and said: “don't worry about treasuries figure the estimation that it will go back to 12000, you were confident the figure was going to be a lot higher than that.

John Key
I just think it is likely to be higher than that

Corrin Dann
But it's like telling them you wanted immigration to be up. You were telling them “ don't worry the demand will be there, the economies going to stay there, that's what's keeping New Zealand affloat

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