Chris Trotter says once in government the distance between party leaders and party supporters can widen dangerously as demonstrated by Greens co-leader James Shaw

Chris Trotter says once in government the distance between party leaders and party supporters can widen dangerously as demonstrated by Greens co-leader James Shaw
James Shaw illustration by Jacky Carpenter

 By Chris Trotter*

What on earth possessed James Shaw to approve nearly $12 million of public money for a private “green” school? The straightforward and simple answer is: because he was advised to. Not by his party, of course, but by those around him.

Like so many Ministers, Shaw’s actions were guided by the contributions of both private- and public-sector policy advisers. People loyal to him, personally; people loyal to the broader and permanent interests of the state. The problems he faces now: the anger and frustration of Green Party activists; the confusion of Green Party voters; throws into sharp relief a central weakness of representative democracy.

Before a reformer – any reformer – can implement the sort of changes that transform societies, they must be elected to Parliament. The House of Representatives thus looms ahead of all serious political aspirants as the destination which must be reached before anything else can happen. Crucially, this all-powerful club, restricted (usually) to just 120 members, is accessible only to members of political parties. (No independent candidate has been elected since Nelson’s Harry Atmore in 1943.) It is this inescapable fact of our political system which explains the tensions and conflicts reflected in the Green Party Co-Leader’s present difficulties.

On the one hand, a political party must be able to attract sufficient support to secure parliamentary representation. On the other, its individual representatives must be equal to the task of retaining both their party’s and their voters’ confidence. Complicating both of these tasks are the personalities of the MPs themselves.

A large measure of ambition is a prerequisite for making it across the parliamentary threshold and joining the club. In order to fulfil that ambition, however, politicians must also master the art of close-quarter ideological and organisational combat. Inevitably, these skills are not acquired without cost. It is rare to meet a genuinely pleasant politician.

Once installed in the parliamentary club, politicians must learn how to cope with the way the institution’s power and prestige distances them from both the party organisations that chose them, and the electoral base which keeps their party vote above five percent MMP threshold. This is not easy. Indeed, everything about our Parliament reinforces the “specialness” of its members. In this regard, remunerating backbench MPs generously enough to locate them in the top 5% of income earners, makes the distancing process considerably easier to bear!

In subtle (and not so subtle) ways, the Westminster System of parliamentary democracy privileges the needs of the executive power, “The Crown”, above those of ordinary citizens. Parliamentarians are either members of the “Government”, or they belong to “Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition”. Between them, the influence of executive power, and the need to go on winning and retaining parliamentary representation, militate decisively against the still revolutionary idea of a democratically-elected legislature being “the people’s house”.

Not that James Shaw ever struck me as a revolutionary democrat. Rather, he comes across as a person who feels much more comfortable rubbing shoulders with conscientized millionaires (like the founders of the green school at the centre of this story) than with the at times anarchistic – even feral – activists who keep the flame of Green Party radicalism burning.

Following Shaw’s extraordinary decision to depart from the Greens’ longstanding antipathy to private education, the energetic tweeter Giovanni Tiso posted a link to a newspaper article by Stuff political journalist, Andrea Vance, in which she describes Shaw’s almost contemptuous attitude towards his party’s radical activists:

At mention of the ‘Green Left’ faction, Shaw slowly rolls his eyes. “When you’ve spent 16 years in Opposition, you get so used to that. One of the challenges we’ve had is trying to shift to thinking like a party of Government, not a party of Opposition. “We’ve got a very strong anarchist tradition. There’s still a lot of people around who used to be members of the McGillicuddy Serious Party. I think you have to honour that. But sometimes, one of the things about being a political leader is you have to take on your own crowd and say: “Hey team, this is not appropriate.”

Shaw’s mention of the McGillicuddy Serious Party is, of course, an oblique reference to Shaw’s former Co-Leader (and former MSP candidate) Metiria Turei. The latter’s fate neatly exemplifies the conflicting objectives of party politics. The use of Turei’s own experiences on the DPB to boost the Greens’ anti-poverty programme was highly effective – at least initially – in lifting its Party Vote. But, the fierce criticism it soon began to attract, especially of Turei’s character, rapidly undermined the party’s electoral prospects. Clearly, the near-disaster of 2017 left Shaw with a highly jaundiced view of his party’s radical impulses.

Ill-disposed to give an ear to Green radicalism, Shaw has, of course, made himself that much more vulnerable to the sort of advice tendered to him, as a Minister of the Crown, by senior public servants. These latter beings have had 35 years in which to perfect the art of persuading their masters that the transformative policies of their party colleagues, no matter how well-intentioned, would, if implemented, result in economic and social consequences as harmful to the lives of ordinary New Zealanders as they would be catastrophic to the Greens’ electoral success.

Wreathed in the credibility of their internationally recognised expertise, with spreadsheets of statistical data at their fingertips, and an eloquence born of long experience and institutional power, these “Sir Humphrey’s” are a daunting bunch. Contradicting the arguments of one’s ministerial advisers is not an exercise to be contemplated by the intellectually and/or ideologically ill-prepared or constitutionally faint-hearted. Certainly, the advice of those hired to provide ministers with personalised political counsel and support will, almost always, be to refrain from doing anything which might contribute to a reputation for being “difficult” or (even worse) “eccentric”.

It takes a very special sort of politician to keep the voices of their party’s founders, policy-makers and ordinary members sufficiently loud in their ears to drown out the blandishments of more proximate advisers. Rod Donald and Jeanette Fitzsimons never got the chance to show how well they could resist the corrosive influence of the status-quo’s permanent defenders. Having known both politicians, however, I am confident they would have been equal to the task of separating the ecological wheat from neoliberal chaff. For guidance, Donald could always rely upon his heart, and Fitzsimons upon her head. That Shaw was so taken aback by both his party’s and its voters’ viscerally negative response to his extraordinary departure from Green Party policy and principle, strongly suggests that both his heart and his head are very far from being in the right place.

If, on 17 October, the Greens’ already precarious relationship with the electorate tips over into a sub-5% share of the Party Vote, a good chunk of the responsibility for their expulsion from the parliamentary club will belong to James Shaw. The politician who allowed himself to become so enamoured with where his party was, that he forgot why.

*Chris Trotter has been writing and commenting professionally about New Zealand politics for more than 30 years. He writes a weekly column for His work may also be found at

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I don't buy this. The Greens have a poor track record when it comes to Government. They made no comment for two years while the Light Rail saga in Auckland blew out into a huge monstrosity, but scuttlebutt suggests Genter got heavily involved in the timing of the second tunnel under LGWM. They've sat back in silence while Winston managed to get concession after concession for his donors - the sort of things that had them screaming about 'crony capitalism' when National was in power. Other than legalising marijuana, what will they have actually achieved?

The Greens were all hype and no substance. They spent years insisting they had a monopoly on the environment and conservation, but when they finally got near the halls of power, they had nothing of substance to offer. Just send in another seven MPs from the bottom of the Labour list instead so we can be rid of them forever.


Yes agree. This is a hypocritical party. Any party that wants to legalise drugs should not be taken seriously yet over 5% people vote them. Can't believe we even asking people to vote on legalising drugs.

Can we have a referendum on MMP again please so we not held hostage by likes of Winston and these Wealth Tax hypocrites again. The minor parties will sell their souls to get into power. We need to vote carefully this time so that the policies of the 5 or 6% percentage parties don't become the law.


I think it's called democracy cm.

If enough vote no for legalising weed then it won't go ahead and you can stay happily living in the dark ages feeling smug about how evil drugs are while they are all around you and no doubt taken by plenty of people in your age group and demographic (whatever that might be).

Did you watch the Choe Swarbrick/Nick Smith debate? The one where Smith came across like the dinosaur that he is?

Haha, yes dark ages. I'm not that old but old enough to remember when cigarette smoking was considered cool. I thought that Coolness will die with my generation. But we taking next level now with legalising weed.

Have you had your WeedBix for breakfast already? Clearly affecting your brain as you didn't spell Chloe correctly.


Why is legalising weed so bad though?

Do you think the sky will cave in?

Serious question, what is it that makes you so against it?


I'd absolutely vote for decriminalisation if it was an option, but I won't be voting for legalisation.

Legalising it and selling it in shops actually seems pretty hypocritical, considering the ongoing war on cigarette smokers - nearly $50/pack now (which has worsened poverty and created a growing black market), "smoke-free nz by 2025" (yeah right), and smokers vilified everywhere. Weed is worse for the lungs, far more cognitively impairing, can cause psychotic episodes in some - yet government wants to send the message that smoking cigarettes is evil but smoking marijuana is fine.

Yeah it's pretty incongruous alright. Especially when the initiator of the Smoke free NZ idea backs legalisation (H.Clark)

Yes, I was shocked to hear a question about legislation for employment when employees are still having the drug in their system on Radio where Helen Clark was guest, Answer was that that was not clear yet, it's going to be another can of worms

Shouldn't be too complicated, should it? Set a sensible threshold for situations where it's a safety concern, eg forestry, driving. Don't sack people for taking it last week when they were on holiday.

It's gonna be a can of worms alright, dismiss someone for using a legal substance which has yet to have an impairment level set. At the moment employers have the law on their side - it's illegal.
It'll come down to personal choice - partake or your job, can't have both. Although that's the situation now anyway.

I don't think anyone's arguing smoking marijuana is 'fine'. It's just that the costs of criminalising it are worse than the cost of the use itself.
There are many things that are potentially harmful that we don't ban for that reason.

It's true that we don't ban other potentially harmful activities but I personally think that maybe decriminalising might have been a better first step. Full legalisation may be opening a pandora's box imo.

Do you know what was the thinking of legalising rather than decriminalising was Hook?

To get rid of the gangs supplying it I guess. Imagine if alcohol was illegal but decriminalised; the gangs would be rich, people would be drinking all sorts of terrible home made spirits, etc.

Overseas evidence I have read seems to show it's actually increased the black market price and had little influence on the volume so it doesn't look like that result has eventuated yet.

Which now I think about it, if the underground market hasn't retrenched by a large factor and there is several 100s of Millions in turnover and taxes in the legal market who is smoking all the weed?? Figures saying there has "only" been 1-5% increase in use means there's a pile of hooch being consumed somewhere.

Source? Doesn't sound like stuff I've seen. I haven't dug deep, but am interested.

No, to be fair I don't. I assume it was the intention to enable a market to develop thereby generating revenue and jobs. I guess there also may have been the impression that a legal market would divert funds away from the black market operators. All quite laudable intentions, and I don't deny California's experience shows the revenue side appears to have merit however I don't know if comparing California and NZ is valid.


Weed has no where near the lung cancer causing effect as cigarettes.

Furthermore, if legal many people would prefer edibles, pills or vapes as their mode of intake.

The question I ask of everyone against legalising weed is do you support criminalising alcohol. If their answer is "no" I don't waste my time with them, "You cannot reason someone out of something he or she was not reasoned into".

Vaping or edibles can solve that problem so it's a non-issue. People are already smoking marijuana now so explain to me how legalization will make this worse (rates of use haven't significantly increased in countries who have legalized contrary to what people feared).

And if it really were some terrible thing, raw cannabis for smoking could be taxed (and therefore priced) at a higher rate to discourage use and encourage edibles and other alternatives. Something that isn't possible at present because the entire market is illegal.

Or there could be other controls put in place, limit the amount of smokeable mairjuana you could buy but have a higher limit for edibles etc.

Or just ban smokeables and only sell edibles etc.

But agreed, this is a non-issue "boogey-man". The article even says that smoke from cannabis is held in the lungs longer so exposes people to more tar per breath. Ok, fine. How many puffs on average per joint (or whatever) vs per cigarette? How many joints (or whatever) vs cigarettes per day? It's a non-issue.

The current proposed legislation does not address edibles nor the importation of vaping products. There were a few deaths last year linked with vaping, something to do with the interaction of marijuana residue and the vap oils from memory. The trouble with some of those surveys is in the interpretation - the numbers are coming off a low base so if use increased say 2% per capita it appears very low but if there were only 15% users then the increase is quite different (13%). It all depends how the numbers are presented.

The current proposed legislation does not address edibles nor the importation of vaping products.

Not sure why you keep spouting such rubbish:

> What products could be bought and sold?
> Licensed cannabis products would become legal in stages, starting with dried cannabis, fresh cannabis, cannabis plants, and cannabis seeds.
> The Authority would have the power to authorise the introduction of other licensed products for sale, including concentrates and cannabis edibles, through regulations.
> Cannabis edibles would have to meet specific requirements
> Cannabis edibles are cannabis products that are consumed in the same manner as food. They would be required to be solid at room temperature.

There's also a list of things that will not be given clearance. Vaping products are NOT on that list.

There were a few deaths last year linked with vaping, something to do with the interaction of marijuana residue and the vap oils from memory

Your memory is wrong. They were using a chemical known to be harmful for inhalation as a way to thicken the product and bulk it up

The root cause of the problem is that THC vape products were illegal in the US and so there was no safety monitoring of their ingredients.

I don't know why you say I'm spouting rubbish.. as you pointed out the proposal only deals with dried plant material initially and that's what I was talking about, not what the Authority may do in the future.
I read that study and one thing I noticed was he was talking about "heavy users @>50x/year" That level of use could only be described as light use. The majority of users I know consume cannabis daily. Once a week puff doesn't equate to "heavy use", it would be recreational occasional use.

You claimed it doesn't "address edibles". It plainly does "address edibles". It specifically says that they are expected to be legal and with specific provisions for that. It also lists things that will not be permitted.

The regulations for edibles means it won't be able to be put into lollies, like someone else was scaremongering in this comments section about.

Decriminalizing it (although better than the status quo) is still worse than legalizing it as you lose out on controlling supply (gangs will continue to take all the profits), and you also get none of the tax revenue. You also deprive the country of creating a potentially new multi-million dollar industry and all of the associated jobs.

The beauty about cannabis is you don't have to smoke it to enjoy it. Vaporizing and edibles are common overseas so I don't think your point of smoking is particularly relevant.

In terms of psychosis, cannabis can lead to susceptible schizophrenics having psychotic symptoms at an earlier age. These people would have developed these symptoms any way at a later stage so for most people this is a non-issue.

These people would have developed these symptoms any way at a later stage so for most people this is a non-issue.

Studies in NZ has found this is not likely to be the case. There seem to be a small minority of people who have marijuana-induced psychosis, that had they not smoked it in their teenage years, would never have developed the psychosis.

Which is why we should want a legal drug so that tax money can be used for education and harm-reduction programmes, and early intervention.

All the more reason to regulate the market and limit teen use.
I wonder if the people who oppose cannabis realize the alcohol can cause psychosis in heavy users too? Probably not based off the misinformation some people are parroting here.

Totally agree.

There's pros and cons on both sides of the argument muzzled, but on balance the removal of criminality is a good thing imo. The worry as I see it, is the law is poorly drafted and has some glaring impracticalities eg. you can buy up to 14grms per day (which is a lot) but there's no mention of actual possession limits. The legal age limits I think will lead to maybe increased use by younger people being supplied by older siblings but that's unproven at this stage. Cultivation is also an interesting issue - can you legally store a season's harvest (potentially over 400grms/plant)? Driving whilst impaired - how is that going to be measured? (what level of THC is deemed to impart impairment)


Am i being pedantic? Yes, but why on earth do you think that pros and cons should have apostrophes? These are just plurals. If you don't understand them, leave them out.

Haha, true linklater, I'll endeavor to do better. Actually I'll edit them now. :)

Hi Hook - while you are editing you may also want to change "There's" to 'There are'. "Pros and cons" are plural and "There's" is the contraction of 'There is', the singular form.

Thanks for the english lesson. DILLIGAF??

Agree with you on pretty much everything there Hook. I actually didn't realise that cigarettes were so exp. Not sure what the answer is there, maybe the idea is to make them so exp to break the intergenerational cycle?

So many people make weed (or even moreso other drugs like cocaine/ecstasy/acid, even heroin and P which seem to do the most harm by far) out as the end of the world as we know it but they're here and not going away so lets just deal with the problem instead of criminalising them.

But my question was more to Chessmaster of what he SO disagrees with. (don't care one way or the other what the reason is tbh, but I am interested to know the thinking)

The worry as I see it, is the law is poorly drafted and has some glaring impracticalities

Firstly it's not a law nor even a bill, it's a draft proposal of a bill. It hasn't faced a vote in Parliament or gone through any select committee process or public submissions.

eg. you can buy up to 14grms per day (which is a lot) but there's no mention of actual possession limits.

* purchase up to 14 grams of dried cannabis (or its equivalent) per day
A person aged 20 or over would be able to possess up to 14 grams of dried cannabis (or its equivalent) in public.

The point of allowing purchase of 14g per day is that it allows people who live rurally to buy a sensible amount in one journey, rather than trying to force them to make frequent journeys to town purely to buy cannabis.

Driving whilst impaired - how is that going to be measured? (what level of THC is deemed to impart impairment)

That doesn't come under this proposed bill, that's a separate area of law. Julie-Ann Genter is working on a system under which saliva tests can be used to judge impairment. Crucially these tests are supposed to pick up when someone is actually impaired by the affect of the drug; existing urine tests can show you smoked cannabis up to 21 days earlier, when of course any impairment effect has well worn off by that time.

Ok so I was being a little sloppy on the classification of the "proposal" but that's what people are being asked to use to make a decision.
My question about possession amounts you haven't answered so.. currently any amount over 28grms is deemed commercial use so the issue of storage of the season's harvest hasn't been remotely addressed.
The driving question - I asked about the level of THC considered impaired, again no info on that. BTW urine tests will pick up the presence of the drug 6 weeks after consumption, at least the ones that employers use can. Note there is no margin on employment tests merely the presence will fail you

My question about possession amounts you haven't answered so.. currently any amount over 28grms is deemed commercial use so the issue of storage of the season's harvest hasn't been remotely addressed.

Good thing this isn't a bill yet, and if it were to proceed to become a bill such issues will be worked out during select committee and public submission process then, eh?

It's a pretty glaring issue imo. Change the weight for commercial use by over 15X, like to see our polly's get their heads around that one

Not just weed, all the other things that go with it (edibles/etc that can't be overseen).
Evidence shows the black market doesn't disappear so gangs won't stop, and regions/countries that have legalised show a significant increase in overall usage, they say 3-5% isn't much, but from a base of 10-13% it is, and that is in a year or two only. Add psychosis and lung cancer outcomes worse than cigarettes, then I can live with decriminalisation, but won't support full legalisation.
I've got kids, and don't want the genie out of the bottle as it will never go back in. I'm sure Jacinda and Julie-Ann don't want their kids given cannabis lollies either, so why would they make them easily available? History wont be kind....

I trust that you have never taken your kids to McDonalds for fear that they may get hooked and end up overweight? Should we outlaw it? Should we outlaw everything that may be bad for us? What makes weed so special?

You obviously haven’t read the draft legalization based on your comments.

Generally people voting no:
1. Don't actually know what the draft legislation says, but have an opinion anyway
2. Don't actually know the facts around the dangers of cannabis, but have an opinion anyway
3. Don't know the opinions of experts who have studied cannabis use in NZ over decades, who are supportive of legalisation as it will allow for use to be treated as a health issue rather than a criminal one

I think you need to read the definition of 'significant'. So based off these countries experiences we can expect 1%-2% increase in users based on international experience (and this may actually be due to an underlying slow trend rather than due to legalization). Hardly huge numbers as some claim.

The Canadian government reports that after legalisation around 2% more people used cannabis in the past three months, reflecting particular increases in use by males, adults over 25 and those from certain regions.[13] US studies also report increases in past-year use ranging from around 1-5%,[14] and highlight changes in certain subgroups, including an increase in past-month use in college students[15] and people older than 25.[16] In Uruguay, a 1% increase in past-year and 1.6% increase in past-month cannabis use have been reported between 2011 and 2014.[17] Notably rates of occasional cannabis use were increasing before legalisation so these increases may reflect ongoing trends.


Chessmaster - I don't see it as voting on drugs, we are voting on weed that is so much part of NZ culture like alcohol it's ridiculous that it is still a crime ?? In my opinion those who smoke weed do it whether it is legal or not so lets take the prohibition off weed and move on.
If we refer to weed as a drug then we must refer to alcohol as a drug too that has, does and will always will cause terrible harm to society.
Every weed smoking person I know are respectable law abiding people that find smoking a joint in their own home far more pleasurable than drinking alcohol. I'm a self funded retired Boomer and it's a yes tick in the box on weed for me.

Exactly. Also food does so much more harm to people's health than weed will ever do. Unless we are going to make McDonalds, KFC, chips, pies etc illegal, then I really can't see a health reason to continue making weed illegal.

Quite right. If my pension and renters aren't enough, I shall have a back yard plot and a roadside stall. Cash only of course.

Which would be illegal under the proposed legislation.

In that case it will be free. Koha of course will be appreciated.

Quite right sit23, under current law there is no restriction to "giving cannabis away". Possession might trip you up though

Under the proposed draft legislation you can gift 14g of cannabis to someone else per day.

Also not legal unless you get a license for your stall.

Trouble is JJ, there's no long term studies done to ascertain the actual effects on health. By long term I mean 30 years + The reason we know so much about tobacco is because it's been studied for decades unlike marijuana, although I accept that legalising it will allow those studies to take place. I do know from personal experience that continual and habitual use (smoking it daily for 30 years) is definitely not good for the lungs.

Yes there are long-term studies (30+ years) on health of the use of cannabis, and done in New Zealand as well so it's (obviously) directly relevant to us:

The study shows that that by adulthood most New Zealanders (born in the 1970’s and now approaching middle age) have tried cannabis and did so with relative impunity, escaping serious health and or social consequences. However for a small portion who used cannabis frequently or became dependent, the study outlines a number of ‘non-trivial’ negative outcomes.

“These range from impairment in psychological function, loss of cognitive capacity, poorer respiratory and gum health, and a range of negative psychosocial consequences such as early school leaving and academic underachievement, failure in employment and the workplace, dependence on social benefits, and risk of criminal conviction or incarceration,” Professor Poulton says.


“The illegal status of marijuana does not prevent most people from using, and arrests and convictions do not lead to a reduction in use, and often see a bias against Maori.

“I’ve been giving evidence to various health select committees about cannabis use and harms for almost a quarter of a century and raise the same point each time: harms associated with cannabis use should be treated as a health issue, not as a legal issue, with a strong preference for evidence-informed preventive and early intervention approaches but these are impeded by the legal status of cannabis,” Professor Poulton says.

At the very least read the article, but you should read the study itself (linked at the bottom of the article).

When I was an impressionable teen, I could see that smokes had bad short and long term health, and financial effects. Even then and now I am always puzzled about why anyone in their right mind would smoke, either tobacco or dope. Which I did smoke when young and single, as a special occasion, not regularly, as I felt it made me paranoid, and got in the road of my studies. Once we have kids, we have never ever touched any kind of drug. Our kids have to find out about these things by themselves.

I think one of the best things dad ever said to me when I was about 13-14 was 'if you want to smoke go for gold and don't feel the need to hide it, but remember that 99% of smokers wish they didn't'.

Possibly the best advice he ever gave me.

Going back a bit during the Canterbury EQ sequences which affected more than any, the less affluent suburbs and people of Christchurch, ie the people the Greens supposedly avow for, there was nothing, absolutely nothing offered by the Greens to counter the dire measures being inflicted by EQC. Mind you not much from NZF either for that matter.

I'd agree with this. The Party is very Auckland and Wellington focused. They could do really well in Christchurch if they connect with the electorate a bit better. I get the feeling though they have just left Christchurch to the Labour Party and put it in the too hard basket.

there was nothing, absolutely nothing offered by the Greens to counter the dire measures being inflicted by EQC

1. They weren't in government.
2. Their 2014 election policy for Christchurch is what led me to vote for them:

Well neither was Ruth Dyson yet she was a stalwart unflagging and principled representative for all her constituents top to bottom. Present at every community meeting I attended, sometimes the National bloke was there too. Never a soul from either the Greens or NZF. Not being in government does not prevent questions in the house, nor articles in the press or canvassing and reporting on people suffering in their homes. . To be fair Winston did launch a scathing attack on one of th contingency outfits, which proved to be justified. But from the Greens nary a peep hence the points my earlier post. Endorses, as posted yesterday (Aj) Orwell’s words - socialists don’t so much love the poor, it’s their hatred of the rich that drives them.

Ruth was right there alright. Right to the bottom of the bottle. Is there such a thing as a Chardonnay Greenie?

GV, above i don't disagree with you re the Greens. But this is an excellent article on the pressures of what actually happens in government. The fact that CT has written it specifically about James Shaw and the Green Party could be just incidental as this applies to all political parties in Government, and provides some answers to some of the discussions that have occurred in this forum before.

Any leader needs to be able to keep the big picture as well as the detail in focus, and in politics remember where you come from. Every level below you is a filter, and those filter usually have their own bias, agenda and slant. And most of the people that make up those filters have a lot of power and influence, and are able to wield that to some effect, often to pad their own positions. And the leaders must be able to deliver the message in a way that will engender a favourable response. JS has fallen into the trap, Todd Muller found out about it the hard way ( I can't believe he didn't understand it before he put his hand up). It is a brutal and unforgiving world, and few are capable.

I dont think this incident is that damaging at all. It matters to some Green supporters, sure. But who else are they going to vote for? At the end of the day this isn't the spectacular implosion like what happened with Metiria Turei. In this case, they'll apologise and move on and everyone will forget about by the end of the week. Those that dont will still vote Green anyway.

Outside of the Green Party, everyday kiwis just dont care. This story came out on the same week as much more significant news items which has basically pushed this off the front page.

The only one who is still going on about it is Emma Mallow in Auckland Central, which suggests her polling data might not be so great.

I think you’re right that it won’t be electorally relevant. It has been a big deal within the Green Party though - many are taken aback that Shaw endorsed a decision so obviously at odds with party policy. He’s really treading on thin ice - could have been kicked out if it weren't so close to the election.

Fair point and it was a silly move but still Green Party members have no choice but to suck it up. The Green Party will cease to exist if it had another internal split like last time, even if it wasnt an election.

They can choose the nuclear option if they wish, but it will push their overall cause back 10-20 years. Is it really that worth it?

the party faithful are still angry from the approval to nearly triple water bottling consents during this parliament - all signed off by a Green environmental minister! all into plastic bottles and shipped overseas - meanwhile farmers are lamblasted if they want more to survive during a drought - that said the article is a good one on how power actually corrupts vision and values

This incident might be very damaging to the Greens. Think what one percent down because of it could mean for a party that is hovering on the threshold. They might be out of Parliament totally.

I'd dispute the following:
"These latter beings have had 35 years in which to perfect the art of persuading their masters that the transformative policies of their party colleagues, no matter how well-intentioned, would, if implemented, result in economic and social consequences as harmful to the lives of ordinary New Zealanders as they would be catastrophic to the Greens’ electoral success"

Senior officials shouldn't be tendering advice to pander to party political points of view. They shouldn't be running a Green filter (in this case) across the policy. They should be tendering neutral advice based on pros/cons/evidence and leaving it to the Minister to make a call on whether it fits his/her party's policies.

Reap what you sow

While this analysis of the realities of how our political system is well written, it evades the reason why Shaw’s decision caused so much angst. The state school system has been underfunded for years and some school facilities are disgracefully run down and unhealthy for staff and students. The responsibility for this lies with a number of governments but primarily with the previous one, which sanctified fiscal purity over fulfilling its responsibilities to younger citizens. The current government has made a start to deal with the infrastructural deficit that exists in many NZ schools, but the list is long. The fury of Taranaki state school principals and teachers is understandable when yet again another private school gets a handout to ballast their privilege while their own schools wait for years in a long line to receive funding and approval for the facilities they and their students deserve. I doubt that most of the commenters on this site would tolerate working in conditions that exists in many NZ schools.

Shaw is attempting the impossible, and the debate is moving past him.

Same goes for Davidson but for different reasons.

Eventually, a Party - whether the Greens or a rump of them with a new echelon (E/R and Deep Adaption types and a growing fallout from other Parties who start to 'get' our human predicament) - will fill the widening gap that is still unrepresented.

But that doesn't include 'green growth' and it doesn't include 'humans are more important'. Shaw and Davidson will have to become relevant or go.

V amusing and rings true

Brilliant. The Green vote gets split in half.

That's as silly a comment as it is linear

It is not at all linear, therefore not the other, either.

It's linear, trust me. You use plus and minus, exponential is 'times' something.

I think Chris Trotter is being somewhat kind to James Shaw.... he lets him off the hook
Green education policy includes the withdrawal of state funding of private schools.
Why on earth would he risk being the hypocrite to turn around and provide State funding to a private school..?
Why risk having ones integrity questioned , let alone ones intelligence.
Throw in that we have an election looming , and it has me wondering... what was he thinking ..??
Does it show a level of hubris....or did he simply drop the ball.?

He certainly failed to understand strategy. A single school says minority. A message in every school says mainstream. Tactical stuff-up grade one.

And, more than 30 years ago, folk like me knew enough to have 2, 1 or no children. To have a leader of a Green party lugging 6 along and advocating more housing (in an already overcrowded country, ex fossil-fuel draw-down) is just an anachronism. The Party needs to control those two.

I think that is a bit of a cop out, that if we had less people we would be fine. The reality is that we have plenty of renewable energy and resources for a lot more people than we currently have, but instead we choose to use oil, we choose to buy plastic crap toys from the warehouse and throw them away two days later, we choose plastic packaging on our food, we choose to eat much more food than we need, etc.
The real answer to the problem lies in the tax system. We are so focused on taxing income that we have ignored the obvious things that should be taxed: finite resource use and pollution.

JJ - you ned to do some homework on energy.

The reason we haven't abandoned FF, is because nothing gives us the same hit. Taxing is an expectation that the taxes will be spent to 'do something'. It's 'doing something' that requires energy. See the problem?

We use oil almost exclusively for transportation as it's currently the best energy source for this purpose. If electricity could currently compete then it would be more popular than it is. At this point in time though the cost and inconvenience is still prohibitive for most people to switch.

'We are borrowing every single dollar we are paying out'. Cheers James.

Why don't the greens just focus on environmental policies instead of social? They seem to have their priorities back to front.
Instead of taxing the hell out of polluters, they want to tax the hell out of assets. I'm not saying that taxing assets is necessarily a bad idea, but I'm not convinced its going to save the planet. Why not a big tax on polluters that is then divvied up and given back to the people; the people who pollute less than average get a big payout, the people who pollute more than average get stung.

The environmentalists have been pushed to the side or have gone from the Green party which is real shame because NZ could do with a party that stands for the environment.

I'd agree a pollution tax and a little bit of asset tax would be a decent way to go. Pollution tax incentivises less polluting behaviour and the tax goes into our healthcare, pensions, roading etc. It's also user-pays.

$11.7 million from the $3 billion 'shovel ready' projects fund - It's a drop in the ocean; by the time the work has been done and with the increased tax take from resulting school (more rooms) the tax payer will get it back - and directly from the most affluent class might I add. Job creation, and a upgrade to a private school for Taranaki, it's not so bad at all. Good on him for going with his gut, from what I can see of where the money is going, I support the decision.

"and a upgrade to a public school for Taranaki"
It feels like you missed the bit about this being a private school.

And had it gone to a public school(s), his standing in the electorate would likely have risen.

Woops, yes that was a misprint thanks for pointing that out!

Its a party that lost its way some time ago and this is merely a continuation of that saga.

Turei's confession and subsequent resignation pre the last election deeply divided the party and has still not formed a clear identity of itself... half the party just want to be left of Labour, whilst the rest feel more aligned to a core part of the electorate that believes there is a need for a party that keeps environmental outcomes at the top of the agenda.

There is no strategy at all... pre the last election Shaw ruled out working with National... and in doing so ensured Jacinda only had to pander to Winston, cos the Greens had boxed themselves in.

Its a tough life as a minor party in a coalition (just ask the Maori party), but with a clear sense of identity and purpose the Greens could have survived as the environmental handbrake for Labour in much the same way Winston is the economic handbrake.

Its a party bereft of any clear sense of identity and with it no strategy on how it survives.

Here's a thought.. the Greens don't align with any single party but agree to work with both/either on a case by case, bill by bill basis thereby moderating both sides
If the Greens would act like a true independent party willing to work with National or Labour they would render NZ First redundant in a stroke of a pen. I would have voted Green this year but as long as Davidson is there... no way
Realistically it's a moot point anyway, the election result is a given this time around

Would have to be at least a confidence and supply agreement for the government to function, because all the opposition would have to do to force the GG to step in would be to make a confidence vote on a Bill the Green's wouldn't support.

Except there's very little that the Greens agree with National on, so what would be the point of charade government where 95% of the bills are vetoed by the Greens?

National supporters wouldn't be happy about it either, since they wouldn't get any policy implemented because the Greens would reject it all.

If the Greens were prepared to be more pragmatic I'm sure they could sway National slightly. You can't turn a battleship on a dime but shifting them bit by bit is possible. I think there's actually an appetite for National's greening. Certainly the Greens with their current social policies don't seem to be resonating with the electorate but if they were prepared to work with business interests rather than a flat refusal they might actually get some traction.

More than half their vote comes from 'left of Labour' voters. If they seriously consider going with National, they're toast; they have to pre-emptively rule it out.
There is a constituency for a blue-green party (Vernon Tava's great dream) but I don't think it's a big one, or the party would exist by now. Too many serious environmentalists agree that capitalism is basically incompatible with preserving the ecosystem.

Look.. i agree.. tough ask to have the Greens work with the Nats... but why rule it out pre-negotiations? They could have equally played a kingmaker role and demanded many concessions from National... or at the very least convince Jacinda it was possible (like Winnie did) and they needed to be pandered to.

Winston never had any intention of going with the Nats, but he drove a great deal by not ruling it out. Shaw was an idiot and mucked his hand which was just as strong as NZ First's.

Agreed, difference is NZF is Winston's party and he makes the calls as opposed to the Greens where the membership makes the call on coalition partners. It's a real shame there is a hardcore element in the Green Party who don't seem to accept or even believe that to be "green" you first have to be profitable and thus to them capitalism is the antithesis of environmentalism. To coin a phrase - they can't see the forest for the trees.

There's a big swinging Green/Left-Labour vote.
If Shaw convinced everyone that going with National was a live possibility - which would be the only way to get leverage with Labour - they would lose too many left voters who aren't willing to take that risk. That's the reality. It's like asking why ACT don't discuss the possibility of joining a Labour coalition.

Again.... not the point. He gained nothing from ruling out dealing with National, but also meant Jacinda could treat the Greens as a lapdog.... didnt need to pander to them at all in terms of negotiations.

Undoubtedly there would be a huge backlash if Greens actually went into coalition with National (as NZ First faced with going with Labour)... but leaving the option open leaves you in a better position to negotiate with Jacinda. The Greens were so stoked they made 5% they let their voters down by not ensuring they drove a better deal with Jacinda.... as Winston did.

The Greens are a bunch of dangerous loonies who think that money grows on trees and that wealth is created by decree rather than hard work. Their hypocrisy is astonishing and we should not forget that one of the previous Green's leaders was a self-confessed welfare fraudster.
They have hijacked the vitally important issue of climate change for their extreme leftist agenda.
I am still on the fence when it comes to choosing between National and Labour, but of one thing I am 100% sure: I hope that the Greens disappear from Parliament with the next elections.

Google search

patrick moore greenpeace

Activism as a business model.

I agree, it's all about the Bennies. Telsa makes all it's money from selling carbon credits to the ICE mugs, without the Green legislation/regulation it wouldn't even exist. You know the Green movement is rotten when one of it's disciples (Michael Moore) goes "rogue" and exposes Goldman Sachs is all in.

LOL, when it comes to problems with fraud, none of the parties are close to ACT's record.
David Seymour's done well to break their run, to be fair.

Of course.. wouldnt want to forget Labour's Taito-Field either... he out of prison yet?

Fortunr - that comment is laughable on several levels - pot calling kettle black being one of them.

The fraudsters of this (and several preceding) generations were those who left less for coming generations and who failed to tidy up behind themselves. Who, in essence, were selfish.

Climate Change is only the exhaust-gases resulting from our one-off fossil-energised bonanza - which WILL end. This is nothing to do with Left and Right - it's to do with how humankind survives the Bottleneck.

So PDK what have previous and current generations left less of?
Less expectation of an early death - overall life expectancy has risen worldwide over the last 150 years or so
Less food insecurity - crop yields/acre have risen
Less energy deprivation - efficiency of production and distribution have risen
Less insecurity - hasn't been a world war for 80 years
Less subsistence existences - the worlds population overall is on an increasing trend

How can you put up such drivel? Who do you hope to impress?

Essentially, you have to ignore depletion/degradation, pretty much lie to yourself, to put up such a list.

Less expectation of an early death just resulted in more people consuming more, longer. If that consuming leaves not enough for future generations to live long/well, they won't thank us for indulging ourselves, temporarily.
"It is unusual for so many countries to simultaneously experience declines in life expectancy and for the declines to be so large in magnitude. Among men, this is entirely unprecedented".

Crop yields per acre is bollocks. Topsoil is being lost to the point where the UN reckoned:
and you fail to acknowledge that many (finite) fossil-fuel calories are required for you to produce ANYTHING off those depleting acres. Then there's aquifer reduction:
"Depletion of aquifers across the globe is challenging our ability to maintain critically needed agricultural production and provide potable water supplies for millions".
And you raid other acres, increasingly. Rainforest for PKE, others for phosphate; often not even theirs.

You confuse energy deprivation/supply, with efficiency. I suggest you learn about Jevons:
And given that your whole society is run on the depletion of finite fossilised sunlight (fossil energy) it is disingenuous to suggest less energy deprivation in terms of anyone coming later - you are burning the litre today, and it's gone forever. They - every future generation - were just denied that litre - by you, now.

Security? There has been an energised hiatus which, from Western eyes, may look more placid than the two global conflicts (over resources, despite the propaganda). But that was a short-term, one-off, never-to-be-had-again-at-global-scale hiatus. We've known for 50 years - more for some of us, 45 for me - that energy supply would indeed be the Achilles Heel of society as currently constructed. We caused the desperation that became ISIS - calling them terrorists doesn't alter the fact that we acquired the oil from under them, think Shah of Iran. We needed the energy; our society doesn't work without it.

If lifting people from subsistence levels of consumption was being done through resource draw-down, it was false accounting. Somewhat like alleviating poverty by distributing a dollar to anyone rated 'relatively poor' (there will always be such, statistically) from a finite account; say $1,000. Raise more people (give more people a dollar) and depletion empties your account faster. At which point, rates of consumption will, of course, plummet. So your trumpeted upward graph was bollocks - the UN is a master of this nonsense.

I take it you're propaganda-ising on behalf of FF or similar? Nobody can seriously peddle what you listed and believe the message, surely?

Let me finish with the much-be-smeared (by your kind) but reasonably intelligent Malthus:
“No man can say that he has seen the largest ear of wheat or the largest oak that could ever grow; but he might easily, and with perfect certainty, name a point of magnitude at which they would not arrive........In all these cases therefore, a careful distinction should be made between an unlimited progress, and a progress where the limit is merely undefinied”

I'm guessing you stopped growing yourself, back a ways. Ever bothered to question why?
You need to do some homework.

You jibberjabbered on about previous generations leaving less for the proceeding generations so I just used some anecdotally acceptable examples as a foil. You really would do a lot of posters here a favour if you followed your obviously entrenched opinions and wandered off to a deserted island somewhere.. ideally one with no IP. Of course you'd have to do that on a handcrafted driftwood raft that required no energy to produce or propel

That's the kind of reply people make when they don't have an argument.

But I can tell it got to you. So much so that you want the comments to just go away.

I sympathise; must be awful to not be able to defend a personal narrative with logic. I'd want it (and anyone voicing it) to just go away too.

Try doing what I did; realise what the problems/needs are, and try doing things a better way.

"Dangerous loonies" - not even close, a tired old right wing slur. "Think that money grows on trees and that wealth is created by decree rather than hard work" - please try and provide some factual information to back this up. Green party policies are fully costed and available for scrutiny. Your comment is not.

"Hijacked climate change" - not even close, and extreme left? Please. The greens are centrist in old money, we're just living in a world where neoliberalism is seen as being the new centre. Less exaggeration thanks.

Besides, everyone knows money doesn't grow on trees.

It grows on houses! The magic of wealth redistribution ensures it!

No it grows on trees now.
So that somebody can tick that box on their flight ticket booking online, pay a couple of dollars and 'offset' their carbon emissions with a pine tree planted somewhere else. Because if that pine tree hadn't been planted, then of course nothing else would have grown there.