The disturbing truth about the Green Party
The Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand has existed for 27 years and it was built on the foundations of the Values Party that was formed in 1972. The Values Party was the first Green Party in the world to stand in a national election and its 1975 manifesto Beyond Tomorrow exists as one of the foundation documents for all the Green Parties of the world (it was especially pivotal for the formation of the UK Greens). The charter and principles of the Party have reamained consistent since it began and the values, that form the foundation of all policies, have changed little.
The Green Party Charter accepts Te Tiriti (the document that was actually supported and signed) as the founding document for our country and recognises Maori as the first people of Aotearoa. Four principles direct the Party's operations and policy and they are:
Ecological Wisdom: Currently we are stuffing up our planet with our emissions and waste. In New Zealand we have huge issues with our water quality and lack of will to do anything about our greenhouse gas emissions (we are amongst the worst in the developed world per capita for both). We need to recognise that we have finite resources and environmental limits and need to work within them both. The current government's plan of doing little to deal with our emissions (one of the lowest targets in the world) and buying carbon credits from those countries who are doing more than us is appalling.
Social Responsibility: We need to ensure that our resources are used sustainably for future generations and that we share what we have equitably. A developed country like ours should not have a third of our children being affected by poverty or have thousands of families having to live in third world housing conditions (even reported in overseas newspapers). Every child should be born with systems in place to ensure that they can be supported to reach their full potential and feel that our government and communities care.
Appropriate Decision-making: Decisions should be based on evidence and ensuring all relevant factors are considered, the Greens believe that a more holistic approach should be used (environment/social/economic). Those affected should be properly consulted and the decisions should be made at the appropriate level. Official information shouldn't be held back for purely political reasons and the wider public should be properly informed rather than being subjected to continual spin. The Green Party's idea of having a branch of Treasury cost the key policies of political parties during an election makes sense. If that had been in practice two elections ago it would have revealed the truth about the billions being spent on motorways that fail cost benefit analysis.
Non-violence: This just doesn't mean physical violence but the way we engage in all relationships, whether through government agencies, foreign affairs, as employers or within our families. New Zealand has an ongoing history of authoritarianism and bullying, from Parihaka through to our workplaces and school playgrounds we rate amongst the worst in the world. We have horrific rates of family violence and we need to have good, non-violent models of behaviour at leadership level if we want to change this, watching our Parliament in action is evidence of where we should start.
I have read much political commentary about the Greens. Many claim that the Party has sold out on its past activism and is now just another centrist party supporting conventional economic management. Apparently wearing suits and smart dresses is evidence that we have lost our way. I have heard that the MOU with Labour will cause the Party to lose its identity and end up being just an insignificant appendage of a weakening 2nd largest party. For many years I have read that the Green Party should stick to its "knitting" and just focus on the environment and look at potentially going with either National or Labour as their environmental conscience.
Much of this commentary comes from those with no close involvement with the Party or they have ulterior motives. Many do not understand how the Party operates and wrongly assume that its leadership are as authoritarian as others. It is actually the policies and philosophies that drive the party and, while the leaders may have different personal approaches to the role, the essential messages remain the same.
The Green party is a stable and financially secure party, it has a membership of around 7,000 and has grown substantially over the last few years. It currently raises more money to support the Party's operations and campaigns than Labour. It has stable leadership and currently only Winston has more years fronting a party than Co-leader Metiria Turei (8 years, 15 as an MP). Metiria's interview on Q&A describes well why the Party's evolution of image is not an indication of a change in message. Turei's ongoing determination to "speak truth to power" is what we should expect from our political leaders. The Green Party was the only Party not to congratulate Donald Trump as the President of the US and for well-articulated and principled reasons.
Any scrutiny of the Green Party list reveals candidates with diverse backgrounds and high levels of capability. The current Green MPs and high ranking candidates run circles around the current Ministers with their vision and understanding of the issues:
- Why on earth would people support a Government that is comfortable sending Gerry Brownlee out to stand strong on important foreign issues when Kennedy Graham is waiting in the wings? It was also Kennedy who brought all parties together to begin to properly address our responsibilities in addressing climate change.
- Why put faith in Simon Bridges and his obsession with low value motorways when Julie Anne Gentre has the research and the knowledge for solving Auckland's transport woes in a fiscally responsible way?
- Metiria Turei has been fronting the issues of child poverty for years while National still refuses to measure the extent of the problem and implement effective policy.
- Why would we think that National's continual obsession with fossil fuel would be a match for Gareth Hughes' understanding of the benefits of a low carbon future?
- Why would we be comfortable with National leading the much needed changes in government support for children when they have such a callous approach to past victims of state care. Jan Logie at least dragged out one apology from Minister Tolley by confronting her with one story of state abuse.
- Why would we think that the National Government has any economic credibility when they don't understand how doing little about climate change impacts on our economy. James Shaw understands the problem.
- When the National Government backs corporate profits before dealing with the causes of our huge obesity crisis, isn't about time we got Mojo Mathers in to ensure all New Zealanders are properly informed about what they are eating?
- This Government still doesn't get the difference between free trade and fair trade and have sold us out to foreign interests on a continual basis. Barry Coates has an appreciation of what fair markets look like.
- Our agricultural sector needs to change approaches to be sustainable and profitable into the future. Nathan Guy's push for increased production was partly responsible for increasing our dairy herds to unsustainable levels. Green candidate and farmer John Hart appreciates what farming of the future could look like.
- Eugenie Sage understands the value of our conservation estate while a National Minister didn't even know where the blocks were that he signed off for future mining.
- When the Government's privatisation of prisons failed and it would rather build more than invest in rehabilitation, then it is surely about time we allowed David Clendon to sort it out.
- Catherine Delahunty has fought long and hard for an inclusive and equitable education system and the inquiry she initiated revealed how inadequate the support is. The Government allows special education funding to go to the wealthiest schools and continues to dismantle our once world leading public education system.
- Denise Roche has championed struggling New Zealand workers' rights and highlighted the fact we are not managing our waste well. She has shifted thinking on how we should deal with single use plastic bags.
Of course this post has been written very much from a Green perspective but I would be interested in hearing, with evidence, any convincing views to the contrary. I am open to debate, this is an election year after all ;-)