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:
The disturbing truth about the Green Party (for any detractors or National supporters) is that it is a growing political force, part of an expanding global movement, and is here to stay. When more and more people around the world are embracing green solutions for our very real global challenges, it surely makes sense to put those who really understand what what needs to be done in charge. The Green Party leaders front an organisation that has substance and integrity and will continue strongly if they step aside, what other party can claim that level of proven stability and resilience?

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 ;-)


madmac said…
Can I pass on some advice to all those who understand the basic principal of getting what needs to change. It is vey basic and has been used for thousands of years to alert and a use those that don't live in your world. Paint a picture ( worth a Thousand words). Keep to the facts that effect the people you are trying to win over (nobody else matters) I was a designer of a revolution in dealing with big business who were designing ways of destabilising and dissolving the union structure in the early 60's. My union survived and nobody knew why. I have found reason in this time in this country that has adopted me to try and save us from ourselves. This is the first chance of getting any change to what has become an unequal society to what we had 40 years ago. It 's the end of greed and only those who knew that unity of purpose can change it. If you waste your chances on this next election than you deserve what you got because you don't believe enough of what we are fighting for
bsprout said…
Madmac, I agree with what you are saying. The Green Party in the past tried to say too much and even our billboards could not be understood in the time it took to drive past. While our research, evidence and costings are sound we need to keep our messaging concise. However we are still reliant on Labour and perhaps NZ First to get into Government and so it isn't entirely up to us. WQe also need to position ourselves as an independent party that is deserving of support and be included in the next Goverment.

I hope we are successful this time, 3 more years under National will just see further decline in so many areas.
madmac said…
Ok two most important positioning of any group is to have a clear statement to the public that shows unity with the majority of the population. In truth you can only inspired those that need inspiring you cannot change history of one party's dedicatfionising cause. Think of it like this. Your in your car and you want to get into the fast lane off the ramp. Your in a coloured vehical that people either don't recognise it or don't see why you should get in line with those they recognise. The Greens are fighting on to many fronts. To get into power only talk about those issues that effect on a visual and local basis. The average NZ doesn't give a stuff about other countries problems so why shoul you. ( remember you have to get into their
heads not all the people that surrounds you)
So remember you do what the public want. Then you have time position and resources once holding a balance of power. Remember like the laws of physics the power of any explosion start in the centre. Don't have young people lecturing to your audience. That's irritating and dam right being patronising. Lead from the front and show experience. That's your first goal. I have been out of the fight for 50 years but feel the that it's not just a time for change but it's . Time that we have to change.
bsprout said…
We think we have a great campaign this time because we are making sure that New Zealanders actually realise that our values are their values. A sustainable economy that supports and provides good jobs for our kids, a clean, healthy environment and a stable future focussed government. I hope you can help out with our campaign ;-)
Unknown said…
My dad, Peter Heal, was a founding member of the Values Party, was a major contributor to Beyond Tomorrow, was the highest polling 3rd party candidate nationally, standing both in the Lyttelton electorate and Chch Mayoralty. He formed the proportional representation committee which used to meet at our house, with a 19 year old Rod Donald. Sadly died before both MMP and the Ngai Tahu Settlement, but contributed heavily both.
bsprout said…
Thanks for sharing that, Hazel, your dad contributed to a wonderful legacy that has inspired millions around the world.

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