Archive for the ‘Green Party’ category

The dirty tricks campaign to defend the EFA

June 5, 2008

The Greens and Labour, having rewritten our electoral laws to their own partisan political advantage, are realising that the public backlash against their dirty tricks, is greater than any benefit they may receivefrom silencing potential opponents with the Act. And partly as a result, they are staring at defeat in the ballot box this election. The whole purpose of the Electoral Finance Act, was not to end the practice of secret donors giving money to parties through trust funds, but help Labours partisan political advantage. When the initial Bill came out, it completely ignored secret donors, instead going overboard in silencing “third parties” (anyone who might run a campaign against Labour). Although the Bill was improved at select committeestage, secret donations are4 still allowed, they just are called “protected donations” and are channelled through the Electoral Commission instead of trusts. And tight restrictions on third parties still remain.

With their bid to steal the election through gerrymandering election spending laws to their advantage set to fail, these parties now face the prospect of a National Goverment (elected ironically as part of a backlash against the EFA) repealing the EFA (something which can’t come soon enough), and introducing new, more sensible electoral finance laws. In order to stop this from happening, the Greens are proposing to set up a sham “citizens jury” on state funding of political parties.

And this proposal is not just one of their wacky dreams. It turns out that 4.3 million dollars have been allocated in the budget for the citizens jury. And it was part of a previous agreement between Labour and the Greens. The terms of reference and advisors to the comittee have not been finalised, but don’t be the least bit surprised if they are done in order to help Labour and the Greens.

A good summary of what a citizens jury is, is availiable here. In short, a group of people are picked randomly from the electoral role, and “educated” (or in this case, brainwashed) on the issues by a group of “experts” (don’t be surprised if Mark Burton, Mike Williams or people like them end up as the experts, and lets admit they are experts. They are experts at dirty tricks) and then consult and come up with conclusions, which are then turned into law. Citizens juries are quite good in theory, as they are independent, represent the general population, and enable ordinary people to participate in the process. Ensuring they have non-biased advice (remember they are selected at random from amongst the country, and thus generally people not highly educated on politics) and truly representative is important.

Anyone with an education in politics can see that the citizens jury in this case is a mask to disguise a pro-Labour comittee as a independent comittee. For a start, if Labour and the Greens really beleived in citizens juries, why didn’t they have one on the EFA before it was introduced? Because they might not have liked its conclusions. Mike Williams in a forum on election funding said we already have a citizens jury, “it’s called Parliament”. This summarises their entire attitude to electoral law. No place for the ordinary people involved (rememeber the retrospective legislation for the pledge card Bill was placed under urgency, so as to deny ordinary people to have a say on it), only those who are elected representatives of the peopel, with the right to rewrite electoral finance laws a bauble of office.

So why have they changed their mind now. Because the New Zealand people might elect a different, less corrupt group of people to represent them in Novemeber (and the election will be in November, as that way will enable Clark and her cronies to cling to the power they love for the longest period of time). The Greens want to fast track the jury, to start and be set up before the election, so that National won’t be able to influence it. And then the jury, with it’s pro-Labour advisors will be brainwashed into reporting what Labour and the Greens want (state funding) and these parties will then use the report of this “independent panel” as a basis for opposing National’s repeal of the Electoral Finance Act (a promise, which they, as National has publicly stated its intentions in this area before the election (something Labour never did), will have a clear public mandate to carry out) and in doing so, subvert the democractic will of the New Zealand people who voted National to get rid of the EFA.

As David Farrar writes, “everything about this is being done the wrong way. The outcome has been predetermined. Instead of being set up in a bipartisan fashion on matters such as the type of electoral system, it has been set up to deliver just one result-increased taxpayer funding of political parties. Labour and the Greens both want that outcome, tried to do it through the EFA, and having somewhat failed are now trying to do it again.”

When dealing with electoral law issues, Labour have a clear record of corruption. We have gone under them, from the early election (2002, held under the utterly preposterous excuse that 11 minutes each day of points of order on the status of the Alliance made Parliament unmanageable), to the cancelled election (the by-election in New Plymouth that never happened, due to Labour passing retrospective legislation enabling Harry Duynhoven to keep his illegal seat in Parliament he resigned by reaplying for Dutch citizenship), to the stolen election (2005 with the pledge card after three warnings from the Chief Electoral Officer previously it was illegal, need we say anything more) to the silent election (this one, with the third parties silenced by the EFA). As Farrar continues, “Labour are quite simply corrupt when it comes to electoral law issues, and any process which involves them as Government choosing the expert panel which advises the Citizen’s Jury should be treated as naked self interest. Hell Mike Williams will probably end up as chair.”

Fortunately, we already have a citizens jury in this country. One that is advised through a free press, was previously advised through the free speech of political and third parties, and consists of 4 million people. And I look forward to that jury giving its verdict on Labour and the Greens come election day.


The Greens

April 7, 2008

After disscussing their list, lets take a look at the challenges facing the Greens this election. The Standard already has a good post on this, which is well worth a read.

Pierson writes “This should be the Greens time in the sun”. I couldn’t agree more, and they have lots of things going for them:
1) As Pierson points out, they have been vindicated by science in their views on climate change, and peak oil. Global warming is no longer a view held by a few loonies on the far left, but a scientific consensus, and agknowledged, even if grudginly, by all political parties including National. The Green message has got out to the public, and most people express concern.
2) The above has made them look more sane, and the retirement of Nandor Tanczos, who was sterotyped unfairly as a dope-smoking weirdo, should help here. The good work has been partly undone by championing the Anti-smacking Bill which makes them (or atleast Bradford) look like ideological zealots, the same problem they had in 2002 with GE.
3) Labour has shafted them twice, first in 2002 for United Future, then in 2005 for NZ First (of all parties). The Greens can use this record to tell left leaning voters, that if you want a real left wing Government, and not a Labour Government held hostage to NZ First and other centrist Parties, which will deliver progressive policy, vote Green. Sadly (for them), they haven’t communicated this message to voters.

So why are they polling so low. I thought, 2 years ago or so, they would probably get 10% or so this election. But in most polls they barely get 5%, and in a few below that. Why?

Perhaps, as Pierson sugests, they have become victims of their own success. Both Labour and National have awrmed to climate change in recent years. But the Greens can still point out their previous positions, and will always be stronger than the other two parties.

I once had a great respect for the Greens, as a party of principle, even though I strongly disagreed with what they stood for, had no doubt they were genuinely concerned about the planet and NZ, and had the best interests of the NZ people and the enviroment at heart. Sadly, this is no longer the case.

The issue that changed this perception of the Greens for me was the Anti-smacking Bill. True, the Greens were longtime supporters of repealing section 59, and unlike Helen Clark, they did not lie about their views on this issue before the election. However, as soon as the election was over, and Donald was dead, they threw their honesty and integrety aside, and instead of presenting the Bill honestly as a ban on smacking, engaged in lies and spin to present it as only removing a defence, and about ending child abuse, not smacking. Bradford before the elction was honest enough to say that her Bill was a Anti-smacking Bill, but denied it latter in order to mislead the NZ people about it, to help it pass. They also shortchanged their long-standing opposition to passing bills under urgency when not needed, in order to get the Anti-smacking Bill passed and stop the debate (which was hurting them and Labour). From the day they chose to join Labour in misleading and being untruthful to the NZ public about their smacking ban, they lost their well earned reputation as a independent voice of integrety in parliament, and became an extension of Labour.

Which brings me to the other reason for the Greens demise. The lack of differentiation between them and Labour. In previous elections, particularly 2002, in which the Greens had their best ever result, there was clear differences between them and Labour. But now they have become almost the Green wing of the Labour Party. MMP is a little cruel to minor party’s, as the big Party often gets all the credit for its policy wins (many of the Progressive Party policy wins, like Kiwibank, 4 weeks anual leave are usually mistakenly given to Labour), and they end up loosing their distinct brand to the host party. This happened to the Alliance before it broke up in 2002, United Future in 2005, and now the Greens are suffering as well.

So what is the soultion? Sadly for the Greens, and minor parties, there are no easy answers. They need to cuddle up to the big party’s, if they want any of their policy’s implemented, but if they do so will suffer next election. The Greens need to differentiate themselves from Labour, and give left-leaning voters some reason to give them, and not Labour their Party votes. But at the same time, don’t want to move too far left, so as to alienate Labour and confine themselves to the fringes of the political spectrum. They need some mainstream support. They need to seek a balance between being a Green wing of Labour, and seperate enviromentalist left wing Party, but I’m unsure what balance would be best. One can only think, given their current poor preformance, it is a little further from labour than it is now.

Green Party List

April 7, 2008

It is still some time before we can see party lists for the big parties, and therefore it is welcome to those (like me) who are impatient to see the lists, that the Green Party draft list has been leaked to David Farrar. The candidates are:
1. Jeanette Fitzsimons (no surprise here)
2. Russel Norman (the other co-leader, anything less than 2 would have made a mockery of his co-leader position)
3. Sue Bradford (probably the most well-known Green MP, thanks to the Anti-smacking Bill, but is experienced and hard-working. Those who don’t like her won’t vote Green anyway, so no harm done)
4. Metira Turei
5. Sue Kedgley
6. Keith Locke (all the above 3 incumbent MPs, not too surprising. The inclusion of Russel Norman gives some fresh blood, although they would have been better of if Rod Donald had stayed alive)
7. Kevin Hague (current chief executive of West-Coast DHB, and former member of National health Comittee, and former chair of Public Health Advisory Committee. Obviously knows a lot about health, and if he gets in, will probably be their health spokesperson)
8. Catherine Delahunty (Kotare Trust tutor, has stood several times for Parliament, but this time has high enough list ranking to give her a serious chance at making it in, good green CV and longtime enviromental activst. Doesn’t add too much new to the Party caucus, but should be competent)
9. Kennedy Graham (University of Canterbury Law Adjunct Senoir Fellow (whatever that means). Is highly educated, and has long background in foreign affairs. Could replace Keith Locke in long term, but in the short term icould be a little too far down the list to make it in)
10. Paul De Spa has pulled out, so Gareth Hughes (Parliamentary services staffer, and in recent years, don’t know if he still is, a Young Green member, so obvioulsy young, and his high list ranking indicates potential. Probably too far down to make it in) is here.
11. David Clendon (sustainable business advisor, failed leadership candidate, and was number 12 on their list last time, and former lecturer on resource management, should miss out on entering parliament again)
… 29. Mike Ward (if this is the former MP, must have done something wrong)

The rankings of the first 6 don’t really matter, as its all in, or all out. Hague and Delahunty stand fair chances of getting in, and if the Greens do well Graham and maybe Hughes could make it in. Clendon has a long shot (needing 9%), but the others on the list should be prepared for disapointment. Personally, I’m not a Greens supporter, and hope they miss 5% (which will really destroy Labour’s chances at governing post 2008 as well), but if any of these new people get in, I hope they do a good job. Remember that these are not the fianl rankings, and things could change (I think Ward will get higher than 29, but having him ranked so low in the draft will doom his chances of returning to parliament) and I’m not an expert on these candidates, only doing a few google searches. More on the Greens next post.

Green questions

June 11, 2007

 At the Green party annual confrence, Jeanette Fitzsimons asked three questions related to the Greens potential coalition partners. They were:  
1)At what level do they plan to cap greenhouse gas emmissions and who will get the permits?  
2) How much bigger are they prepared to allowed the dairy industry to grow, given its damaging effects on water quality, water allocation and climate change?
3) (relating only to key and rewritten) What do you plan to do about the “underclass”? Can you guarentee that benefits will not be cut, the conditions for recieving benefits will not become more stringent, the minimum wage wil continue to rise and there will be no bulk funding of education should national be elected in to office?
 It will be interesting to see any responses to these questions. I doubt that a Greens-National coalition will be viable given the oppposing ideologies of these parties and the serious possibility that the Greens could loose many votes in 2011 if they enter a coalition with National after 2008.
Anyway here is how I would answer the questions proposed: 1) At the current level of emmisions, with the cap being steadily reduced. a valid criticism of National’s proposal to half emmisions by 2050 is that it sets a date too far in the future to mean much, and needs a series of smaller targets leading up to 2050. The allocations problem is much harder. No Right Turn proposes an auction, but this will further hurt bussiness. Giving them to existing polluters for free would reward those existing polluters.
Another way to reduce emmisions would be for a carbon tax, but use all the money from the carbon tax to cutting the company tax rate, thus there being no net costs for business overall, but the polluting ones would pay more, while efficient ones would benefit.
2) Market forces would determine the growth of the dairy imndustry, but carbon emmisions trading and carbon tax would reduce that growth.
3) Yes to those questions about benefits, with the possible exception of sickness benefits, which have increased by 50% since Labour took office. The minimum wage would be ajusted for inflation, but may be reviewed. Although the minimum wage helps ensure workers are paid fairly, it distorts the market so there are fewer people employed. As for bulk funding of schools, this would enable schools instead of bueracrats in Wellington to decide how schools spend their money and I fail to see how this would harm the underclass.