What dirty deal bought Greens?


Bryce Edwards has a leaked document showing the Green Party lied about having to support the wake jumping legislation:

. . . The Greens have never been willing to front up over how they were going to deal with this contentious bill. First, when the coalition was formed, we were told by co-leader James Shaw that his party wouldn’t vote for any policies that they disagreed with. The Greens later changed this to say that they would support the waka-jumping bill through the first stages of the legislation, but wouldn’t guarantee that they would vote for it in the end.

Then last week the party finally revealed that they would indeed vote for the legislation, even though they still opposed it. They justified this capitulation with the notion that their hands were tied by the coalition agreement that they signed up to with the Labour Party – especially the part in which they promised to deal in “good faith” with Labour to fulfil coalition agreements with New Zealand First.

It turns out that the Greens have always known that there is nothing in the coalition agreement they signed with Labour that obliges them to vote for the waka-jumping bill. A leaked Green Party caucus document from January, titled “Advice to caucus – Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Bill”, reports on official advice informing the Greens that there is nothing in their coalition agreement that binds them to provide support.

This is what the document says about the “good faith” provision in their agreement with Labour: “Advice from the Cabinet Office is that firstly this is a political statement around how we’re endeavouring to work with the Government. It commits us to work through areas of concern in good faith, but does not bind us to support everything set out in the Labour/New Zealand First coalition agreement”.

Why pretend it did?

The fact that the Greens have tried to tell the public the opposite therefore raises some big questions about why they’ve mislead the public on this, and what the real reasons are for their U-turn on the bill.

There are two main possible explanations: weakness or opportunism. In the “weakness” explanation, the Greens have acted like doormats – the leader of New Zealand First has simply demanded that the Greens vote for the bill, or there will be some sort of very negative consequence (perhaps even threatening to walk away from the coalition Government). In this scenario, the Greens have meekly rolled over and given away their principles easily.

Under the “opportunist” explanation, the Greens have demanded some sort of price for voting against their principles. Perhaps it was the oil and gas exploration ban. Perhaps there is an upcoming policy announcement about mining on conservation land, or a deal on the Kermadecs sanctuary. What other horse-trading deals are being done between the three parties in government?

The problem is we will likely never know. We now have an opaque Government in which the official coalition agreements aren’t the full story, and instead we’re being governed by backroom deals that the public isn’t allowed to know about. It seems therefore that the waka-jumping deal epitomises the continued decay of principled and transparent politics, and how even so-called principled politicians such as the Greens are willing to buy into it all. . .

Principled? If they ever were they certainly aren’t now.

Not when the MPs’ line has been they are supporting the Bill because they have too and just last week co-leader Manama Davidson said: “We are doing this because the confidence and supply agreement holds us to it.

MMP requires an occasional diet of dead rats, it doesn’t require lies.

We might never know which of Edwards’ two explanations for them swallowing this large and very dirty rodent is the right one.

Both wrong their supporters and the rest of us who have to suffer them in government.

If the MPs have rolled over because they’re scared of the consequences of sticking to their principles what else might they acquiesce to?

If they did a deal, what is the price of their principles and what dirty deal bought their support?

Whatever the answer to that question is, the fact that someone leaked the document suggests someone in the Green camp is very, very unhappy and isn’t afraid to hurt the party because of it.

Politics Daily returns


Politics Daily, a compilation of political stories in the MSM and blogospehre by Dr Bryce Edwards , has made a welcome return.

You’ll find it at Liberation and at the NZ Herald.

Hypothetical questions, Politics Daily, World #1s,


The power of the hypothetical question opened discussion with Jim Mora on Critical Mass today.

While on matters political we also looked at:Politics Daily, Dr Bryce Edwards’ excellent round-up of political news and views; and the Listeners equally compelling read for political tragics – NZ Election Live.

We finished with international number ones – because every country is best at something; and a selection of absurd signs and disclaimers.

I found the last two sites via Ideaolog’s newsletter Daily Bacon to which you can subscribe here.

Only political geeks interested in political leaders


The Otago Chamber of Commerce has cancelled its series of leaders debates owing to a lack of interest form from its members.

Chamber chief executive John Christie suggested many reasons why the response to the meetings by members had been low.  But in the end it came down to disinterest.   

“There’s a lot going on. The Rugby World Cup is full on and there seems to be a lot of reluctance by people to have anything to do with political leaders.”   

Some firms in Dunedin had stopped their workers from attending, citing company policy about attending any political meetings during work time, he said.

Even if the business environment wasn’t as difficult as it is, it’s understandable employers would rather have their staff at work than at political meetings – though we might make an exception for National MPs :).

Other members had expressed their satisfaction with the way things were going.   

If you’re happy with the government, why waste time listening to the opposition?

The lack of interest was not a reflection on the leaders; it was more the public not being interested, Mr Christie said.   University of Otago political scientist Bryce Edwards said it was disappointing the series had ended but he could understand that people were not interested in political leaders.   

 “If I was a normal citizen I would not bother going to see Phil Goff. Apart from political geeks like us, people are not interested in political leaders.”   

I started my journalism career in election year and had to cover election meetings. In those days under First Past the Post the leaders of National and Labour would attract hundreds of people, now under MMP we have more parties and leaders but most would be lucky to attract dozens to a meeting.

As an abnormal citizen, one of those political tragics, I sometimes attend a meeting addressed by politicians other than National ones, to find out how they perform in real life rather than through the media.

That more people don’t is a reflection of competing demands on time and a disengagement from politics and the political process.

That’s not good for democracy, especially under MMP which gives so much power to the wee parties.

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