green = good Greens = red

November 12, 2010

The word ”green” has a powerful meaning in our public life in a way it never did before. It has connotations of habitat, nature, trees, wilderness and also moral connotations – stewardship of the landscape, sustainable ways of living, openness, honesty and transparency.

I would vote for a green party, if such a party existed, but instead we have the Greens, a bipolar coalition of genuine environmentalists and genuine hard-left, anti-corporate progressives hiding under the flag of convenience of environmentalism.

Quote of the week from In bed with the devil – a deal that has tainted Green politics by Paul Sheehan.

He’s writing about Australia but these paragraphs apply in New Zealand politics too.

Hat Tip: Trans Tasman.

Why would you want to spend more than you need to?

May 4, 2010

More than 20 years since we were dragged kicking and screaming into the real world without subsidies but unions, Labour and Green MPs  still don’t get it.

Why would KiwiRail get a New Zealand company to build its new wagons unless it was the best option for the company?

It’s a business, not a charity.

We taxpayers have already wasted millions more than we needed to buying the company, why pour more good money after bad?

If the companies which build wagons can’t compete in that business without subsidies they should put their skills to use in areas where they can be competitive without taxpayer or SOE assistance.

A cunning plan to counter MMP?

November 28, 2009

Phil Goff’s channelling of Winston Peters is uncharacteristic.

Nothing in his past pronouncements or behaviour suggests he’s a racist.

Why then would he attack Maori as he did this week?

There are now only three wee parties in parliament, Act the Maori Party, the Greens (the other two are creations of their leaders and will disappear when they do).

Under MMP it is very unlikely one of the major parties will govern alone.

The Greens agenda is not just environmental it’s social and economic and their policies on all these are very left-wing. That makes it much more likely they would support Labour than National.

That leaves the Maori Party in a very powerful position in the middle, able to go left or right. Except that this week, Goff made it much, much harder for them to support Labour and therefore much harder for his party to get back into government under MMP.

Could it be his reference to pork bone politics is not just an attack on the Maori Party and a dog whistle to racists, but a cunning plan to undermine MMP too?

I support the Greens

October 19, 2009

They’ve spotted a missing apostrophe in a government press release – or at least the place where the apostrophe would be if it wasn’t missing.

In doing so they’ve also found their sense of humour.

The Green Party renewed it’s call for better grammatical standards in New Zealand, if only to keep world peace.

This is a Green campaign I’m happy to support – although I may live to regret that given my own propensity for proofreading failures.


I’m already regretting it because it was only when I read the comments on the post that I noticed the apostrophe missing from the original press release had found its way into the sentence I copied above.

You of course will have noticed it straight away.

The honourable member

September 29, 2009

Finance Minister Bill English has done the honourable thing in removing doubts about his ministerial housing allowance.

He has elected not to take up any housing allowance; has received no housing allowance since July 28 when he paid back the difference between the allowance paid to ministers and other MPs; and has repaid to Ministerial Services all the housing allowance he received since the election.

He also received an opinion from a QC, confirming that changes to his family trust arrangements did not affect his eligibility for the previous ministerial housing allowance.

 He said:

“What I’m announcing today reflects a set of personal decisions I have made about my own situation. It is in no way setting a precedent for others although I make the point here that I believe Parliament does have to think how it can accommodate the families of long-term politicians.

 “At all times my decisions have been driven by my desire to keep my family together and provide them with as much stability as possible. It’s now clear that the system has struggled to deal with my circumstances.

 “This has been an unnecessary distraction. I now want to move on and focus on building our economy and ensuring that New Zealanders have jobs.”

Politics can be a dirty business and Labour were out to get Bill. Regardless of the fact that successive speakers -from Labour and National, have accepted that Dipton is his primary residence as defined by the parliamentary Services – and regardless of what the Auditor General finds, they were going to keep at him.

The perception – and it was only a perception – of wrong doing was a distraction. Bill’s focus, rightly, is on the more important issue of getting the country back on the right economic track. 

This has been expensive, financially and politically, for him. But he’s shown once again that the term honourable member isn’t just a title, it’s a reflection of his behaviour.

That is more than can be said of Jim Anderton who gets a party leader’s allowance though he’s only running a one-man vanity vehicle.

It’s also more than can be said for the Greens, as Kiwkblog  points out:

I look forward to the same level of scrutiny on the Greens renting of houses owned by their superannuation scheme to themselves, to maximise the taxpayer subsidy. They have done exactly what Mallard accused Bill of – using a trust or fund to maximise eligibility. If they owned the properties in their own names, they would only be eligible to claim the interest off any mortgage. get more from parliamentary services by renting flats from their pension fund than they would if they were in their own houses.

Bill has said he’s not setting a precedent but what others do will be measured against his actions. That will be good if it inspires them to act honourably but it will be bad if it makes it puts even more pressure on the family life of MPs.

Can you please members and voters?

July 15, 2009

Can  apolitical party keep its members and voters happy?

The question came after this comment by  Dutchie Down South prompted a lively discussion on the issue.

A party’s first responsibility is to its own principles and through them its members.

In a broad church party like National, there is a wide range of views on many issues, but if members disagree with the principles then they ought to look for another philosophical home.

A party must stand on a firm foundation of its principles if it is to attract and keep its members and if it is to last.

Having said that, it must also attract voters. Under MMP that requires an ability to be flexible with policies which may mean swallowing dead rats.

National has done this with Working for Families and interest free student loans.

WFF may be the only way to help low income wage earners but it’s bad policy to turn middle and high income earners into beneficiaries. I hope the party will come up with a way of offering a better alternative at the next election but accept that it was too risky to go into the last one saying they’d scrap it altogether.

National had a better policy for helping students for the 2002 election but we lost and that’s why the interest-free rat was swallowed. That doesn’t preclude the development of an alternative which could be attractive to voters and sits better with National’s principles which the party could offer before the 2011 election.

Accepting the need to be flexible and stomach a few deceased rodents isn’t an argument for government at any cost. It’s accepting the reality of politics which means you may have to give a little to make some gains.

The Greens provide a good example of what happens when you don’t bend. They’ve marooned themselves on the far left and in spite of being the oldest of the wee parties in parliament have yet to make it in to government. Contrast that with the Maori Party which many thought would never coalesce with National but in just their second term in parliament are part of government and have already made some real gains.

A party which promotes independence and self reliance is always going to attract people with strong views which will not always be in accord. That’s a sign of strength rather than discord because it means there will always be healthy debate.

It also recognises that no-one member will always agree with absolutely everything his/her party does.

That applies as much to the leader as anyone else. Sir Keith Holyoake was asked how he coped with differences between his views and the party’s.

He said he was 100% behind 60% of his party’s views, there were about 30% that he was less enthusiastic about but they weren’t die-in-a-ditch matters and given that, he could agree to disagree over the other 10%.

If that was good enough for the Prime Minister, it’s good enough for me.

When all else fails, it helps to remember there are no miracles in politics and it’s better to achieve something in government than nothing in opposition.

They panicked

April 26, 2009

Does the average voter understand or care about party lists?

I suspect not.

So why isn’t Phil Twyford seeking the candidacy for Mount Albert?

It’s not because David Farrar explained on Kiwiblog that if he did Judith Tizard would go back into parliament as a list member, although as Poneke points out he did that very well.

It is because the Labour leadership paniced  panicked and as Matt McCarten says:

What is disheartening is that Labour’s action wasn’t from a place of principled strategy but the result of hysteria generated by their political opponents.

Because of that, what should have been a clean succession of the obvious successor to Helen Clark has turned into a contest for the candidacy from which their can only be one winner and that immediately creates the possiblity for problems amongst the losers and their followers.

It has allowed people to contemplate the thought that what ought to be a safe Labour seat might be marginal. It has prompted the Greens to stand a strong candidate who will split the vote; and that in turn has led to speculation that National could make this a close race and even, with a strong tail wind and the planets in the right place, win the seat.

National can’t lose from this. There is a slight possibility they could win the seat and there will be no shame at all for the party or its candidate if s/he doesn’t.

The Greens will get the publicity they desperately need.

And Labour has already lost, even if they do hold the seat, because they panicked and Phil Goff failed his first real test of leadership.

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