The Greens have a little list – and the high-flying MPs on it are big spenders of public money

Keep an eye out for armies of tree planters hard at work.

No, not the One Billion Tree programme.  We refer to the tree planting that is essential to offset the carbon emissions generated by high-flying Green Party MPs.

Newshub drew our attention the other day to Climate Change Minister James Shaw’s international travel expenses, the highest of all ministers from October to the end of December, at $77,771, compared to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s $54,487.

When asked to justify the expenses, Mr Shaw told Magic Talk on Friday the Green Party offsets all travel through tree-planting, something he said he’d “recommend people do”. 

“Those programmes have to be verified and part of the verification process is that the tree planted has to be additional to what’s already being planted. We do that through a programme that’s run by Enviro-Mark.”

“I am carbon neutral. But, the best thing to do would be to reduce emissions – that’s the main thing you’ve got to do. You can’t just buy your way out of trouble with offsets,” Mr Shaw said. 

“The Climate Change portfolio is actually a foreign affairs portfolio in part, because it turns out climate change is a global problem and we’ve got to spend a lot of time working with people in other countries, so yes I do travel as part of my job.”

Shaw explained that his international travel expenses were high because he attended multiple international events during that time on climate change, including the Katowice Climate Change Conference in Poland.

“I understand that as Climate Change Minister, I have to weigh up the value of my travel. These events last year were significant international climate change conferences. They allow us to put New Zealand’s case to the international community,” he said. 

What about the other co-leader?

Sure enough, Marama Davidson has an explanation for new data showing non-ministerial Green Party list MPs – on average – are outspending other backbench lawmakers on flights. 

Davidson told Newshub that because the Greens only have eight MPs,

” … we always tried to get out and about, but certainly with eight MPs it’s quite tough and we have to try and spread ourselves as much as possible”.

She said the Greens would

” … certainly want more MPs to keep pushing on the work to resolve our climate crisis, protect our environment, and reduce inequality [and] if we have more Green MPs we can go further and faster”. 

Just a few weeks ago, delivering her party’s State of the Planet speech in Auckland,  Davidson was saying climate change, environmental degradation and social inequality are

” … deliberately perpetuated to benefit a few at the expense of the many, and at the cost of our planet.”

She slipped capitalism into considerations, too.  Climate change and species extinctions had

” … accelerated due to an unfounded belief that the very market which benefits from this will fix it.”

The result was that

” … we have been divided against each other and told to think of ourselves as free-floating individuals, cut loose and competing against one another instead of working together. We can choose something different, and we must.” 

But the Greens don’t seem to be choosing something different – at least, not when it comes to air travel.

As the Taxpayers Union noted, the latest Parliamentary expense disclosure shows that, on average, the list MPs from the Greens are spending more than a third more than Labour’s equivalent.

Average air travel spending for non-ministerial list MPs by party:

Greens – $9,816
NZ First – $8,059
National – $7,332
Labour – $6,499

Reacting to the figures, Taxpayers’ Union spokesperson Jordan Williams said:

“The Greens constantly say that we need to reduce air travel if we are to save the planet. They need to practice what they preach.”

Ele Ludemann, at Homepaddock, is condemnatory: 

These MPs don’t have the excuse of servicing electorates at either end of the country like Sarah Dowie, Hamish Walker or Matt King do.

The Greens are all list MPs.

They argue that because there are fewer of them, each has to travel more.

But that doesn’t wash when are the ones that preach to the rest of us about cutting down on all but essential travel and the necessity of reducing our use of fossil fuels.

Ludemann references Heather du Plessis-Allan, who wrote:  

. . . This is a plane (deliberate) and simple case of the Greens being a bunch of outstanding hypocrites. This is the party asking Parliament to declare a national climate emergency. It’s the party trying to penalise people who buy petrol cars, asking stretched farmers to pay for their emissions, trying (and thankfully failing) to put a halt to the building of new roads and begging ACC to divest from fossil fuel stocks. Essentially, it’s the party trying to force everyone else to sacrifice a little something for the climate, while they carry on working towards another year of Elite Gold Koru Club status. . .

The Greens hope it’s all okay because they offset their flight carbon by paying for someone to plant trees. Again, nice try. Even the UN says that’s no get-out-of-jail-free card. Trees planted today, to quote the UN, can’t grow fast enough to avoid what the UN calls “catastrophic planetary changes”. Offsetting emissions is like setting a house on fire, giving it a good five minutes to get started, then putting it out and painting over all the damage.  . .

Ludemann says hypocrisy is never a good look –  and it’s worse with the Greens because it is so much a case of do as we say, not as we do.

The Greens are forever preaching about what the rest of us should be doing, but when it comes to practice, time and convenience come before climate concerns.

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