The polls look promising for the Nats and ACT – but it’s too soon for them to be counting on an election victory

The latest political  polling   shows  the  centre-right parties  pulling  ahead of  the centre-left—but  it  may  be  too soon  for  the  leaders  of  the National and ACT parties to  be thinking they  will  be  forming  the next  government.  The mood  of  the  country has  seldom been  as  dark, chastened  as  it has been  by Covid, the cost-of-living crisis, and  a string of  Rugby test disasters, which  not  even  the golden  glow  from the Commonwealth Games  could  erase.

Some  commentators  have  seized  on  the  One  News  Kantar poll to suggest that the  parties of the  right would be  able  to  form  a  government for  the  first  time without  the Maori  Party,

The poll results nevertheless  contained  a  warning  signal for  both  National  and  ACT — the  former  because   it  was  down  two points  from the  previous poll, and ACT  because it  may  have  experienced a  one-off bounce in its  four-point  rise.

National   currently has  its  own  troubles, notably  with its  new  Tauranga  MP Sam Uffindell becoming the centre of a controversy about how much his electorate should have been apprised of something he did as a 16-year-old schoolboy.  Besides,  the Nats have yet  to  find  the  threads  which  they could  stitch into  a  coherent policy with  broad  appeal. Continue reading “The polls look promising for the Nats and ACT – but it’s too soon for them to be counting on an election victory”

James Shaw and the challenge for the Greens: how to get the politicking right when you want to steer clear of the centre

A  week  ago   Point  of  Order  noted   how James Shaw was  fending  off  challenges,  first  from  his  political  opponents on  his  climate  change policies,  and  then against  his co-leadership  of  the  Green  Party.  He   emerged  unscathed  from  the  first  but  then lost  his  co-leadership.

Yet  beneath that  quiet  exterior  lurks  a  man  with  intent.

He   truly  believes  in  what  he  is  doing in  shaping  the  country’s  climate-change  policy,  and he  is not  blinking in the  face  of  the  challenge  from within the  party  that  he  is  not  doing  enough  to  stave off  back  the  climatic  apocalypse.

Radio NZ’s Morning Report today  reported  he will contest the Green Party’s co-leadership after being ousted from the role.

“I’m not done,” he told  the  programme.

Shaw made the announcement after failing to get the 75% of delegates’ votes he needed at the party’s online annual meeting at the weekend (a formidably high threshold) to be reconfirmed in the role.

Co-leader Marama Davidson was reconfirmed by delegates. Continue reading “James Shaw and the challenge for the Greens: how to get the politicking right when you want to steer clear of the centre”

Free-thinking Chloe has gone out to bat for impoverished students – but inflation-fuelling govt spending needs to be bowled first

Chloe  Swarbrick   is  one  of  the  most  interesting  politicians  in  the New Zealand  Parliament, a  highly  effective  campaigner  who – after one  term as  a  List MP – won Auckland  Central  for  the  Green  Party.

Still  only 28,  she  is   already  seen  as  a  future   leader  of her  party.

This  week   she took up  the  cudgels  on  behalf  of students  and  gave  the  government  a  hammering.

She pointed  to new evidence showing that thousands of students are living in poverty, with many struggling to pay rent and put food on the table.

“Everyone in this country deserves to live a life of dignity. Our new research shows that’s a right denied to thousands of students. Political decisions over the last few decades have normalised and entrenched student poverty. This wasn’t an accident. It can be fixed,” says  Swarbrick  who  is Green Party spokesperson for tertiary education. Continue reading “Free-thinking Chloe has gone out to bat for impoverished students – but inflation-fuelling govt spending needs to be bowled first”

Robertson tackles the cost-of-living crisis which the PM did not recognise – now let’s see if he can steer clear of recession

Prime  Minister Jacinda  Ardern  early in March  insisted  there was  no  cost-of-living “crisis”  in New  Zealand. Now  her  right-hand  man, Grant Robertson,  has presented  a  budget which he  proudly  claims  deals  with that  very  same “crisis”, giving  away $1 billion in an emergency cost-of-living  package.

About 2.1 million New Zealanders will get a $350  payment spread  over  three months, while fuel tax  cuts  and half-price  public  transport continue  for  another two  months.

Will  that  be enough  to relieve those  suffering  in what Labour now  accepts   is a crisis?  And  will  it  halt  Labour’s  slide  in  the  polls.

On  that,  opinions  are mixed, with Labour’s  partner  in government  being the most  expressive  in  their  doubts.  Here’s what a Green Party press statement had  to  say  on the  subject: Continue reading “Robertson tackles the cost-of-living crisis which the PM did not recognise – now let’s see if he can steer clear of recession”

The Nats need to diversify – and if they don’t know what this requires, the Greens and Maori Party can show them the way

Now that the Nats might muster enough votes to forge a right-leaning coalition partnership and oust  the Ardern government at the next election, the commentariate has become agitated on the “diversity” issue. 

Issue?  Newsroom’s Joe Moir calls it a “crisis”.  

National’s just had its first opportunity to deal with its diversity crisis and its response was four white men contesting the Tauranga by-election

There are now more Christophers than there are Māori in the National Party.

This isn’t a new problem for National but Simon Bridges’ exit from politics this week only makes it even more profound.

Moir reports that Bridges’ departure means there are now just two Māori left in the caucus – Shane Reti and Harete Hipango – and the only other ethnic representation amongst National MPs is Korean-born Melissa Lee.

The headline sums this up as Luxon’s big white problem.

Diversity is more vital than ability in the media mindset, it seems, although concerns about an obvious lack of ethnic diversity in the ranks of the Maori Party is unlikely to result in headlines drawing attention to Rawiri Waititi’s big brown problem. 

The Nats shortcomings in the diversity department have been reflected in a raft of media reports over the past year or so.  Among them –

12 October 2020 

How well do political parties represent NZ’s ethnically diverse communities?

The National Party came under fire this year for its lack of diversity after it reshuffled its caucus several times following two leadership changes.

But one of its candidates Christopher Luxon, who is the former Air New Zealand CEO now running in Botany, has taken a bolder stance on the issue in contrast to what his party’s leaders have said this year….

Luxon is standing in the most diverse electorate in the country and he said while the party has a diverse range of experience and skill, diversity of representation matters a lot as well.

May 2 2021

National MPs admit ‘we’ve got some work to do’ on diversity

National MPs admit the party’s “got some work to do” in terms of increasing diversity.

It comes after a review revealed on Wednesday highlighted the need for National to commit to diversity, with a stronger focus on Māori.

The election review panel recommended making Māori a priority area, and suggested they “develop a diversity plan” and “embed diversity across the party’s membership, caucus, candidate and Board”. 

December 6 2021

National ‘has work to do’ on diversity after caucus announced

The National Party has “got work to do” to better its ethnic diversity and gender representation, new leader Christopher Luxon says, following his caucus reshuffle.

Only two Māori and four women now sit on its 12-member front bench, while not a single MP in the 33-member caucus is of Pasifika descent. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who Luxon will face for the first time as National’s new leader on Tuesday, leads one of the most diverse caucuses in history.

But concerns about ethnic diversity don’t necessarily amount to concerns about all ethnicities.  When Simon Bridges announced his retirement, he was asked about how he’d served Māori.

He quite rightly said he was MP for Tauranga, not a Māori seat, and he aimed to offer the best service to whoever walked in as a constituent. But he was proud to have been the first Māori leader of one of the two major parties.

Bridges was elected the party’s first Maori leader in 2018. His deputy leader was Paula Bennett who also is Maori.

The Labour Party has never elected a Maori leader.

But the headline on an article by political analyst Bryce Edwards raised a curious question.  

Political Roundup: Who gets to decide if Simon Bridges is ‘Maori enough?’

Edwards wrote:

There are legitimate and complex questions about the significance of this achievement, including how important it is for Maori voters and for advancing Maori interests, and what impact it might have on politics.

Unfortunately, much of the questioning so far has been along the lines of: How Maori is Simon Bridges really? Is he Maori enough?

I raised this on TVNZ’s Breakfast today, saying “There’s been a lot of people suggesting he’s not really a ‘proper’ Maori, questioning his Maori-ness and I think that won’t go down well with the public and I think it will backfire because it’s becoming increasingly unacceptable really to question whether someone is Maori or not”.

Fair to say, Edwards further noted that most of the questioning of Bridge’s Maori “authenticity” had taken place on social media, especially by some on the political left.  

Paula Bennett was challenged three years ago for not being Maori enough, too.

National’s Paula Bennett says comments calling into question her Māori heritage were ‘racist’

The contretemps in her case was instigated by Labour’s Willie Jackson.

Yesterday, in a speech during Parliament’s general debate, Minister of Employment and Associate Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson took aim at the Māori members of the National Party and called them “useless”.

He outlined a few Māori who he said were “the good ones” but said that “the rest were useless”.

“Paula Bennett – well, she doesn’t know if she’s a Māori. Some days she does and some days she doesn’t. Dan Bidois – he needs to go back to Italy. And Jo Hayes – Jo wouldn’t have a clue,” Jackson said.

Bennett said those remarks “without a doubt” were racist.

“It’s kind of like saying if we’re not like you, and fully entrenched and able to speak the language, then in your mind, we’re lesser Māori – I don’t think that’s necessary,” she told media after question time.

“It’s Parliament, it can get pretty robust. But I think to be calling in if you like, whether we’re Māori enough is just really unnecessary.”

While the National Party grapples with its diversity challenge, the Greens have signalled what diversity means to them  by changing their constitution to abandon its requirement for one male co-leader and one woman co-leader.  The requirement now is one woman and one person of any gender, plus a requirement that one must be Māori.

Co-leader Marama Davidson this afternoon said they were pleased with the changes which focused on a commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

“And proud that the party, the members, have voted in support of constitutional change which upholds Te Tiriti, which centres a framework on Te Tiriti, and far more inclusive representation including that leadership.

“The whole point though is about better representation, more inclusive expectations for leadership and upholding Te Tiriti.”

University of Auckland public policy lecturer Lara Greaves (Ngāti Kuri, Ngāpuhi) told Midday Report the move seemed like a logical next step for the party.

“This kind of just aligns with their values and the direction the party’s heading in.”

“I can see that this is a really important symbolic step for them to go in that direction of trying to pull more of the Māori vote … I can see they’re more moving in that ‘yes we are pro-Te Tiriti, we’re pro-co-governance, we’re pro-Māori’ direction.”

Greaves said it could also pave the way for a change in leadership, with suggestions someone like Chloe Swarbrick could be better in the role, and there had been disquiet about co-leader James Shaw not aligning so well with some of the party’s kaupapa.

Kiwiblog headed its report  

Green Party says it was racist to have Jeanette and Rod as leaders

David Farrar referenced a Herald report on the constitutional change:

The two co-leaders now need to constitute one woman, and one person of any gender (providing leadership pathways for non-binary and intersex). One co-leader also needs to be Māori.

He commented:

So under this new rule, you would never have had Jeanette Fitzsimons and Rod Donald as co-leaders.

It also means that Chloe Swarbrick can’t replace Marama Davidson as a co-leader as Chloe is not Maori. She could replace James though.

Farrar challenged a claim that politics had never provided a “level playing field” for Māori and Pasifika peoples, people of different genders, rainbow communities, and women.

Really?

21% of Parliament is Maori – much higher than their share of the adult population.

8% of Parliament is Pasifika – slightly higher than their 7% share of the adult population.

49% of Parliament is female, marginally below their 50.4% share of the adult population.

11% of Parliament is LGBT – much higher than their share of the adult population.

But for now, let’s wait and see what the Tauranga electorate makes of National’s candidate, team and programme.  

 

The Greens may never have a better opportunity to tackle climate change

In Germany that is.

Age before beauty they say.  But after last week’s inconclusive election in Germany it’s the forty-something leader of the Green party, Annalena Baerbock, and her generational compatriot, Christian Lindner of the market liberal Free Democrats (FDP), who are making the running in coalition negotiations, leaving the sexagenarians who head the Christian and Social Democrats out in the cold – for now.

Continue reading “The Greens may never have a better opportunity to tackle climate change”

After we learn the Greens’ role in the new government, the focus should turn to who gets jobs such as Foreign Affairs

Media attention since the general election has focused largely on the shape of any formal relationship between Labour and the Greens in the formation of the next government.     

But the need for party leaders to negotiate, talk or whatever with other party leaders to forge a government partnership is very different from three years ago.

The 2017 election on September 23 was followed by a prolonged bout of negotiations which ultimately resulted in the announcement on October 19 that New Zealand First leader Winston Peters and his party had chosen to put Labour into power.

Peters landed the jobs of deputy prime minister and foreign affairs minister in the new government.

At this year’s election Labour won an outright majority on election night and does not need a coalition partner to form a government. Continue reading “After we learn the Greens’ role in the new government, the focus should turn to who gets jobs such as Foreign Affairs”

How the Greens’ wealth tax proposal could be a political lifeline for Winston Peters and his party

The  Green Party’s  major new election  policy  for  a  wealth  tax has, not  unexpectedly,  had a mixed  reception, not   least  from  politicians of  other parties.

The  policy  to  tax the  wealthy  to  fund a payment of at least  $325 a week   for anyone  not  in  full-time  work,  predictably brought  cheers  from  trade  unions  and  child  poverty  lobby groups.  But it provoked scorn  from  the  other side of the  fence,  where  the  idea undermines  the  core  principle  of  capitalism as  the  driver of  economic  growth.

Interestingly,  one  sample of   public opinion  on the issue   showed   85%  against—and   only 15% in favour.

But  that lopsided  result has its  upside for  the Greens   and brings a  glow to those  within  the Green Party  who worked  up  the policy.  It  could  guarantee    the  Green   Party  is  not   overwhelmed    by  the halo effect  at  present  enveloping   Prime Minister    Jacinda  Ardern,   which  could result  in  the  kind of election landslide  delivering an outright majority  in Parliament for Labour.

If it  lifted the Green  Party’s  current  ratings  of  around 6-7%  to  double-digit levels   it  would be a  major  victory.   Continue reading “How the Greens’ wealth tax proposal could be a political lifeline for Winston Peters and his party”

Blogger sees red at Green co-leader’s urging the handout of dole money without question

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson was mentioned in despatches during the week, in a post which dealt with MPs’ air travel expenses.

We mention her again today because of her eagerness to have taxpayers become more generous to the unemployed, no matter – apparently – how feckless or disinclined to find work they might be.

Our earlier mention of Davidson and the Greens was triggered by Taxpayers’ Union data, gleaned from the latest Parliamentary expense disclosures, which showed the list MPs from the Greens (on average) 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 Continue reading “Blogger sees red at Green co-leader’s urging the handout of dole money without question”

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