For the nine years that Prime Minister Helen Clark was in office, the Labour Party considered the Greens to be useful for propping up her Government. To Labour, the Greens were somewhat undsciplined and still lacking in basic Parliamentary experience. On one hand this should not be a surprize as none of the Green Members of Parliament held their current jobs as Green M.P.’s when they were elected. Too new, and needed to learn the basics. But 17 years after entering Parliament could they finally be ready for Ministerial portfolios? Especially after suggesting Treasury audit the costs of individual Party’s policies?
Some of you might be wondering why a New Zealand First member and support would be interested in the future well being of the Greens? It is because a few but quite fundamental policies link both parties and justify political collaboration in order to reach goals set. And I am not a supporter of Metiria Turei/James Shaw – too conservative and still understand the need for extraction industries. Parliament needs to revisit the entire sentencing act legislation, because it is obvious from the cutting off or removal of electronic bracelets that it does not work properly.
A good example of how the Greens have grown is to look at some of their people like Metiria Turei when they entered Parliament and where they are today. Mrs Turei was picked as a replacement for Jeanette Fitzsimons, who retired a few elections ago. Likewise, James Shaw was picked as a replacement for Russel Norman, after the latter got a job at Greenpeace. Although many will say that she meant well, and hopefully she did, the departure of Sue Bradford, an activist who proposed the controversial changes to New Zealand smacking laws removed a person who was divisive and seemed bitter when she lost their co-leader election was probably a good thing.
And yet, I cannot help but be drawn like a fly to a lamp at night to the fact that Labour as a force in the 2014-present Parliamentary term may be restricted to sharing the load with New Zealand First and the Right Honourable Winston Peters. With the first month of 2016 starting to reach its end, a stalling economy, an increasingly unpopular Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement and a budget blow out in which New Zealand’s total student debt must now be pressing down on Prime Minister John Key. The T.P.P.A. defiance that the Prime Minister showed earlier this week when a kaumatua on a marae in Northland warned that if the Trans Pacific Partnership is to succeed, Mr Key should be totally honest about:
- What is in it for Maori as an indigenous people with treaties that New Zealanders need to understand the importance of
- How he and his pro-development ministers will respect fresh water quality and ensure that the resource is developed, used and sustained for ALL New Zealanders
Although Parliament might be out for another couple of weeks year, with concerns about the Trans Pacific Partnership and how the Government is abusing democratic practice already at pressure cooker levels, the jockeying for pole position among parties is well under way. With an election in not more than 21 months, the Greens appear to remain one of the better organized parties in Parliament in terms of electoral readiness. Labour need to hold 45-50 seats if they are to ever have a successful election where voters decide if they come out as the largest party in the country. New Zealand First and the Greens need to hold onto all of their combined 26 Members of Parliament. Where swing votes count in Parliament, they might be able to rely on the Maori Party for support passing legislation. Maori support for National will decline substantially if they find out the true cost of the T.P.P.A.