Unable to gain traction on issues such as corporate tax evasion, and running the risk of alienating potential supporters with their support for more immigrants, the Green Party has been in a slump in the last few months. Like other parties, their share of support in the polls has waned as New Zealand First’s has grown. The change in leadership, with Russel Norman leaving to join Greenpeace and being replaced by James Shaw does not seem to have helped them – or hurt them.
At the same time though the news that three senior figures in the Party have left in the last few months, raises questions about what is happening inside. Although not surprisingly the Party denies any problems, the timing in a part of the year coming up to the 8th fiscal budget of this Government when the Greens need a sharp communication of their thoughts, could be problematic.
Although the new male co-leader to complement Metiria Turei needs a bit of time to settle, he has a steep hill ahead to lead his troops up if the Greens are going to regain their place as the third party of New Zealand politics. To their credit though, they still have a number of well performing Members of Parliament. Julie Anne Genter whose knowledge of transport issues and her persistent niggling attacks on the Government’s transport policy continues to hound Simon Bridges. Another Member of Parliament who is worthy of mention is Gareth Hughes, for his work on energy policy
But there are others who are starting to look a bit like they are past their best, including Kennedy Graham and Kevin Hague. Mr Graham’s Global Affairs portfolio unfortunately still bears the hall mark of Keith Locke, whose work on human rights is to be noted. Unfortunately his attacks on the Defence Force are part of why people such as myself will not consider moving further to the left than we already have. Others such as Marama Davidson and Steffan Browning might well be working hard on their portfolio’s in the background, but the surface expression of their work in terms of media time and activity in Parliament is hindering them.
With half of National’s third term now finished and Prime Minister John Key’s popularity still very high for a third term Government, the Greens like New Zealand First and Labour are under real pressure to grow their support and present a credible alternative. Although it is too early to start releasing policy, like New Zealand First and Labour, they need to be filtering out their potential candidates and looking at holes in their manifesto from the previous campaign.