Green “teething” issues in transition to Government

Yesterday the Green Party left its allocated oral question in Parliament blank. The oral question is one of the few opportunities that the Green Party has to put questions to the Government. It was immediately noticeable in Parliament when their allocated question slot came up and no one rose to take the opportunity.

Green co-leader Marama Davidson acknowledged the error, but said that it was just a bit of disorganization.

A bit of disorganization? Just wondering how the party has come to have five vacancies in its Parliamentary office. Given the potential research and policy development work that could have been going on, whilst appointing new staff cannot be done over night, one should ask how long have those positions been vacant?

The Green Party has not been the same since Metiria Turei resigned in disgrace from the co-leadership and ultimately Parliament in 2017, following the announcement that she had lied to Work and Income New Zealand about her being on a benefit when she was a single mother. Whilst this is not the first problem, it is potentially one of the more embarrassing as it is happening to a party of a Government struggling in the polls, but also struggling with the transparency expected by New Zealanders that goes with holding high office.

Mrs Davidson has kept a rather low profile for a Member of Parliament who is co-leading a party in Government. This makes me wonder if she is shy of the attention, something that Mrs Turei was not. Whereas Mrs Turei was widely popular across the party, suggestions during the nomination campaign to replace her that Mrs Davidson might cause a split in the party may have some credibility.

Recently Green Party M.P. and Minister for the Environment, Eugenie Sage made a potentially damaging mistake in her handling of an application to Nongfu Spring to purchase land so that they could expand their Bay of Plenty processing site. The decision caused much angst in the Green Party who have staunchly opposed land sales to foreign entities and was claimed to have undermined their stance on fresh water. Ms Sage made the decision along with two other Ministers acting on advice from the Overseas Investment Office.

Whilst no Minister is perfect and plenty of other Ministers perceived to be a safe pair of hands have made significant mistakes, in most cases these did not contravene the policy platform of the party they represent. That makes Ms Sage’s decision all the more damaging.

It is not that the Green Party does not have other pairs of safe hands. Julie Anne Genter, Minister of Transport is well liked for her solid work in Opposition on dealing with transport. Since she came to office Ms Genter has not made any mistakes and has actually picked up extra work after Labour M.P. and Minister Phil Twyford was stripped of the responsibility for the Civil Aviation Authority following the use of his cellphone whilst an aircraft he was on, was airborne.

Another safe pair of hands, though not a Minister, is Gareth Hughes. Mr Hughes made a significant contribution as Green spokesman for the Energy portfolio whilst in Opposition.

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