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Tuesday 13 October 2015


Comment: Fear of a green planet?

Posted in: Comment
By Craig Young - 18th September 2014

green_tree.jpg
Why are the National Party so hell-bent on alienating the environmental movement and could it cost them a prolonged period in the political wilderness?

Regardless of the fact that Green Parties have formed short-lived coalitions with centre-right parties in German state legislatures and Tasmania, New Zealand's Key administration seems determined to alienate the environmental movement and its allied Green Party, despite the fact that green political parties appeal to highly educated liberal professional voters. It seems that the Key administration got the idea from the US Republican governments of George W.Bush and Sarah Palin, which were vociferously active in slashing environmental risk management, often with brutal consequences due to this lack of strategic planning. However, if the objective was diminishing the Green voter share, that manifestly has not worked. The Greens are now New Zealand's third major political party and look set to remain so into the foreseeable future.

This has happened for several reasons. When it comes to leadership succession and caucus transition, the Greens have done this with an admirable lack of rancor and through what seems to be a diligent and consensual conflict resolution process. Granted, they have lost sterling former Green MP Sue Bradford in this context, but they have managed to otherwise insure stability without the messy antics that destroyed the former Alliance Party due to its composite internal coalition structure and decimated the ACT Party when it descended into factional warfare during the Key administration's first term (2008-2011). At a time when the Labour vote has fluctuated, the Green voter share has been consistently good. It will make a strong coalition partner for Labour when the time comes. It has evolved into a centralised professional political party akin to the German Greens, which participated in two Social Democrat/Green coalition governments last decade there, with similar arrangements in Poland and Iceland. Given such developments, Key administration fearmongering about the Greens is absolutely ridiculous. It assumes that politically literate voters are unaware of developments overseas and the profound stability of other social democrat/green governments. Such is not the case.

For LGBTI voters, this is undeniably advantageous. The Greens unequivocally support LGBTI rights and have a Rainbow parliamentary caucus of their own, although this currently consists only of Kevin Hague and Jan Logie. For many metropolitan LGBTI voters, they are the primary preferred coalition partner for the Labour Party. In addition to their resolute and proactive approach to LGBTI rights, they also favour such innovations as an entrenched Bill of Rights for New Zealand, and are debating whether or not to streamline the Citizens Initiated Referenda Act but defang it by removing its applicability to issues related to human rights and civil liberties. They also take a sensible and humane approach to what may undoubtedly become issues of future significance to LGBTI New Zealand communities such as those related to refugees and asylum seekers as climate change accelerates in the intermediate to long-term future.

There is one minor blight on the horizon, namely the personality cult centred on Winston Peters. As with many other LGBT voters, I would strongly prefer a 'clean' Labour/Green coalition without the added complication of having to deal with that elderly social conservative and his pack of opportunist, populist social conservative carpetbaggers. Peters has refused to commit to supporting a predominantly Labour/Green government as either a third coalition partner or as a confidence and supply partner, or conversely, a National/ACT/United Future coalition. New Zealand First is very much a cuckoo in the nest when it comes to any prospective Cunliffe administration and its role must be strictly sidelined, particularly if their role otherwise threatens to further delay the passage of transgender rights and anti-bullying reform. Added to which, there are warning signs about prospective instability in that caucus- Andrew Williams' demotion, as well as that of Asenati Lole-Taylor (although quite welcome, given her fanatical attacks against Manukau street sex workers and the transgender community). And why did they retain the buffoonish Richard Prosser, infamous for his anti-Muslim outbursts, even going so far as to promote him to third poll position?

Therefore, there needs to be a strong LGBTI voter turnout that relegates New Zealand First and the Conservative Party to sub-threshold status, either removing them from Parliament once more, or else marginalising New Zealand First so that any possible centre-left coalition doesn't have to deal with them. At the same time, it will need to maximise the Labour/Green voter share to such an extent that it can enter power with a 'clean' coalition that doesn't rely on Peters. Whether or not Mana-Internet will survive is a moot point. Certainly, Hone Harawira is an LGBTI ally, and Georgina Beyer is standing as one of Mana's election candidates, but like its diametric opponents in the Conservative Party, the Internet Party lacks clearly costed and well-defined policies. Much will depend on voter turnout in Tamaki Makarau.

In order for evil to succeed, good people do nothing. If Gaynz.Com readers have not already done so, I would encourage them to get out there and vote. We cannot allow Winston Peters or Colin Craig to further sabotage progressive politics in this country and Prime Minister Key is not ruling out a prospective coalition with the Conservative Party should they get over the five percent threshold. With Craig's fanatical stance about binding referenda, all that we have worked for may be subject to malicious unrepresentative right-wing populist antics deliberately designed to erode not only LGBTI human rights, but those of other vulnerable New Zealand citizens.

Be responsible. Vote.

Recommended:
Green Party: http://www.greens.org.nz

Craig Young - 18th September 2014

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