From left: Co-leader James Shaw, former Te Tai Hauāuru candidate Jack McDonald, and co-leader Marama Davidson. (Images: Radio NZ and Getty Images)
From left: Co-leader James Shaw, former Te Tai Hauāuru candidate Jack McDonald, and co-leader Marama Davidson. (Images: Radio NZ and Getty Images)

The BulletinAugust 5, 2019

The Bulletin: Greens push policy to rumbling party

From left: Co-leader James Shaw, former Te Tai Hauāuru candidate Jack McDonald, and co-leader Marama Davidson. (Images: Radio NZ and Getty Images)
From left: Co-leader James Shaw, former Te Tai Hauāuru candidate Jack McDonald, and co-leader Marama Davidson. (Images: Radio NZ and Getty Images)

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Greens push policy at restive annual conference, police alarm Ihumātao protectors by showing rifles, and two major stories about dodgy historic rubbish dumps.

The Green Party have held their annual conference over the weekend, and it heralded both policy drives, and organisational blows. We’ll start with the former – both co-leaders James Shaw and Marama Davidson made that a focus of their speeches to members. They both reflected the two major strands of policy that the respective co-leaders have pushed over this term.

For Shaw, it was a package of responses to a Productivity Commission report on climate change. Stuff reports the government has agreed to 43 out of 77 recommendations, and will do more work on the remainder. Some of them were decidedly symbolic – the government’s fleet of vehicles being electric by 2026, for example. Others were more substantial, such as the setting of five-year climate budgets by 2021. There wasn’t all that much new, though it demonstrated a wide range of measures.

Above all, Shaw’s speech argued that the party was still having to push uphill against what he called “fear and misinformation”, being spread by those engaging in climate change denial. Newshub reports he pointed the finger squarely at National leader Simon Bridges on that, as someone who – in Shaw’s view – isn’t willing to actually take action commensurate with the threat of climate change. This, and the recent explosion of opposition from National on the EV feebate package, would suggest that the tentatively constructive relationship forged between the two parties during Zero Carbon bill negotiations has entirely broken down.

For Marama Davidson, her speech was about putting pressure on the government over the Kiwibuild reset. Radio NZ reports she will negotiate to try and get a rent to buy scheme included in it, along with “reforms to the Residential Tenancies Act and a mandatory Warrant of Fitness” for rentals. Again, these aren’t really new policies, but something along these lines is part of their confidence and supply agreement with Labour, so it represents an opportunity to push that over the line.

But there was also widely reported member discontent at the conference. The NZ Herald’s Jason Walls spoke to Newstalk ZB about it, saying there were factions each pushing for the primary focus to be on environmental policy, or social policy. Many members would no doubt reject that it is a binary choice, saying both are important. But given that the party’s wins over this term have been hard won to say the least, it’s inevitable that questions of priority will come up.

The overall lack of assertiveness from the Greens in government also proved to be a tipping point for one very prominent member. Jack Tautokai McDonald, number 9 on the party’s list last election, announced that he would be stepping away from his party roles because in his view there had been too much of a “centrist drift” under James Shaw, reports Radio NZ. It is a very significant move, as he was the policy co-convenor and one of the party’s leading Māori voices – here’s his full thread outlining his reasons why he’s made his decision. McDonald used to work closely with Marama Davidson, and this morning Radio NZ reported that she rejected the accusation of the party becoming too centrist.

There’s now about a year to go before the next election, and many Green members will be yearning for a position of much more leverage after it. There’s little to suggest the party is about to be torn apart, like what happened to the Alliance in 2001/02. Core support has held up fine, according to pretty much all published polling over the term. But if the Greens don’t have a stronger hand next time coalition negotiations roll around, keeping the party unified could become much more difficult. And one card they won’t be able to play is a threat to work with Simon Bridges and National – James Shaw has unequivocally ruled that out.

Police officers have alarmed protectors at Ihumātao by holding rifles at the scene, reports Radio NZ. The guns have since been removed, and police say they weren’t carrying them as such, but regardless those camped there say it is unacceptable. Te Ao News reports the wider police presence increased on Sunday, and the relationship with SOUL had deteriorated.

Earlier in the weekend, Te Ao News reported on the visit of King Tuheitia. Spokesperson Rahui Papa told them that they wanted to help find a pathway to resolution, and that the Kīngatanga was not taking sides over whether the housing development should proceed.

Two major and connected stories about rubbish from over the weekend that simply cannot go under the radar: A landfill in a part of the West Coast badly threatened by rising seas is close to being swept away, reports One News. On this one, responsible minister Eugenie Sage has put the onus back on the Buller District Council, and says a nationwide plan is being developed. And the rising tides could also expose the old Foxton Beach dump this spring, on the same coast of the North Island, reports Radio NZ.

Law changes to bring abortion out of the Crimes Act is going to be introduced today, according to Newshub. However, their understanding of the shape of that legislation is that it is in some ways more conservative than the options recommended by the Law Commission last year. More is likely to be revealed today, so keep an eye out.

The government has responded to National’s cancer plan with new services in some regional centres. Jihee Junn at The Spinoff has a cheat sheet with the announcement, which will result in radiation treatment being available in Hawke’s Bay, Taranaki and Northland for the first time, along with other old machines being replaced. All up, the package will cost about $25 million. National’s response was swift, and they argued no additional funding has been provided for oncologists and radiologists.

The organisational woes of the Civil Aviation Authority have deepened, with a group of current and former employees speaking out, reports Newshub. They say complaints made about bullying and sexual harassment went nowhere, and that CAA management swept them under the carpet. Transport minister Phil Twyford has ordered an investigation into the culture of the CAA, and after all, they are a rather important organisation for keeping flights safe.

The government’s work on housing might seem like a mess, but in one area they’re smashing it. Stuff reports that in the last year, the target for building social housing was exceeded by more than 500, and are building more than any other government in decades. However, it also coincides with a dramatic rise in the waiting list for those places, which the government has long argued is the result of people who were denied by the previous government coming back for help.

This might not be the most important story in the world, but I very rarely get the chance to highlight outstanding TV storytelling. And this from One News journo Kate Nicol-Williams is right up there. It’s about the Durie Hill Elevator in Whanganui turning 100, and it was just the perfectly crafted two minutes of television to round out their news programme on Saturday night.

And lastly for this section, a reminder – we have a daily newsletter with just Spinoff articles in it. It comes out late afternoon each day, and is basically a best-of out of what we’ve published over the day. If you want to sign up for it, you can do so here.

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Coco’s Cantina on Karangahape Road in Auckland

Right now on The Spinoff: As if often the case for a Monday, there’s a lot to get through. Jacob Edmond has penned a stirring defence of academic freedom, in the wake of AUT being pressured over a Tiananmen Square commemoration. Anke Richter speaks to cult-hunter Be Schofield, who takes down gurus who sexually abuse their flock. Alice Neville reports on popular Auckland restaurant Coco’s Cantina quietly setting up a ‘ghost restaurant’ for Uber Eats.

In lighter stuff, Nick Atkinson writes a love letter to winter swims, including some good spots around Auckland to go for one. Our big boss Kerryanne Nelson sings the praises of her local toy library. David Farrier looks deep into his own past to come to terms with being a fan of the music of Tool. And I review the latest season of Veronica Mars, which is now out on Neon – don’t worry, the review is spoiler-free.

For a feature today, a big question to ponder today for the civilisations of tomorrow. With nuclear waste hanging around for literally thousands of years, how do we communicate with humans of the future (who may have absolutely no knowledge of our language or technology) that it is dangerous? That’s the theme of this deeply involved feature from Current Affairs. Here’s an excerpt:

The writing would not be enough, though. The report also noted that the site would need to convey in its physical form a feeling, something that would touch the basest instincts of a living being. The authors noted in words, as best they could, what that feeling was:

“This place is not a place of honour… no highly esteemed deed is commemorated here… nothing valued is here. What is here was dangerous and repulsive to us.

The danger is still present, in your time, as it was in ours. The danger is to the body, and it can kill. This place is a message… and part of a system of messages …pay attention to it!

Sending this message was important to us. We considered ourselves to be a powerful culture.”

In sport, it’s not the Warriors’ year. They’ve had a bit of bad luck from the refs, sure, but over the weekend they were just plain awful. If you want to see how coach Stephen Kearney felt about a 30-0 halftime deficit against the Raiders, Stuff has a video with visuals of his team talk. The team is back in 12th place, and still within a good run of the playoffs, but you just can’t help but feel that at this rate they’re going to totally throw it away a few more times this season.

Also, we’ve published an extract from a new book by one of my favourite rugby writers. Jamie Wall has profiled the family connections Portia Woodman has to the black jersey, and she talks about how previous generations paved the way for her to become one of the greats of the sport.

From our partners: With several high profile government objectives in the spotlight, a single ministry could drive better outcomes across them all. Robyn Holdaway, senior policy advisor at Vector, makes the case for a Ministry for Energy.

That’s it for The Bulletin. If you liked what you read, and know other people who would find it useful, pass on this signup form to them.

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Mad Chapman, Editor
The Spinoff has covered the news that matters in 2021, most recently the delta outbreak. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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