Greens lost in cor­ri­dors of Bee­hive

Dis­ap­pear­ance of peren­nial rebels a prob­lem for the Gov­ern­ment.

Sunday Star-Times - - FOCUS | OPINION - June 10, 2018 Stacey Kirk

It’s a spin on that clas­sic gag about the sad sack who would at­tend the open­ing of an en­ve­lope.

How­ever, in this case, it was as if Cli­mate Change Min­is­ter James Shaw sent the en­ve­lope to him­self and did his own PR to get oth­ers to at­tend.

It seemed a sad way to launch a mas­sive project for Shaw – con­sul­ta­tion on mak­ing New Zealand car­bon-neu­tral by 2050.

The eve of the con­sul­ta­tion was marked with an event at which Shaw ac­cepted an ‘‘open let­ter’’ of­fer­ing a hearty ‘‘con­grat­u­la­tions’’ from the World Wildlife Fund and a num­ber of the coun­try’s may­ors. We know about it be­cause, oddly, the event ap­peared to be ar­ranged by Shaw’s of­fice.

The prom­ise of car­bon neu­tral­ity was a big con­ces­sion in the Greens’ con­fi­dence and sup­ply deal with Labour, and the leg­is­la­tion that is set to come from it will be a key part of the ma­chin­ery that may see New Zealand clean up its act on cli­mate change.

They should rightly crow about it. But not by ap­pear­ing to have ar­ranged the World Wildlife Fund to do it for them.

It seems the good old cager­at­tling Greens have been lost to the halls of the Bee­hive. Where on earth are the Ti­betan flag-wav­ing Greens? The Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship-protest­ing Greens? The spy-base hat­ing, tree-chain­ing, Par­lia­ment-scal­ing and ben­e­fit fraud-con­don­ing Greens?

Ac­tu­ally, that last one went too far.

Ever since for­mer leader Me­tiria Turei sent her party on a down­ward spi­ral ahead of the elec­tion by proudly ad­mit­ting her his­tor­i­cal ben­e­fit fraud, they’ve not been a team.

The elec­tion of Marama David­son as co-leader ap­pears to have changed very lit­tle.

Maybe they’re spooked. But there has to be a happy medium be­tween con­trived let­ters of (self) con­grat­u­la­tions, and a full con­fes­sional of past crimes to cap­ture a head­line or two.

It’s for pre­cisely that rea­son the party elected David­son. She promised them she would say the things her op­po­nent, Julie Anne Gen­ter and Shaw couldn’t, be­cause they were min­is­ters – that is, she would speak out against the Gov­ern­ment.

In­stead, David­son has made a small se­ries of luke­warm state­ments – most re­cently, call­ing on Na­tional (rightly) to is­sue an apol­ogy for the meth-test­ing de­ba­cle, but ig­nor­ing the fact Hous­ing Min­is­ter Phil Twyford’s own one had not, at that point, even­tu­ated. He’d been quick to rule out com­pen­sa­tion, though.

So far, so con­form­ist to the Gov­ern­ment agenda.

At this rate, it’s short odds that if of­fered a min­is­te­rial post David­son would be happy to ac­cept it. It seems like she’s fix­ing for one.

Mean­while, Shaw is in dan­ger of fall­ing down the same min­is­te­rial rab­bit hole as for­mer Ma¯ori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell – be­com­ing en­grossed in the im­por­tance of his min­is­te­rial work, while hop­ing that speaks for it­self.

Flavell, and his party’s bru­tal demise, is proof that it doesn’t. But in co-leader Marama Fox that party still had a wild card who was pre­pared to speak out – at times force­fully – against the Gov­ern­ment.

But con­sis­tent polling shows the Greens on a slow march down the same path as Flavell and Fox. If that isn’t enough to wake the party from their stu­por, then it’s not just their prob­lem but the Gov­ern­ment’s.

Where on earth are the Ti­betan flag­wav­ing Greens?

CHRIS SKEL­TON/STUFF

Greens co-leader James Shaw an­nounces the start of con­sul­ta­tion on the Zero Car­bon Bill.

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