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Greens eagerly eye finance portfolio


This week is a job interview for Russel Norman.

The Green Party co-leader has his eye on being minister of finance in two and a half years and he wouldn’t be the first Australian or ex-communist to achieve high political office in New Zealand.

Dr Norman is very conscious that achieving his goal requires the Green s to stay well above 10% in the polls and for David Shearer, David Cunliffe and David Parker, Shane Jones and Andrew Little or Grant Robertson to have confidence that making him finance minister would not cause an immediate crash in business and economic confidence.

Although Dr Norman has no expectation of winning votes from the business community, he knows that earning Mr Shearer’s trust (or Mssrs Cunliffe’s, Parkers’ Jones’ or Little’s) depends on him mitigating public concerns that the Greens have wacky ideas about the economy.

His response to Bill English’s fourth Budget will therefore be crucial.

Partnership of equals
The alternative to a John Key/Winston Peters government, which remains the most likely after 2014, is unlike any New Zealand has seen before.

Previous coalition governments have tended to consist of one overwhelmingly dominant party backed by ministerial minnows.

The closest to an equal partnership was the National/NZ First coalition of 1996 to 1998. Even in that case, though, the bigger party still contributed 75% of government MPs.

In contrast, a Labour/Green/NZ First government post-2014 would see Labour providing only around 60% of the personnel.

Despite concerns about tails wagging dogs, New Zealand small parties have in fact been relatively temperate in their demands, making them commensurate with their popular support.

Mr Peter demanded to be made deputy prime minister and treasurer in 1996 but the size of his voting bloc arguably justified it. Similarly, Jim Anderton demanded the deputy prime ministership in 1999 but relinquished it in 2002 when his support crashed.

Based on current forecasts and polls, nobody – not even Mr Peters – has ever had as much right to demand genuine political power from their coalition partner as Dr Norman is likely to have in 2014.

After its poor treatment of the Greens over the years, shunning them whenever possible in favour of Mr Peters and Peter Dunne, Labour will have to acquiesce to their demands in 2014 or create a permanent, embittered rival on the left.

Warming to business
The proximity of real power and the overshadowing of environmental fantasies by hard economic times have moderated the Greens’ political positioning.

Back in 1996, former co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons declared trade should be discouraged for the sake of the environment. Today, Dr Norman talks about narrowing the balance of payments deficit by rebalancing the economy from consumption toward exports.

He sees particular scope for growth in exports of services, talking of Mighty River Power becoming a leading global supplier of renewable energy technology and know-how.

There is a realisation that hippy organic wineries are all very well but New Zealand needs exporters and international businesses with the scale to have global market power.

Despite leading a party of vegans, animal rights activists and foes of corporate power, Dr Norman is prepared to talk about consolidation of the meat industry.

His stance on oil exploration is to vigorously oppose it in deep water but he is softening on projects closer to shore.

On tax, Dr Norman obviously wants to sock it to the so-called rich but his emphasis will be on rebalancing the tax base away from things the Greens say they support, like wages and profits, toward things they say they opposite, including house-price inflation, carbon and oil.

Dialogue has begun with Federated Farmers, employer groups and other business networks.

Make no mistake – the Greens remain a party of the hard left whose agenda is anathema to the business community.

But if he can get messages like these out to the public this week, and over-shadow Labour’s effort in critiquing Mr English’s budget, businesspeople may need to get themselves used to the prospect of finance minister Norman.

More by Matthew Hooton

Comments and questions


God help us. Fortunately, I think she will. Not even the current dismal Labour party would be silly enough to let this sorry lot near the cheque book.

Looks like MMP will slowly and surely destroy NZ.

A 50% top tax rate and capital gains tax. Wow real solutions?????

Dont forget they want CGT INDEXED.They real name is an inheritance tax.

a tax on everything that can move,and that includes the passing of wind by humans.
What a teamshearer who gives everthing away and the greens who want to take more from us.

Another reason to flee the shaky Isles !

The Greens are already getting an amazing amount of airtime.
The NBR does not need to add to the problem.

Question: Why are the greens getting so much airtime?

[Like them or loathe them, there's a strong possibility the Greens could form an influential part of the next government - Editor]

Simple answer is that the media and govt agencies is littered with these fifth columnists and naive fellow travellers.

One way to create a
"strong possibility the Greens could form an influential part of the next government"
is for a Newspaper to break up the hard political ground for the greens 2 1/2 years before the next election so that everyone gets used to hearing that the Greens are ok, moderate sorts of people people who deserve the right to "demand genuine political power"

I'm not a hippie greenie but I have been impressed with the recent leadership turn-around in the Greens.
Their policies have become much more pragmatic and thus appealing to more people.
Their recent approach of data rather than ideology driving policy is doing well and one that more parties should be adopting
Thinking particularly of National - Sell The Assets - everyone can see through you National you have no data to back it up its just rotten ideology through and through.

If you think Russel Norman is not driven by ideology you are dreaming. Once a communist, always a communist. He doesn't believe in free enterprise. He thinks the government should own and/or control everything. If you have a Kiwisaver account you should be all for the partial privatisation of some SOEs (NOT asset sales as falsely portrayed in our uselesss media) as this will be an opportunity for your Kiwisaver funds to be invested in solid publicly listed NZ businesses.

Norman finance Minister.Ha! Ha! Ha!

Will the last person to leave, please turn out the lights.

Increasing polarization between the Greens, flakey, marginal and white and a burgeoning militant, nationalist and Polynesian extreme left will probably implode. Labour may quickly implode with the lead of Rainbow Rights, factionalism and ABC. National has to come up with export ideas or they too will disappear after Key goes. Somewhere a beast is crawling toward Nazareth to be born. Or not.

Just what NZ needs. Enough of postponing the hard decisions. We do need a change

Unfortunately, on current reading of the minds of the average NZ voter, as reported in the MEDIA when covering so called news; there is a good chance that 60% of the country will naievly and unwittingly support a Greens/Labour Co-alition at the next election.

Totally Agree.

Watch NZ TV, go into any mall or The Warehouse and look at what the emerging majority of NZ is slowing evolving into; a bunch of fat, unintelligent, reality programme watching, binge drinking, no self responsibility accepting slugs who are prolifically breeding and morally and financially bankrupting the country.

This evolution of the general populace plays directly into the hands of Labour and the Greens.

The present Red-greens ascent to power would certainly transform their constituency of fat, lazy, stupid people into thin, unemployed, stupid people. The question is only how long this collision with reality would take to change the ideology of the survivors.

But thats democracy for you.
those "bunch of fat, unintelligent, reality programme watching, binge drinking, no self responsibility accepting slugs who are prolifically breeding and morally and financially bankrupting the country." have an equal vote and there are probably more of them than you.
Hence why i live in Australia.

I don't accept the narrative that its inevitable that Greens will be in the next Government.
Why be a defeatist?
Like any political party the Greens will fade away when they stop getting huge amounts of free airtime.

With Normal at the helm we will only need to change one letter in their name to get an idea of the outcome, N to K


yep, that would be a great outcome, not.

They are a scary lot, heaven for bid if that bunch of nutters get into power i am of and out of here, asap.

Russel Norman as the next Ministry of Finance?

You got to be bloody kidding me!

Great - my worst nightmare is coming true. If this comes true, for sure we can forget NZ as a country. We will be the Greece of the South Pacific. Definitely I will be moving to Australia.

I hope the country does not end up as Greece before the Greens come to power.

Were you intending to say
"I hope the country does not end up as Greece and I hope the Greens don't come to power."?

If Norman as finance minister isn't bad enough, the other option is a return of treasurer Peters in John Key's government! God help us. Who voted for MMP?

I find him to be ok, I like his stance on boosting science and innovation for NZ be a global leader in green technology. I found the green party in recent years has matured and is looking at other aspects other than the enviroment I wouldn't be surprised if they have grown in numbers in the next elections

National's preference to take a leftist appeaser stance has finally pushed the real left into the loonie land ... and they could govern.

I've got one hand on the phone to the travel agent if needs be .... purple NZ is bad enough, deep red is unpalatable and has no future.

I have more faith in the New Zealand public than that. The Greens could have been in government with Labour this time - National gave them the election on a plate with the partial privatisation policy - 70% of the public against it - Greens and Labour giving them a clear path to have their wishes. However when the master poll happens and people need to consider a range of policies together rather than single policies one by one they showed that they disliked a Greens/Labour Government more than they disliked the National State Asset policy. At least with National you know what you are getting with Labour Greens - who knows what you might get. Russell Norman just got it wrong with the tax revenue suggesting it was down when it was actually up - just not as high as people had projected.

But hey life can be a laugh and who knows what will happen?

I'm in business. I vote Green. Why?

Because Dr Norman is one of the few people in Welly Town who understands that economics is about resource management. No resource, no economy.

It's not that hard to grasp, and yet the participants in this thread appear to struggle with it. Heaven help the NZ economy, if this comment thread is any indication of our insights and abilities.

On the contrary, our grips of fundamental economics are much better than yours. I'm amazed you own a business. Well, then again you must be in the green/new age/environmetal industry.

Let me explain it for you.

Green party = exceedingly high taxes leaves little company reserves for future growth. Absurd green/environmental laws will impose a tax on all kinds of resource use, making raw materials and products extremely expensive. This leads to low public consumption and lower export sales which invariably leads to much lower revenues for kiwi businesses. Green party is also likely to introduce unfair pro-labour laws and regulations driving business profits down. Over time, the number of business startups will reduce as the workforce realise that there is no point taking such ridiculous risks in starting businesses. Entrepreneurs and innovation reduce in number and the whole country ends up as a 'cheap labour camp' for australia.

We have already become a cheap labour camp under this present government joined with the thousands of kiwis leaving each month so im not to sure what you mean by that? An old saying from albert einstien stats that you cannot use the same type of thinking to solve the problem that was used when the problem began. Basically what ideas are being used now to get us out of this mess? I

Heaven help James May 21 11.44 am, if he really does believe in Green ideology.
He won't be in business for long, once Norman has control of the financial reins.

Sounds like your readership will be heading for Australia in their droves if Russel Norman becomes the next Minister of Finance. But wait on. Record numbers are already heading there under this National Government already.

God wouldnt that be great, then we might be rid of the fringe right who still think their neo-lib presciptions work. Haha. Time for a new experiment, and it aint rogernomics.

Name more than two Rogernomics reforms that have been abolished. Can't? That's because they make sense

Look at the historical data over the last 10 years. Kiwis have always moved across the ditch in droves for better professional salaries and affordable housing.

It has nothing to do with the present government or the previous one. Let's face it. We are still stuck in a recession (yes, it's been 4 long years). Businesses are still cautious and are under staffed on purpose. Employees (like me) are shouldering more responsibilities or working longer hours for the same pay and not getting any pay rise during annual performance reviews.

So, naturally, after these 4 years, many kiwis are feeling that they have been too exploited and given up on NZ and are flying off to Oz. I can't because we have very young dependents and not particularly mobile.

You got to be intellectually honest to yourself that it's not the fault of the present government whenever something is not going as planned in this country.

Comment posted on a company computer. Going home now.... thank you.

Norman be the finance minister? You joking! No straw left, I'll be out of here. God bless New Zealand.

love the Greens and the Albert Einstein quite, this GFC is going to ask for new ideas to work our way out. Hey there is always occupy to save the day.