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NZ POLITICS DAILY: Greens get hard-nosed

The party is flexing its political muscle and appears more serious, relevant and effective.

Bryce Edwards
Tue, 21 Feb 2012

A more hard-nosed Green Party is in evidence at the moment.

After the party’s impressive success in the general election – bringing in 14 MPs (7 of whom are new) – the leadership is riding a wave of confidence (or ‘arrogance’ according to some commentators).

The party is flexing its political muscle and appears more serious, relevant and effective than ever before. Together with Winston Peters, the Greens are leading much of the political debate in opposition to the National Government. Whereas the party once appeared shy of success and humble about any achievements, the leadership is now talking about growing its vote and being an ‘equal’ of the Labour Party. In particular, co-leader Metiria Turei has warned other parties to treat the Greens with respect – see TVNZ’s Green Party won't be anyone's little brother and John Hartevelt’s Greens refuse to play political little sibling.

The Green’s new approach means they are no longer a party of ‘amateurs or hippies’, but of hard-nosed strategists who operate more like a traditional political party - in particular seeking out voters in the middle of the political spectrum. This new strategy saw the party’s electoral support jump from 6.7% in 2008 to 11.1% in 2011 – a result which endorsed Turei and Russel Norman’s highly pragmatic and professionalised approach. So we can now expect that direction to continue.

Nonetheless, the Greens have sounded more like their former selves lately with vocal criticism of the Government, and populist attempts to court nationalist support over opposition to foreign investment. Metiria Turei’s speech at the weekend was a strident attack on National – see: Turei lashes out at John Key and National 'cronyism at its worst': Greens. This is a smart political strategy whereby the Greens are attempting to benefit from National’s array of vulnerabilities by packaging them into a narrative that proclaims ‘Aotearoa is up for sale’. The Greens talk about the Government not only selling ‘our assets’, but also ‘our farms’ to the Chinese Government, and ‘our laws to the highest bidder’ (such as SkyCity). Expect more of this narrative from the Greens and other opposition parties. However, despite this antagonism towards National, the Greens say they are still willing to work ‘constructively’ with them. They are also willing to give the Government some sort of legitimacy by signing up to another ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ and refuse to rule-out joining a National coalition government after the next election.

The biggest social policy issue at the moment seems to be housing. Bernard Hickey has written a must-read opinion piece on this: Govt eyes blind to housing crisis. Gordon Campbell also laments the Government’s unwillingness to comprehend and deal with a growing national housing crisis, especially ‘Auckland’s shortage of affordable housing’ which he says ‘is set to get worse, not better’ – see: On the government’s inertia on housing needs. Also today, Simon Collins draws attention to the fact that Housing New Zealand has axed ‘a service which has worked with other agencies to find private rental homes for people who can’t get state houses’ – see: Housing NZ axes home rental help. This decision reinforces that Housing NZ is ‘ending all its social services and would concentrate on its ‘‘core function’’ of managing state houses.’ Part of the reason housing is in the public spotlight at the moment is the protest in the Auckland suburb of Glen Innes over the weekend – see: TVNZ’s State house tenants vow to fight eviction. In response, John Key has reiterated National’s line that State houses not 'for life'.

Paul Holmes continues to draw flak for his column about Waitangi Day – most notably in a condemning Herald on Sunday editorial: It's not always all about you, Paul. The paper labels Holmes’ column an ‘ignorant and reactionary rant’, and says it ‘was not responsible, intelligent journalism, but inflammatory rhetoric.The latest outburst also smacked of an abuse of his position. A spittle-flecked rant from go to whoa, it did not attempt to mount any semblance of a coherent argument’. Rachel Stewart in the Taranaki Daily News is also appalled – see: Sent hard left by Holmes' racist rant. And added to that, a number of prominent Maori intellectuals have come out against Holmes, questioning his ability to host TVNZ’s Q+A programme: Anger at Holmes' Waitangi remarks.

Also on the issue of ethnicity, both Denis Welch and David Farrar have called out the media for their inaccurate wording on the issue of the Crafar farm sales – see: Welch’s Honkies, listen up and Farrar’s Who is the buyer and the seller? Their complaint is that – just as Paul Holmes crudely lumped all Maori together in his critique of Maori nationalist protesters – journalists keep talking about ‘the Chinese’ buying New Zealand farms. For more on the Crafar farms debacle, see John Armstrong’s Not-so public process backfires in Crafar case.

The National Government is also likely to receive some heat for Mediaworks’ decision to stop playing 100% New Zealand music on its beleaguered radio station Kiwi FM – see: Abby Gillies and Matthew Theunissen’s Kiwi FM not so kiwi anymore. As the NBR points out (MediaWorks keeps $300,000 as Kiwi FM goes international), the ‘previous government granted the station free FM frequencies in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, on the proviso that it would use the spectrum to promote local music’. There is a suggestion that National should now be putting Mediaworks’ three Kiwi FM frequencies up for tender.

Other important political items today include Duncan Garner’s report on the latest opinion poll: Poll shows declining faith in John Key, Patrick Leyland’s response: More good news for Labour…, and Danyl Mclauchlin’s blog post, Haruspicy in which he discusses where each parliamentary party is going. 

Bryce Edwards, NZPD Editor (

Today’s content:
Adam Bennett (Herald): Turei lashes out at John Key
Kate Chapam (Stuff): Increased vote stable – Greens
Anthony Hubbard (SST): Recovery hits shaky patch (not currently online)
Amanda Cropp (SST): My year of living warily (not currently online)
Tracy Watkins (Stuff): Key's own darkest hour after quake
Crafar farms and foreign investment
Tracy Watkins (Dom Post): Court ruling a spanner in the works (not currently online)
Fran O’Sullivan (Herald): Crafar wrangle opens whole can of worms
Rob Oram (SST): Crafar sale won’t pass the acid test (not currently online)
David Farrar (Herald): The Crafar dilemma
Adam Bennett (Herald): Pengxin given chance to improve bid
Andrea Fox (Stuff): Fay aims shot at OIO over Crafar
Denis Welch (Opposable thumb): Honkies, listen up
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Who is the buyer and the seller?
Colin Williscroft (NBR): Maori economy valued at $37 billion
Rob Hosking (NBR): Export-led recovery ruled out
Patrick Leyland (The Progress Report): More good news for Labour
Anthony Robins (The Standard): The long slide
Cameron Slater (Whaleoil): Show some leadership
Danyl Mclaughlin (Dim-Post): Haruspicy
Danyl Mclauchlan (Dim Post): Forgot about Hone
Morgan Godfery (Maui Street): New Maori Affairs Select Committee
Stuff: Today In Politics: Monday, February 20
Paul Holmes
Rachel Stewart (Taranaki Daily News): Sent hard left by Holmes' racist rant
Danyl Mclauchlan (Dim-Post): Tactical retreat
Matthew Hooton (NBR): Paul Holmes’ important point
Paul Holmes (Herald): Are NZers getting in their own way?
Disability funding
SST: Editorial – Splendid blunder, Mr Speaker (not currently online)
Urewera trial
Adam Dudding (SST): Saga of silent movies, revolution (not currently online)
Nicola Russell (SST): Telly axe looms but local content steady (not currently online)
Abby Gillies and Matthew Theunissen (Herald): Kiwi FM not so kiwi anymore
Kate Chapman (Stuff): State houses not 'for life' – Key
Simon Collins (Herald): Housing NZ axes home rental help
Bernard Hickey (Herald): Govt eyes blind to housing crisis
Robert Winter (Idle Thoughts): On the Housing Crisis
Law reform
Claire Trevett (Herald): Twelve or two? The jury's out
Clio Francis (Stuff): Maori prisoners' children 'forgotten'
MMP Review
Herald: Editorial - Chance to make MMP even better
A fine tale: Every vote counts
Emma Beer (Wellingtonian): Mystery man: Who is Garry Poole?
Neil Reid (Stuff): Fracking the new 'nuke-free'
Adam Bennett (Herald): Lawyers back oil drilling criticism
Catherine Harris (Stuff): Bid to scrap race relations office
Michelle Duff (Herald): Ryall and union at odds over cuts
RadioLive: Expert: NZ slow to speak out on Syria
Yvonne Tahana (Herald): Tuhoe envoys plan Scotland trip
John Roughan (Herald): Weak reasons can wreck decisions
Matt Rilkoff (Taranaki Daily News): What they said: take one... and take two



Bryce Edwards
Tue, 21 Feb 2012
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NZ POLITICS DAILY: Greens get hard-nosed