Should National circumvent Peters and do a deal with the Greens?
(Lance Wiggs says he voted for National's Nikki Kaye with his electorate vote and the Green Party with his list vote. He told NBR Radio that National should look to adopt Green policies that make financial sense. He also thinks there would need to be a change at the top as many Greens don't like the current PM, though he adds, "I disagree, "I think Bill English is a good guy. He's been a very good finance minister for us." He elaborates on his theory of a possible blue-green coalition below — CK)
Farmer and Green list MP contender John Hart has written a series of tweets about why a Blue Green coalition would not work.
It's going to be a long two weeks on Twitter if we don't put this National-Green fantasy government idea to bed. So a short thread... 1/n
— John Hart (@farmgeek) September 25, 2017
That saddens me. It’s the politics of can’t, or lack of hope. A smart party would be working all sides of a deal to find the best path forward for their policies.
At stake is the rapid pace of climate crisis and of the adoption of electric vehicles, distributed power, batteries and so on. The Green party have been thinking about these issues for a long time and have a series of policies and people that will set our economy and society up to succeed in the times of turmoil ahead. It’s not the time to hunker down for another three years but rather the time to cut a deal, a good deal, with whatever party is going to be leading the new government.
At the moment the Greens have zero negotiating power – they have ceded it all to Labour by refusing to treat with National, and their members are not helping their own cause by reiterating the same. By painting themselves into this corner they will either end up in opposition again, with limited action on the causes that matter, or they will get what they are given in a red black and green coalition. Labour knows the Green Party will join them in coalition no matter what, and can afford to offer a far better deal to NZ First.
But what if NZ Greens treated with National? They might be offered a better deal than from Labour and NZ First. That deal would change the brokers of this election from NZ First to NZ Greens, and then the negotiating could really get going.
Imagine a Greens deal for National that required:
1: Climate change as part of every cost-benefit analysis/policy document, and a significantly boosted part of the Business Growth Agenda, with carbon emissions costed at $50 per tonne rising to $100 per tonne over 10 years. (This will drive transport and mining decisions)
2: $500 million a year allocated to cleaning up rivers, funded by a tax on farmers who are not abiding by a Sustainable Farming Code of Conduct. Fund decreases as farmers move into more compliance.
3: A falling cap on the amount of land used for cattle farming. Farmers will like it as their land will become more valuable.
4: $200 million a year into a series of linked habitats for native birds, and creation of 10km wide marine sanctuaries every 50 km of coast.
5: Julie-Ann Genter as minister of transport, James Shaw for climate change etc
6: Local bodies required to prepare for 1.9m sea rise from climate change, as per the hidden report
7: Moratorium on any new mining or drilling operations, and increase of royalties by four times.
8: Agreement to settle water rights with iwi and to allow each iwi/region to set a price for their water. Minimum price to apply.
9: Introduce a carbon tax at $5 a tonne, rising by $5 in the second year then $10 a tonne per year for nine years. Charge it like GST with cascading carbon tax applying. No exceptions, including farming.
10: Use the proceeds of the carbon tax to invest in carbon-reducing systems (public transport, lower methane emissions from belching cattle) and to subsidise entities who spend more money to lower carbon emissions.
11: Take 100,000 children out of poverty in three years, where poverty is defined as <definition> and annual targets are met or coalition fails.
I can imagine National negotiating and then agreeing to some, most or close to all of this. Some of it would be tough, no doubt, but they have already agreed to 11, understand how to do 8 in a way that doesn’t destroy businesses and farms and are excellent at implementing big projects – this time public transport instead of roads. Some of the others are relatively cheap, and the biggest issue (and something worth fighting for) is the carbon tax but, if done well, can be used to lower business and personal income tax – long a National goal.
That’s a Blue-Green Coalition. It aims to achieve goals for both parties. And a coalition like that would leave both parties stronger.
Why would Green Party members not support this? The answer is perhaps “because we don’t like National because of past behaviour” or “We don’t want to be crushed by being a coalition partner to National.”
These are selfish motivations, and quite unlike the entire ethos that Green Party lives by. I’ve always seen the Green Party as a movement that is endeavouring to achieve certain environmental and societal goals, and they have welcomed it when other parties have adopted their policies. A coalition agreement like the above is one where they would achieve genuine lasting change could be put to members, and members strongly encouraged to vote.
Ideally, another agreement with Labour and NZ First would also be presented, and a genuine dilemma could emerge. What if they can achieve more with National than with Winston and Labour?
Real change happens when you move the normal – and there is no better way to change society to be Green than by moving National towards the solidity of long-term green economics.
Punakaiki Fund co-founder Lance Wiggs posts at LanceWiggs.com.