Labour continues its campaign against the Greens
By Richard Harman (author)
The Greens believe they are not polling well because people don’t understand MMP.
They won’t agree (in public anyway) that they are victims of an orchestrated attack by the Labour party.
They are hovering on the brink of not returning to Parliament, but Leader James Shaw says the feeling on the ground is much more buoyant than that.
In fact, he says, it feels better than 2014.
Shaw is persisting with the argument that a vote for the Greens is a vote for Labour and Jacinda Ardern.
Technically it is.
But Labour doesn't 't buy it.
The party’s President, Nigel Haworth, yesterday on Facebook posted a strong admonition not to vote Green: "Beguiling voices may be telling us that a Green vote is a strategic vote for a progressive government.
“This is simply wrong.
“The primary condition for a change in government is the biggest possible Labour Party vote.
“Anything else reduces the likelihood of that outcome.”
Nevertheless, Ardern says the Greens will be the first party she calls if she is in a position to form a Government.
But privately there are senior Labour MPs close to her who believe that the party would be better off with NZ First as its core coalition partner.
As if to underline that, Labour has been “eating the Greens’ lunch” by campaigning on all three of the Greens’ core issues --- cleaning up waterways, climate change and poverty.
And again, privately, Labour MPs are happy to criticise the actions of former Green Co-Leader, Metiria Turei, when she admitted to benefit fraud.
But Shaw says the electorate does not understand the Greens’ relationship with Labour.
He says a vote for the Greens is a vote for Labour, for Jacinda Ardern and the best way of ensuring Labour retains a progressive face.
Nevertheless, the Greens have to deal with the fact that Labour has climbed over the top of most of their signature policies.
It's clear he's also not impressed with the way Labour has changed the policies so that their water policy now complicates things by charging all water users whereas the Greens policy more specifically targets polluting farmers.
The Greens are proposing that the nitrate levy be set at $2 per kilogram of nitrate per hectare of farm, but farmers would pay no more than 5 per cent of their pre-tax profit.
For a 200 hectare farm that could mean a cost of between $20,000 and $40,000 a year.
It's estimated the levy would raise $136.5 million that would be reinvested to help farmers make their businesses more sustainable.
Shaw says farmers could avoid paying the charge by reducing their pollution.
The Greens proposal is tough, but it avoids the confusion that has crept into the Labour proposal because it may cover all types of farming.
The Greens would also charge for bottled water but not for other water uses.
And Labour and the Greens are converging on climate change with Labour’s agreement to have zero net carbon emissions by 2050 which Shaw had previously said was a bottom line for the Greens.
"In the first 100 days (of Government), the first thing I would do would be pass a Zero Carbon Act that would make it legally binding that New Zealand would be net zero carbon economy by 2050," he told TV3’s “The Nation” last month.
He said Labour's decision to agree to this was "big" even thouigh it more or less took away the ground under much of the Greens' signature Climate Change policy.
Shaw says the Greens have got over the turmoil surrounding the resignation of Metiria Turei and Kennedy Graham and David Clendon.
“It has all faded,” he told POLITIK.
And possibly in a way it has; except that it triggered Jacinda Ardern’s taking over the Labour leadership and now what appears to be a calculated attempt by Labour to diminish the Greens.