Mt Albert by-election good opportunity for the Greens


The Mt Albert by-election is a good opportunity for the Greens to get their message out. It will essentially be a two-horse race between two capable candidates, the Greens Julie Ann Genter and Labour’s Jacinda Adern. Whoever wins, both will still be in Parliament, as both are now sitting party list MPs.

Genter is parliament’s most able public transport campaigner and the Green answers to Auckland’s traffic gridlock will surely be central to her campaign.

On several issues, like the Auckland housing crisis, the Labour and Green candidates will have considerable common ground. For example, both candidates will be pushing for more government investment in social housing. The by-election is a golden opportunity to give the public an idea of the political shape of a Labour/Green government, the substantial agreement between the two parties, as well as the differences. For example, on housing the Greens want to go further than Labour and impose a capital gains tax on investment properties. This would help control house prices. The Greens also have strong policies for renters, including a warrant of fitness for rental properties, security of tenure and a programme to insulate an additional 200,000 new homes.

The compatibility of Labour and Green policies will be on show at 2pm on Sunday, 29 January in the Mt Albert War Memorial Hall when the two parties hold a joint State of the Nation event. Metiria Turei and Andrew Little will address the challenges facing New Zealand and “present a vision of the stable, responsible alternative the parties will offer New Zealand.”

The joint meeting will perfectly complement the separate campaigns of the two parties in the Mt Albert by-election. It nicely illustrates the two sides of the Memorandum of Understanding signed by Labour and the Greens last May. The MOU was between “two separate parties”, able to run their own campaigns, but who would “articulate [their] differences in a respectful and collegial manner”. This was in a context where “many of our policies are compatible” and the two parties would be “working cooperatively” to achieve a “progressive alternative government”.

In the Mt Roskill by-election the Greens didn’t put up a candidate, because there was a perception that it could be a close contest between the National and Labour candidates, and the Greens didn’t want to hinder Labour’s chances. In Mt Albert, with National not bothering to show up, that consideration did not apply. Only the Labour and Green candidates have a chance of winning.

Oddly, my fellow left-wing blogger Martyn Bradbury is upset the Greens are putting up a candidate, and thinks the worst outcome would be for Julie Ann Genter to win. He says that “if she [Julie Ann] actually beat Jacinda it would destroy Jacinda’s political reputation and the Greens inherit a furious Labour Party who will do everything to shaft them using NZ First come the Government formation. Even if the Greens do well or win, they cause more damage than just running and losing badly. Mt Albert should have been left for Jacinda while the Greens cut a deal elsewhere.”

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The people left out in such “deal-making” are the voters. Surely what should come first is the democratic right of Mt Albert residents to have a choice, and to elect a Green if they want to.

I think Martyn also does a disservice to Labour in portraying the party as vindictive if it didn’t do well in a democratic contest. All the evidence so far is that Labour figures, from Andrew Little down, are relaxed about the Greens running in Mt Albert.

The decision to run a Green candidate was made through the party’s normal democratic processes, with members like myself advocating for it. To portray it as the brainchild of some staffer in Wellington, as Martyn does, shows a lack of understanding of the internal workings of the Green Party. A decision in favour was expected, given Mt Albert is one of the Greens’ best electorates. They polled 21.7% of the party vote there in the 2014 general election. Labour polled 29.31%.

Martyn also makes a big mistake when he argues that the Labour/Green MOU was
rushed through “the week before the [June 2016] Green Party Conference to stop a drive from factions within the Greens to push for a neutral position entering the [2017] election.” Anyone attending Green branch meetings, the two February 2016 Green Policy Conferences or the June National Conference could tell you that virtually no-one in the Greens has been pushing for a “neutral” stance between Labour and National in 2017. This is nothing new. In the party’s male co-leadership election the previous year (2014) only one of the four candidates, Vernon Tava, was campaigning for a neutral stance. He got one delegate vote out of the 127 delegate votes caste.


  1. i think the two unanswered questions in mt albert are where will the national party voters place their vote..?

    will they decide to give labour a good seeing to by tactically voting for genter..?

    (i see that as being a distinct possibility..and if they do..genter could well win..)

    the other question is how much support will gareth morgan muster with his party..?

    ‘cos he has some policies tories will like..some labour voters will like..and some greens will like..

    he is the wild card in this contest..

    and if serious about his party/stated political ambitions – he would be crazy not to stand – as he will have a platform to expound on his bed those ideas in before the general election..

    and he wouldn’t even need to get too high a vote to be then considered as a serious player in the general election.

    it’s a no-brainer for him..really..

  2. Thanks Keith a good piece which covers some of the absolutely democratic processes that the Greens go through.

    Jacinda attended Tony Blair’s talk at Eden Park. Anyone who did this is a write off in my books.

  3. This is a really effective analysis and appears really well informed of the nuances between the Greens and Labour.

  4. Labour is a sinking duck. Greens harbour neoliberal tendencies. Only party with decent policies that don’t follow failed ideology is New Zealand First.

    I was Labour voter but don’t like their hatched marriage to Green Party.

    • chrs for the out loud laugh at the end of yr second line..

      and there was me thinking that nativism was/is a ‘failed ideology’..silly me..!

      (and i do like yr ‘sinking duck’ metaphor – as an example of a metaphor – haven’t heard that one used before..and am struggling with the imagery..)

    • New Zealand first are full of conservatives and centrists and wouldn’t know a left-wing idea if it hit them on the head. The Greens are willing to work with neoliberals like Labour and National where they have to, but have deep critiques of the ideology.

  5. […] KEITH LOCKE has mounted a robust defence of the Greens’ decision to field a candidate in the Mt Al…. His argument divides neatly into three parts. His first contention is that, by standing, Julie Anne Genter will be able to demonstrate practically the merits of the Labour-Green Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). His second is that a rogue result in Mt Albert would not significantly alter the relationship between Labour and the Greens. And his third contention is that The Daily Blog Editor’s misgivings concerning Mt Albert arise out of a profound misunderstanding of the way the Green Party works. […]

  6. Low turnout might work for the Socialist candidate for Owairaka Joe Carolan ..Mt Roskill turnout was only 22%.

  7. The only people the Greens are getting their message out to are people who already vote the Greens. I also think it’s a sick joke that the Greens enjoy the support of large numbers of cannabis users, yet have no policy to legalise this herb for personal use. Also the Greens watch as cannabis users are abused by the NZ legal system and say nothing! It’s disgusting and I hope said cannabis users wise up and stop voting for this feckless party, rather they should vote for The Cannabis Party.

    I know the Daily Blog has many readers who support the Greens, but the truth is the truth. I understand cannabis many not be a concern for many Green voters, however politicians are elected to represent their constituents/voters issues and cannabis is a big one!

    • Zack, it might pay to do your research before making such claims. The Greens have had a policy favouring decriminalization and “grow your own” since they left the Alliance, which is why Nandor and Metiria left the Cannabis Party to run for the Greens. This policy was recently strengthened:

      The Cannabis Party do some valuable work in researching, developing, and promoting policy on cannabis issues, but to actually pass laws legalising the herb we need to convince the major parties to support them. Voting for a protest party is your right, but can not and will not achieve law change by itself.

  8. Keith neglects to mention that Gareth Hughes MP, who argued most strongly for union with Labour in the Greens’ male co-leadership contest, also received only one vote out of 127. The delegates (entirely reasonably) understood that it was a two-horse race between Shaw and Hague and voted accordingly. Divining a political positioning of the party as a whole from a delegate vote for a co-leader is a long bow to draw. My position that the Greens should be a part of every government and should be open to negotiating with whichever other party won a majority of the popular vote – including National, as has historically been the case in majority of elections – was supported by many members. It is at least disingenuous to argue that this view has no currency within the Greens.

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