On Why The Greens REALLY Tore Into NZ First Over The Weekend

By   /   July 11, 2017  /   17 Comments

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I’ve taken awhile off commenting on a .. certain area of New Zealand Politics for personal reasons; but looking at my newsfeed for the past 24 hours, it’s pretty clear a number of things need to be said about the Green Party’s recent comments on New Zealand First.

I’ve taken awhile off commenting on a .. certain area of New Zealand Politics for personal reasons; but looking at my newsfeed for the past 24 hours, it’s pretty clear a number of things need to be said about the Green Party’s recent comments on New Zealand First.

The first thing I’d like to acknowledge is that yup, some NZ First MPs and personnel have said some pretty stupid things in years past. I hardly need to re-run the particular incidences. No shortage of other people with particular agendas have already done so for me over the day.

But contrary to what some ultra-liberal folk would have you believe, it’s possible to have a conversation around immigration policy which focuses on what’s best for the country – whether environmentally or economically [and ideally both] – that *isn’t* basically just a Trojan Horse covering for some sort of racist dog-whistle.

Personally, I think James Shaw did a pretty good job of that last year when he broached the subject of putting the Green Party’s population policy [something that’s been in their manifesto-equivalent now for more than a decade, I believe] into practice with regard to immigration. [this makes a certain amount of sense – as unless you go down the whole Chinese One Child Policy route, the only actual hands-on control a government can exercise over population increase is through migration rates. Although obviously changing cultural priorities around reproduction and altering availability of both contraception and abortion can also have an impact]

But evidently, a sufficient number of Green Party folk disagreed with that assessment to mandate a somewhat embarrassing climb-down on that issue earlier this month. Embarrassing, I suggest, because the implication we got from Shaw’s repudiation statement was that basing policy on “data and numbers” rather than the optics of a situation was seen as being problematic – and if not actually racist itself, then at least pandering to same. It is arguably a worrying thing when “facts” wind up being deemed inconvenient and objectionable when it comes to policy-making.

As it happens, despite the much-vaunted walking-back of Shaw’s previous policy-statements, as far as I can tell the Green Party’s policy-document still makes reference to the exact same idea which some Greens activists [and others] decided had to be opposed at all costs. The only thing that appears to have changed is a removal of actual ‘hard targets’ from the policy in favour of a much more nebulous [the jargon would no doubt be ‘values-based’] approach.

I would therefore surmise that if the Green Party have a problem with New Zealand First on immigration, then they are being somewhat disingenuous if they refer to it as being a policy-issue rather than a rhetoric issue.

And further, that if they are going to take serious issue with potential coalition partners on grounds of racist or otherwise problematic rhetoric, then they should probably also take a long hard look at their preferred partners the Labour Party.

After all, let us remember that when New Zealand First was pushing for a register of foreign property-ownership in order to truly assess just what was being bought up and by whom to determine the scale of our problem – the Labour Party were bandying about a list of “Chinese-sounding surnames” acquired through dubious means in pursuit of churlish headlines.

It might, I suppose, be argued that New Zealand First has a longer and more problematic history of objectionable communications in this area than does Labour. And there is perhaps a certain amount of truth in that. Not least because when we think of the words “Labour” and “Abhorrent Statement About Chinese Immigration”, we are probably far more likely to recall that time Shane Jones decided to defend Bill Liu being granted citizenship against reams of official advice and strong concern from Interpol.

But to my mind, it is some of Turei’s other remarks that are most instructive when it comes to addeucing what the Greens are attempting to do here.

For you see, upon closer inspection this whole thing is not actually about racist rhetoric on the campaign trail. Even though I have no doubt that many Greens folk feel legitimately dismayed about the thought of “enabling” Winston Peters in government because they think that’s what they are thus implicitly supporting.

Rather, it is the Greens turning NZ First’s standard election positioning strategy on NZ First. With instead of NZ First’s customary signalling-lines about how the Greens or whomever are “dividing” New Zealand racially with extremist policies that can only be moderated or curtailed in a future government via a strong NZ First … well, the Greens are saying the exact mirror-image of this. Namely, that New Zealand First are allegedly practising, in Turei’s words “racist, divisive politics“, thus requiring New Zealanders to “strengthen [The Greens’] arm in the next government so they don’t have that type of influence“.

Like I said: the exact mirror-image of what Winston customarily says about them. With additional points for Turei’s subsequent line about “moderating [NZ First’s] worst excesses” if compelled into a governing arrangement with NZ First – as this is literally what NZ First supporters say when speaking in putative favour of a National-NZ First coalition. [I once referred to this as “buying yourself some electoral insurance”]

Will this work out successfully for them? I don’t think it especially likely. Anyone who was going to be (positively) motivated by such rhetoric is probably already voting for the Greens [or alternatively, has a radically different set of personal priorities, and is doing something weird like voting for ACT because they somehow think the destructive hand of the untrammelled market isn’t racially discriminatory or something].

And for the many, MANY hundreds of thousands of voters who actually rate immigration as an important issue, well they’re hardly likely to feel inspired to support the Greens as a result of this, now, are they.

Indeed, one prospective consequence is the exact opposite of what was hoped for by the Greens – New Zealand First picking up additional votes [and therefore a greater chance of being the dominant influence in a post-2017 Government].

Another rather more certain outcome, sadly, will be the National Party continuing to look strong, stable and ‘safe’ in comparison to the prospective nont-National-led three-way Government.

Not least because it’s rather plainly apparent to anybody who can count that the only way Labour and the Greens make it over the magic 61 seat threshold is with New Zealand First’s rather considerable help.

Perhaps, then, the Green Party have made a rational calculation about a Labour/Greens/NZF Government after the Election being rather unlikely [for whatever reason – there are several important prospective causations for why this might eventuate] and are instead attempting to play ‘the long game’ by continuing to build their own support [at the expense of several other parties] in order to have a stronger voice in some as-yet unconceived future Government in 2020, 2023 etc.

In any case – social media bubbles are not terribly reflective of the actual mood out there in the Electorate, but the strong majority of people who actually bother/care about such things as election-year political party spats do not necessarily appear to be on-side with the Greens about this one.

It will be interesting to see what effect this might have in the medium-long term.

Although I am taking some solace from the pointed refusal by either The Greens or New Zealand First to rule out working with the other party in Government after this year’s General Election.

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17 Comments

  1. CLEANGREEN says:

    NZ wll cease to exsist as we know it if Nactional get returned, so greens will bear the responsibility of destroying NZ when they were at the gates of change and failed to act responsibly for what’s in the best interests of all NZ voters.

    Green Party should remember they are simply “Public servants” paid by us the taxpayer to work for our best interests.

    Just remember this Green Party as if you fail and let nactional back into government you will pay the price of dis-content for years after and will be relegated to a very minor party in future also.

    Either join the strategic game to remove this evil administration while you can using all three opposition parties and when in coalition sort your differences there or be damned in history.

    • savenz says:

      Very wise words CleanGreen for the Greens.

      “Either join the strategic game to remove this evil administration while you can using all three opposition parties and when in coalition sort your differences there or be damned in history.”

    • Strypey says:

      The Greens have publicly stated they will not help National get back into government. What about NZ First? So far, as usual, they play the opposition game, but will not rule out helping National get another term.

      If National get returned, so NZ First will bear the responsibility of destroying NZ when they were at the gates of change and failed to act responsibly for what’s in the best interests of all NZ voters.

  2. Cemetery Jones says:

    “But contrary to what some ultra-liberal folk would have you believe, it’s possible to have a conversation around immigration policy which focuses on what’s best for the country – whether environmentally or economically [and ideally both] – that *isn’t* basically just a Trojan Horse covering for some sort of racist dog-whistle.”

    Yeah, that’s a depressingly hard conversation to have with some people.

    “Personally, I think James Shaw did a pretty good job of that last year when he broached the subject of putting the Green Party’s population policy [something that’s been in their manifesto-equivalent now for more than a decade, I believe] into practice with regard to immigration.”

    Unfortunately Shaw just did the Al-Qaeda captive confession video the other week on how he should have put muh feels ahead of data, promising never to be so rational again. He was widely congratulated for this cuckoldry, which is all the more worrying.

  3. Pete says:

    The Greens, and any other party for that matter, can play subtle games and make nuanced announcements about whatever they like. The reality though is that the electorate is simple and all they want, all they want to hear is simple stuff like there are going to be tax cuts or a million houses are going to be built.

    No matter that what they hear is bullshit or has no chance of achieving anything. (Affordable house in Auckland anyone?) A few people in forums like this know and care and read stuff and put it into context. It may help them make up their minds about who to vote for.

    The great unwashed though don’t know and don’t care. Those simple souls will join such as the throng who think Mike Hosking is God, Judith Collins is Godsent and don’t think Gerry Brownlee is a useless slob to see the status quo more firmly entrenched after September.

    • savenz says:

      @Pete it’s this type of simplistic thinking that has got the opposition where it is and why many voters think that politicians are completely out of touch.

      Personally think most voters have more brains at this point that the politicians. Voters are not voting because piece meal bribes that ignore major issues rom both National and the opposition are not working.

      Voters want a fair, inspiring and united offering from politicians for the future.

      Immigration and environment will be big issues this election so the recent spats where future coalition politicians can’t agree on, are a danger to a change of government.

      Policy doesn’t need to be overt but they do need to have a quiet solution. The quiet 1% Green solution for population growth was a pragmatic solution. Braying about racism is divisive. And many NZ migrants don’t agree with National’s immigration policy either.

      Last election Metiria spat the dummy blaming voters for the high house prices and said she hoped prices would fall 40%. Did not endear herself to voters who thought differently and it was due to excessive migration. Now we have more divisive comments that are likely to lose the Greens votes.

      Was on Linkedin and Indian professional’s were publicly saying that most of the student visas are just a scam. The students are here to get residency not study. Clearly it is not sustainable for current migrants as well as kiwis born here to have thousands of cheap graduates with questionable qualifications and poor English flooding the job market in a country that has few high paid jobs, is already a low wage economy and has an ideology of zero hour contracts and poor working conditions.

      Likewise having overseas companies and individuals coming in and being able to speculate on property and assets here.

      Most people agree there is too much immigration. The exceptions are the property speculators, The National party, ACT, big business that wants cheaper labour, fake universities and now sorta, kinda, the Green Party! Whose the odd ones out in that line up???

      Worse divisive comments give National cover to ‘hide’ the disaster that they have left the country in as the MSM lap up any distraction to keep their masters in power.

  4. WILD KATIPO says:

    I suspect that many among the Green party machine support identity politics under the guise of ‘values’ and ‘ human rights’ as a way of retaining their popular support and thus also giving the appearance of being ‘principled ‘ and having ‘ values’…… without the Blairite third way neo liberalism…

    And yet , almost by default , … falling into that trap.

    The facts are the facts : Immigration numbers are OUT OF CONTROL in this country , – and have been allowed to get that way by a cynical National govt as a means to put downwards pressure on wages , weaken Trade Unionism, keep the housing bubble going longer and pave the way for more privatization by DELIBERATELY underfunding our essential social services.

    I’m loathe to criticize the Greens too harshly because we DESPERATELY need the Greens voice in effective govt because National have wrecked our waterways , sold off our natural resources to foreign interests , – and even gone so far as to suggest to the public its OK if foreign and local corporate’s mine our national parks.

    That’s the sort of thing we can expect from National . Their name is a type of oxymoron. They certainly are not the party of ‘ nationalism ‘ and putting the best interests of New Zealanders first – they are the EXACT opposite.

    And this is why we need the Greens. Not because they wish to revert NZ back to a state of feudal backwardness in some kind of Utopian Luddite paradise, – but because traditionally they have that mandate to be the guardians and watchdogs of the very same environment in which we live and work and extract a living from. They have many very intelligent people among them , – pragmatic science based initiatives in alternative energy systems for example and ways to conduct business without punishing the environment.

    But we also need to consider pragmatism in other areas too , – and immigration is one of those areas. And that is the ‘ human environment’. It is obvious we can no longer keep on going with sustaining these out of control immigration numbers and Nationals destructive policy’s and their reasons for doing so.

    It is NOT racist to pragmatically call time and look at regulating a situation that has become debilitating to New Zealand citizens – it is just common good sense.

    It is NOT racism to protect our local economy and the well being of our citizens to protect their standards of living , wages and ability for their children to confidently plan for the future like other developed country’s do.

    Such as a young family starting out with small children being able to afford a first home and provide a safe , secure environment for those children. And living in a car or a van IS NOT a safe , secure environment. Or an elderly person who may not have been able to stash away sufficient cash to live in a warm , stable home. Or someone with chronic illness who not only needs a functioning home but access to adequate medical care as well.

    NONE of the above are RACIST.

    WHAT IS RACIST , … is a National govt that calls NZ workers ‘ lazy and drug addled with poor work ethics ‘ in some sort of lame excuse to import even more cheap low skilled foreign workers to pander to the business sector that provides them with party donations and business opportunity’s.

    If anyone really gave a damn about ‘ racism ‘ , – they would ask themselves ; WHY we have such a low quota of refugees in this country when literally MILLIONS are being displaced by war while tycoons and those with wealth find this country such a ridiculously easy country to get into with even more ridiculously rich pickings to exploit.

    Rich pickings that belong TO US !

    We may not be able to call that racism ,- but we can certainly call it by another name …’ WEALTH – ISM ‘ .

    ‘ Wealth – ism ‘ under National. And to do it they exploit people from foreign lands both for their cash and the cheap labor they can provide , -as well as exploiting the environment to do it. The same sort of mentality that the American South once did.

    AND THAT IS RACISM.

  5. Tim O'Shea says:

    “New Zealand First practises a divisive form of politics that sets New Zealanders against each other.”

    Now I can’t say that I have read Metiria’s full statement, so I need to ask did she actually refer to imigration, Curwen?

    My take on her comment was that it was more focused on Winston’s attitude towards Maori, te tiriti and Maori seats etc.

    I note that Winston actually chose to make reference to what he saw as Geeens supporting Maori separatism in his response, so it would appear that he too saw Metiria’s dig as pertinent to his history of dog whistling to the ‘Maori bashers’.

    I attended the Hobson Pledge redneck meeting in Pukekohe on Sunday. At that meeting, Don Brash complimented Winston’s contentious speech at Orewa in 2016, and pretty much endorsed NZ First, although he teased the old white audience with a promise to announce any official endorsement later.

    Now I wonder why this racist organisation feels so at home with NZ First?

    This article from the Spinoff catalogues just a few of Winston and NZF’s ‘racist’ bloopers…the funny thing about people who make blatantly racist comments is that they always deny being racists!

    https://thespinoff.co.nz/politics/11-07-2017/revealed-winston-peters-has-never-had-a-racist-approach-to-anything/

  6. Afewknowthetruth says:

    Since the Greens advocate continued squandering of fossil fuels (and the meltdown of the planet that naturally ensues) and promote the continued manipulation of society by central banks (creating money out of thin air and charging interest on it) perhaps they could start to be honest for a change and rename the party the Black Party or the Business As Usual Party.

    One thing is absolutely certain: the ‘Greens’ have zero credibility.

    • Strypey says:

      Exactly what policy would you have the Greens adopt to solve either of these problems, or any other?

      “the Greens advocate continued squandering of fossil fuels”

      Please supply a link to the public statements or policy documents where the Greens advocate this. Transition off fossil fuel dependence cannot and will not happen overnight. All the Greens (or any political party) can do is try to sketch out a realistic transition, and propose policy that government could adopt to support that transition.

      “promote the continued manipulation of society by central banks (creating money out of thin air and charging interest on it)”

      Again, you seem to think Parliament has power that it doesn’t. Fractional reserve banking is a complex global system that has evolved over hundreds of years. It can’t just be abolished by legislation passed in one small country. I agree that monetary reform is needed (and with it major banking reform), but what do you actually propose? What would you have the government do if you were PM?

  7. countryboy says:

    Can I ask ?
    In the photograph that appeared here some time ago, of peters sitting with don brash at what looked like a street side cafe ? What were they talking about? Does that third person who was there know? Who was that third person? Is that third person able to come forward? Were they sitting outside because peters is a smoker? Did brash acquiesce to peters because of that? If so, does that mean peters is regarded as important enough to have brash follow him outside? If so, what, about peters is so important that he was able to lead the one time governor of the reserve bank out onto the foot path so as perhaps peters could light up?? Two easily recognizable fuckers from supposedly polarized opposite ends of the political spectrum chatting away … spending your money on coffee and cup cakes?
    @ C A R .Your adoration of someone whom I believe is a dumpy narcissistic muldoon-esque crook is misplaced. Or are you being duplicitous in some way?

    My personal view of NZ FIrst ( Little bit of sick ) is that of a parasite. Wriggling it’s way into the open minds of those few who try to figure out what it is exactly that’s going on within NZ’s politics and its economy because frankly there are more things that don’t make sense than do.

  8. Observer Tokoroa says:

    I am not very bright. But I am just smart enough to know that electing a Government should be a simple first past the post Eventl

    Act, United Solo, Maori, Hone, Morgan Millionaire, NZ First Winston, Greens, Labour and National Wealth – are just too many balls to juggle.

    In fact, and I don’t wish to be unkind, but there are enough loose canons in that lot to bring a whole amada down. You know that yourself.

    Even this close to an election these assorted parties don’t what they stand for. Except for the two major parties whom always know what they want to deliver.

    National is there for the sole purpose of making individual wealthy people more wealthy and more ruthless and more cruel.

    Labour is there to give all people Opportunity, Good Income, and a High standard of Living and Education.

    You vote for the Party that best meets your needs. And you deny the Party that has made you struggle.

    Forget the loose canons.

  9. Priss says:

    Until Peters declares his coalition intentions BEFORE the election I don’t trust him one iota. End of.

    • Peters will not declare his intentions, because he doesn’t know which way he will go himself.

      But I predict he will want to be PM, and he may well be able to achieve that.
      He is doing well in the provinces, that I do know, so he may well get up and over the 15% mark in the election and he will have a very strong bargaining hand in any negotiating.

      Which party will he go with ?
      It will be with which ever is prepared to bow to his demands.

  10. Petercvs says:

    Winston has always gone with the party with the most votes. In this election it will be National. Winston would not want to be in a minority Government and he will never work with the Greens.
    A vote for Winston is a vote for a fourth term National Government.