Would the Green's welfare policies survive negotiation with the Labour Party? Probably not.

WHILE THE Green Party is far from recognising that our present economic system needs major surgery rather than some minor adjustment, the just announced welfare policy does at least acknowledge that the so-called "neoliberal consensus" of the past three decades has thrown an increasing number of New Zealanders under the bus while, at the same time, lining the pockets of those at the top of the capitalist pyramid.

While those of us who embrace ecosocialism would like to live in a society where we could throw out the welfare net rather than having to continually mend it, you would have to be wildly sectarian not to support a set of welfare policies that would materially enhance the lives of many and go some way to eliminating the punitive culture often prevalent in the offices of Work and Income.

As Auckland Action Against Poverty have commented:

"The 20% increase in main benefits is a positive step towards providing a liveable income.

“Ending benefit sanctions including taking $28 per child per week from sole mothers who have not named the child’s father is a step towards changing the toxic culture of Work and Income. We look forward to more."

While The Commentariat has delighted in playing up Metiria Turei's confession of 'welfare fraud', it has also been all too ready to label the Green's welfare policy as 'extremist" which would be a burden on decent, hardworking New Zealanders - mirroring the comments of finance minister Steven Joyce.

But this has only served to highlight how reactionary New Zealand mainstream politics has become and whose interests that conservatism has served.

I imagine the corporate media would be hysterical if the Green's were campaigning for the introduction of an universal basic income and a four day week - like the U.K. Greens. And no doubt Duncan Garner and Mike Hosking would be frothing at the mouth if the Green's announced they were now an ecosocialist party - as the U.S. Greens have done.

And before we lose all sense of perspective, we need to remind ourselves that there is a particularly big fly in the Green's welfare ointment - and that's the Labour Party.

A Labour Party that was serious interested in discarding the neoliberal baggage it has been carrying around for the past thirty years would be more than willing to step up to the plate and wholeheartedly endorse the Green's welfare platform.

In purely mercenary terms - votes - it would make sense. Suddenly Labour would look like it did have the resemblance of a beating heart and wasn't actually the dried-up neoliberal fossil we have all come to loathe.

There's fat chance of this happening though. Even when its rating at a disastrous 26 percent in the polls , the best Labour can come up with is a promise to take a look at some of the "parts" of the Green's welfare platform. That will probably mean it won't go beyond the title page and the introduction.

While Metiria Turei might say the Green's will negotiate with Labour once they are in government, most of us will have no confidence that the Green's welfare policies will remain unscathed by such negotiations. We have more than good reason to believe that Labour will pour cold water on any idea that all main benefits should increase 20 percent, especially since the Green's have also signed up to some fiscally conservative 'budgetary responsibility rules' that would see social spending severely curtailed.


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