|Marama Davidson with Labour MP's Kelvin Davis and Grant Robertson|
After supporting the Labour-led Government's decision not to introduce a Capital Gains Tax and not increase benefit levels, this week the Green's suddenly declared their strong support for both. What is prompting the Green Party to stir from its centrIst slumber is self preservation. The polls show that the Green's are in danger of being kicked out of Parliament in September.
IT MUST BE AN election year because the Green Party are now insisting they support the introduction of a Capital Gains Tax. (CGT). Green MP Golriz Ghahraman, who has previously had little to say about the housing crisis, has suddenly tweeted: 'Leaving a fundamental human right like housing to the whim of the free market is what created our cruel housing crisis. It’s time for a fair tax system and safe affordable homes for everyone in Aotearoa.'
She seems to have been prompted to tweet her support for a CGT because the Helen Clark Foundation, the ex-Prime Minister's think tank, has released a report in favour of the tax. However since Jacinda Ardern has already ruled out a CGT as long as she remains Prime Minister, Ghahraman and the Green's are simply blowing smoke.
It must also be an election year because the Green Party are calling for an increase in core welfare benefits. The party has tweeted: 'Let's increase #benefits to better support those in #poverty.'
But the Green's failed to express any concern for those living in poverty when, last May, the Labour-led government rejected all but three of its own welfare working group's over forty recommendations. That included increasing core benefit levels immediately. The Green Party had the opportunity to make a stand then when it counted and it didn't.
Of course what is prompting the Green Party to stir from its slumbers now is self-preservation. Throughout the entire first term of this government the Green's have polled at little more than five percent. Its probably not a coincidence that the Greens's chose to speak out in favour of a CGT and an increase in benefit levels in the same week a TVNZ-Colmar Brunton poll showed the Green's languishing right on the five percent party vote threshold. Given they are consistently polling at such low numbers the margin of statistical error becomes ever more significant.
It shouldn't be this way. With climate change being at the forefront of many New Zealanders' minds, the Green's should have been able to translate that concern into electoral support. There was 170,000 people demonstrating up and down the country in December, demanding more urgent action on the climate crisis. But It seems only a few of that same 170,000 think that the Green's have the answers they are seeking.
|New Zealand needs its own Green New Deal.|
The mood for real change is there but the Green's have ignored it. We’re in a time when we need transformational politics from a climate perspective and from an economic and social perspective but the Green Party has chosen to maintain its cautiously centrist approach. That 'centrism' means continued support for the neoliberal policies of the present government.
When the 2018 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has starkly warned us that we had no more than twelve years to effectively tackle climate change before its too late, the Green's continue to act as if its not a full blown crisis but merely a blip on the horizon that can be sorted with the appropriate mix of market-friendly polices. The absurdity, rather more cruel than humourous, is that the Green Party thinks that the very economic system that is eating up the planet can also be employed to provide the remedy.
Is it little wonder that the Green's have failed to gain any traction with an electorate where some 700,000 no longer vote because they think (correctly) the system has continually failed to represent their interests? How much different would it be now for the Green's If it had grasped the mood for change and proposed a Green New Deal for New Zealand and the tipping over of the neoliberal model? Instead they have been little more than defenders of the economic and political status quo. The Green's obvious and cynical attempt to try and differentiate themselves from the neoliberal Labour-led government - after comprehensively falling to oppose it for the past three years- is likely to convince no one but hardcore Green supporters.