Green Party co-leader James Shaw could have used his 'State of the Planet' speech to launch a campaign for a Green New Deal. Instead, he delivered up an environmental and economic agenda that will, again, rely on technocratic tinkering and laissez-faire market forces. 

IT WAS not an unsurprising speech from Green Party co-leader James Shaw but it was still disheartening. We continue to sleepwalk to climate catastrophe but Shaw's speech displayed a self-interested myopia that could only see as far as the general election in October. This is the realpolitik of a Green Party that has, under the leadership of James Shaw and Marama Davidson, been reduced to being little more than Labour's faithful companion. When Labour has told the Green's to jump, its only concern has been to jump high enough.

Nevertheless we're still expected to believe that, by November, a new uncompromising Green Party will have suddenly emerged, ready to tackle a third term Labour Government head on. This is little more than an attempt to hold on its core constituency who, after six years of political inertia from the Green Party, may well feeling a little disillusioned with the party that James and Marama have built.

But it is simply not credible that the parliamentary Green Party, with a leadership deeply ensconced in the machinery of government, will suddenly rebel against the status quo. That's about as believable as claiming that Marama Davidson has done a good job tackling the issues of homelessness and domestic violence. That's about believable as claiming that the Green Party membership are one hundred percent behind James Shaw.

The Green Party would have been more convincing if it had used its State of the Planet speech, and the media attention it received, to launch a campaign for a Green New Deal for New Zealand. That would have certainly ruffled a few feathers among the political establishment.

Imagine the Green Party calling for a reboot of the New Zealand economy, an unprecedented investment in green infrastructure combined with new social programs to address inequality, and an audacious industrial policy to accelerate a transition to carbon-neutral energy. 

The Green New Deal (GND) is unabashedly progressive and it runs counter to the neoliberal doctrine that has ruled the country for nearly four decades. But the fact that the  GND stands opposed to the neoliberal status quo is the very reason that neither Shaw or Davidson will support it. James Shaw sketched an economic agenda that, once again, relies on technocratic tinkering and laissez-faire market forces. It is an agenda that Labour agrees with.

But it is simply not good enough and betrays us all, especially young people who will be denied a viable future if we continue down our present path. According to Shaw, what is slowing us down is the lack of Green ministers around the cabinet table. What is really slowing us down though are politicians like James Shaw and Marama Davidson peddling the same failed market-led 'solutions'.

As Greta Thunberg says, if the system has failed then maybe it is time to change the system. The Green New Deal is a framework for tackling our climate crisis and building a better world.


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