Armstrong should know better

Many thanks to John Armstrong for a bit of coverage in today’s Herald, but really he should know better than to say we have changed our tune. John says:

Having slammed the door shut to working with National a mere three months ago, the Greens now want to reopen it.

The Greens’ co-leader’s language in the “state of the planet” address – an annual fixture on the Greens’ calendar – was pretty direct. He committed the Greens to working with National where the two parties could find common ground and challenged Key to work across all political divides, sharing knowledge, ideas and purpose so the country could ride out the economic storm.

Clearly John, you have missed that this is exactly what we have been saying since long before the election, during the election and afterwards. While the ETS was being negotiated, the Greens and National had a verbal agreement to meet up and discuss the issues and common ground. When a letter was sent to firm up the dialogue, National’s response languished (presumably while it went to Australia for approval) and then came back weeks later stripped of any substance.

On October 20th, 2008 the Green Party release said:

Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says: “However our analysis showed us that on the whole National would take New Zealand in the wrong direction, in fact, many policies headed off down a dead end street. This means that we can not form a Government with National, or support them on confidence and supply, although we could work with them in areas where we have common ground.

“Depending on the outcome of the election, the Greens would prefer to work with Labour to form a Government, as their policies are more closely aligned with our own. But, no matter who forms the Government we will look for areas of common ground where we can work together.

On election night, Jeanette reiterated these statements, offering to work with John Key on areas of common ground when it became clear that National would be forming the government.

So what happened Mr Armstrong? Have you not been listening to what the Green leadership has been saying throughout the year? If, as a prominent member of the main stream media, you do not understand our position,  what chance has Joe Public got?

Shall I put the Green perspective into the vernacular? We were not willing to get into bed with National, but we were always up for dinner. We even made the first move.

We’re still waiting for you, Mr Key, to respond to our list of potentially common issues that we sent you back in June ’08. Care to respond?

86 thoughts on “Armstrong should know better

  1. Simon Upton in the DomPost today echoed and supported Nandor’s earlier argument that the Green Party made a mistake by not having a stance more independent of Labour – and being willing to at least enter negotiations with National over forming a government.

    Who would have held it against the Green Party at the negotiation phase (if they had had the numbers and been invited of course, and negotiated in good faith) if they’d announced that National wasn’t offering any meaningful compromises on their declared policy positions and they (the GP) weren’t willing to abandon their principles. This is likely, in hindsight, to have still resulted in a National Govt but at least the GP would have been in a place to try to negotiate in favour of the policies that National may have had fewer difficulties with. It may, indeed, have minimised the “wrecking ball”approach that national has taken to very reasonable Green policies in it’s first few weeks.

    And who is to say that if the GP had taken a non-aligned stance that they may not, as Upton and Tanczos suggest, have done significantly better in the election and had the numbers to attract serious attention (and the possibility of compromise) from John Key.

    Key has shown in his arrangement with the Maori Party an ability to relinquish some of the policies they’d declared in favour of in order to secure agreement on support. Is it so much better for the environment, or even social justice, to be sitting on the outside of the tent?

  2. John has a broken arm and can’t sign anything much. You seriously think that the Greens are ‘outside the tent’ though?
    Whilst these are good points Kiwinuke – the Green Party still attracted enough of a vote to be OK as a stand alone, or better, stand by our principles Party.
    I actually think that John Key has the makings of the best Leader National has found for a very long time indeed. Precisely for the reasons you mention, his background is in pragmatism, and he may well prove himself to be leading a truly consultative Government.
    In which case I would expect him to do a little more listening than some of his Political forbears.
    Any Kiwi with a memory is quite entitled to fall to their knees, cry “Dear God!!! It’s National again” and promptly get religion.
    Charming to think they might have developed potential through unpopularity – certainly when their approval rating visited 12% I wrote off recommending their disassembly – not totally well recieved, though I think the last election result a matter of the Labour vehichle ‘leaving the road’ and therefore your point about the GP being ,more Independant is underlined. Seeing the Maori party scuttling accross the floor in record time did nothing for their credibility.
    The possibilities remain intact – why not?

  3. The possibilities remain intact to some degree because John Key is more astute than most. As Armstrong says, he understands there are benefits for him in talking to the Greens.

    Another leader might well have been affronted by the Greens asking National to talk to them on things important to the Greens, while offering absolutely nothing in return (other than ideas about what to do, of which there are no shortage in Parliament)

    I’m not saying the Greens were wrong to say “we prefer a Labour government”. The problem, in my view, was in saying “and if we can’t get one, we won’t talk to National to see if any agreement is POSSIBLE with them”. Adding that we still want them to adopt our policies was never likely to lead to a result.

    My original article referred to by Upton and Armstrong is here in case you missed it.
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/waikatotimes/4816036a27182.html

    btw Mark, the credibility of the Maori party has been significantly enhanced as far as I can tell among the only people they need worry about – their constituency. It’s only from Labourites and some Greens that I’m hearing any critical comment.

  4. I think there’s a certain myopia which results in “work with” being seen exclusively in terms of government formation and confidence and supply rather than in terms of policy. The Greens are picky on the first (and rightly so, IMHO), but have always been willing to work with anyone, even ACT, on the latter where they can find common ground.

    Of course, its an open question whether there really is any common ground with a party which is systematically repealing even the baby steps so far implemented to fight climate change, and which wants to gut the RMA. But there is no harm in looking for it, and any improvement is better than none.

  5. Dunno – I’m one of those constituents; and if that’s all they’re worried about then they will get a polarised shrinkage; ie – what have they done to make our lives better? Anyway, you’re tryin to dangle this thread over controversial ground…..or if not; it darn tempting anyway.

  6. Rewrite history BB? I’m afraid that Nandor has it wrong if he believes that we were unwilling to talk to National before, during or after the election. it’s just not true and the co-leaders public statements bear it out. Unwilling to sign a confidence and supply agreement? True. Unwilling to talk? False.

  7. Frog

    Those are weasel words, you left the people of NZ in no doubt who you were keen to work with and who you were not keen to work with.

    Nandor is telling the truth and I find it despicable for you and other Greens to try and smear his character now he is gone.

  8. BB – I freely admit that our positioning was perhaps a bit too nuanced for your two colour brain. Nevertheless, despite expressing our preference, we still left the door open and did not shut it as Nandor has stated. As for Nandor’s character? Completely intact.

  9. >>that our positioning was perhaps a bit too nuanced

    It wasn’t really, though.

    “Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says: “However our analysis showed us that on the whole National would take New Zealand in the wrong direction, in fact, many policies headed off down a dead end street. This means that we can not form a Government with National, or support them on confidence and supply, although we could work with them in areas where we have common ground.”

    Dead end street. Wrong direction. Cannot form a government. No confidence and supply. Common ground? In other words, if National agree with us.

    Crystal clear, with a weasel word to finish it off. That’s not a negotiation, is it? Hardly nuanced.

    Treating the electorate as stupid is part of what keeps you beneath 10%….

  10. While I just love the comedy of big bro defending the character of a Green after assassinating so many in the past himself, I have to point out that in this case he is being driven by misplaced concern, as I can see no conflict between Frog’s post and Nandor’s. They are talking about different things. Frog is calling Armstrong out for misrepresenting the Greens stance towards National post election, which is just what we said it would be before the election. Nandor is talking about what he believes SHOULD have been the Greens stance towards National rather than what it turned out to be. So long as Nandor means by “agreement”, a confidence and supply arrangement, and I think he does, these are simply different topics, even if obviously related. I think Frog is wrong in missing this and thinking Nandor is saying we wouldn’t talk at all.

  11. Nandor, I agree with the thrust of your Waikato Times editorial and wish we’d have had more flexibility in talking to National. But I do not understand why you chose to be pejorative regarding the Greens positioning with Labour. Above you say it wasn’t wrong to state a preference for Labour. Surely its obvious that what we did re National was entirely born out of our concerns about National and not anything to do with Labour, who we’ve had a most stormy relationship with over the past nine years and do not see at all through rose coloured glasses. So why the distraction regarding “licking Labour’s hand”? You have a valid argument to make within the Party and that sort of comment only makes it harder for your argument to be taken seriously.

  12. >>licking Labour’s hand

    Valis, Nandor is right. You can’t spend years whining about Labour, only to vote with them anyway – on everything – and not be seen as a poodle.

    It’s strange those inside the Green organisation fail to see what is so obvious to those outside it.

  13. Frog, did you get out of bed on the wrong side yesterday? Regarding John Armstrong – he’s one of the most considered, informed, respected, reasonable journos in the Press Gallery. Hence if he didn’t get the message than I’d suggest that the message wasn’t communicated clearly in the first place.

    I concur that if he didn’t get it then Joe Public didn’t either. Whose responsibility is that? The Greens surely? Criticising John Armstrong doesn’t strike me as being particlulalry smart, constructive or congruent with Green values. It sounds more like “throwing toys out of the box”.

    Secondly, your tone struck me as rather arrogant and in my opinion that has been the tone of party for some time now. From the Greens communciations the messages I’ve been getting are “Labour or nothing”, and “we expect a response to our proposals and if you don’t give one within our timeframes than you’re bad, not us (even if you are the Prime Minister now and have a million other things on your plate)”. Maybe that’s not what the Greens intended to communicate but that’s the message I got loud and clear.

    John’s article struck me as reason for celebration. Maybe your message is being heard now. Great – it’s taken some time but at least people are getting it. Focus on the posituive why don’t you.

    Sorry Frog but your tone has totally got up my nose. I see the Green’s as representatives of environmental and societal issues, not representatives of the Greens or anti-Nat. Why can’t you work constructively to build bridges to the government without making sniping comments ala “sending them to Oz for approval”? I think you guys need to get over yourselves. You’re not the only show in town.

  14. BP, saying we voted with Labour on everything just shows you don’t have a clue. My question is for Nandor, who I believe will understand what I’m talking about.

  15. I really don’t think we had much choice, given the policies National wheeled out. Earlier in the Parliamentary term we though they may be moderate, but when policies like this one re the RMA:

    The definition of environment is too broad, which allows costly and time-consuming arguments over irrelevant issues. There are too many consent categories, and the vague references to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi are poorly understood and open to abuse.

    National will simplify the Act by limiting the definition of environment to natural and physical resources, and prohibiting objections with respect to trade competition.

    were wheeled out at the forefront of the Nats’ campaign, things got tricky.

    And that’s just one example. There is no way the Greens could support a Government that was determined to progress policies like this that moved in completely the opposite direction to Green policy. And these were so numerous that National would have had so many dead rats to swallow to reach an agreement many of us in the Greens realised this would be an impossibility.

    So it was really a matter of whether we should be honest with the electorate and say it was an impossibility, which we did; or publicly reveal our bottom lines for negotiations (which we knew National would never agree to), which would have just been plain stupid; or go through the dishonest campaigning pretence that we could come to an agreement with National when we knew we could not.

    The last of those options may have got us more votes and more MPs than we ultimately received, but it would have compromised our integrity as a party that tells the truth about our policies and positioning even though the truth may be electorally unpalatable.

  16. Toad, I think the issues raised in your post are exactly why the Greens *should* be part of the government or at least have some kind of working agreement with the Nats. As I and others have said numerous times before it is a shame that the Greens have been hi-jacked by the far left element, they have done nothing but dilute the partys influence and allowed Labour to treat you badly for the last decade.

    It seems that in losing Nandor the Greens have lost not only one of the few real Greens left in the party but one of the few with any political nous as well.

    And btw, if I was John Key I would tell the Greens to go take a jump. But I suspect he’s a bigger man than I

  17. Skinman,

    “Regarding John Armstrong – he’s one of the most considered, informed, respected, reasonable journos in the Press Gallery.”

    I agree and think Frog’s post was sharper than it needed to be. Ironically, I think it is because the Green’s do respect Armstrong that they are concerned that he got it wrong. It would be typical of many journos and wouldn’t attract a comment, but the perception is that John does have cred and is therefore listened to more. The Greens have taken plenty of criticism for their position re the Nats, so its not surprising that a respected journo saying we’d suddenly reversed our position would attract a response.

  18. >>saying we voted with Labour on everything just shows you don’t have a clue.

    Remind me of the Labour bills you voted against?

  19. Toad

    We’ve been down this road before. Stating a preference to work with Labour is VASTLY different from saying that we won’t work with National.

    I think the electorate is more cynical and realistic about political processes than a substantial subset of the Green party and your response does little to persuade me otherwise.

    Under NO circumstances do you rule-out negotiating before sitting down at the table. That isn’t politically viable and the party just proved the fact. You can’t win if you don’t play.

    Chances are we might not have hammered out anything viable. It wasn’t like we were vital to the success of National, but we could have negotiated and might have won something in specific areas which we simply lost completely. More to the point, we might have been perceived by the electorate as a real political party instead of a bunch of idealists running a protest movement.

    You set great store by the party’s integrity… but the PUBLIC doesn’t expect miracles, it knows our principles and expects us to do the best we can with what we have. As long as we maintain those principles and don’t try to hide them, our integrity is fine. We can talk without compromising it.

    I think that the problem here is that there are some idealists in the party who have lost (if they ever had it) the understanding that a political party makes deals, makes compromises and does whatever it can honestly do to promote its principles. It is not a refuge for pure idealism and protest, it is a loosely organized group of like-minded individuals who share those principles and want them promoted. Mistaking the two things is apparently a uniquely Green thing. I have never seen any other party suffering from this sort of split personality.

    I am and intend to remain, a Green. I am not willing to compromise the future for the expedience of the present. However, I am also not willing to let idealistic fervor ruin present chances to affect the future.

    I would not have ruled out talking with National. If dead rats are on the menu I might wind up not eating, but there might be an absolutely irresistible dessert and reason to split a dead-rat with Key in order to share that dessert. The point is that despite what National SAID, they were indeed making deals. Look at the movement the Maori got from them… They understand the place ideals have in politics and they did not give up integrity or their principles in order to NEGOTIATE.

    We gave up our ability to negotiate in order to preserve our idealism… our integrity and principles were not ever at risk.

    BJ

  20. Hi Valis

    Thanks for the response. I wonder whether I made my point clearly enough? I was trying to say that if John “got it wrong” then maybe that’s because the Green’s didn’t get their communications right? Thereby it’s good that he has ‘got it right’ because that indicates that the Greens are striking the right note at the right time. Why not be positive and celebratory about that, rather than ‘sharp’?

  21. We have been over this ground shortly after the election.

    http://blog.greens.org.nz/2008/11/11/why-the-greens-and-national-couldnt-do-a-deal/

    I think Nandor is simply expressing a view held by many of those making similar comments on an earlier threat on Frogblog. IMHO the “split personality” reference that bjchip makes relates to a difference in emphasis by party members between social and environmental principles of the Party. Those with more emphasis on the social issues tend to feel more comfortable aligned to Labour and as far away from National as possible – these members see little chance of ever being able to support National because of their social policies. Those with more emphasis on environmental issues have as little regard for Labour’s environmental record as that of National and make less distinction with whom the Green party should be willing to co-operate.

    Since then National has made a number of anti-environmental moves that are hard to swallow and we can only speculate whether more rapport with National post election would have prevented this.

  22. BP, I’ve no desire to do your homework for you, but there’s an overall analysis here: http://theyworkforyou.co.nz/parliaments/48. It points out that we voted with National about 1/3 of the time and Labour 2/3 of the time, which is about what you’d expect given that we worked with Labour directly on many bills.

    Of course the real argument here, which we’ve had many times before, is whether we act for the furtherance of our policies or because we’re owned by Labour. So to say again, the fact is that we have a fair amount of policy congruence with Labour, meaning we genuinely agree on many things. This is why Nandor thought it no issue that we should state a preference for Labour. That’s a far cry from “hand licking”. I understand why people like you would use such a term to distort the Green position. I don’t understand why someone like Nandor would lend support to the distortion, particularly as it would seem to make his conversation within the Party regarding change that much harder.

  23. Johan said: Since then National has made a number of anti-environmental moves that are hard to swallow and we can only speculate whether more rapport with National post election would have prevented this.

    Unless I’ve missed something, all those anti-environmental moves from National were flagged before the election – gutting the RMA, weakening the ETS, and attacking energy efficiency standards were all issues the Nats campaigned strongly on. On these issues the Greens’ problem with Labour was they would not move far enough or fast enough in the direction the Greens wanted, but the problem with National was that they were proposing to move (and now are moving) in completely the opposite direction.

  24. >>I understand why people like you would use such a term to distort the Green position.

    I don’t think it’s a distortion, more an accurate representation of the power positions. Whatever way you look it, the Greens are a Labour accessory. The only way you could be anything else is to draw a line between National and Labour and position yourself there.

    If you do it on quality of environmental concerns, and animal welfare, even I’ll vote for you.

    But you’re missing people like me. I wonder how many of us there are out there?

  25. Hi Skinman,

    “I was trying to say that if John “got it wrong” then maybe that’s because the Green’s didn’t get their communications right?”

    That is always possible, though in this case we’ve been a broken record for anyone to see who has a look at our statements.

    “Thereby it’s good that he has ‘got it right’ because that indicates that the Greens are striking the right note at the right time. Why not be positive and celebratory about that, rather than ’sharp’?”

    I take your point and agree that it shouldn’t have been so sharp. But Armstrong made it sound like any progress now would be because we’d changed our tune, making some non-existant previous position look like the problem. In fact, Key has responded publically in a positive way to similar statements several times and has offered to sit down with Greens to discuss this or that going back well before the election. But he has not done so, instead choosing to gut much of the environmental legislation the Greens were involved with as part of his emergency first session of Parliament. Surely you can see why Greens would be concerned?

  26. “I don’t think it’s a distortion, more an accurate representation of the power positions. Whatever way you look it, the Greens are a Labour accessory. The only way you could be anything else is to draw a line between National and Labour and position yourself there.”

    If you’re just saying in another way that we should be able to negotiate with both, fine, I’ve already said I agree with that. Anything else that tries to deny that there is a larger area of policy agreement with Labour is just silly.

    “If you do it on quality of environmental concerns, and animal welfare, even I’ll vote for you.”

    Sure, but you’ve changed the subject now to another old chesnut.

    “But you’re missing people like me. I wonder how many of us there are out there?”

    A good number I expect. But the Green Party membership gets to determine its principles and these were not chosen for political expediency but because we believe they are right. Nandor would not argue with this. His argument is about tactics and strategy. You want us to become a very different Party. Given the views you often expressed on this blog, it would not be a Party I, or I think Nandor, would be a part of.

  27. I am so happy with Nandor for raising this in the press that I could hug him.

    It serves the dual purpose of fomenting both external debates about what the Green stance was vs how it was reported, and internal debates about the hows, whys, and wherefores of the Greens’ political positioning strategy.

    There is no doubt on Earth, surely, that the Greens got it wrong somehow. Either the message, the messenger, or the language was wrong. Either it wasn’t debated properly (and yes I was at the AGM when the remit was put), or it wasn’t enforced correctly. Whatever, but the outcome is that the tension between political reality and Green culture got the better of us.

    But three years is a long time in politics. Let’s use them to our advantage.

  28. >>You want us to become a very different party

    Well, one that can make a real difference to better the lives of New Zealanders, anyway.

    Isn’t that the point?

    In politics, that requires compromise and pragmatism. Perhaps the Greens have chosen an academic idealist stance instead…

  29. “Well, one that can make a real difference to better the lives of New Zealanders, anyway.”

    According to your definitions of course.

    “Isn’t that the point?”

    Yes, but it doesn’t make the answers to what, why and how self evident.

    “In politics, that requires compromise and pragmatism. Perhaps the Greens have chosen an academic idealist stance instead…”

    Constantly debated, in the Party and outside. Some want more compromise and some say there’s been too much already.

    All genuine and debatable questions, unlike claims that Labour controls what we do.

  30. “There is no doubt on Earth, surely, that the Greens got it wrong somehow.”

    Well, our Caucus is 50% bigger now. So doing better than that means either more MPs or an agreement with National. Its not obvious to me that either was just there for the taking.

    “Either the message, the messenger, or the language was wrong. Either it wasn’t debated properly (and yes I was at the AGM when the remit was put), or it wasn’t enforced correctly.”

    I was there too. Certainly the main concerns expressed were not that we didn’t have enough flexibility to negotiate with National! The real debate happened during the previous year anyway at various conferences and meetings, not at the AGM, which really only considered the wording of the resultant remit, which was then faithfully implemented I believe.

    “Whatever, but the outcome is that the tension between political reality and Green culture got the better of us.”

    Well, I’m on record as supporting greater flexibility, but because talking to everyone is the right thing to do and I don’t like closing down possibilities prematurely however small, not because I really think the outcome would have been different. I could be wrong.

    “But three years is a long time in politics. Let’s use them to our advantage.”

    That I agree with. We won’t know for a while yet whether the outcome we achieved was good enough. And the debate will go on.

  31. This discussion as to whether the Greens called it right before the election is premature. It will be 2011 before we will know whether the potential Green voters will consider the Greens made the right call or not at the 2008 election. When the Nats get their legislative programme rolling through the House we shall see how much the Green Party could have supported, I suspect very little given the pre-Christmas anti environment rush and now the emphasis on road building as opposed to cycling and public transport. The same is true of the Maori Party. They have already had to vote for legislation that they don’t agree with – concerning workers rights – because of their agreement with National. If they continue to do that – they are committed to supporting the large tax cuts for the wealthy and crumbs for the lower income families – their support might not hold up at the next election. Let’s wait and see.

  32. “If they continue to do that – they are committed to supporting the large tax cuts for the wealthy and crumbs for the lower income families”

    Hmm, lower income families who already receive working for families paid for by the people you insult by referring to as “rich”.
    The middle class are the ones who have carried the burden of over taxation for the last nine years while your coalition partners Labour squandered billions on failed social experiments.

    The middle class deserve a tax cut more than any other, and if the low income families want more money, well they could perhaps do something radical like getting a job or trying to better themselves instead of demanding more money from the poor sods why pay all the tax.

    If Messiah Obama said one thing worth listening to in his boring inauguration speech it was that the world does not owe anybody a living and it is down to each individual to take personal responsibility for their own life’s, what a pity we have so many in NZ who do not think that way and do many who insist on making excuses for them.

  33. Kevin Hague’s maiden speech to the New Zealand Parliament focused on “four solid principles: ecological wisdom, social responsibility, appropriate decision-making, and non-violence”. The first three are hardly controversial, which suggests that they are in need of definition. I would not quarrel with the idea that vegetarianism and cycling are an expression of ecological wisdom but Kevin failed to explain how these admirable personal habits would impact on his political role as a legislator. After all, Adolf Hitler was a vegetarian, and George W Bush rode a bicycle, but in neither case is there an obvious connection to the way in which they conducted the affairs of state.

    The fourth principle, “non-violence” would also seem to be a purely personal position which will have no impact on Kevin’s political role. He may well eschew the use of violence in his personal life. But in his political life he has sworn allegiance to a commander-in-chief who routinely employs extreme and gratuitous violence to advance the political ambitions of the British state in Afghanistan and Iraq and dozens of other former British colonies around the globe. One is left with the uncomfortable impression that even if Kevin’s personal values differ somewhat from those of the typical parliamentarian, politically there will be little to distinguish him from the mass of National, Labour, ACT or Maori Party members.

    And it seems that he has little to contribute philosophically. He “absolutely reject(s) the idea that ethical or moral behaviour has its source in religious faith” apparently on the basis that he himself has no religious faith, and yet considers himself to be an ethical and moral person. There is no denying that atheists may be highly moral individuals, but the problem for Kevin is that while the various strands of Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Buddhism have all made their own contributions to the human moral code, there is no enduring body of moral doctrine that is intrinsically associated with either atheism or agnosticism.

    Kevin Hague has taken an “absolute” and militantly atheist stand that is quite unhelpful. The tacit support which he has given to the monarchist regime’s violent, and futile, attempts to suppress religious fundamentalism within the lands of the former British empire does not augur well. He fails to understand religion. He fails to understand the idea of God in relation to the concepts of fate, destiny, redemption and emancipation. And he fails to understand that far from being a “coherent philosophy” the naked concept of “individual rights” is a trick of rhetoric which is inadequate to the task of establishing a sustainable social order. Kevin’s maiden speech falls short of establishing any real moral or political principles. Like so many “maiden speeches” it is an exercise in self-vindication which fails to address the uncomfortable realities of the monarchist state.

    (Posted here because Kevin has failed to explain or justify his position when challenged to do so elsewhere on frogblog).

  34. I’m sure Kevin will find it here in no time.

    Btw, maiden speeches are supposed to be personal statements. I wouldn’t expect Kevin to address my pet peeves and obsessions as a Green, let alone spending time on yours.

  35. Hi all, sorry I haven’t been around to participate in this discussion, but I am away on a shoot and only available late at night . I wrote the column so long ago I wasn’t expecting it to suddenly pop up on frogblog.

    Frog, you say “despite expressing our preference, we still left the door open and did not shut it as Nandor has stated”. Perhaps it’s semantics, but in my mind ‘expressing a preference’ means ‘to set one thing before (an)other’. It doesn’t mean ‘to select exclusively – to eliminate one choice from consideration’. The only door we left open was for National to show us unconditional love.

    Actually I was a strong advocate of expressing a preference. What I thought was unwise was the opposite – making a decision that, despite what happened with Labour, despite whatever crap they might dish us, despite not even having the numbers to do anything with them, we would not even TALK to National to see if they had an offer worth considering.

    This made no tactical sense to me. Just as National’s policy to abolish the Maori seats now seems less attractive to them, it MAY be that the Greens might have had a positive influence on other policy. Why on earth wouldn’t you at least ask?

    Even worse, it made no strategic sense. It told Labour and the world that we really are Labour’s dog. Ok we may not be totally housetrained, we mess on their carpet sometimes, but they feed us biscuits and we defend them to the death. Because it doesn’t matter how much you criticise them if, at the end of the day, you are prepared to guarantee unconditionally that they will always be the government (so far as it is up to you).

    Valis, I got the impression you agree with this general position, but were upset at my pejorative language. You say “Surely its obvious that what we did re National was entirely born out of our concerns about National … So why the distraction regarding “licking Labour’s hand”?

    I assume that by ‘our’ you mean the Green Party, and so I don’t believe your statement accurately reflects how that position was born. Misplaced loyalty on the part of some seems a better explanation to me. The language was intended to give the party a bit of a shake.

    Lastly, Toad says “it was really a matter of whether we should be honest with the electorate ….or publicly reveal our bottom lines for negotiations…or go through the dishonest campaigning pretence that we could come to an agreement with National when we knew we could not.”

    Really? Before we had even spoken with them? It would have been just as honest to say something like “we would prefer to work with Labour to form a government. If that proves impossible, we will talk to National to see if we can construct an acceptable agreement, even if this seems unlikely at this stage”. That is the difference, IMO, that demonstrates independence.

    Aristophanes: hug ya back.

    JaH love to one and all

  36. Were Nandor and Simon watching a different election? Greens had nothing to do with Labour. Everything they said was about policy and finding common ground. Maybe those too close to the battle saw something else, or it was Nandor’s worst fear and Simon’s rose-tinted glasses.

  37. “I assume that by ‘our’ you mean the Green Party, and so I don’t believe your statement accurately reflects how that position was born. Misplaced loyalty on the part of some seems a better explanation to me. The language was intended to give the party a bit of a shake.”

    Thanks Nandor. Yes, I meant “our” as I’m in the Party and took part in positioning discussions. I can only say that I heard absolutely no one say anything that could be interpreted as them not wanting to talk turkey with National out of loyalty to Labour. There is definitely among some such a deep distaste for National that talking to them about confidence and supply was out of the question, but I maintain it had nothing to do with Labour so far as was evident. Many of these same people actively dissed Labour and would not have argued against a position that saw us telling the electorate that we’d support neither. I think the majority of people involved take offense at “hand licking” comments and its better to stick to the real issue, which is about how we relate to National.

  38. Hi guys

    Speaking of Green communications generally it strikes me that the tone is becoming arrogant. Or at least the people I knock round with perceive it to be arrogant. For example an underlying theme in this thread seems to be “National should listen to us”, “John Armstrong got it wrong – wasn’t he reading our releases?”, “we’ve got more MPs this time round so we’re doing great”.

    I reckon it’d be worth revisiting this/having a rethink. Do we really want the Green voice to be perceived as ‘arrogant’ (I heard someone say ‘militant’ the other day)?

    For example, Sue Kedgley’s comments on Fonterra yesterday suggesting they should release the San Lu phone meeting minutes. I couldn’t believe it when I heard that. I thought “that is going to turn the majority of people right off and marginalise the Greens further”. What do comments like that do to help?

    Noting that the Nats are undoing a lot of Green initiatives. Some of these are obviously because the Minister’s don’t personally like them. So why not front up to the Minister’s and try and find something they do like? After all, surely to be Green you need to be a reasonably holistic thinker? Surely there are ideas in the Green world that others haven’t thought of yet or had presented to them? Good ideas. Stop saying “you should listen to us” and start fronting up with ideas and a ‘can-do/constructive approach”. I reckon that’ll put the Greens in a great position in 2011.

  39. Skinman said: For example, Sue Kedgley’s comments on Fonterra yesterday suggesting they should release the San Lu phone meeting minutes. I couldn’t believe it when I heard that. I thought “that is going to turn the majority of people right off and marginalise the Greens further”. What do comments like that do to help?

    What is arrogant about that statement? The Green Party stands for openness, honesty, and accountability.

    When there are allegations of wrongdoing and/or a cover-up by New Zealand’s largest corporate, would it not be in the interests of all for Fonterra to release the relevant meeting minutes to refute those allegations and affirm its international reputation?

    Unless, of course, the allegations are true, in which case the minutes should be released anyway so those responsible for the wrongdoing and/or cover-up can be held accountable.

  40. Hi Toad

    I think the arrogance is in demanding the release of the info when there is a possibility that they could affect a possible appeal in China and when release could do further commercial harm to our biggest company in the midst of a global recession. Maybe arrogance was the wrong word – I don’t think there’s anything wrong with demanding corporate accountability but I do think the timing was absolutely awful and very unhelpful in terms of framing people’s perception of the Greens. I don’t think her comments sounded like a demand for “openness, honesty, and accountability”. They sounded like a “guilty until proven innocent” type attack. What evidence has Sue Kedgley got of a cover-up? Anyway that’s my opinion and I’ve voiced it. Keen to see if others agree or disagree. My intention is to further a debate.

  41. “For example an underlying theme in this thread seems to be “National should listen to us”, “John Armstrong got it wrong..”

    Both things are true.

    “… “we’ve got more MPs this time round so we’re doing great”.”

    That doesn’t at all do justice to the conversation, which was defending against your opposite charge that we’ve done everything wrong and have failed. If there was a consensus, it was that it was too soon to tell.

    “I reckon it’d be worth revisiting this/having a rethink. Do we really want the Green voice to be perceived as ‘arrogant’ (I heard someone say ‘militant’ the other day)?”

    No, but getting up some people’s nose is often necessary, whatever you what to call it.

    “So why not front up to the Minister’s and try and find something they do like? After all, surely to be Green you need to be a reasonably holistic thinker? Surely there are ideas in the Green world that others haven’t thought of yet or had presented to them? Good ideas. Stop saying “you should listen to us” and start fronting up with ideas and a ‘can-do/constructive approach”. I reckon that’ll put the Greens in a great position in 2011.”

    Do you really think this is feasible? Please remember that you’re talking about a National govt that’s been out of power for nine years, feels they have the answers already and a mandate to do what they want. They dislike Greens with a passion and do not need our support. In other words, phone calls won’t even be returned. I’m not saying that nothing at all happens via personal relationships, but it is minuscule in this context. You have to make the govt WANT to go in a certain direction and they only do this if there is public pressure. Russel’s speech on Sunday wasn’t directed at National, but the public. That Key responded only shows that he thinks its an issue he can’t avoid.

  42. I would guess Sue has a reason for asking – and think transparency at that level not a bad thing. If there is nought to hide, and protocols are’nt compromised – then we have a simple enquiry no more or less.
    I think it a good time for the GP to become a little more forthright – aside from the false perception that Greenies are all soft dropouts who couldn’t run a railway, much less a country – something I think may be a tangible mis-conception.
    Plus the Election certainly gave the Greens a mandate to stand up and ask some of the tough questions.
    The Political Landscape was changed in many ways by the Election (I last saw our former Foreign Minister, dressed in a long coat and reading Denis Glover aloud at the Railway Station – bit different from globe/bar hopping).
    I feel, it is also a good time for the Greens to sunder another mis-conception. That they (we) are helpless and hopeless without Labour. The electorate has suggested quite the opposite.
    My own view is that if the former Labour Govt. was more consultative, sought out different views, were more inclusive, they might not have gone so badly. People do not thrive under a Government ‘gone stale’ and there was a real groundswell sentiment for change. A change that included strengthening the Green Party.
    I think Labour got Voted Out, more than the Nats got Voted in -it is a good sign that the Greens gained ground where many others lost out – and is obviously time to assume the mantle of the Country’s third largest Political power.

  43. There are two (largely) separate aspects of the issue as raised by Nandor and echoed by Simon Upton. The debate above has raised good points on both sides and aired the issue pretty well but still most of that has focused on whether the GP would be in a better position to negotiate over policy with National in the post-election environment if it hadn’t declared pre-election that it wouldn’t even sit down and talk to them after the election about a C&S agreement.

    To my reading of the thread there hasn’t really been much discussion of the other aspect raised by Nandor, vis:

    “And who is to say that if the GP had taken a non-aligned stance that they may not, as Upton and Tanczos suggest, have done significantly better in the election ……”

    How many people that liked GP policies but wanted a change of government (cos they’d had enough of Labour) were put off voting Green because the party effectively said “A vote for the Green party is a vote for Labour-led government – no other possibility exists”.

  44. Kiwinuke

    You can put me on that list. Although some of the Green policies I disagree with, I do think that the GP would have made an excellent counter balance to some of the Nats more far right ideas.

    It seems to me that the minor parties will achieve far more as a part of government or by having some kind of deal than complaining from the opposition benches, and the Maori Party will probably prove it over the next few years. Sadly the far left portion of the GP seems determined to stay on the far side of the house.

  45. “How many people that liked GP policies but wanted a change of government (cos they’d had enough of Labour) were put off voting Green because the party effectively said “A vote for the Green party is a vote for Labour-led government – no other possibility exists”.

    Note here that kiwinuke is NOT asking for another debate on what policy changes would be needed for people to consider voting Green!

    But this question is too narrow to say if the Greens might have done better, not that this is a scientific survey anyway. In addition, you need to ask how many people who didn’t want a change of govt, would have switched their vote from Green back to Labour and subtract that number from the first.

  46. We can make it a lot harder for BP and BB to decide to oppose us without becoming an “entirely different party” in terms of our principles or our integrity.

    There are those in the party who seem to enjoy confronting reality instead of accepting it but that is the wrong strategy for a political party. It belongs in a protest movement.

    I don’t confront reality. I accept reality and work towards change. I do my level best to understand it and work with it. So accepting that Labour was a dead duck talking to National would have been my FIRST rather than my last choice.

    I don’t eschew the principles of the party when I do that. I do however, find myself arguing a bit more than is expectable, with people who basically agree on principles but mistake their ideals for those principles.

    It isn’t those principles that are at stake. The Fifth principle, survival, is missing from the charter and the others are moot without it. The others find themselves prioritized by it.

    We can do better

    BJ

  47. “We can make it a lot harder for BP and BB to decide to oppose us without becoming an “entirely different party” in terms of our principles or our integrity.”

    I think that’s a bizarre statement given their posts on this blog and particularly BB’s own distance from reality, but its not about them anyway.

    Otherwise I don’t know what you mean by National being your first choice. If you mean planning for the likelihood of their win, ok. But I wouldn’t want to have campaigned on it.

  48. Valis

    There was a complete sentence there…. not just the 5 words you picked out.

    It means that planning on the likelihood of their winning I would not have cut off the opportunity to discuss issues with them. I would have campaigned on the basis of being willing to talk with them. Not of agreeing with them, but that’s not what this is about.

    BJ

  49. In answer to Valis
    I know the parliamentary convention that the maiden speech is designed to serve as a new members personal introduction to his colleagues in the House. There is also a parliamentary convention that a maiden speech is not subject to questioning or criticism. I can understand the convention, but I am not bound by it. The fact is that Kevin made statements which, on the face of it, are hypocritical. It is not peevish or obsessive to point out the inconsistencies in his position, or to ask him to offer some explanation.

  50. BJ, sorry I must be thick tonight, but I read and thought I understood the whole sentence before my last post, and upon reading it again, do not see what it is you think I missed.

    But that’s ok, as you’ve clarified your position as the same as others have been arguing – being willing to talk to the Nats. The way I read “FIRST” was as though you might have wanted to state the Nats as first preference, but I can see that’s not what you meant.

    Cheers.

  51. Both BP and BB are attracted to one or more of the Green principles in some form. Some of their more bizarre pronouncements are intended to stir us up. Works sometimes.

    BJ

  52. Geoff Fischer

    Perhaps the fact that we’ve published a defense policy slipped past your notice. Non-violence as a principle does not imply surrender of the country as a defense policy. Afghanistan has more to do with the UN than with the Monarch. Maybe I missed something but “tacit approval” is a poor description of “not mentioning”… he probably didn’t mention a whole raft of things which he does not yet tacitly approve.

    Nor is there anything unusual in attributing human morality to circumstances that rest comfortably beyond the reach of imaginary beings and superstitions. The fact that religions have adopted moral rules that are in accordance with the logical end product of the human need to survive simply indicates that religions that did not adopt such rules did not survive long enough to be noticed. No denying that a lot of people put a lot of thought into the ideas that they integrated into their religions but correlation is not causation.

    I am reading through your acid post because I had missed it earlier. I’m not defending Kevin, he’s on his own, but I am recognizing an intolerance and absolutism in your post that is typical of religious fundamentalists everywhere and the obsession with the “monarchist state” is so bizarrely irrelevant that it becomes …distracting.

    BJ

  53. Hindsight is 20/20. I wasn’t party to the decision in the Greens before the election, but my understanding when they expressed that they would not agree to confidence and supply with National was that it was all in the context of being required to form a government, as that’s the way it has worked in the past. Pretty clearly, given the choice between National and Labour, the Greens were going to pick Labour.

    Who would have thought that National would go for more than the minimum number of coalition partners to govern (is that the first time that has happened in New Zealand? Very astute of John key anyway), and that the Greens would end up caught by their own wording? I imagine the Greens won’t make the same mistake again.

    A better outcome would have been to express a clear preference (possibly saying given the choice, the Greens will definitely form a government with Labour rather than National), then if National didn’t want to negotiate with the Greens anyway (likely) or negotiations went nowhere (also likely), the position would be the same as currently, except it might look like National had shut the door rather than the Greens.

  54. Valis says:
    “In addition, you need to ask how many people who didn’t want a change of govt, would have switched their vote from Green back to Labour and subtract that number from the first.”

    I understand you to say that there were voters who voted green because of the assurance that GP gave that it would not support National and that these (unknown number of) voters would not have voted GP if they thought the Party would support National – fair enough, I assume there are those. On the other side there are then the (unknown number of) voters that kiwinuke and shorty refer to who liked GP policy but wanted a change of government and because of the commitment/statement about preference did not vote GP. We don’t know which of these two numbers are the largest so there is no sure answer.

    But…
    1. Is it true that the increase in GP vote was by disaffected Labour voters who were fed up with Labour and supported Greens to keep Labour “honest” and who would not have voted GP if there wasn’t a stated preference for Labour? (If this is indeed so, we may lose these voters in the next election back to Labour again)

    2. If the above is correct, would these “disaffected” Labour voters not have still voted Green if the preference was stated more in line with Nandor’s suggestion (or wording used by bjchip or Roy) that clearly stated a preference only, without excluding an agreement on confidence and supply with National? It would have meant that a wider spectrum of potential voters would have considered a Green vote.

  55. “1. Is it true that the increase in GP vote was by disaffected Labour voters who were fed up with Labour and supported Greens to keep Labour “honest” and who would not have voted GP if there wasn’t a stated preference for Labour? (If this is indeed so, we may lose these voters in the next election back to Labour again)”

    Yes, some would have been though I don’t know how much and “keeping Labour honest” is unlikely to be the only reason they switched to Green.

    “2. If the above is correct, would these “disaffected” Labour voters not have still voted Green if the preference was stated more in line with Nandor’s suggestion (or wording used by bjchip or Roy) that clearly stated a preference only, without excluding an agreement on confidence and supply with National? It would have meant that a wider spectrum of potential voters would have considered a Green vote.”

    There are two main reasons for the position taken. One is the belief among some that supporting the Nats would lead to a fundamental compromise in Party principles, even if they put something valuable on the table in return (particularly so in fact). The other is a fear that we would in fact lose votes if we said the Nats were a possibility, particularly among union voters, where we enjoy a lot of support. It is already very hard to get Green leaning Labour voters to actually take the plunge. Part of the reason we poll higher than our eventual vote is because these people waver at the last minute and go back to Labour. This happens more when Labour are close.

    Of course, no one knows if the gain would exceed the loss, but as I said, its not the only reason that some oppose a change in positioning.

  56. “a wider spectrum of potential voters would have considered a Green vote.”
    Hi Johan – interesting thread is it not? I think that wider spectrum you refer to may well turn out for the GP in the next election.
    In this post election wash-up I think the Greens showed a good deal more character and integrity than many of the ‘winners and losers’ onstage.
    Sticking to our philosophical ideals, whilst others were leaping round like kids at a lolly-scramble, was a great thing I thought.
    In many ways, the post-election stage is a lot less cluttered and splintered – there are now three clearly separate large Parties to choose from.
    The electoral tendency both in Oz (where I saw dozens of elections) and here is to give a third Party the deciding power as a kind of safety catch.
    Whilst this is not the situation now, I would predict that if the Green Party continues to show energy, honesty and integrity they may well be afforded this position by the next Election.
    Which is why this formulative stage (as I see it) is so important as the Party stands to gain in influence beyond it’s actual numbers.
    It could be wishful thinking – but then I do speak to a wide range of people and get the feeling that the traditional political boundaries and power bases are gonna change to suit a newer age.
    Financial hardship is probably the best b/s deflector known.
    People won’t vote for an apathetic Labour Party (that’s already clear) and National have shown a real propensity to lose almost all support virtually overnight – as we progress I think the GP will emerge as a clear ‘stand alone’ choice in it’s own right.
    regards Mark

  57. I am a former Labour voter who voted Green last year. I did so because I made the conclusion that a vote for Green was a vote for them AND also for Labour. If the Greens had been more open to working with National I probably wouldn’t have voted for them.

    And I think a lot of people are probably in a similar boat to me.

  58. I have argued for the past few years that National and Labour are the two dominant factions in a single political party comprising a small ruling elite made up from the the business sectors (primary, tourist, manufacturing, service) plus the financial elite reflected in the NZ Rich List. I also maintain that the most appropriate political position for the Greens is to avoid coalition until we have at least 25 seats and also to avoid confidence and supply until we have at least 15 seats. I prefer to accept Greenery weregild in return for abstaining on confidence and supply.

    Thinking of National and Labour as distinct political parties is a false dichotomy that has led us astray; dealing with the NZ Rich List through a red or blue filter is at the whim of the voters and should be entirely irrelevant to our political stance.

    Regardless of which of the dominant factions holds power, ultimately we always have to deal with the financial elite lurking behind them (something that we’ve done since Alliance days). Had we acknowledged the reality that we’re ultimately dealing with the NZ Rich List, we could have avoided entirely the trap of expressing a preference. We could instead have noted that on past performance, Labour had been easier to deal with but that this may not remain the case if National are forced to actually deal with scientific reality. By appearing to express a preference for one faction, we effectively took sides in an internecine struggle for power.

    We actually achieved more by abstaining from confidence and supply than we did when supporting Labour in 1999, and this with only six MPs. Were we in a position to negotiate a similar deal with nine MPs we would in all probability achieve even more. I think that the urgency expressed by our senior MPs to be in government actually lead us astray in both 2005, when we were shafted by the Labour-National coalition and this year when we possibly lost a lot of potential Green supporters to National. Had we indicated a preference for weregild then we would likely have gained votes from National and retained those who preferred a link to Labour.

    We are regularly accused of being a Labour clone or poodle, a charge that is difficult to rebut given our commitment to social justice (a position reminiscent of the 1930’s Labour party). Since 1984 however, Labour has been a poodle for the Business Round table and the economic policies recommended by the NZ Institute. As evidence consider the track record of Douglas, Prebble, Moore, & Bassett. Furthermore, Cullen was financed to the Aspen Institute by Doug Myers making him into Myer’s poodle, and Anderton gave the big corporates everything that they wanted on water issues When the two extremes of Labour hand lick NZ’s financial elite, differences between National and Labour boil down to egos.

    We should spend the next three years hammering two points:
    1. National and Labour are but two factions of one party making the Greens the only true opposition party.
    2. The task of protecting the environment and the general population can best be done by abstaining on confidence and supply in return for weregild delivered by either faction.

    This would establish both a very clear distinction between the Greens and all other parties and a very clear political positioning that is uniquely Green and independent of the left-right dichotomy. Sooner or later the independent news media (i.e. RNZ & TVNZ) will pick up on this.

    We will of course be accused of seeking bribes. This is readily countered by pointing out that we are adhering to our Environmental and Social Justice principles and protecting both the environment and the general population from the predatory practices of a rapacious elite. We are establishing the groundwork for a Green protection racket, a practice that is no different to the millennia long practices of elites, we are merely reversing the usual direction for the transfer of wealth. Another way would be to develop the notion that humanity uses elites as a tool for extracting and refining planetary wealth and that we are simply recycling it in a sustainable way.

  59. To “BJ Chip”

    BJ Chip> Perhaps the fact that we’ve published a defense policy slipped past your notice. Non-violence as a principle does not imply surrender of the country as a defense policy.

    Kevin listed four Green principles – “ecological wisdom, social responsibility, appropriate decision making, and non-violence”. Every parliamentarian, of whatever colour, could, and probably does, subscribe to the unremarkable first three of Kevin’s four principles. The fourth, non-violence, might seem to set that Greens apart, until one is brought to understand that the Green Party is not categorically opposed to the use of violence. It would seem, that like every other parliamentary party, the Greens reserve the right to decide when and where they will employ the use of state violence. That is fair enough, but it is not enough to give you a principled point of difference from any other party.

    It may be – probably is the case – that the Greens are more reluctant to use state violence than the ACT, National or Labour Parties. But it would appear – correct me if I am wrong – that the Green Party is widening the scope of what it considers to be permissible violence, thus taking itself closer to the position of National, Labour, and ACT. Recent favorable references from the Greens to the role of what they call “our troops” in Afghanistan suggest that the Green Party is moving to support the foreign invasion of that country.

    BJ Chip>Afghanistan has more to do with the UN than with the Monarch.

    You have to remember that Britain first invaded Afghanistan in the nineteenth century, before the UN was a even gleam in Franklin Roosevelt’s eye. These wars have everything to do with New Zealand’s imperial connections, and very little to do with the UN. The monarch is the commander in chief. Her grandsons are shipped off to Afghanistan to show the uniform, fly the flag, and, incidentally, cast racist aspersions against the locals. And these are the very same princes to whom the Green Party parliamentarians have implicitly pledged allegiance.

    BJ Chip> Nor is there anything unusual in attributing human morality to circumstances that rest comfortably beyond the reach of imaginary beings and superstitions. The fact that religions have adopted moral rules that are in accordance with the logical end product of the human need to survive simply indicates that religions that did not adopt such rules did not survive long enough to be noticed. No denying that a lot of people put a lot of thought into the ideas that they integrated into their religions but correlation is not causation.

    I would not postulate religion as the original cause or source of moral understanding. I am saying that there is a connection. Religion has imposed moral order. For better or for worse atheism and agnosticism have tended to loosen the bonds of morality – they have not provided any new source of moral doctrine.

    BJ Chip> I am reading through your acid post because I had missed it earlier. I’m not defending Kevin, he’s on his own, but I am recognizing an intolerance and absolutism in your post that is typical of religious fundamentalists everywhere and the obsession with the “monarchist state” is so bizarrely irrelevant that it becomes …distracting.

    If the “monarchist state” is so bizarrely irrelevant, why does the law of New Zealand state that no person elected to parliament who refuses to give “allegiance to Queen Elizabeth her heirs and successors according to law” shall be permitted to sit in parliament? I suggest that the monarchy is bizarrely relevant. I think that you know that requiring mandatory allegiance to a dysfunctional family on the other side of the world is truly bizarre. I think you know that when the requirement is finally finished and done with, you, along with virtually every other New Zealander, will look back and say how silly it was. But in the meantime, because the requirement is imposed upon you, and because you lack the moral courage to resist, you feel embarressed, and try to salvage your sense of dignity and self-worth by accusing those who do have the courage to resist of being “intolerant”. The truth is that I am very tolerant of monarchists and would be happy to let them be if they were to let us be. But I will not tolerate them when they act as political bully boys. You know that Kevin Hague and Hone Harawira both suffered a public humiliation when they were made to swear allegiance to the Queen. They capitulated when they should not have. But some of us will not capitulate. We will fight this regime, and we will win. You can call that “absolutism” and “intolerance”, but what you are really saying is that you do not have the courage to stand up for what is right.

  60. michaela, I understand the logic behind being bigger before engaging with the old parties (or old party if you prefer). The smaller you are the more likely it is that you’ll be eaten by the larger party. But what does it take for a party to grow to a “sustainable” size?

    The Greens greatly value their discursive power. The importance of having the ability to speak in Parliament and the mana it affords outside is not properly recognised by many. It is a key reason the current Green Caucus are not despondent about their current lot. They understand how important the Parliamentary platform is in reaching the public regarding Green issues and that being relevant does not therefore depend exclusively on being in a relationship with the government.

    But is it enough to greatly increase our number of MPs? I think not on its own. I think the public also wants to know that a party can deliver when it has the chance to do so and that this track record makes a difference over time, not only to show Greens are capable, but to give an indication of what giving power to Greens will result in.

    Also, there’s MMP itself, which wouldn’t work very well if parties decide to keep themselves on the sidelines rather than take part in governments. The public may not reward the Greens for causing a more right-wing government to form because we wouldn’t sully ourselves. And what would happen if the Greens were needed by one side or the other to form a government and refused, forcing the country into another election? The public would probably resolve the matter by kicking us out of Parliament. Such a position could also reinforce the doubts some have about the MMP system itself.

    I understand the desire to keep principles intact, but engaging in Parliamentary politics is not without risk. We’ve chosen to play in this arena instead of just being a pressure group and some risk must be accepted.

  61. Geoff

    There’s nothing in the statement of Green principles that requires that they set us apart from anyone, anywhere in any way. I DO think it somewhat dishonest of you to reckon that “ecological wisdom” is practiced or preached by any other party in parliament, much less held as a principle.

    Our principles get expressed through policies and the definition of what each one means to us is made in detail in those policies. If we were “the same” as all those other parties we might collect a larger share of the vote from an abjectly confused electorate. We aren’t the same as they are in many respects and the electorate recognizes that we mean something different from ACT when we say “social responsibility”.

    Britain first invaded Afghanistan in the nineteenth century, before the UN was a even gleam in Franklin Roosevelt’s eye.

    …and since then we have moved on, Afghanistan has been invaded by the Russians, the CIA and now the US and UN… and the history of the monarch’s predecessors is in no way relevant to the actions of the UN and USA. Nor did we as New Zealanders, commit our military at the behest of that monarch, we did it because of a commitment to the United Nations efforts. The Green policy explicitly requires us to abide by international law and make up our own minds, rather than simply following what someone else does, says or advocates. The Monarch is irrelevant to these commitments and is not mentioned in that policy. Not relevant.

    For better or for worse atheism and agnosticism have tended to loosen the bonds of morality

    I don’t think there is any evidence of that. It is an assertion often made by the religious, but not born out by any data or observations.

    People impose moral order. They do so whether or not they are religious. The pervasiveness of religion makes it hard anyone to discern what a truly atheistic society might do, as we atheists are invariably vastly outnumbered and usually persecuted.

    If the “monarchist state” is so bizarrely irrelevant, why does the law of New Zealand state that no person elected to parliament who refuses to give “allegiance to Queen Elizabeth her heirs and successors according to law” shall be permitted to sit in parliament?

    Irrelevant because that is pretty much the only time any consideration is given to the Monarch. I recognize that there is a role of the “Governor General” in formalizing government formation and dissolution, but it is not relevant to the task of governing ourselves and deliberating in parliament as we must in order to govern the country. My “allegiance” to Queen Elizabeth, should I ever be required to give it, does not entail any onerous duty or requirement, nor does it require me to consider my actions with respect to it in any way other than to work for the good of New Zealand. That which I would do anyway.

    But in the meantime, because the requirement is imposed upon you, and because you lack the moral courage to resist…

    Besides being insulting this is completely wrong. If I do not perceive a moral conflict, and the monarchy does cause one, then why on earth would I give a rats rear end about it at all? It is irrelevant.

    If it is irrelevant it isn’t a matter of “moral courage”… it is simple apathy.

    You know that Kevin Hague and Hone Harawira both suffered a public humiliation when they were made to swear allegiance to the Queen.

    I know nothing of the sort. I submit that you do not either. It is possible that one or the other or both DID, but I do not know it, and I doubt that any realistic person would have regarded it as “humiliating” even if they wished NZ to declare its ties to the Monarchy severed. It is simply not that important.

    I would scarcely recognize the Queen if I bumped into her on the street and the relevance of the monarchy or lack thereof in this country, to anything of importance TO this country, is not noticeably different from zero…. despite the importance you obviously attach to it.

    We don’t do things because the Queen says to do them. We do them when and if WE decide to do them. We’ve got plenty of REAL problems to attend to without distracting ourselves over whether we retain a figurehead. The ship of state continues on courses WE must choose with or without it.

    Frankly Geoff, I don’t give a damn. I’ve given as much time to this irrelevance as I am likely to give.

    BJ

  62. > BJ Chip: I DO think it somewhat dishonest of you to reckon that “ecological wisdom” is practiced or preached by any other party in parliament, much less held as a principle.

    GF:You may have forgotten that ecology is a science, taught in schools and universities, and that virtually every educated person in this country pays some heed to its principles. Can you point to a single parliamentarian who rejects the notion of “ecological wisdom” or “appropriate decision making” or “social responsibility” or, for that matter “non-violence” as you define it?

    > BJ Chip: Our principles get expressed through policies and the definition of what each one means to us is made in detail in those policies.

    GF: I argued that Kevin’s four principles ipso facto fail to differentiate the Green Party from other parties. I acknowledge that the way those principles are applied – the policies – differ from the way other parties would apply them. But when we do get down to some specific policies – such as the Afghanistan war – the Green Party lines up pretty well with Labour, National and ACT.

    > BJ Chip: Nor did we as New Zealanders, commit our military at the behest of that monarch, we did it because of a commitment to the United Nations efforts.

    GF: No member country of the UN was obliged to join the invasion of Afghanistan. New Zealand’s history of involvement in wars against other small nations speaks for itself: joined Britain in invading the Transvaal 1900; joined Britain in invading Turkey, Palestine and Iraq 1915; joined Britain in the war to maintain British colonial rule in Malaya; joined with the US in the Korean war and the Vietnam war; joined the US and Britain in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    In other words there is a long history of New Zealand involvement in the imperial wars of Britain and the United States. The monarch does not need to personally ask New Zealand to send troops. That is the job of her ministers. But the fact that she is the New Zealand head of state helps to maintain the presumption that New Zealand will continue as it began, by supporting Britain in all its military efforts to maintain, or re-establish, a new imperial order.

    So it is no surprise that those who have no problem with New Zealand being a monarchy, also have no problem with New Zealand being a bit player in these ill-conceived and ultimately doomed attempts to violently impose western “civilization” upon people who want nothing to do with it.

    > BJ Chip: (the oath of allegiance is ) Irrelevant because that is pretty much the only time any consideration is given to the Monarch.

    GF: In New Zealand law the requirement of allegiance to the crown is deemed sufficiently important to override the people’s decision as to who they wish to have representing them in parliament. Therefore sufficiently important to override the most fundamental principle of a democratic society. And sufficiently important to be the deciding factor as to who may, or may not, become a New Zealand citizen. Yet, in your view, “irrelevant”. If that is the case, then democracy is irrelevant, and so is citizenship.

    > BJ Chip: My “allegiance” to Queen Elizabeth, should I ever be required to give it, does not entail any onerous duty or requirement, nor does it require me to consider my actions with respect to it in any way other than to work for the good of New Zealand. That which I would do anyway.

    GF: You give the Queen a pledge of “solemn allegiance”. Then you say it entails no “onerous duty or requirement”. Then you tell the people of New Zealand that you will “work for the good of New Zealand”. Perhaps that also entails no “onerous duty or requirement”? Perhaps, like “solemn allegiance”, “the good of New Zealand” is just one of those phrases which one is required to utter in order to gain election to a seat in parliament? Perhaps “the good of New Zealand” does not require you to consider your actions with respect to it “in any way other than to work for the good of”… BJ Chip? If we cannot trust your solemn oath, then what can we trust in you?

    So you see in your own case, BJ Chip, how the monarchy has functioned to corrode the integrity of democratic politicians. That is not an irrelevant consideration.

    > BJ Chip: If I do not perceive a moral conflict, and the monarchy does cause one, then why on earth would I give a rats rear end about it at all? It is irrelevant.

    GF: The monarchy does cause a moral conflict, but you choose not to perceive it. Or to be more correct, you choose to ignore it. Because you have already been corrupted by it.

    > BJ Chip: If it is irrelevant it isn’t a matter of “moral courage”… it is simple apathy.

    GF: “Apathy” is a novel line of defence. But it is inadequate to the case. You know that many parliamentarians inwardly squirm when asked to take the oath. It is not that they are apathetic. They simply lack the moral courage to say no.

    You know that Kevin Hague and Hone Harawira both suffered a public humiliation when they were made to swear allegiance to the Queen

    > BJ Chip: I know nothing of the sort. I submit that you do not either.

    GF: The humiliation came courtesy of “New Zealand Herald” as follows: (Green Party Member of Parliament Kevin Hague) “tried to slip allegiance to the Treaty of Waitangi into his [oath] he was made to read the oath proper again”. Maori Party Member of Parliament Hone Harawira swore “allegiance to everything but the Queen, including the Treaty of Waitangi, the good people of Tai Tokerau, their whanau, iwi and hapu, and then to all Maori of this great nation of ours” but “escaped a scolding by tagging the oath proper to the end of his own effort”.

    Do I need to explain how treating the elected representatives of the people like naughty schoolboys who “tried to slip” through the system and only just “escaped a scolding” amounts to a public humiliation?

    > BJ Chip: Frankly Geoff, I don’t give a damn. I’ve given as much time to this irrelevance as I am likely to give.

    GF: I think you do give a damn BJ Chip. You have blustered and flustered, but you have dug yourself into a hole where frankness is no longer possible.

  63. Geoff great points.

    I find it strange BJ how you can say on the one hand that you would give your oath to the queen but it would have no meaning and then give your oath to NZ and it would have meaning, either your oath has meaning or it does not.

    I my self will NEVER give an oath of allegiance to any human being. Go watch Valkyrie to see why oaths of allegiance to other human beings are a bad idea.

    Why is New Zealand full of so many cowards that no MP has refused the oath of allegiance are NZ politicians more interested in the power and the perks.

    Does anyone know what would happen if an MP refused to take the oath of allegiance to the queen, would they be barred from taking their seat.

  64. While speaking about Oaths.

    Compare the US armed services oath to the New Zealand the US one is far better than ours.

    US:
    I, [name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.[1]

    New Zealand:
    I, [name], solemnly promise and swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to our Sovereign Lady the Queen, Her heirs and successors, and that I will faithfully serve in the New Zealand Naval Forces/the New Zealand Army/the Royal New Zealand Air Force [Delete the Services that are not appropriate], and that I will loyally observe and obey all orders of Her Majesty, Her heirs and successors, and of the officers set over me, until I shall be lawfully discharged. So help me God.”

    A New Zealand Soldier must obey orders where as a US soldier can disobey an order if that order is unconstitutional.

  65. So many nits, so little point.

    Geoff… on current form, you are as irrelevant as the figurehead monarch we currently have, and far more absurd. You completely ignored the point that the principles of the Green party are not required to “differentiate” it in the sense you are taking and as a result THAT is irrelevant as well. One sophist argument to the next you leap like a demented grasshopper.

    The people of New Zealand elected to go to Afghanistan, not the Queen of England. The monarch was irrelevant to that decision.

    Perhaps that also entails no “onerous duty or requirement”? Your assertion is false here, of course, and makes a nonsense of your logic. The pledge to the Queen finds reality in the commitment to NZ. For if you understand NZ to be part of her domain, then taking its welfare and well being seriously is quite sufficient to discharge the requirement. Hence the requirement is not onerous. Your incompetent and illogical extension of my statements are simply flags that indicate the falsity of your argument.

    The monarch is irrelevant to the oath.


    BJ Chip: If I do not perceive a moral conflict, and the monarchy does cause one, then why on earth would I give a rats rear end about it at all? It is irrelevant.

    Well.. you got me there… that one should have contained the word not… it was supposed to be an assertion.


    BJ Chip: If I do not perceive a moral conflict, and the monarchy does not cause one, then why on earth would I give a rats rear end about it at all? It is irrelevant.

    When was the last time the “Crown” decided that someone could NOT be a citizen who was permitted entry by the government?

    When was the last time a duly elected government here was dissolved by the “Crown”?

    Irrelevancy takes many forms.

    You know that many parliamentarians inwardly squirm when asked to take the oath.

    Now THAT is most certainly not something you can know.

    If Kevin and Hone’ tried to get out of saying something that’s their problem. I pointed out earlier that I have no intention of defending them. I doubt that it rose to the level of a “humiliation” but you feel free to escalate your case to whatever level of absurdity you wish. I’d reckon they’re a bit embarrassed but I didn’t see it on the front page of any newspaper. Two more inconsequential events.

    Apathy is COMPLETELY adequate in this.

    You have blustered and flustered, but you have dug yourself into a hole where frankness is no longer possible.

    I don’t see things your way. The monarch is a figurehead, not an important feature of the real government of NZ, and the ship of state sails on with or without.

    If you succeed in getting the people of NZ to make this a Republic or fail, makes not one bit of difference to anything that is important to the survival of the nation or its people.

    It is IRRELEVANT and I treat it with the apathy it deserves.

    However, your complete lack of understanding of what is and is not important to this nation, to the world and to me, indicates a world view that is unbalanced. It is clear that my apathy annoys you. You have found your windmill and you will continue to assail it until it surrenders. To what end I have no idea, but it will not make any substantial difference to the well-being of this country. Even if the windmill DOES surrender.

    A thoroughgoing overhaul of the Treaty of Waitangi would make a difference, a constitution that integrates it into government processes would make a difference. Whether the Governor General puts a stamp of approval on things governmental or is not required, realistically makes a difference only to the Governor General.

    BJ

  66. Turnip

    I am amazed that you are taken in by the sophist rhetoric of this idiot.

    I do take my oaths seriously, but I take reality into account when I promise something. Can I discharge my duty and remain true to myself.

    Why is New Zealand full of so many cowards that no MP has refused the oath of allegiance are NZ politicians more interested in the power and the perks.

    Because it isn’t cowardice, it is in fact apathy born of irrelevance.

    Your point about the Oath I swore as a US Naval Officer is perhaps, more telling. There is no Constitution in Great Britain or in NZ, and I have occasionally argued that we should have one. It isn’t that relevant either, but I slightly prefer the oath to the law of the nation rather than to a person. My point however, is that I lose sleep over neither.

    A good set of working priorities precludes my spending a lot of time on the question of whether the ship should have a figurehead. I’d much rather ensure that the navigation is accurate, the charts are up-to-date, the engines in good repair and the bottom sound. The figurehead is really NOT relevant. Geoff doesn’t understand that. You just made a mistake about whether there is a PRACTICAL consequence of this oath or not. We have seen that refusing it may cause an embarrassing moment. Hone’ and Kevin are as guilty of misplaced priorities as Geoff.

    BJ

  67. I have been attempting to avoid wading into this cesspool for as long as I can. I had felt that what I can say would insufficiently further the arguments submitted by our BJ to such a degree that they would not justify the time spent formulating them. For waiting so long I must apologise to the normally calm-minded BJ.

    First I shall address gangs:
    As our society grows increasingly larger the individuals within the society become increasingly saturated with interpersonal bond and eventually reach a point where they are unable to know deeply, socialise with, and empathise with even member of society. When this happens the level of connection felt with those other members decreases and the perceived emotional costs of doing them a disservice decreases, this may be called a degradation of community. Within a society experiencing this degradation people feel increasingly distanced from each other and become less bound by the social regulations when interacting with other people, this has been called, by Max Wweber, anomie. Anomie causes people to seek out a sense of community to fulfil the interpersonal connections they lack, this may be found in groups based on race, culture, religion, activities or pretty much any shared interest or history; when people find these groups a in-group/out-group relationship and bias is created and whilst the members of such a group will more easily socialise with other members, those outside become more distanced, not “one of us”. While originally these groups were the tribe and then the village, based on locality of habitation, in the present age those have become so large that we seek microcosms of similarity; the aforementioned common interests or histories. This may be a church group, the scouts, a book club, or a gang; the purpose is to partially subdue the sense of anomie.

    Second; Gangs and Drugs:
    People will inevitably associate with groups which are similar to themselves, that which they wish themselves to be, or those which offer them what they seek . Gangs are typically characterised by a culture of violence, of protection from outsiders through group based intimidation, and in our present society a source of income, support, and material obtainment. Children and adults lacking these factors will naturally feel an attraction toward these groups and what they offer. By removing the sources of income from these groups, particularly cannabis, one reduces the potential gains associated with joining such a group both in terms of money and as a source the drug and as such acts to level the playing field with other groups such as scouts or youth groups which otherwise may not be such an attractive option in decreasing the anomie. If one is made able to grow cannabis legally for their own supply only and to acquire it from licensed suppliers then they have no reason to deal with dealers whom may push them into harder drugs or lace the cannabis and their acceptance of dealers and gangs would likely decrease; cannabis is a victimless crime, it hurts people only through being illegal, what’s more, it is one of the only drugs available to us, including medicines and many found in soft-drinks, which is physically unable to kill us no matter how much we consume (apart from through lung cancer which can be prevented by using a vaporiser) as there are no cannabis receptors on the medulla or any of the other parts of the brain which control body processes. Legalising, and making available in stores, softer drugs such as E which pose no threat to others serves a similar effect and in making these available one not only increases liberty but decreases the source of funds for gangs, eliminates the gateway effect, provides an alternative to the harder substances, provides extra taxable income, and promotes rehabilitation programmes. Light amphetamines, maybe even dextro-amphetamines, could be made available to truckles to remove motivation for P consumption. Many other drugs could be legalised with benefit to society far outweighing the nearly non-existent costs. Almost everywhere drugs have been legalised the per-capita consumption has decreased.

    Third; Morals:
    Morals do not arise of religion, morals arise from the conglomeration of social heuristics which function for the net benefit of society; as BJ said, those moral codes that do not benefit their own survival die out to be replaced by those that do. There are plenty of moralistic atheists and agnostics and a vast mountain of immoralistic religious folk. Just because a catholic goes to church on sunday, renounces his sins and asks for forgiveness from the lord, does not make him moralistic, especially when he just goes out the next week and repeats them. No mass of protesting against abortion and promoting creationism will change that. I like to think I am not moralistic, but that is untrue. I am agnostic but when it comes down to it I am more moralistic than the vast majority of religious folk; I don’t care about life or death, I don’t send money to starving kids, and im just as likely to walk past a person bleeding to death as I am to help them but the thing is, that I judge everything by its merits; I have one goal, the continued proliferation of gaian life in the highest standards achievable without compromising that continuation, and from that I make my decisions, if I believe there to be a net benefit to that goal I do it, if there’s a net cost I don’t. Its that simple, but its a lot more moralistic than the conflicting ideals preached by every religion on this earth that are practised for no real reason other than to feel good for ones-self and an immense fear of hell.

    Fourth; The Monarch.
    The Monarch has explicitly stated that in no way shall she or her representative in new zealand interfere with the decisions of the new zealand parliament. As such she is holds absolutely no sway over the new zealand military or folk like me whom have been sworn to the crown. The queen one swears to when the swear allegiance is more the concept of the people embodied that the queen herself, if the people disagreed with her she would lack legitimacy and cease to be queen. At any rate perhaps the oath would better read:
    “I, [name], solemnly promise and swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to our Sovereign Lady the Queen, Her heirs and successors and appointed representatives, so long as the good and interests of our nation of New Zealand, her people and citizens, are advanced or at the least not impaired”

    Turnip,
    They would not be admitted to the queens parliament, at least they shouldn’t be. But all things considered it would be put to the GG, maybe even the queen, and would be approved anyway.

    BJ,
    We do have a partially codified and partially entrenched constitution, and that is the greatest strength and weakness of our country :P
    Also, the GG dissolves the parliament every three years at the request of the prime minister or in the event that the government does not display the confidence of the house.

    I’m far to tired to go through and tidy this all up or even read back through it, so my arguments will be far more poorly formed and less readable that normal; but you all can survive :P .

  68. Its just your intepretation BJ with regard to Kevin’s taking of the oath. If Kevin didn’t want to take the oath then why did he take the oath. Look its quite clear that the oath is important since when the government proposed changing it and dropping the queen part there was an uproar in the country and they backed down. I would love to see you BJ stand up in a meeting with the Moncharist league of NZ and make the claims your making on this board.

    I can see a conflict with both BJ and Sapient and a need to try and justify it be changing what it means to you. BJ states it has no meaning and Sapient simple changes the meaning of the word Queen. If either of you has a problem with taking an oath of aligiance to the queen then don’t take it.

    Sapient a country can’t exist based on gentleman’s agreements. Which is what you are argueing for with regard to the Monarchy. Note England has this same problem with its constitution.

    Finally BJ since you have taken a lifetime oath to defend the constitution of the US is it even possible for you to take an oath to New Zealand as New Zealand is not required to defend the constitution of US.

    Perhaps we need to add to our Oaths in NZ that anyone who has taken an oath must first renounce that oath before being allowed to take a NZ oath.

    If you then argue BJ that it doesn’t matter because its not important then why do we even have oaths in the first place since they have no meaning.
    Since we do have oaths they must be important to someone so your argument of non-importance is moot.

  69. Turnip

    I don’t care which side of an irrelevant issue is being championed, the irrelevance is there for any person with the wit to tie his shoes unaided to perceive. Moreover, I would likely make as little headway with the Monarchists as with the Republican.

    I’d take the oath if it has null semantic content when taken in context with the real world. The part about the Queen is not important…

    If I am given a choice of a ship with a figurehead and one without, and there is no OTHER difference I will likely flip a coin.

    There is no conflict between an oath to protect and defend the constitution of the United States and an oath to protect and defend the legitimate interests of NZ. Nor CAN there be. For there to be a conflict ONE of them has to have violated its principles.

    Perhaps we need to add to our Oaths in NZ that anyone who has taken an oath must first renounce that oath before being allowed to take a NZ oath.

    Why make things more complicated? Oaths have as much meaning as realities permit. Swearing to work for the betterment of New Zealand and its Citizens might be more meaningful than an oath to the figurehead embodiment of those things. Swearing “obedience” to anyone or anything is poorly thought and you will note, absent from the oath I swore. I WAS paying attention.

    The other point however is interesting… why bother to swear an oath at all?

    It enables us to charge someone with treason perhaps. Personally I would prefer to have a Constitution to swear to, as it is then not a matter of allegiance to a person, even a figurehead. Swearing the oath marks a point in time when the way the state considers you is changed? It also does entail obligations on your part – which depend on what you swore and the nature of the entity you swore to.

    Oaths in general are not meaningless, my argument is that the presence or absence of reference to the figurehead monarch does not mean anything in that oath, except in the sense that the figurehead is used in place of the Constitution that is so regrettably absent. This result comes about because that is the role of the monarch in this society. Context is important here.

    The Monarchy itself is not.

    BJ

  70. > turnip28: I my self will NEVER give an oath of allegiance to any human being. Go watch Valkyrie to see why oaths of allegiance to other human beings are a bad idea.

    I concur with that, and would go a step further by saying that I would not give an oath of allegiance to a flag, a nation, or constitution, or anything else in heaven or earth. Because I believe that human beings should always be free to use their own judgement, to follow their conscience, to subject everything to reasoned criticism, and to change their opinions and their loyalties as wisdom demands. It is not that I do not appreciate the value of loyalty, constancy, and commitment to principles. I just believe that those virtues only have real value when they are freely held and freely given.

    > turnip28: Does anyone know what would happen if an MP refused to take the oath of allegiance to the queen, would they be barred from taking their seat.

    One can only speculate.

    I believe that if a list MP was to refuse the oath, and if the next candidate on the list was to take his place and utter the oath, then the candidate who refused to take the oath would be denied a seat in parliament and his political career would be finished. The affair would have a momentary impact on society at large, and then be forgotten.

    The situation would be very different in the case of a constituency elected member, or in the case of an entire list of candidates refusing to take the oath. The law would still take its course, but the consequence would be that an entire constituencey would have been disenfranchised in the name of the monarch. That would have the further effect of undermining the regime’s claim to democratic legitimacy, and thereby set in train a constitutional crisis which the regime would be desperate to bring to a quick end. Therefore after a decent interval of time – anything from a few weeks to a couple of years – one would expect to see parliament repeal or substantially amend the Oaths and Declarations Act, and return the elected representatives to office.

    I do not believe that the New Zealand parliament would be so foolish as to choose to provoke a constitutional crisis in the midst of an burgeoning economic crisis. Therefore, in my view, just one successful constituency candidate, or one elected list, would have the power to bring down this abhorrent piece of legislation. What are the chances of that happening? In my view it is only a remote possiblility. I expect that change will more likely come in response to a slow, steady loss of confidence in the institution of parliament among the electorate at large, which will eventually oblige parliament to either review all matters touching upon its legitimacy and its public standing, or face the prospect of a spontaneous political upheaval.

  71. I won’t respond to BJ Chip’s arguments, except to say that they can be taken as a demonstration of his own character, and it is for others to judge whether he has any valid observations to make with regard to my own.

    But I will answer a couple of questions he raises, as well as I am able.

    > When was the last time the “Crown” decided that someone could NOT be a citizen who was permitted entry by the government?

    I don’t know. I that the “Northern News” published an account of an immigrant who declared at the naturalisation ceremony that he could not swear allegiance to the Queen in good conscience, because he held to republican principles. He was then ordered to swear allegiance to the Queen, or give up New Zealand citizenship. This case is discussed in my article “A Solemn Oath” at

    > When was the last time a duly elected government here was dissolved by the “Crown”?

    Not within my memory. The sub-text of the question is that if a Crown coup has not happened in New Zealand, then it cannot happen, or at least is unlikely to happen. It happened in Australia, which has a similar constitution, when the Whitlam government was deposed. And you will find parallels in the Fiji, where the coup carried out by the Royal Fiji Military Forces was legitimised after the fact by the then Governor-General.

    Could it happen in New Zealand? Legally, yes. Would it happen in New Zealand? Realistically, only if there was some sort of crisis, the Governor-General was hostile to the government in office, and the Governor-General believed that he would have public opinion, the police, and the military forces on his side. Would that worry me personally? No, it wouldn’t. Because I know such a thing could happen, and because I could make appropriate measures if it did happen.

  72. The above post originally contained a reference to a web site. Apparently the website management software (which is of excellent design) for some reason will not accept a post containing a reference to that website. Readers will have to figure out for themselves the website to which I wished to refer

  73. Geoff Fischer’s comments relating to my character throughout this series of posts can only be taken as derogatory.

    I suppose that this is understandable considering that I repeatedly pointed out that what is possibly the most important issue in his life is a matter of questionable relevance to the nation. My view of its importance is unchanged, but I should also consider that these observations must be hurtful… and for that hurt I do apologize.

    Those who know me here will decide for themselves whether I am worthy of trust and whether my reasoned responses are somehow impeachable.

    ____

    Since there is, instead of a constitutional process, only the recourse to the Governor General (the monarchy) to resolve a “constitutional crisis” in either of NZ or Australia, the Whitlam government’s failure to be ABLE to govern and subsequent failure to call elections left Australia in a lot of difficulty. Whether or not the dissolution was REALLY justified is question I am not able to answer and historians argue the issue to this day.

    NZ would do better I think, to have an actual constitution to resolve things rather than leaving it up to the judgment of a single impeachable human. The flip side of that argument is that the intervention in Oz worked.

    respectfully
    BJ

  74. It is an automated system with heuristics that I suspect not even the authors completely understand any more. The usual course is for an entire post to be blocked. In this case, only the link failed to be published that may indicate a formatting issue. Have a look here

    http://blog.greens.org.nz/index.php/help-how-to/

    Some of the formatting is a bit arcane so as a rule I never try to do put a label on a link.

    respectfully
    BJ

  75. Geoff – there was nothing in the moderation or the spam queue, so I cannot answer your query regarding the “missing link”. I suspect it got lost in the ether entirely rather than at our site.

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