My regular column in the New Zealand Truth appeared again today:
A couple of weeks ago the Green Party signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the National-led Government.
Some of our supporters have been worried that perhaps we are selling our souls to the Nats in return for a few favours.
However, I would like to reassure people that we in the Green Party are as committed as ever to standing up for our own political programme and policies, and that this latest arrangement is not some trick to keep us quiet.
What the agreement does do is commit National and Greens to work together in a few areas where we have a particular common interest, with three on the table at the moment:
- A nationwide programme to help people who own or rent in the private sector to insulate their homes, very similar to the Green Homes project we were working on with Labour before last year’s election.
- An update of our country’s energy efficiency strategy, an area in which our Co leader Jeanette Fitzsimons has been working for many years
- Developing ways of ensuring that natural health products are part of a New Zealand based safety system instead of being regulated mainly by Australians as previously proposed.
More areas may arise in future, but this is it for the moment.
This new agreement does not in any way commit the Green Party to being part of or voting for the Government, and we remain as free as ever to critique the parties of Government and to put up our own alternative policies and solutions.
This Government is already showing tendencies of being very like the last National Government in the way it treats workers and in its overall approach to the economy and the environment.
In this context, the Greens will be continuing to fight tooth and nail to defend ordinary Kiwis’ rights to a decent standard of living and to preserve our planet for future generations.
Turning to another topic completely, the situation in Fiji is a mess and New Zealand has played its part in allowing it to become so.
While Frank Bainimarama is right out of line in the way he is treating the press and his political opponents, the previous Fijian Government served the interests of political, economic, tribal and religious elites.
Bainimarama says he seized power in order to clean the country up.
Although our Labour Government was right to condemn the use of military force to overthrow a democratically elected Government, it had some choices about what it did next.
Labour could have tried to work constructively with Bainimarama to put in place a system of Government that was democratic and accountable.
Instead it chose to impose overly stringent sanctions and preach about a narrow form of democracy that had nothing to do with protecting the rights of ordinary Fijians from cronyism and corruption.
In doing so it exacerbated the situation rather than providing the friendship and support that might have seen a quick restoration of democracy.
We have failed our Fijian friends in their time of need and the best thing we can do now is work quietly behind the scenes to help build towards that very goal.