A cleaner, fairer, smarter New Zealand

Russel Norman- General debate speech, 23 July 2014


Together, it is possible to build a cleaner, fairer, smarter New Zealand.

A New Zealand in which our rivers are clean enough to swim in and our precious beaches are safe from oil spills.

A New Zealand in which every child has enough to thrive.

And a New Zealand built on a smarter, greener economy that benefits every one of us.

However this vision of a truly richer country is not the New Zealand that National has left us after six years in Government.

John Key’s brighter future has fizzled into one of dim prospects.

Under National nearly two thirds of our monitored river swimming sites are now considered unsafe for swimming.

Swimmable rivers are the birth right of our children.

But the opportunity to swim in our sea and our rivers isn’t the only birth right National is denying our children.

There are now 35,000 more children in severe poverty in New Zealand than there were before National came to power.

And fifty percent of all New Zealanders have seen no real increase in their net income at all once housing costs are factored in.

It’s really no surprise that only the wealthiest New Zealanders are getting ahead under this Government. National’s pollution economy is jobs poor and favours low value simple commodities over high value innovations.

Evidence of National turning their back on an innovative economy is their plan to cut research and development spending by 21 percent in real terms over the next 10 years.

Three more years of National is not a safe option for New Zealand. Three more years will put our environment, our children and our economy at risk.

Cleaner, Fairer, Smarter

The Green Party has a comprehensive plan for a cleaner, fairer, smarter country.

We will make our rivers clean enough to swim in again.

In Government, the Greens will establish a protected rivers network to permanently safeguard our most precious rivers.

We protect the best of our landscapes and habitats in National Parks and we can do the same for our best rivers.

We will also keep our wild rivers wild by not building any new dams on them.

And we will put in place proper water rules that ensure that no New Zealand river is allowed to degrade further and that our rivers and lakes are clean enough for swimming.

New Zealanders have a choice: the Green Party’s plan for river that are clean enough to swim in, or National’s plan for polluted rivers that you can only dip your toe in.

I know which option I prefer.

Persistent and damaging poverty and inequality grates with the sense of who we are as a nation. But child poverty can be eliminated. We just need a plan.

We have a credible and costed plan to ensure every New Zealand child has enough to thrive.

For a start, in Government, the Green Party will extend the 20 hours early childcare subsidy to every two year old.

For parents of the 40,000 children aged between two and three who currently miss out on the 20 Hours funding support, this will mean they could be up to $95 a week better off.

At the same time as reducing the cost to parents of ECE, we will embark on an ambitious plan to improve the quality of early childhood education for all our children, starting with restoring full funding to those centres who employ 100 percent trained teachers .

Good quality ECE has profound, lifelong impacts on a child.

It can mean starting school ready to learn and in a position to get the most out of education.

Research shows that investing in early childhood education is one of the most effective investments a society can make. For every $1 spent on ECE, between $3 and $16 is returned.

The Greens will invest in our kids to thrive, and free our children from National’s poverty trap.

It’s time to get serious about building a smarter economy.

If we want to provide for our social needs and aspirations, we need to be at least as innovative as other affluent nations.

That means making high value-added manufactured goods and services, not simply selling commodities like raw logs and milk powder.

To kick-start a transformational shift in how our economy creates wealth, the Green Party will invest $1 billion of new government funding into research and development.

We will fund an additional 1,000 places at tertiary institutions for students of engineering, mathematics, computer science, and the physical sciences – nurturing our future innovators.

These policies will help secure our long-term prosperity by significantly ramping up our investment in innovation.

Innovation and know-how can enable us to do more with less, better protecting the natural world we all love whatever our political hue, while allowing us all to live prosperous, fulfilling lives.


The Greens are now solidly established as a major party.

We have stable leadership and have consistently led with fresh thinking.

Now, more than ever, the Greens need to be in Government to combat the environmental, social, and economic challenges facing New Zealanders.

This election is the opportunity for all of us to build the cleaner, fairer, smarter country we all want.


8 Comments Posted

  1. Given the number of unemployed nursing graduates at risk of being lost to the profession (while an increasing number of nurses are aging and soon to retire within a decade or so), an intervention in this market is required.

    One option is to have nurses adopt an intern to observe them in the workplace and obtain work experience under supervision. These former interns can later act as replacements in case of sick leave or holidays etc.

    Another, a supplementary measure, would be to mimic the Plunkett organisation acting in support of new mothers, with a new organisation staffed by these surplus nurses who make home visits to the aged to make health assessments. This forming part of a long term programme to provide such health check ups to the aged – important as the numbers in this group grow to an ever older category.

  2. The effort to justify greater inequality is one of the larger crimes of National against the people of New Zealand. That Labour did so little in its time in office to correct the problems, is however, probably, the larger betrayal. National merely does exactly what was expected.

    We are clear in our opposition to inequality, but we are grossly hindered by the gross economic distortion which we must live in.

    We need no MRLP… we have National and Labour.


  3. Under National nearly two thirds of our monitored river swimming sites are now considered unsafe for swimming

    wow, all that happened in just five and a half years!

    There are now 35,000 more children in severe poverty in New Zealand than there were before National came to power

    For that to happen, the average family income had to rise. As long as the definition of poverty is being below a certain percentage of average household income, there MUST be people living in poverty! Mind you, we could always adopt the Communist approach, where everyone is paid the same amount, but “leaders” get special perks and privileges to make sure they live in luxury! The “poverty” level in NZ is above the luxury level to more than half the world’s population.

    Fifty percent of all New Zealanders have seen no real increase in their net income at all once housing costs are factored in

    I see the Greens have done everything they can to help this situation along; buy putting their money in income generating properties (aka investment property).

    I was hoping by now to see some cohesive, costed, proposals from The Greens, that would give me something to evaluate. (costing means both expenditure and source of new income to cover it or current spending to be ceased) Sadly, this has yet to eventuate. The MRLP is starting to look good again, shame they aren’t on the ballot paper this time.

  4. Why the endless focus on early childhood education in government run / sponsored / subsidised facilites??
    Are parents ( most of them) not capable to teach their children? And if they are not, then where are the policies of ANY party to actively encourage parental learning responsibilities and abilities in a wide range of areas?
    Time perhaps to consider the very real benefits to ( most ) children on having extended bonding with their parents and less pressure to be in increasingly formalised learning structures, which also recognises that to be a parent is actually one of the most responsible and meaningful vocations on the planet and a full-time parent at home…properly engaged in this task…is actually socially and economically advantageous. Personal and documented research observations have also proved that many of the children in depressed circumstances are, for whatever reason, from single parent homes so a push to encourage and facilitate strong relationships might be worth a serious consideration. And, dare I raise the issue, all the sex education does not appear to be working so well. In my small street alone,I know 2 Mums who, between them have 6 children 5 of whom are boys and only 1 Dad in sight… having eventually married the mother of the only girl…The mothers do the best they can but it is still a dysfunctional situation overall. And where are the other male parents?? If you’re going to “dip your wick” time to grow up!!

  5. “The Greens will invest in our kids to thrive, and free our children from National’s poverty trap.”

    They aren’t your kids, and all you are looking to do is take from those who raise children responsibly (i.e. they have families they can afford to pay for) to pay for those who don’t, on the basis that there is some right to have children paid for by other people.

    That’s the gap between yourselves and others. You stand up for people who make poor decisions and want others to bail them out from them.

  6. When will New Zealanders work out that Labour and National have, since the mid 1980’s been transforming the country…. into a third world exploitative economic trap in which we are condemned to indentured servitude working the ruined land that we once owned.

    Sell off our assets.
    Sell off mining rights in the national parks.
    Sell off extremely risky exploration rights for offshore oil drilling
    Sell off the farmland
    Sell off the housing

    Sell off everything that ain’t nailed down and if they can pry it loose it ain’t nailed down (to paraphrase one of the Railroad Barons of the 19th century America).

    This country can’t afford much more of National. It can’t even really afford a lot more of Labour.

    We have to look at how we can transform the economy into something that supports internal self-supply of many things we currently import. For some things this isn’t reasonable, for others, we have the ability and resources to do our own work. Greens know how that can be done.

    Fixing our problems instead of trying to patch them over by selling off more assets. What a “radical” idea.

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