The end of the year! 2016 has been…a mixed bag – Trump-ism, losing Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen et al, and the creeping malaise of a tired government. Green Party MP Julie Anne Genter shares her year.
My highlights of 2016
This year, I got to do many exciting things and lead a range of campaigns to help create a better New Zealand. We had quite a few wins too. Here’s just a smattering. In January, we toasted when the government announced it would no longer stand in the way of building the City Rail Link in Auckland. In June, we welcomed the long-awaited start to construction at the sod-turning ceremony. The CRL is the first step to creating a faster, cleaner transport system in our biggest city and something we and others have campaigned on relentlessly.
In July, we witnessed the government back down on the use of foreign trusts and admit they were a likely vehicle for tax abuse that need to be opened up to increased disclosure and reporting. This was an issue we started campaigning on in 2012. As finance spokesperson, I was proud to lead our efforts getting greater scrutiny and oversight of this dark industry.
In the finance space again, alongside great journalism from the NZ Herald and others, we forced Kiwisaver providers to take ethical investment seriously. Almost all funds now offer ethical options that exclude armaments and nuclear power.
My lowlights of 2016
The ongoing challenge of Standing Rock. Indigenous peoples have already lost so much. It was so inspiring to watch them stand up to protect water and the climate. It’s just so sad they had to.
On a personal note, I lost both my maternal grandparents this year, aged 91 and 92.
Elsewhere: Donald (’nuff said), Brexit (where young, optimistic voters were outnumbered by older, xenophobic ones), and Aleppo (no words).
Finally, despite strong campaigning, it looks as though Kiwirail are likely to ditch electric freight trains.
My holiday spot
I’ll be tramping the beautiful Routeburn and Kepler tracks in the South Island over Xmas. Also, going for heaps of ocean swims wherever I can!
My summer reading
I love my Kindle, over summer I’ll be diving into Jane Mayer’s ‘Dark Money‘, a chronicle about the money that dominates US politics. Sometimes, old-fashioned paperback is the way to go. For “lighter” fare, I’ll be finishing Neal Stephenson’s ‘Seveneves‘ and then on to the latest Man Booker prize winner, Paul Beatty’s ‘The Sellout‘. Like my colleague, Gareth Hughes, I’m a huge Stranger Things fan so I hope to catch up with the rest of the series on Netflix over summer too.
My Christmas wish for 2017
The world needs compassion and cooperation more than ever. I hope we have leaders from around the world, including the Greens in NZ, who can inspire the kindness we need – finding common ground – to solve the problems our planet and humanity are facing.