Greens speak on their ' ‘biggest frustration’ - and optimism for 2023 election

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The New Zealand Herald 2022-12-11 Link

Share this article Green Party co-leaders James Shaw and Marama Davidson reflect on their highs and lows of the year. Video / Mark Mitchell Green Party co-leader James Shaw has hit out at the agricultural sector saying one of the year’s biggest frustrations is stalled action on pricing agricultural emissions and “incrementalism” from other parties in tackling big issues like climate change. While the agricultural sector has blamed the Government for rejecting its own proposal, He Waka Eke Noa, to rein in methane gas emissions and meet climate change targets, Climate Change Minister Shaw said they had fallen short. “I was hoping for a stronger proposal,” he said of the initial report released in July, as consultation on a final plan continues. In an end-of-year interview with the Herald , Shaw and co-leader Marama Davidson were more buoyant, however, about their party’s prospects for the 2023 election. After the 2020 election and Labour’s majority victory, the Greens entered into a co-operation agreement, retaining Shaw in the climate change space and Davidson as Minister for the Prevention of Family and Sexual Violence, both outside Cabinet. While Labour’s vote share has plummeted from over 50 per cent at the last election to roughly 33 per cent in current polls, the Greens have held steady at about 10 per cent, increasing from 7.9 per cent on election night. “We’re actually pretty confident that we will be expanding our caucus,” Shaw said. “2020 was our third-best election result ever, I think that we can close the gap on our best election results in 2011 and 2014.” The agreement with Labour meant the party had to support the areas where they worked together publicly but could criticise the Government outside of that. “We would have liked Labour to go further and to go faster than they have,” Shaw said, particularly around climate change and addressing inequality. “But if we agreed with Labour on everything, we’d be in the same political party.” Shaw said he was proud of the work they’d achieved in the climate space, from the Emissions Reduction Plan to the draft adaptation plan - with the legislation set to be introduced next year - and work at the United Nations conference COP27 in Egypt around loss and damage . “Vulnerable countries, islands in the Pacific clearly need that level of support,” said Shaw of the historic agreement to help pay for the damage an overheating world is inflicting on poor countries. “I’m really proud of New Zealand’s role in helping to get that over the line.” Davidson, meanwhile, pointed to the party’s achievements in the Government adopting a moratorium on deep sea mining (also advocated for by Te Pāti Māori ), progress on the family and sexual violence elimination strategy Te Aorerekura and work on ACC covering childbirth injuries , championed by MP Jan Logie (who recently announced she’d be retiring at the election after 12 years). Both leaders would not comment on any other impending retirements but said they were committed to running in 2023 and beyond provided they were part of a government. They were less committed, however, on the prospects of being in opposition. “No Plan B,” said Shaw, while Davidson said she always made decisions “term-to-term”. Davidson said a major focus for next year would be continuing to pressure the Government to bring in rent controls, and affordable housing and reduce inequality, exacerbated by Covid-19. They had not decided on their manifesto yet, though it would focus broadly on climate change, ending inequality and restoring native wildlife. However, the exact details would be shaped by economic circumstances of 2023 - with high inflation and recession forecast, Davidson said. In the space of family and sexual violence, Davidson said the strategy was over 25 years and a reduction in the country’s shameful record would take time. Police respond to a family harm incident every four minutes, and in the year to June 2021 there were an estimated 168,000 sexual assault offences on adults. Davidson acknowledged in the short-term the work could mean reporting of incidents increased. “We actually do need to see more and more people reporting. “And if we continue with a focus on strength-based, wellbeing and prevention, it will still take years for us to see the drop and prevalence of violence. “The drivers of violence are so deeply embedded and entrenched and require lifelong healing of entire generations, that we can only do that across a generation.” Shaw said their work in climate change was also long-term and pushed back at criticism including that emissions in recent years had continued to increase. He pointed to success of the Clean Car discount , which meant one in three new cars sold in the country now was an electric vehicle. “A year ago, it was 5 per cent. Two years before that, it was 1 per cent. And now it’s one in three. “If you include hybrids next year it’ll be more than one in two by March.” But Shaw said it was the infrastructure set-up, the frameworks and legislation, that would have the most lasting impacts on climate change. “We are the party of the long term,” he said. “If you want kind of a short-term sugar-hit solution for the purposes of winning some votes, the next election, vote for somebody else, right? That’s not us. Shaw said during the next parliamentary term it was “critical” the Greens were in government again. Those three years would enter the first emissions budget, the beginning of the second period, and deciding on the fourth emissions budget for 2035 to 2040. The Government would also decide the next climate targets under the Paris agreement from 2031 to 2035, and the Climate Change Commission would be reviewing the 2050 targets to make sure they’re still aligned with the 1.5-degree temperature threshold. Agricultural emissions pricing would kick in, in some form, too. “It is an absolutely critical term because it will really determine the speed and scale of climate policy for the next 15 years and beyond,” Shaw said. “We need to be there for that.” This year also saw the party’s co-leadership tested, with some disgruntled members voting to reopen nominations against him. Shaw travelled across the country meeting members ahead of the final vote and said he was confident those issues had been put to bed. “I got 97 per cent of the votes in the final analysis. So that’s a pretty ringing endorsement.” The co-leaders said it was too soon to be discussing any bottom lines for the election, and also quashed the regular suggestion of a “teal deal”, ie working with National in some form. Shaw reiterated it would be for the members to decide. “If you look at the things that National stands for, they pull in the opposite direction of pretty much everything that we stand for. “It’s hard to imagine they would be able to put something on the table that we could sign up to.” Share this article The mayor makes peace with developer to progress ambition to shirt port.