John Armstrong: Greens in election no-man's land after Metiria Turei shambles

Metiria Turei's messy exit from the post of co-leader of the Greens has exposed some home truths which that party would much prefer to ignore.

Not the least of those is the very vexed question of the party's positioning on the political spectrum.

Source: 1 NEWS

Despite the recent ructions within the party, the Greens could still end up partnering Labour in a post-election coalition government.

That would likely come at more of a price than the Greens would have expected to pay just a few short weeks ago.

For such a two-party coalition to be feasible, the mathematics of MMP would require that Labour's revival under Jacinda Ardern sees that party registering close to 40 per cent of the party vote.

The equation is simple, but brutal. Unless the Greens can bounce back strongly from their troubles, they will end up with fewer seats at the Cabinet table and a lot less leverage and influence.

That is the optimistic scenario. It is more likely that Labour will also need New Zealand First to be part of that power equation.

If Winston Peters refuses to countenance the Greens being part of any Labour-led coalition which includes his party, the Greens could at best become a governing partner holding some ministerial portfolios, but crucially without securing a single seat at the Cabinet table.

Worse, the Greens could find themselves shut out of government entirely, but forced to back confidence motions enabling a Labour-New Zealand First administration to govern, rather than risk forcing a second election no-one would want.

That scenario is almost a carbon copy of the circumstances which prevailed prior to the 2014 election.

They are likely to be circumstances which will continue to bedevil the Greens for as long as the party ghettoises itself to the left of Labour - and thus becomes hostage to the major Opposition party.

The Greens are well aware they are trapped. The negotiation of a memorandum of understanding with Labour was evidence of the Greens' efforts to pressure its supposed ally to be loyal to the cause of the left rather than end up pandering to the populism of centrist New Zealand First.

The memorandum technically expires on Election Day. But it was rendered redundant from the moment parties across the spectrum began indulging in pre-election coalition jostling.

Ms Turei's answer to the conundrum facing her party was for the Greens to launch an all-out offensive to try to supplant Labour as the major Opposition party.

Greens leader James Shaw told a crowd in Auckland the party still holds the same values. Source: 1 NEWS

The timing was propitious. Labour had a weak and ineffective leader. Public backing for that party seemed to be spiralling ever lower ever faster.

But Ms Turei's strategy required that Labour not change its leader so close to the election. That was not an unreasonable assumption. In the unlikely event that Andrew Little was rolled, it was assumed his successor would do little better.

How wrong can you be. The subsequent drubbing of the Greens in the most recent polls should serve as a huge wake-up call for the party.

No longer can the Greens rely on the disease responsible for the rapid decline of social democratic parties worldwide striking New Zealand's example of that species.

Labour's resurgence means there is now only one escape route from the cul de sac in which the Greens are trapped.

They need to reposition themselves in the centre of the political spectrum so that if they have the numbers to be a player in post-election talks on government formation, they have the flexibility to engage in serious negotiations with either Labour or National or both major parties.

There is nothing new about that solution. Those advocating such a fundamental rethink have been doing so for so long that they risk sounding like a cracked record.

What is different now is that the logic driving such a rethink has become even more compelling.

But try telling that to remaining Greens co-leader James Shaw. As recently as just a month ago, he insisted a National-Greens coalition government was "completely out of the question".

There is no indication that the extraordinary events in the interim have done anything to change his mindset or that of his party's wider membership.

Expressing a willingness to at least talk to National post-election would put a whole different complexion on the election. And no party is currently in greater need of such a change in the election's dynamics than Shaw's crew.

The temporarily sole leader has valid reason to be cautious, however.

He would argue he has no mandate for initiating such a drastic rethink. Moreover, given such a change in approach would require consensus across the party, there is simply not enough time for such a debate prior to the election - especially one which would draw attention away from the party's policies.

The ructions which have seen three of the party's 14 MPs quit have left it in no condition to contemplate even more upheaval.

Moreover, any suggestion that the Greens might in future be willing to do a deal with National would cut across the Greens' insistence that this year's election must produce a change of government.

Above all, a shift in the party's stance to one that could result in National remaining in power could see the exit of a further wave of voters - one that could be of such size as to threaten the Greens' continued representation in Parliament.

While Shaw might be adamant there can be no rapprochement with National, other things need to change in Green-land which would have the by-product of making a repositioning of the party more likely, if only slightly so.

Here's why. To save face - Turei's -Shaw insists that the Greens' war on poverty will remain a key part of the Greens' election campaign.

But the party's social justice thrust has become hopelessly entangled with Turei's personal narrative of her life on the benefit.

Her focus on social justice to the exclusion of virtually anything else has effectively turned the Greens into some kind of ersatz version of Jim Anderton's Alliance.

The Greens' already-announced policy initiatives to help the poor have barely got a look-in so far. To highlight them now would only risk reopening the hugely polarising argument regarding the rights or wrongs of Ms Turei's actions.

Her skewing of priorities has resulted in the Greens' other guiding principle of ecological sustainability coming a long second behind the party's other principle of social responsibilities.

Yet, it is as the purveyors of "ecological wisdom" that defines the Greens and provides them with a brand of inestimable value.

Metiria Turei resigned yesterday shortly before a Newshub-Reid Research poll showed a collapse in Greens support. Source: Breakfast

Instead of being at the spearhead of the debate on environmental policy, Ms Turei's excursion deep into Labour's territory has resulted, however, in the Greens arriving very late at their own party.

Uninvited guests - be it National promising to purchase electric cars for the public service's vehicle fleet, Labour demanding royalty payments for bottled water or Winston Peters' sudden interest in protecting native flora and fauna from introduced pests - have pinched all the presents.

Mr Shaw's immediate task is to persuade voters that these imposters are charlatans when it comes to protecting the environment.

The need to relight his party's true brand in environmentally friendly neon ought to trigger a debate on the party's positioning.

If the Greens are to save the planet, they must first save themselves. And that is going to require thinking the previously unthinkable.

Hamilton principal slammed for speech saying truants were highly likely to become rape victims

A Hamilton high school principal has been condemned for a speech in which she said truants were highly likely to end up in prison, be illiterate, a rape victim or commit suicide.

A student secretly recorded the school assembly speech by Fraser High School principal Virginia Crawford and uploaded it to YouTube.

In the speech, Crawford called any truant a “statistic of the worst kind".

"Highly likely to go to prison, either commit domestic violence or be a victim of domestic violence, be illiterate, be a rape victim, be a suicide victim, be unemployed for the majority of their life, have a major health problem, die at an early age, have an addiction, gambling, drugs or smoking,” she said.

"When I drive out of school during class time for meetings, and I see groups of students sitting outside the dairy, fish and chip shop, bus stop, some of the things I am thinking is that is another group of students without a future.

"That is another student who will end up as a statistic, that's another loser, that's another wannabe. Another student desperate for friendship, another we've lost."

She urged students to work hard in school to make better lives for themselves.

One parent commented on the YouTube video, saying they would pull their daughter out of the school.

“This is actually quite disturbing, I'm seriously concerned as my daughter attends this school. Yes she's had days off school, and there's been a time I've forgotten to call...... But wen u say such things like this?” the parent wrote.

“You have failed my daughter as an educator, you have failed the system, my daughter hasn't failed as a student and I haven't failed as a parent. This revolting tormenting speech has only proven that YOU madam principal are the FAILURE in this matter. Disgusting inappropriate accusations. I'm pulling my daughter out until you are replaced.”

Another commenter said his stepson would no longer attend Fraser High School after hearing the speech.

“I'm glad too (sic) say that my wife's son…will no longer be attending 'fraser high school'. After seeing this speech I was literally shaking, this kind of offensive culture should not be permitted in New Zealand,” he wrote.

Board of Trustees parent representative Milton Ngaruhe told Stuff that he had been sent messages about the speech, but hadn't had parents complain to him about it. 

"Personally I haven't had a chance to listen to more than a minute of the video and there is a process that we go through."1

1 NEWS has tried to contact the school. 


1080 case goes to Māori Land Court as two Northland men challenge DOC's right to drop on Russell State Forest

Two Northland men challenging DOC's right to drop 1080 on Russell State Forest say it needs to show it has consent from Māori and the community.

Riki Ngakoti and Hayward Brown have applied to the Māori Land Court for an injunction to stop the pesticide drop that's set to happen in the next fortnight.

Auckland opponents of 1080 trying to stop a drop in the Hunua Ranges, have taken their case to the Environment Court.

But Mr Ngakoti said he had sought advice from the Tikanga Māori Law Society and believed the Māori Land Court had jurisdiction.

"There will be arguments by the settlers of New Zealand - our fellow Kiwis - and government officials, that the Department of Conservation manages Crown land. We had that argument from the court when we applied, but we...interpret that land to be Māori customary land."

Mr Ngakoti said he and Mr Brown were not so much anti-1080 as anti-risk and DOC had not provided a forum in which that risk could be publicly evaluated and debated.

"We have tried to do a bit of research but some of the risks we haven't been able to satisfy ourselves about are the effect of 1080 on the environment below the ground... the micro-organisms, the works, the bugs - there hasn't been thorough research."

The Māori Land Court will hold the injunction hearing on Monday in Whangarei.

Meanwhile the lawyer acting for the Auckland 1080 opponents, Sue Grey, said further court challenges to the use of 1080 were inevitable.

"There has been no forum for public conversation and it got much worse last year when the former Minister for the Environment Nick Smith passed...regulations exempting 1080 from all the usual resource consent processes.

"You need resource consent if you want to extend your fence - but DOC doesn't have to get a consent or have any public consultation for dropping poison into public areas."

That had led to a build-up of pressure because people had genuine concerns and nowhere to air them, she said.

DOC has linked the anti-1080 spam campaign on Facebook to threats against its staff, based on misinformation about the toxin

But Ms Grey said she stood by her advice to 1080 opponents to use social media to promote their cause.

"I would never advocate any threats or violence. My view is that the court processes are there and we need to use them and that's what I encourage my clients to do."

Ms Grey said there had been a lot of allegations made about threats but she had her doubts.

"I've just seen an OIA response from the police and it seems that very few of those alleged incidents did happen," she said.

"There seems to be a pattern of exaggeration of these threats."

However DOC and Forest and Bird sources told RNZ there had been very serious threats made and staff were worried.

By Lois Williams



Private housing tenants evicted over meth contamination should also be compensated, says advocate

Tenants in private housing incorrectly evicted as a result of methamphetamine contamination testing should also be in line for compensation, according to Action Against Poverty.

Ricardo Menendez, from Action Against Poverty, said as many as 2400 evicted tenants should be in line for compensation despite Housing Minister Phil Twyford announcing yesterday that around 800 Housing NZ tenants would be reimbursed for costs related to their evictions.

“These (the 800) would have the Housing NZ tenants that would have fallen into the catchment but I do feel that all tenants should be up for compensation as well even though some (were in) private housing,” Mr Menendez told TVNZ1’s Breakfast.

“A lot of these tenants were evicted through the testing as a way to pave for redevelopments or developments for housing so I think it was just an excuse to push people out of their communities."

Housing NZ tenant Kathleen Paraha said she the meth contamination evictions had taken an enormous toll, with WINZ blaming innocent people for being evicted.

"These people have lost their furniture, their clothing, and when they go to WINZ, they’ve been declined of clothing and stuff because they think it’s been contaminated so they’re not offering enough,” she said.

“They’ve been put in debt because they’ve been evicted, because WINZ have been saying that they did this themselves, it’s their fault.”

“For one thing they should clear the debt that the government has put them in the first place.”

“They’ve been told to pay for their motel bills if they put them into motels, they’ve been told to pay for it because it’s their fault.”

Kathleen Paraha said the Housing NZ evictions took an enormous personal toll on those evicted, putting people in debt and often leading to drug use among those left homeless. Source: Breakfast

Police seeking information over terrifying early morning robbery at Tauranga home involving an axe

Police are seeking public information after a terrifying assault and robbery at a Tauranga home where two offenders broke into the house early this morning armed with an axe and crowbar.

Officers responded to an aggravated burglary on Waterford Park Drive in Papamoa at approximately 4.30am, Detective Sergeant Darryl Brazier said.

Two men had entered the property and assaulted two occupants of the house, a man and woman, before stealing two cars from the property.

The two victims received minor injuries but did not require ambulance treatment though they are receiving continued support from police, Detective Sergeant Brazier said.

Police have recovered the vehicles nearby and are currently examining them while a scene examination is also underway at the property.

If anyone in the area has any information which could assist with the Police investigation we encourage them to ring Tauranga Police on 577 4300.

Information can also be given anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Man with axe