The Greens and Labour agree to agree to disagree – one of those R.D. Laing knots that afflict the schizophrenic mind. James Shaw continues as Climate Change Minister and Associate Minister for the Environment focusing on biodiversity and Marama Davidson becomes the Minister for the Prevention of Family and Sexual Violence plus Associate Minister for Housing (focusing on homelessness). Both parties will co-operate, presumably in the above areas but also on electoral reform – to make the parliamentary term four years rather than three and to lower the MMP threshold. The Greens have no economic portfolios or control of big spending ministries and no representation in the budget setting process, They have no fiscal voice so the economic establishments will be placated: no wealth taxes, no capital gains taxes, no guaranteed minimum income, no getting at the farmers – incremental change only for Brand NZ.
Instead of polluters paying, fossil fuel subsidies disappearing and us taking responsibility for our Pacific neighbours, instead of social equity and just transition, we will have agricultural change research, will clean up waterways, have better waste management and will phase out fossil fuels with regard to process heat (drying milk powder). Housing policy will remain aspirational with a curious emphasis on getting rid of rheumatic fever.
When it comes to Domestic and Sexual Violence, Jan Logie’s private members bill actually did something by enabling paid leave and flexible working arrangements. Now there’ll be working groups and reports, perhaps programmes in prisons and schools and better funding for refuges.
As for the homeless, there is already an action plan which includes supporting people coming out of prison and mental hospital and drug programmes and a scheme to replace motel accommodation with transitional housing. But never bring up the economic causation of generational poverty. Never bring up the tension caused by the daily performance of success in the media and more generally, the glare from the bright lights of stars and celebrities, the beaming faces of athletes and the consumer aspiration in every ad. The Greens brought this up and have been put in their place.
But hopefully, Marama will continue to speak this contradiction and Jacinda will continue to interject, Not on my watch. It could become an interesting skit.