Green Party co-leader James Shaw has put the party‘s wins front and centre in his keynote speech to members in Palmerston North today, although he did acknowledge a certain rodent.
Speaking at the party‘s annual general meeting, the first large gathering of party faithful since the election, and since the Greens have made any significant gains in government, Shaw was careful to accentuate the positives and downplay the negatives.
He name-checked every member of caucus while listing their achievements, with the exception of Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage.
“After nearly three decades as the Green Party, after 22 years as a parliamentary party, here we are at our first annual conference as a party of government,” Shaw said.
“With Ministers for Climate Change, Conservation, Women, with Associate Ministers for Health, Transport, Environment, Finance, with an Under-Secretary for Domestic and Sexual Violence, with MPs who are, every day, winning large, winning small.
“We have these responsibilities in government today for one reason, and one reason only. You.
“You gave us the chance – in government – to realise the dream of a country where our natural heritage and our communities are at the heart of decision-making,” Shaw told the 210 or so members gathered at Palmerston North Boys‘ High School for the two-day AGM.
“Being in government means we can deliver on our confidence and supply agreement – but also so much more.
“We haven‘t won every debate and the menu does feature the occasional deceased rodent. But it just goes to show, you made the right choice to go into government,” he said.
The rodent reference is a nod to Sage‘s honest response to the Greens deciding to support the so-called waka-jumping bill.
“You remember Russel Norman‘s campaign promise in 2011 and 2014, for a Green Investment Fund. Well, that‘s happening. We got $125 million in Budget 2018 to set it up.
“We‘re literally investing in a better future. In green jobs. In the high-value, clean-tech, zero-emission economy of the future.
“You can also take credit for being part of real progress on the work happening with the Zero Carbon Bill.”
Shaw also referenced Jan Logie‘s work to end domestic and sexual violence and support for mental health.
“We‘ve got over $10 million to pilot a programme to ensure young people have access to timely, quality, mental health services.”
Like he had been counting the days, Shaw said it had been one year and nine days since former co-leader Metiria Turei stepped aside after her confession that she had committed benefit fraud.
“But what she fought for – a welfare system that treats people with dignity and respect, which offers people a decent life, at every stage of life – we now have a shot at delivering on as part of this government,” he said.
Shaw talked about the comprehensive framework for measuring social, environmental and cultural wellbeing being worked on which would be taken into account in the next Budget.
He said co-leader Marama Davidson, who will speak later today, was negotiating with government ministers on “issue after issue. Taking every opportunity to make this the Greenest Government ever”.
Shaw argued that the Green Party was even stronger in its values now that it was in government.
“Not just because we actually get to deliver on them, but because they‘re being tested, every day.
“Our values, our Green kaupapa, are being tested in ways we didn‘t face when we were in Opposition. So we will continue to be the strongest voice in Parliament for progressive politics.
“And in 2020, people will vote for us because they see us fighting for something better. They will see us delivering in government and holding our partners to account.”
Also on the agenda today is a ‘learning, healing, strengthening‘ session, probably a must following some of the strong reactions from some Green supporters in the wake of decisions such as Sage‘s water-bottling expansion decision, and the waka-jumping bill support.