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Another day, another piece of bullshit from someone in the MSM

Written By: - Date published: 6:44 am, December 8th, 2017 - 109 comments
Categories: benefits, greens, james shaw, journalism, making shit up, Media, welfare - Tags: ,

That’s an opinion piece from Lloyd Burr, where he is trying to make out that the Green Party has changed its welfare policy. It hasn’t.

Burr quotes James Shaw,

Our policy is what the Government’s policy is. So now we’re in Government, we need to do what Government policy says.

We only want to get rid of the most excessive sanctions.

There’s no context for that quote, so we have no idea what the question was or even where and when Shaw said it. If that was being done on The Standard, I would be calling it selective quoting to mislead. It looks like a mistake by Shaw, but we have no way to know, presumably because Burr isn’t telling us.

Burr’s opinion appears to be that the Greens have dropped policy,

The party no longer believes in immediately abolishing all financial sanctions and obligations on beneficiaries.

Problem is, James Shaw, or the caucus, can’t do that. Policy development is member-driven, and goes through a process that involves the whole party. MPs can’t just choose which bits they will and won’t keep. Green Party activists have been pointing this out on twitter,


Green MPs too,

As a journalist, Burr should know this about Green Party policy. So either he doesn’t and is too ignorant for his job, or he’s telling porkies, or he’s boxing clever with the language he uses in order to dissemble.

It also appears that Burr believes the Greens don’t understand how government works. As Matt Whitehead tweets, the Green MPs are empowered to vote for government legislation, but that’s not the same as the Green Party having changed its policy. Unless Lloyd is suggesting some magic version of government whereby a smaller party gets all its policies enacted, it’s normal for there to be compromise. This isn’t news.

It’s also not news that having values and compromising aren’t mutually exclusive. What I heard from the Greens pre-election was that once in government they might compromise on policy but they would not compromise on values. This means that they can vote for a piece of legislation pragmatically and still retain their own values-based policy and keep working towards that. They’ve been upfront about that all the way through.

It looks to me like Shaw misspoke. I’m sure there will be people willing to jump on Shaw and roll out another round of ‘the Greens are incompetent’ or need to up their game or whatever, because as we know by now, Green MPs have to be perfect. And not just Green ones. The whole edifice of parliamentary politics is based on macho values that say human fallibility is a crime and must be stomped on as hard as possible, and often with glee.

So instead of a MSM journalist using their position of power to clarify what the Greens are doing in government, we have another round of gotcha politics that is blatantly misleading.

Here’s what I expect the Greens will do. They’ll review what happened and make a statement acknowledging the mistake (assuming there was one), and clarify what the party’s actual position is. That’s how adults behave and it’s what serves NZ and democracy. But what a waste of time and resources having to jump through those hoops because a journo is playing games. I’d rather the government spent its time, you know, actually governing, and being held accountable for that.

Here’s the Green Party policy on welfare Mending the Safety Net. The synopsis says this,

Remove financial penalties and excessive sanctions for people receiving benefits.

There are some semantic issues here. What is meant by ‘sanctions’? What is excessive? Afaik the Greens still intend for there to be requirements for people on benefits, so where’s the line between that and punishing beneficiaries for not complying? How is the process going to work between various approaches on welfare from Shane Jones, Labour, and the Greens?

Getting answers on those issues would serve NZ, especially given the kind of government we have currently with the three parties working together across commonalities and diversity of policy.

By 2017 standards this is rather light bullshit from Newshub. But it all adds up and it’s evident that smears are going to be an ongoing part of the next three years, so we may as well name when we see it.

The Greens aren’t above criticism. Shaw’s words are unclear and need clarifying. But the appropriate response to that isn’t to make shit up. If we want democracy to work, we need media that is willing and able to explain current events in ways that increase understanding. Burr’s opinion piece fails miserably.

109 comments on “Another day, another piece of bullshit from someone in the MSM”

  1. Ed 1

    That’s an opinion piece from Lloyd Burr.

    Peters asserts Lloyd Burr is a National Party activist.

  2. Ad 2

    Too many media stumbles since Metiria’s debacle to overlook.

    They need to regroup over the holidays and come out with leading the zero carbon initiative.

    Shaw has tonnes of latent respect in Welly but needs to bring the sustainable business leadership together to build momentum his way.

    • tracey 2.1

      Like Labour they are adjusting to being in power when a few months ago it seemed unlikely. Davis’ foot has been in his mouth a few times… and others so it is not just the Greens, upon whom this government hinges, that need to adjust.

      • Ad 2.1.1

        The post is about the Greens.

        The Labour-NZF parts are ticking off their 100-day list, so Shaw has a great opportunity with climate policy to start the new year with momentum and contribute to this government.

        • tracey

          Sorry, I hadnt realised there was a restriction on how to address weka’s post and any comments made therein. Thanks for clarifying. Anything else I need to know before I make another comment, so as not to transgress?

        • The Chairman

          “Shaw has a great opportunity with climate policy to start the new year with momentum and contribute to this government.”

          In the process, I would strongly recommend they (the Greens) don’t overlook the expectation a number of their supporters have for them to do more on poverty. Which seems to have taken a back seat at this stage.

          • Ad

            The Greens won’t give effect to poverty reduction. Their members won’t get used to that.

            All the Green MPs can do is make good on what good on their negotiated areas – that’s the most they can achieve.

            But so far even that shows no sign of emerging.

            If they want to be part of forming another government in three years and delivering on climate change policies, they need to start delivering.

            That means delivering their one part of the 100-day plan.

            • The Chairman

              “The Greens won’t give effect to poverty reduction”

              It doesn’t mean they should be seen as giving up on it.

              Here’s an example of something they should be doing right now and that is publicly advocating that Labour’s job creation scheme pays a living wage.

              This will help show their supporters that they haven’t given up.

              It will help entice the unemployed onto the scheme, thus reducing the chance of sanctions being required.

              And thirdly, will help improve poverty and inequality.

              So even if they don’t make good on it, at least they will show their supporters they’re still banging away at it.

  3. tracey 3


    Lloyd Burr was emboldened following his almost hysterical hounding of Turei. I still remember that airport scene when she said she was going to caucus where they would vote and he kept thrusting his microphone at her and repeating ” but what about democracy”, the look on her face at being asked that when she just said it was being put to a vote.

    He repeats this “method” with Peters and is described here


  4. DH 4

    Maybe someone needs to tell him what a U-turn is. Greens would be demanding sanctions if they did a U-turn on it.

    Odd he quotes this one as the original;

    “The Green Party in Government will immediately remove all financial sanctions and obligations that treat beneficiaries as criminals and second-class citizens. They’re all gone. All gone,”

    That would, of course, preclude sanctions and obligations that did not treat beneficiaries as criminals and second class citizens.

    Seems a pretty pointless opinion piece, he’s playing with words to achieve… what?

    • The Chairman 4.1

      “Seems a pretty pointless opinion piece, he’s playing with words to achieve… what?”


      The things is, the Greens provided the opportunity for him to play with words as they weren’t clear from the very beginning.

  5. tc 5

    Time Curran proved her worth and toughened up the rules around this type of tactic.

    Broadcasting in NZ has become a shillfest and its long overdue for an overhaul before the next election. Be good for the sheeple to see who opposes such a cleanup.

    Opinion is fine but it needs to be clearly stated as such in the heading with a disclaimer that the views aren’t representative of the publishers. Remove any doubt that this is not factual objective analysis just rants from an axe grinder with a soapbox.

    • Stuart Munro 5.1

      Actually, there’s no reason opinion should enjoy the protections that apply to journalism. There are no sources to be protected. That would be a law change that would slow the creeping opinionization of media and protect the valuable content at the expense of the dross.

  6. Ed 6

    Nationalise the airwaves.
    Democratise the media.
    Force big financial interests out of the 4th estate.

  7. Hooch 7

    Couldn’t agree more with Popi’s tweet. Every article about politics now seems to be an ‘opinion’ piece so whenever taken to task about it they can merely say it was only their opinion.

    This was always the defence for hoskings national fan boy rantings.

    Looking forward to tomorrow’s opinions on stuff from jo Moir and Duncan garner no doubt critiquing something irrelevant the government should have done.

  8. The Chairman 8

    “What is meant by ‘sanctions’? What is excessive?”

    Two things the Greens should have made clear right from the get go.

    While being vague may help broaden their appeal (with vague policy meaning different things to different voters) and allows wiggle room, it also makes them more vulnerable to this form of attack.

    And the Greens should be well aware how the media can turn on them, thus shouldn’t help provide them with the ammunition.

    • Tracey 8.1

      Read their policy. Then remember they got 6% of votes. Then remember they believe in consensus not holding to ransom.

      Hope this helps your concern.

      • weka 8.1.1


        TC appears to not believe in reading actual policy. I thought the Green welfare policy was good and had they had their way, it’s pretty clear what they would do. The unclarity now is how Labour, NZF and the Greens would use those terms in government.

      • The Chairman 8.1.2

        Excessive sanctions was/is the term they used in their policy. As weka highlighted above.

        Moreover, being more clear in their use of wording has nothing to do with the low percentage they secured in the election.

        And if they genuinely believed in consensus (as you claim) then they wouldn’t be opposing the TPP.

        Furthermore, how did you make the leap from speaking out and voting against something as holding them to ransom?

        The concern here is they failed to be clear, thus opened themselves up to attack.

        Therefore, the lesson for the Greens to learn here is to be more clear and direct in future.

        One can only hope they take this on board and learn from this instead of making weak excuses such as yours.

        • tracey

          I am not going to answer you point by point because how the Greens operate has been commented time and again.

          1 excessive sanction has already gone. After less than 2 months.


          Your level of concern about poverty and sanctions is great. Speak up to those in power about how important it is that beneficiaries are not excessively sanctioned and we might see even more changes

          • The Chairman

            “1 excessive sanction has already gone. After less than 2 months.”

            That totally depends on what one means by excessive sanctions. For example, if one believes the only excessive sanction beneficiaries face is being docked for not naming the father of their kid/s, then they have been dealt too.

            However, if one takes excessive sanctions to mean more than that, then there is more work to be done.

            How would you or the Greens count a beneficiary (with young children) being docked for not taking a job? Children will suffer? Is this an excessive sanction?

            I do speak up, but I voted Green in the hope they would too. So while I’m doing my bit (while largely getting shit from you lot) I feel the Greens are letting the team down.

            • Psycho Milt

              “1 excessive sanction has already gone. After less than 2 months.”

              …is not incompatible with:

              …there is more work to be done.

              In fact, the word “already” presupposes that there’s more work to be done. But, yeah, thanks so much for your unnecessary and disingenuous concern.

              I do speak up, but I voted Green in the hope they would too.

              And no doubt they will do plenty of that – within the limitations of being in government with two larger parties.

              If your prefence is for the Greens to repudiate the government they joined and go sit on the cross-benches, feel free to join the party and try and persuade its members to adopt your suggestion. In the meantime, the party is part of the government, not the Opposition.

              • The Chairman

                “is not incompatible with:

                …there is more work to be done.”

                It is if it’s the only excessive sanction the Greens thinks there is.

                “In fact, the word “already” presupposes that there’s more work to be done. ”

                How so?

                “And no doubt they will do plenty of that – within the limitations of being in government with two larger parties.”

                Being outside of Cabinet means there is little limitations on them speaking out on what they deem is important.

                “If your prefence is for the Greens to repudiate the government they joined and go sit on the cross-benches, feel free to join the party and try and persuade its members to adopt your suggestion. In the meantime, the party is part of the government, not the Opposition.”

                As far as I’m aware they are a support party outside of Cabinet, thus are in a position to speak up and oppose, as shown by their TPP stance.

                Therefore, I’d suggest you stop lowering the bar, making excuses for them not too.

        • McFlock

          thanks for your concern 🙄

        • Matthew Whitehead

          Actually no, the policy just talks about sanctions, and makes very clear they want them all legislated away in a re-write of the social security act.

          Excessive sanctions is the term in the confidence and supply agreement with Labour, which could have been interpretted to mean “we’re getting rid of them all because they’re excessive,” or, as we’re now seeing is the case, it could also mean “just those sanctions that Labour agrees are excessive will be removed.”

          The Greens didn’t make any public statements on this until it became a news story, so I’m not even entirely sure the lack of clarity on this isn’t because of them trying to hammer out a mutually agreeable list with Labour and NZF rather than simply the Greens themselves.

          You are being extraordinarily harsh on the Greens as usual TC, and it looks increasingly like concern trolling. 🙁

          • In Vino

            Oh dear – you’ve given yourself away yet again, Concern Chairman. I too voted Green, but find it hard to understand your extreme anxiety.

  9. Sanctuary 9

    I have said previously that the entire focus of the MSM politics coverage for the next three years will be to try and foot trip the coalition by splitting hairs, so they can then fall like hyenas on the “split” and piously opine how much the public hates division.

    And I agree, the free market has ruined the fourth estate and reduced choice in NZ media to just one – the Daily Mail.

    • McFlock 9.1


      It’s a pretty simple tactic: the government consensus policy is not any partner’s ideal policy. Therefore if anyone supports government policy, they’re reneging on the party, and if they mention party policy, ohmahgerdSchismInGummint!!!

      I suspect it will tire soon, though.

      • Sanctuary 9.1.1

        “…I suspect it will tire soon, though….”

        I’ve never seen a labrador get tired of retrieving a stick, and they are brighter than you average NZHerald or Stuff journo these days.

  10. Sue Bradford wrote in fbook 10 mins ago in relation to the story by burr

    “It was a sad moment to see this report come out yesterday. Some Green Party people are saying it’s not true – but if it isn’t, it’d be really good to see your MPs express a clear position now on what approach the party will be taking to welfare over the next three years. If all you’re doing is going along with Labour, this is a dismal end to many years of strong Green advocacy for unemployed people & beneficiaries.”

    Good that Green MPs are clarifying

  11. It looks to me like Shaw misspoke.

    Without the context, we don’t know. It looks like he was talking about the limits being in government with other parties places on the Greens being able to implement policy, so “We only want to get rid of the most excessive sanctions” could as easily refer to “we” the Labour/NZ First/Green government, as to “we” the Green Party.

    • weka 11.1

      I agree. I suspect that Burr has largely taken Shaw’s words out of context. The misspeaking ‘mistakte’ is probably in not realising he was talking to Burr. Not that Burr matters, but how Shaw comes across to supporters and voters is important.

      Would love to know where Shaw spoke.

    • Matthew Whitehead 11.2

      Yes, it’s possible it was also Burr taking his comments out of context, but I think it’s easier to just settle on “he misspoke” for now unless Shaw wants to clarify things himself.

  12. The Chairman 12

    “Our policy is what the Government’s policy is. So now we’re in Government, we need to do what Government policy says.”

    First off, they (the Greens) are outside of Cabinet.

    Secondly, that puts them in the unique position of actually speaking up and voting against the Government if they so desire. As their TPP stance has shown.

    • Tracey 12.1

      Outside Cabinet does not mean outside Govt just for clarity

      • The Chairman 12.1.1

        Got a link for that claim? Perhaps weka can help you with that one as she has made a similar claim.

        As far as I’m aware (and I could be wrong) NZF and Labour are officially the Government, the Greens are merely a support partner.

        Nevertheless, being outside of Cabinet means they can speak out and vote against the Government if they so desire.

        • tracey

          I would suggest having Ministerial positions suggest they are part of the Government?

          The Green Party is today confirming that four of its MPs will hold ministerial and undersecretary roles in the new Labour-led Government.

          They are:

          James Shaw, MP, Green Party Co-leader: Minister for Climate Change, Minister of Statistics, Associate Minister of FinanceEugenie Sage, MP: Minister of Conservation, Minister of Land Information New Zealand, Associate Minister for the Environment,Julie Anne Genter, MP: Minister for Women, Associate Minister of Health, Associate Minister of TransportJan Logie, MP: Parliamentary Undersecretary to the Minister of Justice (Domestic and Sexual Violence

          • The Chairman

            Pointing to Ministerial positions outside of Cabinet still leaves it a little grey. Got anything more concrete?

            • Psycho Milt

              Your fantasy that people holding ministerial portfolies aren’t part of the government doesn’t count for much.

              • The Chairman

                What doesn’t count for much is your assertion.

                Therefore, here’s your opportunity to substantiate what your implying.

              • My pointing out that a party with positions on the executive is part of the government is an “assertion?” Do you accept that gravity is going to hold you to the floor when you get out of bed in the morning, or does someone need to come and prove that “assertion” for you before you’ll risk throwing the sheets back?

            • Matthew Whitehead

              All three parties agree the Greens are part of the government, and the National Party regarded the Māori Party, who had a similar agreement, as part of the government, so it would be a bit late to make that distinction now for the Greens when nobody ever made it for the Māori Party.

        • McFlock

          The Greens have ministerial positions, which place them firmly in the executive side of the branches of “government” as well as the legislative side.

          Because they hold executive positions, they’re not just part of the tri-partite “government” (executive, legislative, judicial), they’re also part of the executive “government” that executes and is empowered by the legislative branch.

          So in that sense at least, yes the Greens are a part of the “government”.

          • Tracey

            Apparently there are situations in NZ when you can be in Cabinet but not in Government. I have never heard of any so am at a loss to disprove it

    • weka 12.2

      The Greens are outside of cabinet but inside of government.

  13. One Anonymous Bloke 13

    You’d think Lloyd Burr would be trying to avoid giving the impression that he is a ‘political agent’ at the moment.

  14. Bill 14

    I’m putting this down to the idiocy of coalitions.

    Assuming the Green Party have retained a policy of scrapping all financial sanctions, the truth of the matter is that they can’t shift any such dialogue forward because they’ve signed up to an agreement that allows for financial sanctions to be retained.

    So they have a policy they can’t push or act on.

    A fixed term parliament act would instantly dispense with all that “compromise”.

    I guess I could write a post on it (assuming I’m understanding this apparent bind the Greens are in) and if I am right, I’m thinking the Greens should push for such a thing (fixed term)

    • McFlock 14.1

      Assuming the Green Party have retained a policy of scrapping all financial sanctions, the truth of the matter is that they can’t shift any such dialogue forward because they’ve signed up to an agreement that allows for financial sanctions to be retained.

      that doesn’t follow.

      I buy the car I can afford today, but that doesn’t stop me putting forward a plan to buy the car I really want.

      The idea that a coalition means that everyone suddenly needs to pretend that the government policy is the sum total of their aspirations is frankly infantile, particularly when the coalition partner in question doesn’t have any representations in cabinet. But even if they did, nothing stops them saying “this was the decision made by government and we support it, and obviously we will expect the government to improve its commitment as circumstances allow”.

      But then there needs to be 50 different ways of saying that, lest MPs end up sounding like cato the Elder.

      • Bill 14.1.1

        Those policies that have been agreed to in any pre-coalition talks can have the effect of gagging smaller parties who’ve “signed the deal”.

        • McFlock

          Only if the smaller party is beholden to the larger party for its very existence, so it signs up to a gagging clause as part of the agreement.

          The Greens can push and act on their policies. This is a coalition of grownups.

          • Bill

            Nothing to do with “grown ups” or not “grown ups”. It’s the nature of coalitions and how “the greater” pulls “the lesser” into its orbit.

            Pre-coalition talks presumably involved discussion on policy and agreeing on common ground. That common ground is then where each party stands with regards government policy and policy announcements.

            Unless you’re suggesting the Green Party has the space to argue contradictory positions (and essentially argue against itself) on a given piece of policy depending on whether it chooses to wear its “government” hat or its “party” hat.

            • McFlock

              It’s been the nature in the past. It needn’t, and shouldn’t, be the default setting for coalitions, though.

              Supporting government policy while standing by and advocating for your own policy doesn’t have to be contradictory. It just needs to be positive. People urging an athlete on, to run faster and longer, aren’t calling that athlete’s current efforts shit.

              And yes, it is about maturity. Adults can disagree without fear of a permanent schism. Especially when they agree on the basics. But we have an MSM that cultivates the emotional maturity of stereotypical teens.

              • Bill

                I don’t know about your “needn’t” and “shouldn’t” (nature of coalitions).

                It’s always been like that, whether we’re talking about a parliamentary setting or other settings. It begins in the pre-agreement phase where the “greater” tends to call the shots, set the agenda and lay out the ground rules. The “lesser” may or may not secure some concessions and may or may not be granted some power. But everyone quietly knows just how the bread’s buttered.

                Lemme put it this way.

                Without a coalition, (ie if it was a fixed term situation) the Greens could have come out quite vocally and vociferously against NZ Labour’s work thing. And they could have based opposition on the presence of financial sanctions…even voted against its introduction.

                Hell. In a fixed term arrangement they could even vote against the budget

                But they can’t just casually vote down government policy now – because they are a constituent part of the government, and so more or less bound into going along with, well at least the broader sweep of government decisions.

                • McFlock

                  Without a coalition, there would be a NZ1 work thing alongside even more punitive sanctions from a national-led government.

                  Let’s say there wer fixed term governments. Would the greens “casually vote down” bills they disagree with? No, there will still be a requirement to negotiate, otherwise nothing would get done. That will involve voting for policies that are less than ideal, but more of the greens’ own policy gets passed that way, too.

                  But “voting down” is not the same “not being gagged”. Yes, the greens will vote for some policies they think are insufficient, but everything still seems to be moving in the direction that the greens want to go, so why would they not agree to support it? “Eased” sanctions aren’t as good as “eliminated” sanctions, but they’re better than what we have now. And no form of government where only one 6% party wants sanctions eliminated will eliminate all sanctions. Even under a fixed term, the greens say “all” and the government says “piss off, this is as far as I go”.

                  • Bill

                    You’re ignoring the fact I posited a fixed term parliament as an alternative to the need to form coalitions.

                    In a fixed term parliament scenario, NZ would have a NZ Labour government today, that would seek to progress its policy or legislation through the house.

                    And all parties would be unconstrained, meaning that (and just as an example) a general pubic discussion/discourse on financial penalties could be pushed and encouraged with no need for a party to “look over its shoulder” to check it isn’t falling foul of any undertakings to adhere to notions of “collective responsibility”.

                    • McFlock

                      And the greens would still be faced with the choice of voting for a slight improvement now, or voting against easing restrictions. Neither form of government stops them encouraging that public discourse.

                    • Bill

                      Christ on a bike McFlock!

                      What you’re saying is that there is nothing to stop the government speaking out against itself…and fomenting levels of disenchantment among the voting public around policies the government itself is implementing!

                    • weka

                      In a fixed term parliament scenario, NZ would have a NZ Labour government today, that would seek to progress its policy or legislation through the house.

                      And all parties would be unconstrained, meaning that (and just as an example) a general pubic discussion/discourse on financial penalties could be pushed and encouraged with no need for a party to “look over its shoulder” to check it isn’t falling foul of any undertakings to adhere to notions of “collective responsibility”.

                      How does that work at the ministerial level?

                    • McFlock

                      You have the meaning of my position broadly correct, but the consequences you predict from that position are histrionic.

                      If the greens are supporting a government that has policies that are completely opposite to the green manifesto, it shouldn’t be supporting that government.

                      The greens are supporting a government that is going in the same direction as they are. They can argue for their own policy while still saying that the government policy is moving in the correct direction.

                      And should there be an individual policy from the government that they can’t support, they have the good faith and no surprises clause to politely give the government a heads up that yes, on issue X they will be critical.

                      hell, individual mps can disagree with the government, as long as they’re not dicks about it.

                    • Bill

                      How does that work at the ministerial level?

                      That would be up to the NZ Labour Party to determine (they’d likely occupy all ministerial positions).

                      There would be no need to have any MPs from any other party as ministers. But if there was a ministerial position for a memeber from another party, then I can’t see how any ‘strings’ could be attached to the appointment by way of “collective responsibility” or demanding that any kind of ‘united front” be presented.

                    • weka

                      Let’s say Turei was still a Green MP, and the Greens had enough votes/MPs to gain the welfare portfolio, so Turei could be the Minister of Social Development. What would be the advantage of a fixed term parliament where they wouldn’t have that portfolio/Ministry vs the current situation where they would?

                    • Bill

                      Let’s say Turei …

                      What leverage does a minister have in a government environment that’s antithetic to their main ideas? What difference then does it make to be an MP sitting outside government and free to pursue and influence dialogue, without being subject to governmental restrictions (the “collective responsibility” etc again)?

                      The latter’s arguably more influential and powerful.

                      And if there was either fixed term or the current coalition dependent state of affairs, then an MP in tune with what the government wanted could be a kick arse minister.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      If members of the government, why not members of parties?

                      Vehement disagreement is a feature of politics, so why not drop all notion of the Whip altogether?

                    • weka

                      “What leverage does a minister have in a government environment that’s antithetic to their main ideas?”

                      It’s a good question. I think that the Minister has access to a whole bunch of stuff that an MP sitting outside of government does. For instance they have structures to enact policy (not just legislation) and give Ministerial Directives. But I would like someone who understands how it works currently to answer the question.

                      I think the whole leverage thing misses the point that things can be gained from working together.

                    • Bill

                      I’m not missing the point that “things can be gained by working together”.

                      I’m acknowledging the fact that the representative parliament is a competitive and combative environment where advantage and leverage is sought and secured

                      It sucks.

                      But to walk in there advocating co-operation and working together to achieve “the best of all worlds” is akin to walking into a boxing ring dressed ‘up to the nines’ because you fundamentally misunderstood the kind of dancing that would be taking place.

                      Want to convince the other guy that there’s a better kind of dancing? That ends predictably.

                    • weka

                      and yet there the Greens are doing it. And that’s pretty much the dance they’ve been doing from the beginning.

                      As far as I can tell, Ministers have distinct powers that MPs outside of government wouldn’t have. Which isn’t to say there aren’t advantages to FTP, but I’m not sure it’s that clear yet it’s better.

            • solkta

              The Greens are obliged to follow the government line in those areas where it has ministers but is free to criticize Labour and Winston in all other areas.

              • McFlock


                The Green Party agrees that any Green Party Minister or Associate Minister is bound by collective responsibility in relation to their respective portfolios. When Ministers speak about issues within their portfolio responsibilities, they will speak for the Government, representing the Government’s position in relation to those esponsibilities. When Green Party Ministers speak about matters outside their portfolio responsibilities, however, they may speak as Co-Leader and/or members of the Green Party.

                Where there has been full participation in the development of a policy initiative outside of any portfolio responsibility held by Green Party Ministers, and that participation has led to an agreed position, it is
                expected that all parties to this agreement will publicly support the process and outcome.

                In other areas “agree to disagree” provisions will be applied as necessary.

              • Bill

                Thank you. So Green Party policy has to play second fiddle to government policy if the Green Party has a government position in a given policy area.

                And if they’ve had input to a government decision (and even if they disagree with the decision) then they are bound to abide by it if they engaged in “full participation”. The caveat rests on how the government decides something has been agreed on. But regardless, it would seem the Green Party don’t get to make that call. (And neither would NZF)

                • Sacha

                  Which part of “When Ministers speak about issues within their portfolio responsibilities, they will speak for the Government, representing the Government’s position in relation to those responsibilities” is confusing you?

                  A Minister has collective obligations as part of the coalition government. Beyond those limited portfolios, Greens MPs are free to hold whatever stance their own party agrees on.

                  • Bill

                    No part of that confuses me.

                    Where the Green Party line does not accord with a government line in some portfolios, the Green Party MP will speak to the government line.

                    Beyond that, Green MPs are not free to speak their minds (or push a distinct party line) if the party has been involved in full participation in the development of a policy initiative outside of any portfolio responsibility held by Green Party Minister

                    And so, as I wrote before, the mechanism or criteria that the government decides constitutes “agreement” is crucial. Is it simple 50% majority, 75%, consensus?

                    Or is it more likely to be some type of “over a barrel” agreement? Ie, you fck us up on “this” and we’ll bury you on “that”? Or a “pork barrel” agreement perhaps? Scratch our back “now” and we’ll scratch yours “when”.

                    Too much potential to quash public discourse for my liking. Far too much.

                    • weka

                      How about a mutually respectful relationship where people work together and the maintaining of the relationship is the critical thing? Labour still need the Greens to pass lots of legislation.

                      It might help if we used the word Labour instead of government where we mean the part of the government that is Labour and not L/G/NZF. e.g. in this,

                      “And so, as I wrote before, the mechanism or criteria that the government decides constitutes “agreement” is crucial. Is it simple 50% majority, 75%, consensus?”

                      I think you mean that Labour decides right?

                    • McFlock

                      No, only the Green ministers speak to the government in in their ministerial portfolio.

                      That’s why Shaw mis-spoke. As far as I can see, nothing stopped him from saying “we support this, but we think it doesn’t go far enough”. But then he was probably thinking he was trying to counter the “shock horror government in disarray” spin that Burr would tweet in that instance.

                    • Bill

                      Well, no. I mean government, although that would likely just reflect NZ Labour’s preferred scenario.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      reflect NZ Labour’s preferred scenario.

                      …which reflects the system, which favours homogeneity. For example, the way the National Party forms a constituency of people who can be persuaded to vote for dishonesty in the service of greed.

                • weka

                  “Thank you. So Green Party policy has to play second fiddle to government policy if the Green Party has a government position in a given policy area.”

                  That doesn’t really make sense given the Greens are part of the govt (playing second fiddle to themselves?).

                  It’s true that the Greens on 6% don’t get to call the shots. But my understanding is that the Greens see influencing policy as an important part of being in govt, not just getting the policy they want. This is probably close to the process you are talking about.

                  When I asked about this re welfare soon after the deals were done, the understanding I came to is that Marama Davidson for instance has access to Carmel Sepuloni, in a number of ways, and can still have input into policy there (as well as things like select committees). But she is also free to speak out in favour of Green policy where that differs from Labour. And the Green caucus can vote for or against Labour welfare legislation as it sees fit. But I would guess that the Greens will be working in house as much as possible to get the best policy possible.

                  I think we don’t know how that’s going to play out in real life, because it’s so soon after the election. So that’s establishing the govt as stable, but also just doing all that setting up work and getting to know how things work. I think next year, over time, we will see how real it is that the Greens can influence policy and/or speak out on policy they disagree with.

                  • weka

                    and yes, please do write a post on a fixed term parliament, because while I think the current situation can work better than you believe, I think it can also be improved upon.

                    • Bill

                      If parliament was occupied by decent people in lieu of of a fair clutch of game playing power freaks (just look at NZ Labour these past years!) then I’d be better disposed towards the current set-up.

                    • weka

                      Fair point.

                      One of the reasons I have for being relatively hopeful about the potential of this government is that the Greens have built into their kaupapa and rules processes and values that ensure good relationship. I’m quite curious to see if given the small number of MPs they have, they can make changes at that level.

                      The fixed term parliament thing sounds interesting, but I get the feeling that here it’s being presented in a kind of power play way (not you, but the way it might work) e.g. that the Greens could use it to make Labour give them more gains than they currently can get via a coalition.

  15. patricia bremner 15

    The price of compromise is getting some things and not getting others, or only getting a portion of them.

    Burr is well named, a prickly nasty little nuisance.

    Some of the critics forget a month in, things are happening. This is not a “do nothing” government.

    These yapping dogs worrying the new coalition are frustrated nat supporters.

  16. alwyn 16

    I find it very difficult to see when the Green Party MPs are meant to follow their Party policies and when they are supposed to ignore them and do what Labour and New Zealand First want, even if that appears to conflict with Green Party Policy.

    For example
    Nick Smith has put in a Private Members’ Bill to establish a Kermadec Marine Sanctuary.
    If that is drawn in the ballot it appears certain that New Zealand First will oppose it and that Labour will presumably go along with them.. They form the dominant part of the Government.

    Does that mean that the Green Party would be expected to vote against Nick’s bill, because the Government don’t want it?
    Or would they be expected to vote for the bill in line with their own Party’s policy, even though NZF and Labour don’t want it?
    How are they meant to decide?

    • McFlock 16.1

      Does Nick Smith’s bill meet point 8 of the labgrn coalition agreement (my emphasis):

      8. Safeguard the healthy functioning of marine ecosystems and promote abundant fisheries.
      Use best endeavours and work alongside Māori to establish the Kermadec/ Rangitāhua Ocean Sanctuary and look to establish a Taranaki blue whale sanctuary.

      If not, I suspect you’ll find the Greens would prefer the better option. If it does, there’s no conflict whatsoever.

    • Did the great mystery of how parties can operate in a coalition exercise your mind to the same extent during the last three governments? Or is it peculiar to the left-wing ones?

      • alwyn 16.2.1

        I was curious about it in the previous Governments, all of them.
        Winston is of course the expert in the subject. Look at what he got out of Jim Bolger, Helen Clark and Jacinda Ardern.
        All he got from John Key was the statement the Key couldn’t trust him and wouldn’t deal with him.

        The Kermadec situation came up under the last Government.
        It would appear that the Maori Party took it as a line they would not cross. If it was put through they would follow their principles and quit the Government.
        National said then that they could pass the bill with the support of the Greens but they chose not to do so in the interest of continued co-operation of the Maori party.
        Whether the Green Party would have actually provided support is of course an open question as it was never tested.

        • Psycho Milt

          You think it’s an “open question” whether the Green Party would have helped National unilaterally take back part of a Treaty settlement? I don’t think anyone in the Green Party would consider it open.

      • alwyn 16.3.1

        That sounds perfectly clear except for one thing.
        Is the Kermadec sanctuary a matter of conservation in which the Green Party must tag along behind NZF and Labour.
        Or is it a matter of Treaty claims in which they don’t.
        Or is it Maori Affairs in which case they don’t.
        Or is it a fishing issue in which case they don’t.

  17. savenz 17

    I’m not sure what the issue is? Greens do not run the government therefore they can’t implement the 20% benefit increases.

    I voted Green Party vote to keep the party alive while all the debacle was sorting out. I like the old Green values more of conservation, peace and justice.

    I’m certainly not getting my knickers in a twist over whether Shaw did or did not say whatever or what was going on with Golriz CV. It’s just media drivel.

    But I do think the Greens need to get together and start implementing policy they can get through and have a range of things from climate change, ocean and land pollution, social justice and poverty.

    On the social justice/poverty

    I personally think they need to stop the persecution of beneficiaries and a much stronger case against all these so called ‘benefit’ frauds like DPB. Clean up the legalisation so that there is a clear rule whether it is fraud or not – aka one partner is regularly giving money to the other for example. Some of the cases bought by WINZ are completely bogus! It’s disgusting sending someone to prison when they never even benefited from the so called relationship and the partner does it out of spite.

    Even Winston’s been caught out with the confusing nature of what is a relationship with his super. Make it crystal clear what is a relationship because these days people flick in and out of relationships and in the cases of some younger people it seems to be more about months. Time has changed the nature of what is a relationship. It’s too unclear in legislation.

    Also terminally or permanently injured people should not have to get medical certificates yearly. Make it five or 10 years. It’s just pointless paperwork and someone reported they make sick and injured people queue up. That’s disgusting too.

    There are some small things the Greens could do, that don’t mean much to the economy but would make things easier and more dignified for vulnerable people.

    Start with small steps and get results. There is a lot to do.

  18. greywarshark 18

    Newshub – Working with words N,E,W,S and from all directions and contortions.
    Just don’t expect facts and details in this dynamic dissection of society. In fact it is cobbled together from what has been gleaned from a newspaper shredder’s piles of paper.

    Patricia Bremner at 15 answers this snippy gossip glop very well.

    • OnceWasTim 18.1

      And also tc at 5.
      I suspect Winnie is interested in testing the legalities and definition of what journalism is. Opinion or ‘opinion journalism’ (and Gonzo journalism) which make no claims as to objectivity versus journalism as intended by the idea of the 4th Estate.
      Being the boring old fart I am, I hold that media people (some presenters, lobbyists, Paganis, Burrs, shockjocks, Gowers, et al) have been busy hijacking the word journalism – more as an expression of their own egos and 15 minutes of fame. Those engaged in opinion and Gonzo opinion have no business using the term journalist. What’s worse is that many of them seem to think that people have no right to contest their ‘opinions’ and have started sqeeling like stuffed pigs

      • greywarshark 18.1.1

        Once was Tim
        Can I join the BOF club? It seems to me that this is a suitably ironic term for many of us here who ‘look back in angst’ rather than ‘anger’.

        Look back in Anger – class conflict from 1950s

        Ever seen Richard Burton

        and gratuitiously? Monty Python up Everest

        • OnceWasTim

          I’ll have to watch the youtube clips a bit later (currently on a very, very backlevel machine) – but yeah …. looking back in angst rather than anger.

          I guess what I once knew of journalists was that they were primarily driven by what they saw as the ‘public interest’ or the ‘public’s interest’, whereas increasingly journalists seem to be driven by their own agenda (political or otherwise), and are less likely to provide alternative views. Some of them, as we know, are just complete shills (e.g. Hoskings) unless they have to be on their best behaviour.

          Unfortunately, I see the same thing happening in the senior management of our politicised public service.

          I guess that for many people who wear the tag ‘journalist’ these days, the idea that journalism should be representing that collective ‘public interest’, its inherently left wing.

  19. Thinkerrr 19

    Nothing you can do about the Herald or its journalists, short of ringing in a totalitarian government and ousting free speech.

    Mike hosking, on the other hand, who is nothing more than a highly-paid public servant…

    Anyway, I digress. What could be done is to add some meat to the Broadcasting Standards, so that opinion pieces need to be clearly labelled, like cigarettes, and also incude some sticks to beat the editors with, if they allow articles to be printed without establishing that what is stated as factual can be supported by evidence.

    Yes, we should blame maverick journalists, but the papers they work for need to be held to account for allowing/encouraging such a drop in standards.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 19.1


      Journalists are offered specific protection under law, in exchange for which they are expected to report and inform, not distort and perform.

    • dv 19.2

      Mike hosking, on the other hand, who is nothing more than a highly-paid public servant…

      Sort of ironic when one of his latest rants was about the overpaid civil servants.
      (Cant find the link)

      • greywarshark 19.2.1

        Probably there wasn’t a link. It could have been a momentary spasm, and wasn’t part of a joined-up sentence- A Tourette’s response, or perhaps an early Alzheimer one. Something that all of us olders are watching out for in ourselves.

  20. Hopefully I haven’t repeated something that has already been said but surely a key focus of this government should be strengthening the Fourth Estate and investing in quality, independent public broadcaster If we pay good journalists well and have a robust charter based on ethical and informed reporting we could counteract the nonsense coming from the likes of Hosking and Garner. Hosking even denies that he is a journalist.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 20.1

      He isn’t. He’s a mouthpiece.

    • JC 20.2

      Sorry DK, appreciate the sentiment.

      But… “quality, independent public broadcaster” … and “ethical and informed reporting…”

      just too much to fathom, and/or contemplate!

      Perhaps on Planet …

  21. Takere 21

    So what is the Greens Welfare policy, Waka Jumping policy & One Billion Tree Carbon Trading Scheme Policy?

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