Green Party announces new transparency measures

Written By: - Date published: 6:10 am, March 4th, 2018 - 27 comments
Categories: accountability, greens, Parliament, Politics - Tags: , , ,

From greens.org.nz

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Green Party announces new transparency measures

James Shaw MP on Saturday, March 3, 2018 – 12:13

Green Party Co-leader James Shaw has today announced two important new transparency measures, which will apply to Green Party Ministers, MPs and staff, to help counter the influence of money in politics.

Green Party Ministers will soon proactively release their ministerial diaries, to show who they’ve met with and why. Additionally, Green Ministers, MPs and staff will not accept corporate hospitality, such as free tickets to events unrelated to their work.

The announcement was made at the Party’s summer policy conference in Napier.

“The Green Party has always stood for more transparency around lobbying and access to politicians,” said Green Party Co-leader James Shaw.

“Now we’re in government, we think it’s important to take the lead on this issue, and to try to counter some of the influence of money in politics.

“There’s no reason why big wealthy corporates should have better or more access to politicians than those organisations who can’t afford to shout free tickets to the rugby or a corporate box at the tennis.

“The organisations doing the shouting aren’t usually representative of the community at large, and tend to benefit from maintaining the status quo, rather than pushing for the progressive change the Green Party stands for.

“MPs often consider this sort of treating as a perk of the job, but it actually isn’t essential to the role.

“It also gives wealthy corporates an advantage when it comes to influencing our country’s decision-makers.

“Additionally, we think New Zealanders deserve to know who’s meeting with our MPs and ministers, and what the purpose of those meetings are.

“Transparency is a hallmark of any functioning democracy, and the Green Party will continue to aim to uphold that, in Parliament and in government,” said Mr Shaw.

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For more detail, and transparency, and an update on where the Greens are with being in government, see James Shaw’s speech yesterday.

27 comments on “Green Party announces new transparency measures”

  1. Jeezus, the Green Party sets the bar high!

    Honesty and integrity in politics – no, that’s simply not fair to the troughers!

    Shame on you, Greens!

    [Do I really have to add sarc/?]

  2. Well done to the Greens. This is a challenge to all other parties who will either lift their standards or be seen to fail the self interest test.
    In fact it will be a good indicator to jo-public as to whether there has already been significant donor capture of our politicians. If not, then this should be an easy step for the Nats, Labour et al to follow – but if they don’t follow we just have to assume the worst and shame on them.
    Jo-public needs to ask all these other parties when they will follow suit, and keep asking.

  3. UncookedSelachimorpha 3

    Value driven politics, well done! I am sure the greens would sort out the political donation problem too if they had enough influence.

    Both Labour and National are beholden to rich donors. There is no way that someone who donates thousands of dollars to a political party has only the same say as the average voter.

  4. I do have the (perhaps unfair) feeling that corporates were in any case unlikely to consider the Green Party fertile territory for pursuing this kind of mutual back-scratching arrangement. Labour would be a more useful party to have transparency enabled and gifts banned, as it’s a more tempting target with a higher likelihood of success.

    NZ First, of course, is a big, fat, lazy target with “Over here, big boy, I love influence-peddling” all around it in big flashing lights, so I expect they won’t be following suit…

    • RedBaronCV 4.1

      The smarter businesses & corporate’s try to maintain contacts across the spectrum – just looking for the future
      So a good move

    • Carolyn_Nth 4.2

      It will also make the Green Party targets for right wingers to attack any little misdemeanour – or any little thing that rightees can claim as a misdemeanour – because that’s what’s rightees do to any who aim to set higher moral or ethical standards.

      They can’t stand their amorality being highlighted on the major things – so nit picking over every little failing.

      I hope the GP leaders, organisers and staffers are prepared for that – and those of us here, too.

      • Incognito 4.2.1

        Nothing new here; the vultures have been circling over the Green Party in increased numbers ever since Metiria Turei and are always looking for a sign of weakness, any sign, which they can exploit. Often, they can’t even wait till the prey has died and start picking and feeding on the would-be-corpse in a frenzied attack. The shock horror when the would-be-corpse fights back and overcomes the coward attackers as we all witnessed in the ambush of Golriz Ghahraman and her courageous and effective fight back.

      • weka 4.2.2

        Probably true, I’m sure it will piss off quite a few people.

        One of the advantages for the Greens is that they’re not afraid to be honest about mistakes they make. The culture around that is different than mainstream politics, so they have general integrity around transparency (which will also ire some people), and if they do make mistakes they have integrity around dealing with that.

        (Shaw acknowledged them making mistakes in his speech yesterday, but it’s not the first time I have heard that).

      • patricia bremner 4.2.3

        Yes, I had that thought. I think after the last public airing went so wrong, they will put proactive measures in place to counteract that type of attack.

    • Incognito 4.3

      Large corporates and lobbyists are no one-trick ponies; they have many ways to grease the wheels and persuade persistent politicians.

      During the election campaign and in the early days of the new Government Labour made quite a bit of noise about accountability and transparency and I can’t see any reason why they wouldn’t follow the Green Party’s lead in this. I also like to think that NZF will follow suit too as it would be entirely consistent with their fundamental principles and philosophy IMO. National? No chance …

    • weka 4.4

      “Labour would be a more useful party to have transparency enabled and gifts banned, as it’s a more tempting target with a higher likelihood of success.”

      I think Labour are about to announce something similar, so probably useful that the Greens got in first and set the bar 😉

  5. Ad 5

    “it actually isn’t essential to the role.”

    James Shaw is just flat wrong, in both practise and in principle.

    In practice, Greenpeace, CPAG, Sustainability Council, Forest&Bird, Fish&Game,- and many others – and the Green Party have been working on the same issues very, very closely for a decade. It’s been very successful for all of them. That doesn’t make them dirty or corrupt; it makes them good at their job.

    James has just ruled out any events with them. They are his core activist constituency. They are a collective force that enables stuff to happen. There will be no more meetings with them – particularly outside of standard work hours – unless they are in the diary. Being perpetually on the record destroys relationship.

    Any party has a core set of activist groupings. It’s how the expertise of those groups gets brought to bear.
    But that is really, really hard unless you are allies and friends with them at the same time. So on the simple strand of helping the political universe of related constellations rotate around you, James strikes out.

    Secondly, the Greens are now out of the beltway of information. They will not be leaked anything, because they would need a meeting in the diary to expose it. They will not be pulled into the necessary conspiracies of politics, because there’s no public servant or NGO on The Terrace who will come near them – unless they are strictly within the Ministerial warrants of the person they are meeting. Outside of the scope of those Ministerial warrants, the Greens will be invisible. The media will have far, far less reason to talk to them, because everything will be well forecast as formal media releases – which the media rarely cover.

    The winners will be Labour, and NZ First, and Thompson Lewis, this Government’s primary lobbyist. They can now avoid the Greens about anything, and go straight to the other parties in order to get shit done.

    In principle James is wrong as well. Political parties run on information gained through relationships, and relationships in politics are gained solely on trust and loyalty. Now, when everyone is on the record, everything exposed to the glories of sunlight, there is no exchange because no one will be giving them information about anything. No one will be inviting them to anything, so there is no relationship to form.

    The Greens have sought to rise in the purity and brilliance of pure sunlight, but all it’s done is make them much, much harder to see.

    • weka 5.1

      You seem a bit confused Ad. When Shaw says “it actually isn’t essential to the role”, he’s talking about the treats, not the diary issue. He’s now saying that in order to access the Greens, you don’t have to pay for it. I don’t know what was going on before, but I assume Greenpeace etc will be happy enough about that. Likewise people who want access who have even less money to spare than NGOs.

      “James has just ruled out any events with them”

      So despite the Greens still offering normal access via meetings with Ministers, you are saying that none of the people that want to talk with the Greens will take those meetings because there will be a record of them?

      “there is no exchange because no one will be giving them information about anything.”

      Why not? Have you considered that the meetings in the past have nothing about them that needs to be hidden? Maybe Labour and National are different.

      The Greens are experts in relationship building. What makes you think they’re not aware of the issue you raise re the Ministers’ diaries? Or that they didn’t talk this through with their allies and figure out how to make it work? And that they then decided that transparency is the better process. Just because you don’t know how it can work doesn’t mean they don’t.

      You also appear to be saying that the only way to share informal information with the Greens, is directly to a Minister. Is that what you meant?

      • Ad 5.1.1

        Weka it is the Greens that are confused. There is no reason to assume that Greenpeace or any of their partners will or will not be happy with the new arrangement. It is certainly unique.

        Let me give you just a taste of how Parliament actually works.

        In mid 2017 the Maori Party, not the Green Party, ensured that the new RMA contained a clause that ensured that if a Council District Plan excludes GMO’s, the Minister cannot override it. That clause came at tremendous political expense – nearly killing it several times.

        The clause was argued and drafted not by the Maori Party, but by a group of Hawkes Bay farmers together with the Sustainability Council, working with/using the Maori Party as a very precise lever within the government.

        They all took tremendous political risk to everyone’s careers. But those are the kind of deals that need to be done, in Wellington, every week, and it takes everyone working together – yes in secret – to be able to get it done.

        As to your question about access being on the record, yes. The items that are on the record are the items that you have very little influence over.

        Primarily, government is about forming and reforming law. Government is done in the interstices – between the lines – because that is where the slippage of meanings between clauses are. That is where change is possible.

        I would love to think that the Greens parliamentary kaupapa works to perpetually expand relationships. That is not their record. Their record over the last six months is that they piss off their base, lose votes, lose leaders, lose their own MPs, turn on each other, nearly lose the election, gain near-zero media traction, and now in this move willfully cut themselves off from information flows.

        Parliament is not a set of ideals. Parliament is an economy of information. You have to get it everywhere. You have to show that you trust people and are worthy of trust so much that you are loyal to each other.

        This move reeks simply of a failure to understand that, and it is also mildly paranoid.

        • weka 5.1.1.1

          If you’re not confused then I assume you intentionally misquoted Shaw.

          “I would love to think that the Greens parliamentary kaupapa works to perpetually expand relationships. That is not their record. Their record over the last six months is that they piss off their base, lose votes, lose leaders, lose their own MPs, turn on each other, nearly lose the election, gain near-zero media traction, and now in this move willfully cut themselves off from information flows.”

          And yet here they are with 10 ministerial positions, agreement with Labour on key policy, access to Labour’s Ministers and Associate Ministers, access to the PM, etc /shrug. And they have all that without the risk of a coalition deal for their first term in government.

          There’s more than one way to skin a political process. You see them has having lost ground. I seem them as having taken a big risk and come out pretty good. Not only do they have a good relationship with Labour in government, but they changed the discourse around welfare and influence the policy of the two major parties in the process. They also haven’t resiled from the welfare positioning, and will build on that over time. The Greens want change not power, and I think this is shown again this announcement.

          I get what you are saying, and I can see how that works in the ways you are describing. But it’s not the only way to get things done.

          “Primarily, government is about forming and reforming law. Government is done in the interstices – between the lines – because that is where the slippage of meanings between clauses are. That is where change is possible.”

          You’re just trying to teach your grandmother to suck eggs there though. I don’t know if you listen to Shaw’s speeches much, but a lot of what he has said in the last 6 months is about exactly that. Being in a position to form and reform law. And again, I get that you don’t see how what they are doing here is positive, but I think it’s way more likely that is because it’s outside of your experience rather than them making a big political blunder as you are asserting.

        • Psycho Milt 5.1.1.2

          The [anti-GMO] clause was argued and drafted not by the Maori Party, but by a group of Hawkes Bay farmers together with the Sustainability Council, working with/using the Maori Party as a very precise lever within the government.

          They all took tremendous political risk to everyone’s careers. But those are the kind of deals that need to be done, in Wellington, every week, and it takes everyone working together – yes in secret – to be able to get it done.

          Er, if what the Greens are proposing would make it difficult for small groups of farmers to work secretly with political parties to get laws drafted in their personal economic interest, then great, wonderful, bring it on. The above sounds like exactly the kind of thing that shouldn’t be happening.

    • James has just ruled out any events with them.

      Well, he’s ruled out accepting their awesome offers of corporate box sessions for sports events, free dinners in fancy restaurants, nights out on their reps’ expense accounts etc. If you think about it, you might see why that’s unlikely to rule out anything run by Greenpeace, CPAG etc.

      • Stunned Mullet 5.2.1

        Greenpeace doesn’t have corporate box at Mt Smart ?

        • Ad 5.2.1.1

          No, but it will be the last time you see any parliamentarian on their ship protesting oil, or on a ship going to Israel, or indeed cooperating in any way that could be seen to be treating, with any of their supporters at all.

          Not so much as a glass of organic sparkling feijoa wine.

          Merry Christmas.

          • Carolyn_Nth 5.2.1.1.1

            On a ship protesting oil? What’s the problem if the MPs pay their share of the expenses, and enter it in their diary?

      • Ad 5.2.2

        He’s ruled out any meeting or movement with Greenpeace or anyone else that is not published in the parliamentary diary. So, yes, that’s exactly what he has done.

        • weka 5.2.2.1

          Are you saying that Greenpeace, CPAG etc will now refuse to meet with the Green Ministers at all because the meeting will in their publicly release diary vevery 3 months? Sorry, but that’s preposterous.

  6. patricia bremner 6

    The only people worried about the change are probably those who “sell information”
    or feel important as they feel they are close to “the levers of power”

    Ordinary voters will have equal access. Wow!! The “Official information Service” won’t be doing so much overtime. LOL How awful is that?

  7. philj 7

    I can see the Herald Headline ” GREENS REFUSE TO BE BOUGHT ” lol.
    More likely, on inside page, ” GREENS ANTISOCIAL AND LONELY ”
    The MSM smears the Greens without a doubt.

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