We live in a time of inter-related crises of the environment and the capitalist economic system. So, I guess it’s not surprising to see Labour becoming more environmentally aware at the same time as the Greens propose economic policies that would normally be out of Labour’s playbook. Don’t worry about them becoming too alike, welcome the solid platform for a new government.
Yesterday, the Greens announced their Kiwisaver policy. They didn’t deal with whether there should be compulsion or auto-enrolment but, instead, focused on one of the problems that keeps low-income people out of the system. High fees from the private providers mean that all your returns can be sliced off by them before they get to your account if you are on a low income and your contributions are small. So, the Greens want a publicly-run provider with a Kiwibank-style mandate of keeping the other buggers honest by running a low-fee, low-profit model. In fact, it would probably be run through Kiwibank.
It’s a great idea. And, it wouldn’t be too hard for this publicly-run to offer Kiwisavers the option of a fund that invests specifically in New Zealand companies to help buy back our country.
Meanwhile, Labour announced that it would keep Southland’s lignite in the ground, rather than going ahead with Solid Energy’s plan to make it into a dirty source of diesel and fertiliser. Good. We can’t say we’re serious about climate change and at the same time keep on digging up ever more dirty and inefficient fossil fuels. (as a side note, Solid Energy is the company that Aussie investors are really interested in if asset sales go ahead. It doesn’t produce much in the way of a dividend stream now, but they see its lignite to liquids as the fossil fuel of the future).
Labour also confirmed its position against deepsea oil drilling unless and until it can be done safely, and reaffirmed that Labour will not let mining happen on schedule 4 protected land.
Two parties presenting solid and forward-looking policies that are outside their traditional areas of interest. Great to see. And some contrast to National, whose only idea is to resurrect the failed asset sales policies of 25 years ago.