Meanwhile, Green Party MP Chloe Swarbrick’s ten minute speech during the debate on Budget Policy Statement on Wednesday laid out contemporary, beyond neoliberalism positions. Full transcript here, snippets below.
This is not an unusual speech by Swarbrick, she says things like this quite often and is freer to speak than co-leaders Marama Davidson or James Shaw because she has no Ministerial roles that tie her to Labour’s majority government policy positioning.
With the polls now evening out midterm, Labour’s support dropping back to historical norms post-early pandemic highs, and National being a contender again for the 2023 election, time to get organised and throw support behind the two parties offering an alternative to neoliberal BAU: the Green Party and Te Pāti Māori.
These are not government replacement parties, Labour would still get to form government. Ardern is still a formidable leader and we are very fortunate to have her. However the Greens and Māori Party are the people and organisations with the vision and values to lead New Zealand out of the neolib stalemate that is cementing in the chasm between rich and poor and that is killing the planet.
The left have no excuses now, we already have the parties in parliament that can pull the government leftwards and greenwards and into a ‘people and environment’-based kaupapa that is the antithesis of neoliberalism. They each hold cultural knowledge on sustainability and resiliency that is the key to the Just Transition urgently needed as the world crises deepen, both environmental and socioeconomic.
There is no return to BAU, but there are paths ahead we could choose that give us a chance at making it through the next century. A large contingent of Green and Māori Party MPs after the next election would strengthen the left and create a new window of opportunity for change.
Some snippets from Swarbrick’s speech.
On Business as Usual, and the potential of working collectively,
But the devil we know, business as usual, isn’t our future; it simply cannot be, and we heard that in the many submissions to the Finance and Expenditure Committee. “Business as usual” is not our future because it is those very settings that drove the greatest wealth inequality in this country, on record. It gave us the housing crisis. In “business as usual”, Aotearoa New Zealand produces four times the amount of climate change emissions than the limit required to keep our planet under 1.5 degrees of warming. Everybody deserves security and hope to be free from this exhaustion, but we will not get there by focusing on individualistic, short-term ideas such as those that have been floated by the Opposition. It is that kind of thinking that has created this exhaustion in the first place. It is only by working as a collective—the infamous team of 5 million—that we will create security and hope and a better future for all of us, it is in realising our strength and working together and pooling our resources to do bigger and greater things than any one of us could do by ourselves.
On the runaway wealth/poverty gap,
As with all stories, however, there is a long and important part that is left out, cultural norms that are assumed, because hidden within that story of inflation is one of economic power and growing inequality. Just yesterday, the Commerce Commission report into supermarkets plainly describes the sector’s excess profits. KPMG’s annual review of the financial sector showed pouring fuel on the fire of the housing crisis helped commercial banks in this country rake in the highest profits that they have ever seen. Economists have suggested that as a result of the choice to heavily rely on unconventional monetary policy over the last two years and high trust supports only for the big end of town, we’ve seen an acceleration of a nearly trillion-dollar wealth transfer to the wealthiest in this country.
In response to this cost of living crisis, the Opposition have revived their old faithful trickle-down economics, floating tax cuts, cuts to spending, cuts to workers’ and renters’ and beneficiaries’ rights—straight out of the 1980s tax book—playbook, rather. These aren’t solutions; they are once again declaring a war on the poor, which is why I implore the other side of the House, Labour, to stop playing by this tired neoliberal playbook.
On what the economy is for,
We hear a lot about the economy, but we don’t tend to hear a lot about what the economy actually is. We’re told that we’ve got to sacrifice for this economy to get our economy back on track. That basic, boring story neglects that the economy is all of us—our relationships with each other, the things that we create, our planet and its resources, the time we spend at work, unpaid labour—such as parenting, Mr Simeon Brown—the skills that we learn, the problems that we have, and the ways that we decide to fix them. It’s about how we work together to achieve our communities’ and our country’s goals and aspirations. It is supposed to serve us, not the other way around.
The late, great Jeanette Fitzsimons said in her 2006 state of the planet speech, “If the task of government is to promote the well-being of all people, how could it do that? I suggest to you that it has everything to do with offering a vision for a better way of life rather than more growth; it has to do with inclusiveness, with justice, and with protecting our commons—our common environment and resources, our common culture, our public health and our education systems.” Jeanette’s challenge was to question what we call the economy. What are our goals and who do they serve? What is economic growth really working towards? Is it protecting our planet? Is it protecting all of our people?
Swarbrick ends with this,
Past leaders have, as Paul Hawken said, “stolen the future, sold in the present, and called it GDP”. Nearly 100 years ago, in the wake of traumatic world wars, this Parliament decided to do something radical. It built the social safety net. In the subsequent decades, we have seen successive Governments at their worst tear holes out of that, and, at their best, only make minor repairs.
This Budget must be a Budget for an economy that serves both people and the planet. We cannot afford anything less because people and the planet are, frankly, exhausted and we’re organising.