There’s been chatter on Twitter, and not so dissimilar talk around my office among ‘ordinary’ (probably on average right-leaning) people, about why National and the Greens can’t get together. Why the Greens can’t ‘stick to the environment’ and get some wins there, as a compromise.
National’s urban supporters I’m sure would prefer a deal with the Greens vs a deal with NZ First (their rural ones might disagree), and National MPs always love a bit of Green-washing, and would be willing to throw the Greens a couple of bones.
The core hard reason it’s not going to happen is that the Greens’ members get to decide, and they wouldn’t go for it (as they believe in principles…), but there are obviously reasons behind that.
The focus is often on left-wing/right-wing, and the Greens insisting (rightly!) on social, as well as environmental principles. There’s a lot to be said about how you can’t make good decisions about the environment when you’re on the breadline and your every thought is keeping (or trying to get) a roof over your head and food in your children’s bellies. But that’s not what I want to focus on, as I think there’s a big bit that people are missing.
People can look to Germany and see a conservative party (fresh out of a coalition with a social democratic party), looking at forming a coalition with their Green party and a free-market liberal (ACT-esque) party.
But that’s a conservative party that has taken action on environmental issues. Strong action on Climate Change. Closing down their nuclear power plants because they’re not prepared to take the risks and waste. Investing in renewables.
That’s a strong contrast with National.
In Aotearoa, National are the anti-environmental party. Bizarrely the Greens have more in common with ACT than National. ACT at least (like all of the top 8 parties other than National) rank Climate Change a 10/10 importance issue – National gave it an 8.5, as it needed ‘balancing against the economy’. ACT don’t want to fund ever more irrigation to intensive farming & river pollution out of the public purse – only National does. ACT – in their free-market way – believe in polluter pays.
National is the only party that doesn’t see the need for a carbon reduction law, carbon budgets, or a carbon commission. They’re the ones who reduced what ‘swimmable’ meant to excuse their lack of action on our rivers, as our fresh-water fish become endangered.
Agriculture in the ETS? A plastic bag levy? From big to small, National don’t back it.
For National business comes first, second and third. Their Conservation Minister (Maggie Barry), regularly says they’ll take action on the environment when the economy allows – ignoring that there is no economy without an environment.
So forget left-right. On the environment – anti-environment spectrum the Greens & National are at opposite ends – that’s probably the biggest reason (of many) that there’s no chance of the 2 negotiating anything.
* I can’t even find a picture with Shaw & English both in it that’s how much they have in common.