The Green Party has been busy. And unlike the National Party whose definition of “policy announcement” is to announce a new road, they have come up with an impressive policy document Think Ahead, Act Now: Our Green Vision for Aotearoa which is clearly designed to be a starting point in a future MMP negotiation and a blueprint for how a Labour Green government could work.
Of the document Marama Davidson has said this:
“In the upcoming weeks we will launch key, visionary, costed policies that are focussed on climate action, healthy nature and equality.
“Those announcements will be the driving force of what we want to achieve in the next term of Government.
“Sitting underneath those key priorities is this wider policy platform that speaks more broadly to who we are and what we stand for.
“It’s a bold plan for Aotearoa, where everyone has what they need to thrive, our precious natural environment is protected, and communities are supported to be truly sustainable.
“Successive governments have created a system which favours a few at the expense of the rest, while allowing nature to be degraded.
“COVID-19 has shone a light on the glaring holes in our system, but has also provided a rare opportunity to renew our communities and our relationship with nature.
“The Green Party knows we’re at a crossroads, and we must make smart decisions now to create a New Zealand we’re proud to pass on. The policy platform we’re releasing today shows just how committed we are to transforming Aotearoa for the better.”
The document is impressive. There are separate sections for healthy nature, fairer communities and a green economy. The document itself is 49 pages of concise policy proposals.
Time and space prevent me from doing a detailed analysis but it contains policies such as these:
The water proposals will go some way to respecting the Treaty of Waitangi:
- Create a fair system for water allocation, with commercial users like water bottling companies paying a resource rental fee, and allocation phased down to sustainable levels. Iwi and hapū will be involved in designing a framework that recognises te mana o te wai Māori interests, prioritises ecological integrity, and protects food production.
- Uphold the kaitiaki, proprietary, and customary rights of iwi and hapū over water
The Oceans policy will not please the Talley brothers:
- Ban set netting and phase out the most destructive forms of commercial fishing, such as bottom trawling, dredging, and other bottom impact methods.
- Accelerate the roll-out of monitoring cameras on commercial fishing boats.
Proposed changes to the Bill of Rights Act are interesting:
- Update the Bill of Rights Act to include the right to privacy, and the right to a sustainable environment that is protected for the benefit of present and future generations.
Their poverty action policies are heading towards a Universal Basic Income:
- Ensure a Guaranteed Minimum Income of $325 per week for students and people out of work, no matter what.
- Introduce a Universal Child Benefit for each child under three of $100 per week.
Replace Working for Families tax credits with a Family Support Credit of $190 per week for the first child and $120 per week for each younger child.
- Change abatement and relationship rules so people and their partners can earn more from paid work before their income support entitlements are reduced.
- Provide additional support for sole parents through a $110 per week top-up.
- Reform ACC to become the Agency for Comprehensive Care, creating equitable social support for everyone with a work-impairing health condition or disability, with a minimum payment of 80% of the full-time minimum wage.
- Introduce a new tax of 1 per cent on an individual’s net wealth above $1 million and 2 per cent on net wealth over $2 million. This tax would only affect the wealthiest 6 per cent of New Zealanders.
Create two new top income tax brackets for a more progressive tax system that redistributes wealth.
As well as this:
- Support all students not in paid employment with a Guaranteed Minimum Income of at least $325 a week. Those in part-time employment will also receive support.
Their climate change policies, which appear in all sections, are impressive and include these:
- Bring forward the Government’s target for 100% renewable electricity from 2035 to 2030, and re-instate the ban on building new fossil-fuel electricity generation.
- Equip all suitable public housing with solar panels and batteries, saving people on their power bills and enabling them to share clean energy with their neighbours.
- Make it 50% cheaper for everyone to upgrade to solar and batteries for their own homes, with government finance.
- Create a community Clean Energy Fund to support communities, iwi, and hapū to build and share low-cost, clean energy.
- Train thousands of people for clean energy careers with a Clean Energy Industry Training Plan, developed with the energy industry, training providers, and unions.
- Ban new fossil-fuelled industrial heating systems and boilers in our first 100 days in Government, end industrial coal use in Aotearoa by 2030, and end industrial gas use by 2035.
- Increase financial and advisory support for businesses to replace fossil fuels with clean energy alternatives.
- Reform the Crown Minerals Act so it facilitates a just transition towards ending fossil fuel extraction, and stop issuing permits for new onshore fossil fuel extraction.
- Update planning rules to make it easier to build new wind farms.
- Encourage time of use pricing options for major electricity retailers, and encourage local generation and energy storage instead of building more poles and wires.
- Make electric cars more affordable and invest in better cycle lanes, buses, and trains.
- Replace industrial fossil fuel use with clean energy and continue working towards 100% renewable electricity.
- Let emissions prices rise to incentivise polluters to switch to clean alternatives, and recycle the revenue back to households and businesses.
- Pull all government investments out of fossil fuel companies and work towards ending fossil fuel subsidies.
- Commit to a Just Transition approach, working with affected communities, businesses, and unions to create good, sustainable new jobs.
- Work with local government, iwi, hapū and communities to increase resilience and plan for the changing climate, especially in coastal areas.
- Push for Aotearoa to play a leading role internationally to reduce global emissions and uphold the Paris Agreement.
- Implement emissions budgets, following advice from the Climate Change Commission.
- Commit to a ten-year programme to upgrade intercity and regional rail, including fast, electric passenger and freight trains, connecting major towns and cities.
- Make buses, ferries, and trains frequent and affordable, and build new, rapid bus and train services in our major cities to avoid traffic and make it faster to get around.
- Design people-friendly streets that are safer for walking and cycling, particularly around schools.
- Expand electric vehicle charging stations across Aotearoa.
- Introduce fuel efficiency standards for cars and a clean car discount to make electric cars cheaper and reduce pollution.
And their workplace policies are, checks notes, more pro union than Labour’s.
- Move to default union membership so people automatically join a union when they start a new job, but can opt out.
- Encourage worker representation on boards of publicly listed companies.
- Restore the right to solidarity strikes and political strikes.
There is a lot more.
The proposals are thought through and impressive.
Clearly we need a Labour Green Government without the hand break of a New Zealand First coalition partner.
New Zealand please do what is necessary.