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The Greens: Party democracy and parliamentary politics

Written By: - Date published: 9:00 am, June 9th, 2013 - 106 comments
Categories: accountability, blogs, democratic participation, greens, local government, national/act government, russel norman, same old national, spin - Tags: ,

Yesterday The NZ Herald’s John Armstrong followed the Lusk plan in attacking The Green Party: he picked up and ran with accusations made by “right wing bloggers”.  In his attack on recent changes to remit procedures at the party’s annual conferences, Armstrong used as much spin-and emotion-laden language as he claimed the Greens’ Russel Norman had been using when critiquing key’s anti-democratic government.  A more balanced account of the Green Party rule change was reported by Isaac Davison in yesterday’s Herald.

The Green Party rule change does raise some issues about the possibilities for bottom-up democracy, within a parliamentary system that is pretty much organised on a top-down basis.  This is something worth discussing, without the right wing and  anti-Green spin that is used by Armstrong.

In his piece, Armstrong presented the highly flawed argument that the rule changes were equivalent to the raft of anti-democratic processes enacted by our present National-led government:

It therefore took some gall for Russel Norman to use the conference as a platform to tear strips off the Prime Minister for being increasingly undemocratic and even Muldoonist in his actions, when the endorsement of another item on the conference agenda stripped away rights from the Greens’ grassroots membership and reinforced the already heavy clout of those in the party’s hierarchy.

So much for democracy. Not that too many at the conference seemed to mind. By all accounts, the motion to streamline the party’s antiquated remit system easily obtained the required 75 per cent backing to effect a change to the party’s standing orders.

Get that?!  A rule change that won a vote by the party membership with well over 75% for the change, is equated with the following:  the NAct government’s on-going excessive amount of abuse of urgency in the house; over-riding local democracy in Canterbury and Auckland; changing the GCSB in support of foreign commercial interests; making democratic protests illegal around some mining areas; taking away the democratic rights of family carers of disabled people…. and on it goes.

A more balanced article was published by Davison.  He gives both sides to the issue about the rule change.  It now means that for remits to reach the floor of the annual conferences, a local branch must get the agreement from 2 other branches, including one from another region.  Previously a remit had required only 12 signatures.  The argument against this remit goes:

One party source said the effect of the rule change would be to wipe out any debate on grassroots-sponsored remits at the Greens’ conferences.

The requirement that the backers of any remit would have to get the endorsement of a branch in another region would require driving hundreds of kilometres around the country to lobby other members.

“It wouldn’t be worth the effort,” one party member said.

The argument for the remit, which apparently got about 80% support, goes thus:

Party co-convener Georgina Morrison said that there was some contention about the amendment, which the party felt was “normal and healthy”.

She said the party was always working to be more professional and to have high-quality remits, but any important grassroots proposals would not be censored from the party’s annual meeting.

If issues raised by the party’s local branches were not dealt with at the annual meeting, they could be raised at other party meetings.

The article reports that one green member was suspicious this change was done in anticipation of a Green-Labour government:

One Greens member was suspicious about the timing of the rule change, believing it had been done before next year’s election to stifle any internal criticism of the Greens’ performance in any subsequent coalition with Labour.

Ms Morrison dismissed this as “absolutely ridiculous”, and said the Greens were already planning how their executive and MPs would continue to remain engaged with members as the party grew larger, or if it entered Government.

“We want to take the membership with us.”

Remits debated at the annual meeting influenced how the party was run, but did not determine Greens’ policy.

This does raise an important issue about the difficulties a smaller party has in negotiating with a larger one within a government alliance.  Along with that come crucial questions about the role of the flax roots in determining caucus policies.  The caucus needs some flexibility in negotiating with another party, and in the heat of parliamentary politics, sometimes decisions need to be made quickly.

The Green Party is in a tricky position.  It values bottom-up democracy, but we have a parliamentary “democracy” that often works against that.  Nevertheless, at least with the Greens and Labour such parties, such debates are given some public airing, unlike the secrecy with which the National Party conducts its party procedures.

106 comments on “The Greens: Party democracy and parliamentary politics ”

  1. Jane 1

    Was it over 75% of all party members that supported it or 75+% of those that were attending the conference?

    • outofbed 1.1

      That would be the delegates selected by the members to represent their views.
      It was not a major change
      Nothing to see here

  2. KJT 2

    All that has changed is some administrative process.

    Unlike all other NZ political parties, the formation of policy, and the choice of leaders and MP’s remains democratic and bottom up.

    And. Also, unlike other NZ political parties, and decisions of parliament, if Green party members decide it is not working as planned, they can soon decide to change it. same as we can change out leaders that do not follow policy set by members.

    Greens. Policy formation. decided by all members.
    Labour. Policy formation. Caucus.
    National. Policy formation. Party funders, including US RWNJ..
    UF. Policy formation. Dunne.
    NZF. Policy formation. Peters?

    Greens. Party list and leaders. Decided by all members.
    Labour. Party list and leaders. caucus.
    National. Party list and leaders. Party funders, including US RWNJ..

    It is easy to see that the Greens remain a democratic party, unlike any of the others.

    • Colonial Viper 2.1

      All that has changed is some administrative process.

      Putting more time demands and overhead on members to make their voice heard.

      • A little more, perhaps, and only if they want their voice heard at the most high-profile meeting. They can always just make friends in other branches and email each other about their remits.

    • Wayne 2.2

      KJT, try and be balanced, and actually look at the National Party constitution. Do really you believe that Simon Lusk really controls the National Party. No one I know in the National Party would give any credence to that, and I am in a position to know.

      I know that that people in political parties like to mock other parties, but you did look like you were trying to make a serious comment about parties and internal democracy.

      I might just as well refer to the Greens and Morris dancing – but I know the Greens have moved on from that.

      • KJT never mentioned anything about Simon Lusk. And unlike the Greens and morris-dancing, there is actually a party faction that would like to sell policy to US interests, and as we have no visibility of how the National Party makes policy, there is no guarantee that isn’t already happening.

      • One Anonymous Knucklehead 2.2.2

        Dr. Mapp; pull the other one. KJT doesn’t assert that Lusk controls the party. He asserts that its clients make its policies.

        Lusk’s manifesto whines about MPs failing to obey clients’ wishes, which tends to undermine the proposition that clients make policy. On the other hand Sky City, Charter Schools, the Hobbit deal, deregulation/underfunding/Devoyding of regulatory bodies, and the ongoing assault on human rights, especially in the workplace.

        Lusk’s preferred policy settings are more naturally suited to ACT, but he knows that would make his creatures unelectable, so he has to attach them to the National Party, where they value his shrewd counsel. That’s influence, not control.

        • Wayne 2.2.2.1

          But how much influence does Simon Lusk really have? I suggest not much. And as you know I think the Greens are having to work pretty hard to show that the Nats are hard right wingers, at least if the near universal reaction to Russell Norman’s speech is anything to go by.

          Much of Russell’s complaint is about process rather than outcome. But any Govt constantly gets people and companies putting forward various propositions.

          For instance it is hardly surprising that oil companies might say to Govt (actually any Govt) that it is too risky to have protestors within 500m of an operating oil rig or a moving survey ship. I imagine they actually said a greater distance. At sea, 500m seems much shorter than the same distance on land, and in my view is hardly a constraint to lawful protest at sea (as oppossed to protest that seeks to stop the activity, but then such protests are unlawful). Of course on land 500m would be an unreasonable restriction. For instance at Waihopai protestors can go right up to the fence to make their point. And not forgetting the unreasonable restrictions on the protests against the Chinese President in 1999.

          By the way, who else had $400 million for a convention centre? Commonsense says no one. I note that pretty much that same deal was done in South Australia (under a Labor Govt I think).

          • One Anonymous Knucklehead 2.2.2.1.1

            We’ll never know who else had $400M for the convention centre, because the other bidders were never asked what they’d pay for a law change that affected their bottom line.

            The attempt to curtail freedom of expression at sea will doubtless be challenged in court.

            As for Lusk, I think the recent kerfuffle was very much about seeking to limit his influence, but Collins was the intended target.

          • Draco T Bastard 2.2.2.1.2

            By the who else had $400 million for a convention centre?

            The government. We know this because the arseholes are spending $400m of our money on an irrigation system for farmers.

          • ghostrider888 2.2.2.1.3

            Petrostates (look them up).

          • karol 2.2.2.1.4

            Much of Russell’s complaint is about process rather than outcome.

            Isn’t democracy largely about process?

            is it possible to have a democratic outcome from an undemocratic process?

            And how many Kiwis, especially Aucklanders, really put the SkyCity Conference Centre deal & its pokies as something of benefit to them?

          • Shaz 2.2.2.1.5

            Wayne,
            Your comment above.
            “By the way, who else had $400 million for a convention centre? Commonsense says no one”

            I’ve heard this before from another National Party member – almost the exact same words. Dressing up a false tender process by hinting that anyone but a fool could see this was only ever going to go one way – Sky City’s – is a rather ugly sort of Realpolitick. Is this really what this National Government’s legacy will be to NZ?

            It’s a serious question.

            I would argue that if the real situation were known to other tenderers ie. Invest up front and reap the rewards in terms of law changes, access to SOE property and 40 year guarantees of business continuity then I daresay (sadly) that other tenderers would have adjusted their bids accordingly.

            • Wayne 2.2.2.1.5.1

              But only Sky City could actually benefit this way; ie pay $400 million but get an extension of their gaming licence (which would have happened anyway). I can not believe that a Labour/Green Govt would pass legislation to completely outlaw casinos, which is about the only way to terminate Sky City.

              No one else had anything that they were doing that could conceivably have them come up with $400 million.

              • One Anonymous Knucklehead

                That’s entirely dependent on which legislation the National Party was prepared to sell. Are you saying Lloyd Morrison wouldn’t have stumped up $400M in exchange for some changes in investment banking regulations?

              • Shaz

                So the tender process was a sham, a fig leaf to provide cover for an agreement advocated by Sky City and pre-agreed to by government to change the law, provide lengthy licences and guarantees for compensation in case of future law change and that sits well with you because it makes common sense.

                I ask because above you have agreed (above) that it is fair to say that democracy is about process.

    • Rich 2.3

      Excellent.

      (To be fair to Dunne, his party list, leadership and policy formation are all decided by the sole party member, the Right Honorable Peter Dunne).

    • The Fan Club 2.4

      Oh look for heaven’s sake. The next Labour leader will be elected by members, MPs, and the affiliated unions. The policy process in the NZLP is a partnership between caucus and the r&f, with a heavy tilt towards the r&f. Get your facts right, eh?

      On the other hand, the Greens remain a party so weak in on-the-ground volunteers they had to pay people to collect signatures! I mean, for reals, this is laughable.

      • weka 2.4.1

        How many members does Labour have? How many members do the Greens have?

        How many signatures did Labour get? How many did the GP get?

        Spin it all you like, but the GP are just better at some kinds of organising than Labour (and vice versa I’m sure). Don’t know why you have to be such an arsehole about it.

        • The Fan Club 2.4.1.1

          So, in other words, the Greens are better at the kind of organising that involves paying people money? I’m more than happy to acknowledge that.

          • weka 2.4.1.1.1

            No, and I’m sure you know this already and are just being an arse, the GP organise well to suit their memberhip base and what they are trying to achieve.

            How many members does Labour have? How many members do the Greens have?

            How many signatures did Labour get? How many did the GP get?

          • Murray Olsen 2.4.1.1.2

            The Greens are better at creating jobs. In this case they were part time, short term ones. There are enough people who need a few extra bucks, thanks to 30+ years of Rogernomics. I’m happy they managed to help a few of them out temporarily.

      • Aotearoean 2.4.2

        You are really annoying Fanclub. You diss the leader that the Labour Membership wanted and you then say that the increased democracy that the rank and file achieved at the last conference is a good thing.

        Can’t you get your story straight? Are you in favour of a mass membership democratic Labour Party or do you prefer to it being controlled by a bunch of careerists?

  3. KJT 3

    The message has gone out. Greens are a sensible and realistic threat to the looting of New Zealand.

    The RWNJ media have been told to:

    Endlessly repeat these memes, “the Greens are unrealistic, communist and loony”.

    The RW media will keep repeating these on the usual idea that, if you repeat crap often enough, even those who should know better begin to accept it.
    They will not engage in any discussion or supply underlying evidence for these assertions, as they know full well there isn’t any.

  4. Colonial Viper 4

    this change, however it is dressed up, reduces the impact that individual members and individual branches have, cuts out outlier ‘out of the box’ thinking and gives advantages to orthodox, mainstream, centralised policy making.

    I so hate party officials saying things like, ‘Trust us, we have every intention (for the moment and while it suits us) of taking the membership along with us.’

    The most remarkable thing of course is why a large group of Green Members at the meeting would vote for their own voices as branches and individuals to be substantially softened.

    My summary: this change reduces the power and voice of outlier members and branches, gently moves policy making towards an orthodox middle of the road, and despite what might be claimed, doesn’t appear to solve any actual major policy development problem that the Greens were having – so u have to ask why was it done.

    • outofbed 4.1

      No doesn’t do that at all Just tries to streamline the Agm process And my God if you have been to many Green Agm’s you would know why.
      The grassroots democratic process of the Green Party has not been undermined one iota with this changes

    • Ant 4.2

      CV has it right, just further sanitising by the Greens into a ‘safe’, middle-class lifestyle brand.

      They don’t want any hokey ideas popping up that will be reported in MSM.

      • RedLogix 4.2.1

        They don’t want any hokey ideas popping up that will be reported in MSM.

        Which frankly, given the proven hostility of the MSM towards the Greens, seems like a perfectly sensible defensive posture. In a much different world the Greens could afford to try and be ‘perfectly democratic’ and allow every member unlimited scope for self-expression. But in this world no organisation can afford that. Some form of internal discipline is necessary.

        Politics is a brutal game; to pretend otherwise guarantees failure. The skillful part is to understand this while remaining true to your own authentic self.

    • Colonial Viper 4.3

      Someone below described Green remits as typically being for changes to the party constitution and not for policy or coalition decisions. Given that, I think that the impact of the change will not be a problem, and will help the AGM focus on its business.

    • Shane Gallagher 4.4

      Hyperbole much?

      All this means is that is someone wants to bring a remit to the AGM which is costly in both time and money for the members they will have to have had two other branches look over the remit and point out things like “that is already in the constitution – can’t you lot read?”, “that doesn’t make any sense”, “that rule has already been changed – didn’t you read the extensive notes sent out on this?”, “that is already being debated in a specially convened committee and you should try reading your emails”, “that wording is really bad – we don’t understand what this means”, “we decided that at the last agm – stop trying to re-litigate this issue just because you didn’t like the result” etc. (and these are variations on real world examples).

      If the remit proposed is worthy then you will get support. There are things like email which you can send items like remits to other branches for them to debate. In Auckland most of the branches are really close to each other. I live in Dunedin and we have one of the biggest provinces in the country and our branches are literally hours away from each other and we manage to talk to each other a lot and really well. We meet as often as possible in person, email and skype lots. There are excellent provincial level systems in place so it is quite trivial to have a remit debated at a bunch of branches. Seriously this is nothing.

      And what is wrong with having a well worded and thought out remit brought to the AGM? It shows respect to the other members. You take a big chunk of time and money out of your life to do good and to have it wasted by an ill-thought out and badly worded remit is really, really annoying. It is not respectful or thoughtful.

      • weka 4.4.1

        Thanks Shane, it’s good to have input from someone in the GP who knows how it works.

        As member who hasn’t been to meetings for a long time, I’m unclear now on how things work at the regional/local level now. Is that structure and process online (eg via login)? Or do I have to go to an actual meeting to find out?

    • weka 4.5

      I so hate party officials saying things like, ‘Trust us, we have every intention (for the moment and while it suits us) of taking the membership along with us.’

      CV, the quote in Karol’s post made me cringe a bit too. It came across as being spoken by someone who sees themselves and the organisation they work for as separate from the members. Bit patronising, hopefully nothing worse than that.

  5. Clockie 5

    “This does raise an important issue about the difficulties (are smaller) has in negotiating with a larger one within a government alliance.”

    Should that read: “a smaller party..”

  6. Oscar 6

    Drive hundreds of kilometres to lobby other branches? Have these members not caught up with skype, email, Facebook and other forms of communications that will enable them to lobby just as effectively? They could all hangout on Google+ and have debates there too.

    Afaik this change appears to be nothing overtly substantial, and reduces the time necessary to have to debate every penny spending remit that’s submitted. At least the peer review process that’s now in place will reduce the number of frivolous remits.

    • Colonial Viper 6.1

      I think your comment describes the direction the Greens are taking. After all its fair to expect your comfortable middle class membership to all have broadband.

      • kiwicommie 6.1.1

        *shrug* In the US most people can afford internet, even the homeless – though they get it free in starbucks and fast food chains.

        • Colonial Viper 6.1.1.1

          OK Aotearoa GP members living in homeless poverty in the US are set

          I actually find this ‘let them eat cake’ attitude hilarious

          ‘Anyone who is anyone in the Greens can just conference call in using Skype from their iPhone’

          • kiwicommie 6.1.1.1.1

            I am not a member of a political party so I wouldn’t know, but having had a quick look at their website – it does seem rather quiet in their overseas forums. Then I would say that the 20,000 or so NZ’ers living in the states are disconnected [from NZ] much more so than NZ’ers living in Australia. Skyping in is more plausible if you are living overseas, but in New Zealand skype is made too expensive by internet charges. I find ‘free internet’ a joke in New Zealand, because they act like data Nazis (especially the WCC) and only allow email and website access.

          • Matthew Whitehead 6.1.1.1.2

            You don’t need every branch member to have access to broadband.

            You need just one of them to have access to dialup, and know a few email addresses for members of other branches.

            This is not a huge ask to have a platform at the national meeting, and you should stop trying to blow it up into one.

            • Ant 6.1.1.1.2.1

              It creates unnecessary barriers for members to participate in their own party, as a change it privileges those with more resources (including time), who are also most likely those in already entrenched positions of power.

              • Colonial Viper

                This is the proven Labour Party pattern. Another thing which happens, based again on Labour Party experience, is that the rules (formal and informal) for getting a remit through become increasingly complex and hard for non party professionals to navigate.

                I take it however that party remits in the Greens are still binding on caucus and leaders: that is exceptional and must be kept (if it is true) as it keeps caucus in line with wishes of the party.

                • “..I take it however that party remits in the Greens are still binding on caucus and leaders: that is exceptional and must be kept (if it is true) as it keeps caucus in line with wishes of the party…”

                  um..!..no..!..not according to the body of the article..

                  ..they are not ‘binding’..

                  phillip ure..

                • The Fan Club

                  Also, again, wtf? The policy process in the NZLP is dominated by r&f. It’s just that you’re the exact kind of clownish incompetent that the system’s set up to keep out. Trust me, CV, it’s not the professionals that fuck you over, it’s other r&f who don’t want to put with your bullshit.

                  • weka

                    Charming. It’s that kind of interpersonal nastiness that sometimes makes me hope the Labour party eventually dies*. We desperately need people in the world of politics who have emotional and social intelligence.

                    *and frees up the rank and file to join another party where they can be productive and useful.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Since I know the names of a few of the MPs and paid staff who were targetting me, TFC’s claim is rather hilarious.

                      It’s just that you’re the exact kind of clownish incompetent that the system’s set up to keep out.

                      Apprently, along with a good chunk of the party’s own MPs and LECs. Fiendishly clever system Labour has got going on there.

                  • The Fan Club

                    Pfft name names CV, or stfu. Because I will be totally honest, and say that the people I talked to who wanted you (and the rest of the conspiracy theorists in these parts) to FOAD were not staffers. They were not MPs. They were members who wanted to win elections, not indulge in ego-trips.

                    More seriously, look, the point of the Labour Party is to change the world. It is not a plaything for the crochet-y, the swivel-eyed loons, and the otherwise unable to find a warm room on a Tuesday night. If you want a party driven by the membership, one of the follow-ons is that the membership needs to be a disciplined, effective body. Many of the foibles that we let go in the years that the membership didn’t matter can no longer be tolerated.

                    And the same goes for the Greens.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Because I will be totally honest

                      Meh. That’ll be a cold day in hell.

                      More seriously, look, the point of the Labour Party is to change the world.

                      Meh.

                      I will add, the authoritarian, born to rule perspective suits you to a tee.

                    • ghostrider888

                      FWIW, if i was to become a member of a political party it would be the NZLP, wart and all. They always get my votes anyway, Working Class Man and all that.

              • RedLogix

                It creates unnecessary barriers for members to participate in their own party

                I think it creates a necessary barrier for members to leap over internally before their ideas are going to become public domain.

                I think that’s pretty reasonable; if you are not willing to make this effort, an effort required to protect the party from hostile external attack, then you have to ask yourself exactly why you are a member and whose purposes you are serving.

                • weka

                  I can see both sides of it.

                  I agree that there are other ways for people to get involved if they don’t have or manage the internet well. I’m not sure how this would work at the local level. We’re not talking about individual members, we talking about a branch having to send a remit to other branches before going to the AGM. If any branch in NZ doesn’t have the ability to do that (as opposed to individuals), then I find it hard to imagine that the GP wouldn’t step up and help.

                  On the other hand, the idea that anyone with the internet can manage skype or google+ is sign of how out of touch some people are, and I’m not talking about those that struggle with online interactions. There are increasing numbers of people with access to technology (both hardware and skills to use it) who now fail to understand that not everyone else does and the fact that this disadvantages some people. I hope the GP doesn’t lose sight of this.

                  On the other other hand, we’re talking about political activism here. I agree with RL, some effort needs to be made, and I’m sure that support will be offered too.

                  • ghostrider888

                    article on te news suggests majority of New Zealanders do not understand the features of UFB.
                    btw, then there is the suggestion that VDSL-capability may, for some time at least, undermine the efficacy of the UFB roll-out. Go figure. (1.5 B).

    • Jenny 6.2

      At least the peer review process that’s now in place will reduce the number of frivolous remits.

      Oscar

      What is frivolous, and what is not. Is purely a subjective call.

      Oscar, will the leadership be required to release their grounds for rejecting member remits. Or indeed their reasons for favouring others. So the members can judge for themselves if these reasons are valid or not?

      Or do the leadership have cart blanche right to reject or approve member remits without any justification or explanation?

      I imagine this sort of behaviour could be very disheartening, especially if the members forwarding a remit had gone to the trouble to jump through all the new bureaucratic hoops and hurdles put in their way.

      Oscar as well as making it harder to present remits in the first place which you have mentioned. More worrying in my opinion is the new power given to the executive to either approve, or veto, all Green Party member remits even if they manage to pass the new higher threshold.

      A party that gives it’s leaders the power to veto, or pass on member’s remits as they see fit without explanation, can hardly be called democratic. Effectively reserving as their right the power to shape party policy.

      What checks and balances, if any, are in place?

      Are there any rights of appeal?

      Can the submitters ask for the grounds for the veto of their remit by the executive?

      Could a successful members petition circulated by email through the whole party membership overturn an executive veto?

  7. ghostrider888 7

    Here is a take on coalitions (including the Greens) from Matt Robson, over at The Daily Blog
    http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2013/06/08/now-dunne-is-done-lets-consider-the-not-so-grand-coalitions/

    • Jenny 7.1

      Matt Robson. Now there is a voice from the past. If anyone knows anything about cost of trading principle for cabinet positions it must be him. Matt Robson, to keep his cabinet posts traded his Alliance Party anti-war principles away, and ended up with neither cabinet post, or principles. Leaving him in the end with not even a party.

      • ghostrider888 7.1.1

        so, coalition insights gained from personal experience, being the bitterest form of learning.

        • Jenny 7.1.1.1

          Indeed.

          Wisdom is what we use to avoid making mistakes.

          We achieve wisdom by making mistakes.

  8. Armstrong should join the tea party here in the states, he has just the brain for it. Alternatively after 2014, when his party darlings are turfed out he can move to the UK and suck up to the Conservatives or Labour over there.

  9. RedBaronCV 9

    Not being party to the Green’s inner workings, do they have some sort of policy group(say a branch) that signals the imtention of forming a policy in some area and asks all the other branches for their thoughts?, remits? and then gathers the remits all up into a pile to lay out into a tentative policy with not negotiable lines and nice to have things to go back to their conferences to vote on?

    I guess I’m thinking of some sort of crowd sourcing within the party by those who are interested in particular areas

    • This will undoubtedly happen under the new system. 🙂

    • Shane Gallagher 9.2

      Anyone in the party can submit a policy for debate. It then goes to the policy groups to develop. There is a lengthy process of consultation and analysis before it goes to the wider party. It is member driven and quite a robust process.

    • KJT 9.3

      Sort of correct.

      Green policy is developed by policy groups, under major policy headings, which any member can join. There is no barrier to members forming further policy groups if it is not already covered.

      The process is consensual and robust.

      It can be complicated and long winded, but that is democracy in action.
      Also has the advantage that pros and cons of any policy are very thoroughly covered.

    • weka 9.4

      Policy up for discussion also goes to the members direct via email. I got an email a few weeks ago with the latest policies needing feedback. There is a choice of website login, attending branch meetings, or emailing the policy networkers.

      • The Fan Club 9.4.1

        And then at some point the policy gets made up by some staffer in Russell Norman’s office?

        I mean really, if you want to claim NZPower went through channels, go ahead…

        • weka 9.4.1.1

          In what ways does NZPower not fit with existing GP policy?

          • The Fan Club 9.4.1.1.1

            That’s not enough: the claim is that Green Policy is democratically determined, not that parts of it are and then parts are merely consistent. NZPower isn’t, for that matter, consistent with the Greens energy policy, inasmuch as the previous policy clearly did not envisage such an intervention and neither endorses or discusses what form that intervention would take.

            NZPower was evidently not put to the party in any democratic means; nor, for that matter, was the Green response to KiwiBuild… KiwiPower wasn’t a “policy up for discussion [that went] to the members direct via email”. It’s just absurd to say the things you say about the policy process given the two most high profile recent policy announcements clearly didn’t happen that way.

            • weka 9.4.1.1.1.1

              Think you are getting lost in your own spin there dude. I didn’t say that.

              For some reason you think the GP should be absolutely pure in terms of process (god knows how you can sustain that view and still be political). As a member I’m keeping a quiet eye on what is going on, but I don’t feel particularly upset with the changes because I made my peace some years ago with the GP’s need to be pragmatic. It’s pretty bloody obvious why NZPower wasn’t discussed publicly ahead of time.

              It’s pretty weird to be lectured on democracy from someone deeply in the Labour Party, but of course the main reason you are here is to undermine your next coalition partner. Go figure.

  10. Green Viper 10

    Karol the debate was conducted behind closed with all media including Radio NZ excluded and no copies of the remit were made a valuable to media.There was nothing open about it. It was supported largely because the executive moved it and if anything there is still a massive groupthink in the party in support of the leadership. Dissent is ruthlessly weeded out and jumped on by the faithful. Metiria was quoted at one branch discussing the remit as seeing it as necessary preparation for government. At present the author of the Te Awa piece which criticised the changes is being hounded as the person who leaked the story to the Herald. He clearly had nothing to do with it but nevertheless is the victim of outraged posts on FB. All desperate and unpleasant as the Greens find themselves being outed as being undemocratic whilst professing to be the most democratic party in New Zealand.. You couldn’t make it up.

    • ghostrider888 10.1

      Have seen these days coming.

    • kiwicommie 10.2

      Greens find themselves being outed as being undemocratic whilst professing to be the most democratic party in New Zealand.

      It depends on whether you vote for them based on how ‘democratic’ they are, or their policies. Political parties are always going to be semi-democratic internally, whether it is ‘left’ or ‘right’ as obviously some policy/personal disagreements are going to force the leadership to act in an authoritarean manner, towards unruly party members.

      • Colonial Viper 10.2.1

        Oh brilliant, a justification to put uppity party members back in their place so that the leadership can get on with business as they see fit.

        Once this attitude takes hold this party is on track to be taken over by cliques and special interests like every other party

        • RedLogix 10.2.1.1

          As you well know all organisations have a handful of “uppity” members who have extremist ideas or obnoxious, timewasting, behaviours. You cannot pretend they do not exist.

          Now in the interests of ‘democracy’ you can give them full reign to their destructive powers, or you can impose a measure of internal discipline. This is one of the essential features of all collective enterprises. Or to put it another way, I’d very interested if you are able to provide an example of any large scale, long-term successful organisation that has zero internal discipline.

          The Green Party membership has for very long time enjoyed a very high degree of personal liberty, and in my reading this relatively modest procedural change is a small step towards restoring a degree of collective responsibility. As with all things there is a requirement to achieve a balance.

          • One Anonymous Knucklehead 10.2.1.1.1

            The requirement that three branches agree is hardly onerous; the good ideas will still find support.

            • Saarbo 10.2.1.1.1.1

              Sounds like a good idea to me, I’ve seen some ridiculous remits go forward that should never see the light of day.

          • Colonial Viper 10.2.1.1.2

            Possibly my personal experience as an “uppity member” whom some in the hierarchy tried to discipline has coloured my views somewhat.

            Nevertheless I accepted above that as these remits were largely constitutional in nature then there is no real problem and yes it does help the business of the AGM, so I see the points that you and Mr Gallagher above are making.

            • RedLogix 10.2.1.1.2.1

              Point granted CV. Here is one of life’s very strange ironies.

              The left while passionately believing in the power and virtue of collective enterprise and responsibility, as individuals tend to be rather poor at the personal political skills and astuteness required to succeed within them.

              By contrast, the right while constantly touting the virtues of personal achievement and responsibility are often the masters of the skills needed to game the system.

            • kiwicommie 10.2.1.1.2.2

              Possibly my personal experience as an “uppity member” whom some in the hierarchy tried to discipline has coloured my views somewhat.

              I doubt I could join any political party in New Zealand, without disagreeing a lot with their party platform. So I would end up being an ‘uppity member’ at odds with the leadership. Some people could cope with being under a party structure where you have to hold the party line somewhat, but not everyone can cope with that – safe to say such structures aren’t for me. Don’t mind helping, but I draw the line at being a party member.

              • KJT

                Well. I am rather an uppity member of the Greens myself. having joined because I agree with their goals. Not always with their way of getting there.

                I have found that on the whole diverse views within the party are treated with a lot more respect than they were within Labour.

                And. The Greens process of picking the party list has resulted in a large group of competent and principled MP’s, which is more than I can say for any other party in Parliament.

    • KS 10.3

      GreenViper, by closing the debate to the media, it was more open to our members to say exactly what they wanted with far less fear that they would become a media issue. The irony is that it would not have been as robust a debate, making it even more open to media speculation. Other parties AGMs have become just set media pieces, with the real decisions made elsewhere.

      Dissent is not “ruthlessly weeded out and jumped on by the faithful”. The person who wrote the Te Awa article is the same who put an ad in the Herald two years ago to complain about the list ranking process. What do you think a party should do with a member who takes out newspaper ads when he doesn’t get his way? He would have been thrown out of any other party, but he is still an active Green as you can see. Yes, people naturally asked if he was up to something. Others pointed out why it was not a leak.

      So people remember what he did previously and are suspicious – what would you expect? We’re a party full of humans and there will be issues of all sorts. We deal with them as best as we can within our rules and people get more than a fair shake.

      • The Fan Club 10.3.1

        Actually, this is nonsense. The last Labour Party Conference was held in full view of the media, as I’m pretty sure everyone here knows, and it wasn’t a stitch up, as I’m pretty sure most people remember.

        Likewise, the idea that Green policy is written by members and Labour policy by caucus is nonsense — the NZ Power call didn’t go through the usual channels in the Greens, did it? (At the same time the Green leadership are making up policy on the fly, the NZLP is writing a binding platform on regional conference floor.)

        • mickysavage 10.3.1.1

          When Trevor’s tweets are made public fan club you can then claim that everything was fair and above board.

          • The Fan Club 10.3.1.1.1

            Come on MS, there was blood on the conference floor in full view of the media. Of course you think it wasn’t particularly fair — in the long run you lost! But it was public, and it wasn’t a stitch up.

            • Colonial Viper 10.3.1.1.1.1

              It wasn’t a stitch up. But it was pre-prepared and well co-ordinated.

              But that’s history now, Shearer is doing well so there are no more questions that we have the right Leader in place for 2014.

              Of course you think it wasn’t particularly fair — in the long run you lost!

              My friend, you seem to have an odd idea of what the “long run” is.

        • KS 10.3.1.2

          NZPower is well within Green policy. No need to make up policy on the fly.

          Our MPs have always been bound by all Green policy. Labour’s process to create a manifesto will determine which party policies their MPs are bound to. They will still be able to ignore the rest.

          Didn’t mean to imply Labour’s conferences had become as bad as National’s. But will be very surprised if the next one is as open as the last.

          • The Fan Club 10.3.1.2.1

            It’s not true that the NZLP ignores announced policy, just as a point. They just used to ignore remits. Which is bad, and that’s why we got rid of remits and replaced them with systems that are fit-for-purpose.

            (I don’t think NZPower was within the Greens energy policy — look at http://www.greens.org.nz/policysummary/energy-policy-summary and point out where it fits in?)

            • Colonial Viper 10.3.1.2.1.1

              It’s not true that the NZLP ignores announced policy, just as a point. They just used to ignore remits.

              Of course.

              Caucus announces the policy they have agreed on (so why would they ignore their own policy?).

              Party conference policy remits/policy council proposals were, as you say, routinely ignored or bypassed by the parliamentary wing.

            • weka 10.3.1.2.1.2

              (I don’t think NZPower was within the Greens energy policy — look at http://www.greens.org.nz/policysummary/energy-policy-summary and point out where it fits in?) The Fan Club

              Norman’a announcement –


              “Under our Progressive Pricing policy, every household will get a block of low-cost electricity each month from the savings that NZ Power achieves. That will save each family $300 a year, while encouraging efficient use of power at the margins.

              “NZ Power will be explicitly mandated to prioritise renewables, energy efficiency, and resilience of our electricity system. For the first time, we will have a major player in the system that is committed to energy efficiency.

              “We welcome the fact that Labour’s search for a solution to unfair and unaffordable power prices has come to the same conclusion as the Greens have. A single buyer that works for the consumer, not to make profits, is the way forward.

              “For too long, the electricity system has been used to leech profits from Kiwi families and businesses. The Greens’ plan will mean lower power bills, helping Kiwi families to warm their homes. It will also reduce power costs to businesses, which will help them hire more workers,” said Dr Norman.

              http://www.greens.org.nz/press-releases/greens-reduce-power-bills

              The policy –

              Key Principles
              1. The scale and rate of energy use are both key markers of sustainability and both are subject to ecological limits.
              2. All New Zealanders should be able to access affordable energy services that meet essential needs and enable participation in society.
              3. Due to both resource depletion and climate change, we need to progressively reduce our use of fossil fuels to a very low level, eventually providing all energy services from renewable energy.
              4. To avoid social, economic, and environmental disruption, the reduction of fossil fuel use needs to be planned, the burden shared fairly, and replacement energy sources need to have a low environmental impact.
              5. Energy services, such as warm houses, food production and supply, and industrial processes, must be provided using much less energy than now, through both improvements in efficiency and changes in behaviour. This is necessary to minimise environmental impacts and ensure the ongoing availability of energy services.
              6. Planning, regulatory and market decision-making must be coordinated to deliver sustainable energy services and embody a precautionary approach, and be supported by good information.
              7. Individuals, communities and businesses need to be empowered to make decisions about energy and its use that enhance sustainability.
              8. Iwi and hapu rights under Te Tiriti o Waitangi to manage and develop their resources within the constraints of sustainability must be recognised and supported in the transition to a sustainable energy future.

              http://www.greens.org.nz/policy/energy-policy

          • The Fan Club 10.3.1.2.2

            Er, you just meant to say they “set pieces with the real decisions made elsewhere”, an evidently false claim? I mean ffs!

        • Colonial Viper 10.3.1.3

          The last Labour Party Conference was held in full view of the media, as I’m pretty sure everyone here knows, and it wasn’t a stitch up

          What I do remember were many Labour MPs using the media presence as a staging ground for internecine warfare.

          • Aotearoean 10.3.1.3.1

            Yep, my clear impression too. But I did not see Cunliffe do anything wrong.

  11. KS 11

    Remits are supposed to be mainly about constitutional changes. In the past, we’ve had remits get to the floor that were not, usually ending up failing and being passed onto the Executive for action. There usually isn’t enough AGM time during a weekend to allow for heaps of time to be wasted like this. Most members are pretty tired of it, so most supported the small change that two branches had to suppport the idea within a proposed remit before taking up AGM time. Yes, it makes it slightly harder. Yes, that what most felt was needed, as wasting precious AGM time is not good for grassroots democracy either.

    Remits do not address policy matters or the formation of a coalition. That will be done at a special general meeting after the election where the only votes cast are by electorate delegates, same as with the recent remit decision. The Green Party’s future is very much in the hands of our members. John Armstrong’s hatchet job was absolutely shameful.

  12. Green Viper 12

    The Greens for years have been sneering at Labour citing theirs as a far superior democratic processes. Facts are very different now. Any Labour member can rock up to their LEC and move a remit and if supported find it on the AGM agenda. Whereas the Greens new process is Kafkaesque in its complexity Isn’t that what flaxroots democracy is all about?

    • Jenny 12.1

      I am not as familiar with the right parties remit process. But I imagine that they are not that different to Labour’s. Leaving the Green Party the new title holder for least inner party democracy.

  13. Jenny 13

    Past elections have provenly seen Labour favour conservative coalition partners over more left ones. Even if this meant bypassing the electorate’s more popular choice to go straight to a proven right wing partner with less electoral mandate.

    New Zealand election results 2002

    So how will it all work out?

    Here is my best guess.

    The Greens will take up the offer to enter into the Labour Government tent. New Zealand First will be also be invited into the tent as well, to counter Greens influence. Much the same way that Key plays off the Maori Party against ACT.

    Peter Sharples, or Tuoroa Flavell, (which ever of them remains in parliament), will get Maori Affairs. (All mention of them being ‘haters and wreckers’ forgotten). Their eventual capitulation over the Seabed and Foreshore, (even though under National), will see them in the good stead with Labour.

    Hone Harawira will get nothing. (As expected) But this will not stop him. He will continue campaigning around the issues of child poverty and social justice and Maori issues as vigorously as ever.
    In a nightmare scenario for the Greens, the Mana Party may even start campaigning on environmental and Climate Change issues downplayed by them in the run up to get cabinet positions.

    Russel Norman will settle for some sort of associate finance position. Metiria Turei will get the Social Policy portfolio, she wants.

    The New Zealand First Leader will reprise his previous role of international jet setter and baubel abuser. Other New Zealand First gains could be, Associate Defence, and Police Portfolios. (Not even a madman would let them near immigration).

    As the global financial crisis and the global climate crisis continue to worsen.

    It is likely that at some point during this administration, the Greens will suffer some huge sort of public hair pulling implosion due to their compromises over the environment and climate change. (Worsened by Russel Norman’s complete failure to make any inroads at all to alleviate the effects of the economic crisis.)

    • ghostrider888 13.1

      more interesting reading. What about housework.

    • karol 13.2

      Jenny: It is likely that at some point during this administration, the Greens will suffer some huge sort of public hair pulling implosion due to their compromises over the environment and climate change. (Worsened by Russel Norman’s complete failure to make any inroads at all to alleviate the effects of the economic crisis.)

      I’ve always been a little skeptical about Norman’s (shifting ti the centre?) economic policies, and am more a supporter of Turei on social policies.

      However, I don’t see Norman being weak on climate change, if last week’s Green party conference on it is anything to go by. Kennedy Graham said, in his press release about the conference:

      “The resounding message after hearing the leading lights on climate change in New Zealand is that inaction is not an option,” said Green Party climate change spokesperson Dr Kennedy Graham….
      \
      “It’s time for the Government to announce a serious binding reductions target and demonstrate how it will be reached. It’s time for the Government to sign up to the second phase of the Kyoto Protocol.

      In his conference key note speech, Norman said:

      To me it seems remarkable that a country so reliant on agriculture is actively investing in fossil fuel extraction and putting road blocks in the way of those who want to move towards a sustainable economy.

      The environment and economy are so interdependent, so entwined that thinking we can have one without the other is irrational….

      The National Government has not only killed any incentive for businesses to start transitioning to be less reliant on fossil fuels but has kept subsidising the very businesses that are adding to the problem.

      Not only that but National scrap environmental protections to make it easier to extract fossil fuels.

      It’s all so heartbreakingly short-term.

      The path towards sustainable energy is one best trod sooner no matter how tough it is. Lagging on this transition means losing opportunities. New Zealand is usually so light on its feet when it comes to picking up new technology and seeing which way the wind is blowing. Yet here we are ceding to the rest of the world the opportunities to be developing technology that will power new jobs and new industries.

      To have a vital economy and protect our national treasure – our forests and waterways; our farmlands and snowcapped peaks. We can’t be by-standers.

      As I indicated in my post, it’s a tricky thing for a party committed to democratic processes to negotiate working in a parliamentary system, which, is weighted towards top-down processes. There’s various conflicting tensions that need to be negotiated. At this stage I am not sure how successful the Greens will be. They are already coming under intense pressure from the media and right-wingers to be more MOR.

      However, they must surely see the Maori Party as a cautionary tale, and be trying to avoid the same fate. Remember how the Mp were once so strong for consulting with their members on anything?

      The majority of voters and the MSM seem to like a party with strong and decisive leaders, wile many on the left, including those who have given up on voting, want more democratic parties.

      All very tricky as far as I can see.

      • RedLogix 13.2.1

        And of course there was this event:

        When: Friday, June 7, 2013 – 9:00am – 4:30pm
        Where: Legislative Council Chamber, Parliament
        Kennedy Graham hosts a one-day climate change conference in Parliament on 7th June, with the aim of fostering cross-party and public dialogue on climate change.

        The threat is now urgent and we need to be working together to find common ground as well as debating our differences.

        The international community agrees that action to cut greenhouse gas emissions is needed, but New Zealand is failing to do its ‘fair share’. Scientists are warning of potential catastrophe if effective action is not taken, within this decade, to stop global warming beyond 2 degrees. New Zealand needs a climate change strategy and action plan, called for in a UN decision of 2010.

        The Government must act now, not some time in the future. We need an effective price signal to incentivise clean tech and innovation instead of subsidising pollution.

        http://www.greens.org.nz/events/climate-change-conference

        Note the date … this last Friday.

        • karol 13.2.1.1

          Yes, that’s the one I was referring to – I probably should have said “last Friday” not “last week”.

  14. Yes 14

    Finally finally finally…you have all come realise and starting to work out the greens are here to take over labour. Where is shearers backbone. Can’t even get a back page advert going.

    Greens took over alliance now labour…FFS labour get your arse into gear

  15. peterlepaysan 15

    The above comments have persuaded me that the only sensible thing I can do is to join the Civilian Party. The Civilian Party only needs 500 paid up members. It is currently recruiting.

  16. L 16

    This remit is a result of several poorly worded and out of scope remits originating from one branch and in particular one person who has been waging a war against the executive of the party. What the member fails to mention is that the remit will not stop his branch from bringing remits as it is a branch which contains three electorates so therefore will be considered three groups. Nothing to see here. Move on.

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