This morning was Metiria Turei’s turn on TV3, to front for the Green Party, looking back at the last 12 months. This is a welcome corrective to Russel Norman getting the de facto leader tag. The tone and style of Turei’s presentation was noticeably different from yesterday’s spinmeister Key on speed-dial. Mr Slippery spin his lines so fast it made it difficult to focus for too long on any one of his distortions of reality. Turei was calm, direct and clear, and spoke at a normal pace, enabling the foregrounding of the issues she chose to promote. She was assured, sincere and confident.
First up Samantha Hayes asked about yesterday’s news regarding the increase in road tax to pay for the government’s Roads of National (in)Significance. (Irishbill posted about it yesterday). Turei said they would provide little economic benefit, and the new tax was because the government was “in a hole” and householders were being asked to pay for it. Turie added that this is because the government had failed to manage the economy or invest in job creation. (James Henderson posted about the government’s poor job record today.)
They have a worsening current account deficit, and a “wafer thin surplus” (see James Henderson’s other post today on these issues). Turei said that the tax is going to be used to build roads that only 4% of New Zealanders will use, and don’t have any economic benefit.
In contrast, she claimed that public opinion had been in favour of the Green Party’s suggestion to use a special levy to help rebuild Christchurch, but the government said “no”. Turei claimed that this shows the government lack of vision, about what is possible, “when New Zealanders band together for a good project.”
MP Pay Rise
Hayes asked about yesterday’s news of a pay rise for MPs. She asked Turei a few times if she would accept it. Turei repeated the same answer, that it was a decision for MPs to make individually, and that she would be asking her family what she should do. Turei also supported her answer by saying that some people in public service were having their jobs and wages cut. MPs are also public service workers, and there should be equity across the public services.
The TV3 6pm report on the payrise had ended with the journalist saying the government had tried to slip the news under the radar in a pre-Xmas dump.
Hayes said the year was ending with good poll results for the Green Party. Understandably, Turei used the opportunity to promote the Green Party.
I think we’ve been very consistent in our opposition to government. We’ve been very disciplined as a caucus.
She said that they had a big caucus, with half of the MPs being new.
There’s been no scandals or dramas like you’ve seen in other parties over the last 12 months.
The Economy and Printing Money
Hayes responded with the challenge that the Green Party had been heavily criticised for its printing money policy. Turei responded with,
We suggested a range of tools to help bring down the dollar. To help manage our exports and make sure that we could keep jobs in manufacturing and that our exporters continue to do good business overseas.
She explained that that the US is printing money, and Japan is doing it for its post earthquake rebuild. Turei argued that the government is refusing to use the tools it has to manage the dollar, and thus help manufacturers. She concluded by saying that there is support for it in the community, especially business community
Turei’s Party Rating
Turei is not shy in rating Green Party performance between 8-10, saying they had done “ done extremely well” and increased their poll share over the last 12 months, following a record election result:
We’ve been a very strong opposition.
We’ve continued to put both economics and child poverty on the political agenda. And that’s our intention to continue the success next year. I think you’ll see from us more policy options, more discussion papers like the ICT paper that we released on Monday of this week. More ideas about how we can transform this country so that it is a smart, green, and just for everyone that lives here.
Top marks for a clear, down-to-earth, focused and assured performance. The Green Party provides a consistent and focused vision and practical agenda. I am particularly pleased with Turei’s focus on child poverty, and the need for a more fair and equal society.
However, Turei did not once mention the urgent matter of climate change, possibly under the banner of “green”. And no green initiatives were explicitly mentioned, apart from the rejection of the RONS tax.
[Update] Metiria Turei has done a couple RNZ interviews in the last 24 hours: Morning Report interview, in which she explains that green issues are integrated with their other policies. Checkpoint interview on RONS, and government surplus target.