A round up of the Green Party’s achievements in the 2020 Budget. People often say the Greens aren’t doing much, so here are some concrete examples of what they gained for the green platform. Full press releases, and details of working with Labour, are in the links. My commentary below.
Green Jobs: $1.1 billion funding for nature,
The package announced today, which will support thousands of people into jobs in these areas, includes:
- $433 million to restore wetlands, and improve the health of rivers and estuaries and the Kaipara Harbour, New Zealand’s largest harbour.
- $200 million for a Jobs for Nature Fund for DOC to partner with councils, tourism businesses, iwi and hapu and communities to provide nature based jobs.
- $154.3 million for enhancing nature and indigenous biodiversity on public and private land with DOC working with the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust, regional councils and landholder groups to create jobs in revegetation, pest and weed control, and riparian planting.
- $147.5 million for pest control and eradication, including advancing the Predator Free New Zealand vision and working with iwi to prevent the collapse of North Island forests.
- $100 million for extensive wilding conifer control on public and private land.
- $40 million for pest and weed control on Crown land in river beds and control and eradication of aquatic weeds in Lakes Wakatipu and Wanaka.
- $27.5 million to get ballooning populations of wallabies in the Bay of Plenty, Waikato, Canterbury and Otago under control.
Strengthening the commitment to end violence:
The 2020 Budget includes significant support to stabilise New Zealand’s family violence services, whose work has been shown to be so essential throughout the COVID-19 lockdown.
The Budget includes support for services by Māori for Māori, those supporting victims of elder abuse, and programmes for people who use violence and want to change their behaviour.
“Refuges, helplines, crisis services and many other organisations sit at the heart of our response to families who are experiencing violence,” said Jan Logie, Under-Secretary to the Minister of Justice (Domestic and Sexual Violence Issues).
The Budget initiatives announced today are:
- $183.0 million over the next four years for the Ministry of Social Development to ensure continued access to specialist family violence services, including:
- Services supporting victims of family violence ($142.0 million)
- Services to help perpetrators to stop inflicting family violence ($16.0 million), and
- Support for victims of elder abuse ($25.0 million) and
A cross-agency initiative with Police, Justice and Health to ensure victims of non-fatal strangulation can access highly trained medical practitioners, trained to deal with the trauma and for forensic services necessary to gather the robust evidence needed to prosecute offenders ($19.9 million).
Public and transitional housing:
$570m has been set aside in this year’s budget to support the delivery of 8000 new homes. Of these, 6000 will be public housing, and 2000 will be transitional homes for people awaiting long-term accommodation.
Kāinga Ora anticipates borrowing approximately $5b over the next four to five years to deliver the homes.
“Quality housing is a human right. This has always been the Green Party’s policy, and it is a cornerstone of our role as a Government partner. We have long fought for all of us to have access to secure, quality housing, and asked this term for a significant and urgent investment in public housing. These additional homes will go a long way to reducing housing inequality in Aotearoa.
As well as the investment in new homes, an additional $56m is being allocated towards the Government’s insulation and heating programme, Warmer Kiwi Homes. The extra funding will cover 90% of the cost of retrofitting an estimated 9000 homes, fulfilling part of the Green Party’s Confidence and Supply agreement with the Government.
“Around 600,000 households are still damp and cold because they don’t have good enough insulation, heating, and ventilation. Insulating more of these homes means fewer of our children getting sick, and cheaper energy bills for families,” said Green Party Energy spokesperson Gareth Hughes.
There are some gaps, climate action being the elephant in the living room glaring at us. I have zero doubt that the reason for this gap is little to do with the Greens and everything to do with NZF and Labour (in varying degrees).
The argument that the Greens didn’t push hard enough, or that they should withdraw Confidence and Supply over things they don’t get, is not usually supported by political reality. The Greens are not in coalition with Labour, that’s NZ First. It’s also NZ First that has the ability from its centrist position to play Labour and National off each other for policy gain during post-election coalition negotiations.
To what extent they do that in government I don’t know, because that process is not transparent. We, the public, don’t get to be party to that or even see it afterwards, and a feature of our current politics is guessing how much of what Labour do is due to NZF.
It’s reasonable to assume that there is ongoing negotiation between Labour and NZF on policy and legislation, and that this doesn’t include the Greens. The Greens hold a Confidence and Supply Agreement (PDF) with Labour alone. This is a basic analysis of how power works in parliament.
What will change that is the Greens having enough MPs after the next election so that Labour and the Greens can form a centreleft/left government with a strong Green presence. We may also then see Labour’s truer position on a number of things, but likewise the Greens, whose policy platform and kaupapa remains clearly more left than what they can achieve at the moment.
How the Greens can use the power they do have differently to make more gains pre and post government formation is going to be a feature of this election.