The Greens get nothing for their loyalty

Photoshopped image credit: Luke

I am no Green supporter, but even I can see that they constantly get a raw deal. They are totally loyal to Labour, refusing to work with National under any circumstances, mainly because their support base would probably never forgive them for it. I doubt if they would ever forgive themselves actually, which is also part of the problem. When are the Greens ever going to wake up and realise that they would achieve much more if they stopped being Labour’s lapdog and instead showed a little bit of spine?

After all, it is not only Winston who could bring down this government. The Greens could too. Trouble is, Winston might bring down this government, if it suits him, whereas the Greens never will. They are just grateful to have the crumbs from the table thrown at them whenever it suits Labour to do so.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to see the Greens grow a bit of spine. If I was a Green supporter, though, I would be very frustrated at how they manage to achieve almost nothing, particularly considering the potential power that they wield. Think about it this way. quote.

One Sunday almost two years ago, then-Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei took a blowtorch to the political conversation around poverty.

The party took that credibility into coalition negotiations with Labour following the election and emerged with a promise to “overhaul the welfare system, ensure access to entitlements, remove excessive sanctions and review Working For Families so that everyone has a standard of living and income that enables them to live in dignity…” end quote.

Okay, no one on this blog will agree with the Greens on this, but it was their flagship policy nonetheless.

The ‘overhaul’ disappeared into the hands of an inevitable working group, which reported back last Friday. So, how did the Greens do?

Answer: really badly. quote.

The report presents a coherent argument for greatly increasing benefit rates, indexing them to inflation, and reforming the way relationships are treated by the Ministry of Social Development (MSD). It makes the point that relative to wages, benefit rates have fallen an extremely long way since reforms in the 1980s and 1990s.

If implemented, this report would truly represent an “overhaul” of the benefit system, and this Government could make a pretty good claim to being “transformational”.

end quote.

However, the government is only adopting 3 of the policies, in an approach that is really just paying lip service to the working group. The ‘transformational’ government has failed, once again, to transform its way out of a paper bag, but this time, the Greens’ credibility goes down as well. quote.

Abatement rate thresholds are moving up, so low-income people can work more without having their benefits cut. MSD is promising to hire 263 new front-line staff. And finally, that long-hated sanction on mums who don’t name the father of their child will be removed.

Stuff. end quote.

That’s it… not much reward for holding the government together, is it?

Now don’t get me wrong. I want to see less people on benefits, not more, as most of you do too, but the overhaul of the benefit system was a Green Party flagship policy. It cost Metirea Turei her career (well, her admission of benefit fraud did that, but it was all part of the same objective).

The Greens are taken for granted by Labour and NZ First because they prostrate themselves for a place at the table. They remind me of a poor stray dog who has to make do with a bone with little or no meat on it, but won’t complain, because next time, they may get nothing at all.

What an enormous comedown for the so-called principled party of New Zealand politics. It seems their principles can be bought and sold… for a peppercorn, rather than 30 pieces of silver, after all.