Electorate Seats for the Greens

April 10th, 2012 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

John Hartevelt at Stuff reports:

The party may yet take a serious run at trying to win the Auckland Central seat in 2014. It is one of four electorates considered potential targets if the party decides to run more than just a party vote campaign next time.

The candidate there, Denise Roche, has a solid history in the electorate and there was a strong Green Party vote there in 2011. The third element needed to encourage serious optimism about a Green winning an electorate is weakish Labour and National candidates – not the case in Auckland Central but potentially true in Rongotai or Dunedin North by 2014.

I had been meaning to write on this issue for a while, as the are indeed considering a number of seats which they could possibly win in 2014. It is unlikely they would ever drop below the 5% threshold and need the “safety net” but there are considerable benefits from having one or more seats anyway in terms of certainity plus broader community mandate and the like.

The three seats I thought the Greens should (and were) looking at are Wellington Central, Hutt South and Rongotai. I hadn’t considered Auckland Central and Dunedin North so let’s look at them also.

Wellington Central

This is arguably the most winnable seat for the Greens, for two reasons. The first is it had their highest party vote of any seat – 27.7%. They actually got more party votes than Labour did. So if all the Green party voters voted for the Green candidate, then they would be in the game. 62% of Green voters voted for the Labour candidate. If the Greens made it clear they wanted to win the seat, and have it as a secure base for the party, many of their voters would respond.

Now the incumbent Labour MP, Grant Robertson, is generally well regarded in the seat, and you would expect him to retain some support from Green voters. But then we come to the second factor – National voters. 15,000 people voted National, 11,000 Green and around 10,000 Labour. If National voters accepted their candidate could not win the seat (which is my view), how would they vote in a choice between the Labour Party Deputy Leader, and the Green candidate (especially if it is again James Shaw who has wide appeal)? I’d say many National voters would vote for Shaw over Robertson, and the Greens could well win the seat – and hold it for a long time. Worth remembering Wellington City has a Green Mayor.

Rongotai

Rongotai had the second highest party vote for the Greens, at 24.2%. Co-Leader Russel Norman got 20.2% of the electorate vote. More Green voters voted for Norman than King. Now King would be safe in the seat, but a new candidate at the 2014 election (maybe Andrew Little or Darren Hughes) might not fare so well.

But the real excitement is what if Annette King stands for, and wins, Mayor of Wellington, causing a by-election in 2013. By-elections often favour smaller parties. The Alliance almost won Tamaki in 1992 and Selwyn in 1994. ACT came second in Taranaki – King Country in 1997. If there is a 2013 by-election, I think Russel Norman would have a good chance of victory, unless Labour puts up a real star.

Hutt South

Now on the numbers Hutt South is not a Green stronghold. They got 12% on the party vote. But I have spies (well friends) in Hutt South and all I hear about is how new Green MP Holly Walker is everywhere. She is acting as a de facto electorate MP, and lots of people are saying how good she is.

Even the current electorate MP Trevor Mallard won’t say a bad word about her. In fact he seems very proud of her. Now Trevor will stand again, but Hutt South locals could just decide they want a fresh, energetic representative who is likely to become a party (co) leader in due course, and a senior Minister. Plus factor in the Nats whom loathe Mallard, and would tactically vote. Plus there’s a fair few in Labour not so happy with Mallard also, as a reminder of what people voted out in 2008. Now there may not be a lot of them in Hutt South, but I would not under-estimate Walker’s potential appeal.

Auckland Central

Auckland Central is the fourth highest party vote for Greens – at 22.8%. Denise Roche is a well known and quite popular representative (especially on Waiheke). She only got 2,900 or so votes but that is because Green supporters were urged to vote for Jacinda Ardern to try and beat Nikki Kaye. 63% of Green voters voted Ardern and only 21% Roche. However that would change if the Greens were trying to win the seat – especially as Roche is home-grown, and not an import. Labour received only 800 more party votes than Labour.

However I have to say I regard it as unlikely that Roche would win the seat off Kaye in 2014. Kaye saw off the very high profile (and now Labour #4) Jacinda Ardern, and boundary changes next year are likely to favour Kaye. National has grown its party vote in Auckland Central in each of the last three elections, partly as a result of boundary changes.

However if the Greens went for a medium-term strategic approach, they would be sensible to target Auckland Central in 2014. While I do not think they would win in 2014, I think it is quite possible Roche could come second, and when Kaye retires be in prime position to take the seat.

Dunedin North

This has the third highest party vote fr the Greens at 23.4%.  Turei got around 20% of the electorate vote. However Labour had around 3,000 more party votes than the Greens which makes it a harder seat to take. David Clark seems to be reasonably well regarded. Also National’s party vote is not so high in this seat, so even if some of them tactically voted, it is hard to see Clark losing.

So overall while none of them are certs, there are a number of strong possibilities for the Greens. If I were them, I wouldn’t just choose one seat to target, but go for three or four where they could be contenders, to maximise their chances of winning at least one of them. It is not at all impossible that they could even win more than one electorate seat.

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39 Responses to “Electorate Seats for the Greens”

  1. Shazzadude (505 comments) says:

    Yes, Rongotai is a definite shot once Annette King goes, and I’d back Norman to win should King stand for mayor. In fact, if King does stand I think that could be the pre-emptive strike for a war between Labour and the Greens should King stand against Wade-Brown, and I think the natural reaction would be to throw everything into a Rongotai by-election.

    Another seat I reckon they’re a chance in is Te Tai Tonga, should Metiria Turei stand there.

    I do think winning electorate seats is important if you’re looking to match the major parties, Labour and National holding electorate seats somewhat anchors their positions as number 1 and number 2.

    I think the voters of Wellington and Auckland Central are probably educated enough to know not to risk splitting the vote to the other side.

    Hutt South, dream on.

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  2. dubya (214 comments) says:

    Hah, Hutt South. If they take that seriously, I hope Lindsay Mitchell runs again and publicly debunks more of the tax and welfare extending bullshit that flows from Holly Walker’s precocious, holier than thou mouth…

    Auckland Central, go for it- split the guilty middle class Gay Lynn leftie leftie vote. I’ll still tick Miss Kaye’s box over Roche or Jacinduhh.

    If any of these seats go Green, I’d say Wellington Central. Highest proportion of people completely out of touch with reality.

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  3. Sam Hill (34 comments) says:

    The Greens need to start winning electorates to add legitimacy to their status as a medium-large party. As a whole their ideology might be popular, but individually they haven’t done enough to convince an electorate to elect a candidate since Jeanette Fitzsimons held Coromandel 10 years ago.

    Metiria Turei and Russel Norman are without doubt their best bets to win a seat. I live in Rongotai and I’ve seen Russel around a bit. But Annette King is well liked and I don’t believe he could beat her in 2014. If she does stand down and runs for mayor then he will have a very good chance of winning the seat in a by-election.

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  4. Colville (2,074 comments) says:

    Who is in a safe Liarbore seat that is gonna quit so Neighneigh can carpetbag her way in and leave Auck central as an easy win for Greens with LP support?
    Has Goof said he will stay full term?

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  5. dubya (214 comments) says:

    As an aside, had to laugh at the thought of Annette King as Wellington Mayor. Wellington would never vote in a female former medical professional with a penchant for loudly coloured jackets and giving backhander jobs to her husband… oh, wait…

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  6. SalParadise (54 comments) says:

    I think the Greens have a great chance of winning Rongotai once Annette King departs. Andrew Little comes off a little smarmy and entitled in my opinion.

    Wellington Central would be much harder to win. Grant Robertson’s appeal continues to grow and I can only imagine that would increase if he were Labour Party leader

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  7. mikenmild (10,644 comments) says:

    dubya
    LOL – great comment!

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  8. gazzmaniac (2,317 comments) says:

    I have my doubts with DPF’s assumption that National voters might split their vote with a Green candidate.

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  9. dime (9,399 comments) says:

    Whats the best case scenario if the grrens form part of the next govt?

    will being in govt move them closer to the centre?

    or will they still just be bat shit crazy and destroy our economy?

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  10. Sam Hill (34 comments) says:

    I don’t think anyone could beat Robertson in Wellington Central in 2014. There aren’t many National voters in Rongotai. Andrew Little would be silly to stand for Rongotai. This is hardly an electorate with lots of industrial workers etc. He should stick it out in New Plymouth. Or go to South Auckland somewhere. Rongotai is well suited to the urban liberal candidate. Unless Labour came up with some amazing candidate, Norman would have to mess up pretty badly not to win the seat if King stood down.

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  11. gazzmaniac (2,317 comments) says:

    Andrew Little would be silly to stand for Rongotai. This is hardly an electorate with lots of industrial workers etc. He should stick it out in New Plymouth. Or go to South Auckland somewhere.

    Or he could just fuck off and not stand at all. He has already been rejected once by the people of New Plymouth, who chose a local candidate over someone whose controllers are in Wellington.

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  12. iMP (2,232 comments) says:

    It’s likely they’ll be a by-election in Chch East 2013 after Lianne Dalziel announces she’s having a tip at mayor, although she might double dip until the Central election, as Lab. MPs have no integrity whe it comes to the taxpayer’s purse. Justification would be: “I’ll save the taxpayer money by not forcing the expense of a by-election.” Yeah right,

    So, two Lab Mps considering mayoralties. What does that say about Labour Central?

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  13. Shazzadude (505 comments) says:

    Sam Hill: “This is hardly an electorate with lots of industrial workers etc.”

    Hmmm-there’s a not insignificant blue-collar PI population in Rongotai though, isn’t there? I tend to think this is why Rongotai isn’t quite as green as Wellington Central (though still very green comparitively).

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  14. Sam Hill (34 comments) says:

    Shazzadude: Yes and most of them will continue to vote for Labour. I’m not saying the amount of blue-collar voters is insignificant, but compared with other electorates Little could do much better elsewhere.

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  15. mikenmild (10,644 comments) says:

    Sorry to correct gazzamaniac, but Little was as much a New Plymouth local as the National man there, ie, not at all…

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  16. Pete George (22,784 comments) says:

    I think it’s too soon to call the Duneidn North situation, it’s been an evolving seat.

    The Labour vote dropped a lot with the exit of Pete Hodgson. David Clark is liked by a few who know him but largely unknown outside political circles. He’s been lucky to get some early publicity by having “his” Mondayisation bill drawn from the ballot but local politicians get scant local coverage in Dunedin.

    Michael Woodhouse is in his second term but has had a low political profile. He might get known better in Wellington but as National whip may be distracted from the limited coverage available in Dunedin.

    Metirea Turei gets the most MSM coverage due to being one of the top two party co-leaders. She was not very visible locally during the election campaign as she put a priority on party campaiging around the country, but the MSM coverage is all most people see. She is not very visible locally.

    There has been a distinct move in Dunedin towards Green issues and support, especially out of the Unversity.

    But most voting is party orientated anyway. Turei’s chances in Dunedin North will be dictated more by whether Greens keep growing their support nationally, and whether Labour does any effective rebuilding or keeps on their negative campaign trail. Clark is still in talking point campaign mode in his local columns, if he wants to create his own following here he’ll need to to earn that by differentiating himself.

    I think Greens would be silly not to have a serious attempt in Dunedin North. There’s certainly an opportunity if they want to have a go.

    The biggest drawback to status quo voting is local coverage, especially by the ODT who tend to ignore most local electorate politics. It’s possible that could change if they saw story potential in a genuine contest, but if not most voters may not know or care.

    Unless 2014 turns out the be the election campaigned and won in social media. But that’s a big IF, social media is very big already but very fragmented. And prone to flavour of the month quirks, the Nek Minute guy would probably have scored well if he’d stood.

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  17. Pete George (22,784 comments) says:

    It’s likely they’ll be a by-election in …

    A by-election may be the Greens best chance at getting a toe in the electorate door, there’s no national or party vote distraction, in fact it’s a rare case of an electorate getting national coverage. And people seem more prepared to consider creative voting when it’s only the one electorate at stake.

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  18. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    that’s some interesting analysis..

    ..i agree the greens should stand in multiple seats..not just one..

    ..and am cheered to see holly walker is doing what all those contemplating standing in seats for the greens must do between now and the election…

    ..namely they must go to every envelope-opening in their chosen electorate between now and the election..they must become the de-facto local-mp…(that includes opening offices/holding clinics for constituents..)

    ..if they think they will be able to just swan in at election time..they are guaranteed to fail..

    ..i had this conversation with tanczos..(at his peak..)..in my urging him to stand for auckland central..

    ..but emphasising that he had to be everywhere in that electorate for the three years before any attempt…

    (..maybe the thought made him tired..)

    ..so the other possible green contenders need to decide now….and get cracking on that electorate-profile..also now..

    ..their campaign for 2014..starts now..

    phillip ure@whoar.co.nz

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  19. Shazzadude (505 comments) says:

    Gazzamaniac: “I have my doubts with DPF’s assumption that National voters might split their vote with a Green candidate.”

    Agree, 1) I think National supporters for the most part are too tribal to look to switch to Labour or Greens in big numbers (unless the Labour candidate had huge personal appeal, i.e. Damien O’Connor) and 2) tactical voters would probably prefer to chance the left vote being split in favour of National, on current numbers, if the Greens don’t split their vote that’s a very real possibility.

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  20. Shazzadude (505 comments) says:

    “A by-election may be the Greens best chance at getting a toe in the electorate door, there’s no national or party vote distraction, in fact it’s a rare case of an electorate getting national coverage. And people seem more prepared to consider creative voting when it’s only the one electorate at stake.”

    Definitely, two out of three seats Social Credit won came by virtue of by-elections, and the Alliance had some close calls in a few by-elections. And look at the UK, George Galloway of Respect trouncing the Labour candidate in a safe Labour seat in the Bradford West by-election.

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  21. awb (301 comments) says:

    I was very impressed by James Shaw in Wellington Central, even though he earned a big personal following he stuck to the Green policy of only contesting the party vote. He didn’t make it into Parliament, but it’s very likely he will get a better list spot in 2014, he certainly would deserve to.

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  22. toad (3,669 comments) says:

    @Shazzadude 3:25 pm

    Um, remember the 21% National polled in the 2002 general election. That is the core National tribal base, and it is less than half of the Nats current poll ratings.

    So most current Nat voters are amenable to casting a vote for another party.

    If that is to be for the Greens, the Greens need to dispel the perception among many Nat voters that the Green Party is weak on economic issues. Russel Norman, and more latterly Julie Anne Genter on the economics of transport, have been doing that particularly well imo.

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  23. Pete George (22,784 comments) says:

    I think there’s a significant floating vote that could swing anywhere from National to Greens (including me).

    >the Greens need to dispel the perception among many Nat voters that the Green Party is weak on economic issues.

    What will be harder will be to dispel the notion that Greens are strong on wrongheaded economic policies. I think their next big challenge will be to sell practical rather than feel good theory and idealism.

    What’s more important than policies is the public perception of whether are party is seen as capable of making sensible ongoing economic decisions. That’s probably what won National the election.

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  24. s.russell (1,563 comments) says:

    toad,
    National voters do not believe the Greens are weak on economic issues – they believe the Green are insane on economic issues.

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  25. Yvette (2,689 comments) says:

    “I am the constitutionally and legitimately elected Sheriff and I absolutely refuse to surrender my responsibility to the federal government. And so to the Obama administration, who is attempting to strong arm me into submission only for its
    political gain, I say, ‘This will not happen, not on my watch!’”

    – http://www.mcso.org/MultiMedia/PressRelease/Arpaio%20says%20no%20to%20ultimatum.pdf

    Sheriff Joe Arpaio sure shouldna gone done mess about with that birth certificate stuff

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  26. toad (3,669 comments) says:

    @Pete George 5:07 pm

    Hang on a minute.

    It was the Nats who campaigned on “feel good theory and idealism” – i.e. the neoliberal idealism that “privatisation is good for the economy” so sell off shares in a few energy companies to pay for the tax cuts they irresponsibly introduced at a time the economy was in recession.

    The neoliberal approach of tax cuts for the wealthy, austerity for everyone else (they will eventually benefit from the “trickle down effect”), and devil take the hindmost (victimising beneficiaries) has demonstrably failed wherever it has been implemented.

    The Greens are not some scary “communist” party that wants to nationalise everything that moves, despite the claims of some commenters here on Kiwiblog. The Greens want to look at the evidence of what works and what doesn’t, as far as the environment, the economy, and society are concerned, and make decisions based on that evidence.

    On some issues the Green policy will be to leave it to the market – where evidence demonstrates the market produces positive economic, environmental, and social outcomes. But where the evidence does not support that, the Greens will advocate State ownership and/or regulation of the market.

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  27. Daigotsu (450 comments) says:

    “Labour received only 800 more party votes than Labour.”

    That’s a good trick!

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  28. toad (3,669 comments) says:

    @s.russell 5:08 pm

    toad, National voters do not believe the Greens are weak on economic issues – they believe the Green are insane on economic issues.

    That may be the view of the Nats’ core 21% voter base I referred to in my 4:59 pm comment. But it is not the unanimous view of the rest of the Nats’ current constituency, many of who are not interested in ideology but just want stuff that works to enhance our economy, our environment, and our society; and (mistakenly imo) saw John Key as a nice guy who would do that.

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  29. Shazzadude (505 comments) says:

    Toad-”Um, remember the 21% National polled in the 2002 general election. That is the core National tribal base, and it is less than half of the Nats current poll ratings.

    So most current Nat voters are amenable to casting a vote for another party. ”

    Except that those parties that National voters defected to were New Zealand First (whose leader held a blue seat), United Future (whose leader held a blue seat) and ACT (to the right of National)-none of whom are distinctly related in branding to the Greens.

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  30. Pete George (22,784 comments) says:

    toad, I’m not talking about what National campaigned on. Look at what Labour campaigned on, anti asset sales and pro CGT, policies with fairly popular support, but they were rejected by the electorate, hammered in fact, because they weren’t perceived as reliable managers of the economy despite these policies.

    National have proven to be steady managers through very difficult economic times. Labour were seen as too big a risk. That’s something the Greens may have to face, some nice policies in the mix but can they be relied on?

    The electoral jury hasn’t even heard the evidence yet. But there are real concerns, eg that the Greens might stop drilling and mining and run down our industries and exports in the process. I asked for clarification on this recently at the Standard and got multiple attacks and abuse for asking, and no clarification. I’m the sort of potential voter Greens need to try and attract, not kick in the teeth if they think you’re the enemey.

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  31. gazzmaniac (2,317 comments) says:

    Um, remember the 21% National polled in the 2002 general election. That is the core National tribal base, and it is less than half of the Nats current poll ratings.

    So most current Nat voters are amenable to casting a vote for another party.

    Because some National voters once voted for Labour, New Zealand First and United doesn’t mean that they’ll split their vote with a Green candidate. There is a gulf between the stupidity of Labour economics and the insanity Green economics.

    The Greens are not some scary “communist” party that wants to nationalise everything that moves, despite the claims of some commenters here on Kiwiblog. The Greens want to look at the evidence of what works and what doesn’t, as far as the environment, the economy, and society are concerned, and make decisions based on that evidence.

    On some issues the Green policy will be to leave it to the market – where evidence demonstrates the market produces positive economic, environmental, and social outcomes. But where the evidence does not support that, the Greens will advocate State ownership and/or regulation of the market.

    The evidence is quite clear that Green economics doesn’t work. The sometimes produce good environmental and social outcomes (depending on what your measurement is – if everyone has nothing then there’s a perfectly equal society) but almost never have permanent positive economic results.
    I would much rather a society where a small percentage of the population were billionaires, and most of the rest have food, shelter, education and basic healthcare, and the opportunity to become millionaires if they invent the longer lasting lightbulb or something, than the ideal society of the Greens where nobody has any incentive to better themselves because the person who invented the longer lasting lightbulb was stuck on a communal farm and didn’t have the time, or he did invent it and the state took the invention as their own and sent the inventor to Siberia when he complained.

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  32. big bruv (13,249 comments) says:

    More utter lies from Toad.

    “The Greens are not some scary “communist” party that wants to nationalise everything that moves, despite the claims of some commenters here on Kiwiblog. The Greens want to look at the evidence of what works and what doesn’t, as far as the environment, the economy, and society are concerned, and make decisions based on that evidence.”

    If Toad was not telling porkies then this line “make decisions based on evidence” would mean that the Gweens would not be against fracking.

    Remember, trust nothing the Greens say and trust nothing the Greens do.

    How many months would it take for a Green government to bankrupt the country?

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  33. Bullitt (137 comments) says:

    I wouldn’t count on National voters choosing any Green candidate over Grant Robertson. Although I voted for Stephen Franks over him when I used to live in Wellington Central I’d gladly vote for him over any Green candidate. I’d even gladly forfit voting for anyone if I could swap it for a vote against a Green candidate.

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  34. Michael (895 comments) says:

    Holly Walker comes across as an entitled academic, not a Hutt girl. I would happily bet $20 that she will not be a serious contender for Hutt South.

    Although you are right that she is a far more effective local MP than the incumbent…

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  35. Peter (1,578 comments) says:

    The Greens have as much credibility on economic growth issues as Trev does on anti-violence issues.

    Their growth “plan” is to get 1% of alt-energy markets as if just by saying it, then it somehow happens.

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  36. Liberal Minded Kiwi (1,563 comments) says:

    I agree – the Greens are economic terrorists. Much of their voting core and MP base come directly from movements that backed Soviet based organisations during the cold war. The younger Greens are sympathetic towards Cuba/Venezuela and would never say a bad thing about North Korea. I don’t trust them with my money at all – but doubt they are actually prepared to ever take the financial benches if left with them.

    They reject “neo-liberalism” which we have not pursued in NZ for a while now. They dredge up the neo liberal phrase like a bogeyman when if it was applied in NZ properly, we’d be better off. Stop trying to rewrite history Toad.

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  37. Daigotsu (450 comments) says:

    Fucking hell if the Greens ever win an electorate I am out of here for Aus.

    What a sad fucking country we would be. Bloody Greens representing an electorate! The laughing stock of the world!

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  38. Paulus (2,499 comments) says:

    In Australia the Greens are losing a lot of mana. People are sick of their pious platitudes. Look a the recent Queensland vote. They are waning and leaking badly.
    Could you trust any of them in New Zealand – middle class educated, never really had a serious job, know all.
    I’m right because some opinion poll of eminent scientists, like us, in the world, says so.

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  39. Shazzadude (505 comments) says:

    “Fucking hell if the Greens ever win an electorate I am out of here for Aus.”

    It’s already happened, adios.

    “What a sad fucking country we would be. Bloody Greens representing an electorate! The laughing stock of the world!”

    The UK, Australia, Germany and Canada all have Green electorate MPs.

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