Recently, the Business and Parliament Trust hosted a bit of a do for politicians and big hitters. The charity is aimed at helping MPs and the business world understand each other better. The seminar was held under Chatham House rules but some tantalising observations leaked out from participants.
Prime Minister John Key spoke, and was well received, followed by Labour leader David Shearer. Norman, according to reports, was hostile and aggressive.
So much so, that some in the audience were reluctant to ask questions, for fear of being attacked.
Ironic that Norman compared John Key to Muldoon.
Judging from chatter around Wellington, the antagonism was not an isolated episode.
A representative from an oil company tells the story of how Norman turned on his heel and walked off without a word, after they attempted to introduce themselves.
He has recently been making attempts to get around businesses, but to mixed reaction.
Within the agricultural community, there is genuine apprehension the Greens will be part of any future coalition. Industry players say that outside of environmental concerns, there has been little attempt by the party to understand its issues.
There is frustration that the Greens overlook, or are unaware, about the sector’s innovative strides. Ideological stubbornness is standing in the way of any constructive relationship with those that earn the country a living, they say.
The Greens are entirely ideological – it is their strength and their weakness. It helps them as a political party, as they are very consistent with what they say. However Government by its nature is about flexibility, and a degree of pragmatism, and the Greens in Government could well prove incendiary, and fall apart as the Alliance did.
But the view that Norman and his party are hostile to business, is a shaping up to be a bit of a conundrum for Labour. Should they be in a position to form a government next year, they must find a role to satisfy both his acumen and ambition. That he would become finance minister is quixotic, and there would be noses out of joint (including Jones’) if he was handed the economic development portfolio. Giving him energy would be an interesting move – but would likely end in a ugly clash with oil and gas companies.
Won’t Deputy PM be enough?