I’ve popped into National’s Lower North Island conference in Wellington for some of the speeches. First up was Nick Smith who assailed Labour’s environmental record. Nick pointed out the following under Labour:
- Carbon emissions increased 14%
- NZ placed 38th out of 43 for growth in emissions
- The proportion of energy produced from renewable sources has dropped from 72% to 66%
- Coal generated power has increased from 4% to 12%
- 75% of all new production has been thermal
- The first deforestation since 1952
- 40,000 hectares of forests destroyed in the last four years
- The Marine Reserves Bill has been stalled since 2001
- Funding for pest control has been cut
- No national policy statement produced, as promised, on biodiversity
As I heard and saw this, it got me thinking about why you never hear that from the Green Party? It is a mystery to many commentators that they are only at 6% or so, despite Labour having dropped into the 20s.
The Greens need to think about whether they really want to gain significant support or not. Unless they like being a minor prop to Labour, they should set a target of 12% to 15% of the vote – something high enough that it is impossible for a centre left Government to be formed that does not include them.
To do that though, they need to stop being so polite about Labour’s record of failures. They need to take to Labour, like NZ First took to National in 2002 – and NZ First got 11%.
Could you imagine the media reaction if at a leader’s debate you did not just have Jeanette or Russel saying “Oh yes Labour could have done more” but instead was saying that the record was a litany of failure on the environment. The Greens would be on the front page of every paper.
Now one can say that I am fomenting mischief and the Greens attacking Labour will not result in a centre left Government. That is true. However a centre left Government is looking a very remote possibility anyway. So do the Greens want to be a 6% party in Opposition or an 11% party, which would guarantee it a significant role in a future Government?