Government changes 1 billion tree target to half a billion

NZ Herald reports:

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is denying that the Government is backtracking over its goal to plant 1 billion trees over 10 years, saying it was always going to be in partnership with the private sector.

Forestry and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones told the National Business Review today that the Government was going to plant about half of the 1 billion trees, while the private sector would plant the rest.

“[The one billion goal] is not something that is going to be pursued in isolation from the industry. If we work together, if they continue with their 50 million [a year] over 10 years and we continue with 50 million [a year] over 10 years, you get to a billion.”

This is pretty dishonest. Had the government partnered with the private sector to plant the billion new trees over the next 10 years, that would be fine.

However, the 50 million trees planted by the industry are only planted to replace trees that they’ve already cut down. That’s net zero trees from the industry. In fact, we’ll need to be planting more than that, as the trees planted in the 1990s have been forested.

This is just more fudging of the numbers. Half a billion isn’t enough, hence the promise of 1 billion. It’s quite disappointing to see this from a promising government.

Rocky start on the first day of parliament

House trading
Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

Today was the commission opening of parliament, in which the Speaker of the House was elected. This went in an interesting way.

Winston Peters and David Parker, along with 3 other government MPs and 1 opposition MP, were absent, unable to be sworn in.  Winston and Parker were overseas attending the APEC meeting. Thus, when the time came to elect the speaker, it was believed the government didn’t have enough votes to elect Trevor Mallard.

Simon Bridges raised a question, asking whether members not yet sworn in could vote. Expectedly, the answer was no. The National Party front bench then huddled together in conversation, stalling the process.

Labour’s Minister for State Services came over, as did Grant Robertson, joining National in discussions.

National then voted for Trevor Mallard as speaker of the house.

Afterwards, the opposition confirmed they had struck a deal to increase the number of select committee seats to their advantage in exchange for their support of speaker. National had played their cards well, forcing Labour’s hand. An embarrassing mistake for the new government!

Unfortunately, in reality, the government had 57 MPs (excluding Mallard, who couldn’t vote for himself), while the opposition had 56. The Labour Party never needed to make a deal with National to elect Trevor Mallard. They appeared to have fallen for National’s bluff.

This looks embarrassing.

The government appeared to have given the opposition what they wanted, without having any need to. National made them look like fools who don’t have their stuff together. This is not a great start for a government already being attacked for being messy and chaotic.

The government now states this was to avoid a vote, which they viewed as a rockier start.

It’s hard to tell whether this is genuine, though it probably is. It would have been sensible to communicate this beforehand. I’m not sure why the government would care if it went to a vote or not, unless they really valued their time or an alternate perception of stability over select committee seats.

I would not argue that this outcome was more stable than a contested speaker election.

If National had contested the election of the speaker, they would simply lose, and it would be bad for their reputation. Few like needless challenges. Instead, Labour agreed to National’s terms, giving them more power in select committees. I would call this an embarrassing failure for the government, and a sly move from National that makes them look like clever bargainers.

And this is all before Winston chose to sue National and the media.

Sore loser National MP calls the Labour government a ‘coup’

Matt King's post

You’d think the man tasked with (successfully) unseating Winston Peters would have a better idea of how MMP works, but evidently not.

This bitterness is in stark contrast to Bill English’s gracious concession speech. There is nothing more bitter than a sore loser claiming this is some kind of constitutional coup.

National and ACT got 44.95%. Labour, NZ First, and the Greens got 50.36%. This is how proportional representation works. It’s not mob rule. The majority of the country are represented in this government.

If we have another term of this kind of bitterness, it’ll be a long 3 years.

Greens getting a great deal in the sixth Labour government

James Shaw

Despite much conjecture that the Greens were going to get shafted by Labour and New Zealand First, the Greens are getting a great deal.

What we know so far is that the Greens are getting:

  • 3 ministers outside of cabinet
  • 1 parliamentary under-secretary
  • Zero Carbon Act, + independent climate commission
  • Overhaul of the welfare system
    • Ensuring access to entitlements
    • Removing excessive sanctions
    • A review of Working for Families so that everyone has a standard of living that allows them to live in dignity
  • Significant increases to the conservation budget
  • Better water quality standards
    • Greater water regulatory instruments
    • Funding for freshwater enhancement
    • Winding down of government funding for irrigation
  • Access to mental health services and support for everyone
    • Free counselling for anyone under 25 years old
  • Access to education for children with special needs and learning difficulties
  • Progress in eliminating the gender pay gap in the public service
  • Review, and properly fund & support the family re-unification scheme for refugees
  • Ensuring drug use is treated as a health issue

These are significant gains, and the Greens get to maintain their independence by staying outside of cabinet, which will be great for the party next election.

This is the first time ever that the Green Party gets to hold ministerial positions, and it means that the Greens will finally be unequivocally recognised as fit to govern, not a fringe hippy movement like they’ve been characterised.

I expect the ministerial positions will be:

  1. Environment
  2. Climate Change
  3. Transport

It seems unlikely the Greens will get Minister for Social Housing or Social Development, but it sounds like there’s already been large gains made in this area. Though, it would be nice for Marama Davidson to have a ministerial role, especially as she’s likely to become the next co-leader. Maybe that under-secretary role will go to her or Jan Logie (another potential co-leader) for Social Development.

It’s good that the Greens’ve secured a referendum on cannabis, allowing Julie Anne Genter to sacrifice her members bill and to become the Minister of Transport.

It’s not even been a day, but government representatives of Australia’s ruling Liberal Party are already taking potshots at our new Labour government and trying to sow doubts about Ardern’s potential success.

Newshub:

Then Employment Minister Michaelia Cash on Thursday night suggested the new NZ government may be destined to fail.

“History shows that unfortunately the last time the Labour, Greens and independents formed Government it didn’t end well,” Senator Cash told 2GB radio, before praising the previous government led by John Key and Bill English.

The Australian government criticised the Labour Party for meddling in Australian politics earlier this year, even though the Labour Party didn’t really. Yet now they’re happy to insinuate this government is destined to fail?

Then the Liberal Party Premier for NSW tweeted this:

New Zealanders don’t like being told to move to Australia because our new government apparently won’t have “great infrastructure, a growing economy and jobs”. This is another clear attack on Jacinda’s new government, and it’s disappointing to see such petty partisanship from the Premier of NSW.

That’s on top of their partisan newspapers trying to undermine the victory, failing to understand a single basic principle of MMP:

Turnbull should reign his senators and members in.