Doing Green or Being Green

Hon. Peter Neilson - a man who did things.

I few months ago I met a very nice man by the name of Peter Neilson, who was, for a while, a cabinet minister in the Lange-Douglas Labour government. He told shared his theory that any politician had to make a basic choice, between Doing or Being.

Somebody who was content to merely Be a politician (or a Prime Minister) could expect a long and comfortable parliamentary career.  But somebody who sought to Do something with their parliamentary career would soon make sufficient enemies that they would not last long.

You can think of Hon Fran Walsh introducing homosexual law reform, or Hon. Sue Bradford and the "anti-smacking" law as examples of politicians who did things but didn't last long.  And the Rt. Hon. Sir John Key as one who didn't do all that much, but lasted for three terms.

And so to the Greens.

If you haven't been a member of the Green Party you might not know there is a significant proportion of the party membership that values being green over doing anything green in parliament.

I recall an AGM session some years ago at which the party was presented with the results of an internal poll. This said that about 50% of the members thought the Greens should always be "the conscience of government" rather than striving to be in government.

The poll also showed that about 50% (one suspects roughly the same 50%) thought the party should position itself to "the left of Labour", while the other half thought that it should be "neither left nor right but ahead".

Now this might have changed over the past 5 years or so. And I hope, for New Zealand's sake, that it has.

The Greens have an opportunity, following these election results, to be part of either a Labour-NZ First-Green coalition government or to be part of a National-Green coalition government.  They have an opportunity to actually Do something.

I hope that the party membership has changed, and that many more people have joined who think that being in a political party means more than just expressing your commitment to the green cause and living a green lifestyle.

Because just being Green is not enough. The issues that face New Zealand are urgent and too important to leave in the hands of the establishment parties, who have led us to where we are now.

I want the Greens to get into government, and to do some things that matter. For a change.
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