If you wanted a good chuckle yesterday – as Alf did, after some serious campaigning in Northland – it could be found on TV3’s “The Nationa”.
Green Party co-leader candidates Kevin Hague, Gareth Hughes, James Shaw and Vernon Tava lined up to discuss their eligibility to replace Russel Norman.
The humour perhaps was not intended from this earnest bunch of muesil-munchers.
They provided it all the same.
They also demonstrated an inability to identify the biggest problem facing the country right now.
Here’s how they responded when asked that question:
Tava: The biggest problem that’s facing NZ right now is we are committed to industries that are environmentally destructive and low wage — our two biggest industries. Dairy is very profitable, but we just can’t scale it up any more without causing enormous environmental damage. Tourism — it’s a low-wage industry. We need to do a lot better and be smarter than that.
Kevin, is that our top problem?
Hague: Uh, kind of. I mean, what I would say is it’s extraction. It’s an economy that’s based on extracting from the environment and extracting from labour, and that’s driving both of those twin crises, so in environment and in society. And we talk about climate change and we talk about inequality as our priority campaigns for this year, emblematic of that really big problem.
Okay, we’ll talk about the extraction economy later. James, biggest problem facing us?
Shaw: The greatest problem facing humankind at the moment is the threat of climate change, and New Zealand, it is already affecting us. We’ve had severe droughts that wouldn’t be as bad as they are under the climate-change scenarios, and we’ve really got to do something about that.
Hughes: The biggest problem is our direction. It’s not right for a country like ours who feeds 20 million people around the world to have kids going to school hungry. It’s not right for a country like New Zealand who is known for pulling its weight, to be increasing our emissions by 50 per cent. And it’s not right that Kiwis work some of the longest hours for some of the lowest wages, in some of the highest costs of living in the developed world. We’re falling down those economic rankings. And I believe looking after people, protecting the planet will grow a richer New Zealand.
Wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong.
The Greens are the biggest problem facing the country along with everybody who votes for them.
But to give them credit, they can make us laugh.
James Shaw was asked about his opinion that the rights of personhood should extend to all habitants of the earth. What does he mean by this?
Shaw: Well, we give corporations legal personhood. So humans have legal personhood. Also, corporations have legal personhood. In New Zealand, the Whanganui River and Te Urewera also have legal personhood, and I think that that is a great way of starting to think about protecting our environment.
So does that mean the rimu, the chicken and the snail — they all have personhood along with me — the same?
Shaw: Well, a corporation has the same legal personhood as you do.
I hear what you’re saying there, but I’m asking you about these other things. Does that mean we all have the same rights?
Shaw: No. I’m talking ecological features. So this is sort of playing out differently in different parts of the world. It’s a new area of law called Nature’s Rights Law or Wild Law as it is sometimes referred to.
But in your maiden speech you talked about all inhabitants. So all inhabitants of the planet, should they have personhood?
Tava: I totally agree with this, because what it means is that you grant legal standing to those things, because at the moment we’ve got this really perverse situation where we treat animals, trees, so on, only as property, or even worse, something that’s not owned at all.
So Vernon thinks all the inhabitants…
Shaw: We have to remember, we used to treat black people as property as well. And over the last several hundred years, we’ve gotten a little more enlightened about that. We used to treat women as property as well in our legal system. So this is just talking about expanding our view of what rights extend to.
Tava: It doesn’t mean they’ll be treated the same way as us.
Is this a bit of a risk to the Greens, Kevin, because this is the kind of talk that makes people go, ‘Whoa, the Greens.’
Hague: It does seem a little bit odd to me, I must say. I’m interested in talking to Vernon and James about that. I think that we do need to have constitutional protection for our natural environment, but I’d go in the opposite direction in relation to legal personhood. I would take it away from corporations, cos I think that’s damaging to our society.
Hughes was given the last word on this. He said
… I think what voters and our members want to see from us is pragmatic solutions. They want to see us put the flesh on the policy. They want to see us talk about how we’re going to protect animals, the planet, people, and that’s why I got into parliament — to get stuff done. They want to see us talking about the issues.
Talking about the issues is exactly what the Greens are doing. Ad nauseum.
Getting things done is what we Nats are doing.
You’ve got to get into government to do that.