After some careful thought, I’ve decided to party vote Green this election – and give my electorate vote to my excellent local MP, Labour’s Grant Robertson.
In my view, the present National Government has exhibited a disastrous combination of complacency and stupidity, especially on issues such as the environment, climate change, water quality, poverty, transport and housing, and I’m desperate to see the back of them. At this election, for the first time in nine years, it seems they face the real prospect of defeat – now Labour has finally selected a leader that stands for the future rather than the past.
So why am I going to give my party vote to the Green Party, not Labour?
Because, on the issues I care about most, the Labour Party’s actual policies still lag well behind Jacinda Ardern’s exciting rhetoric. And because Labour’s past record in Government has shown that, given the choice, they usually back off from making the big changes that are needed, for fear of offending one constituency or another.
Jacinda Ardern has called climate change ‘the “nuclear free moment” of this generation. I agree. In my view, we are now in a climate emergency. But Labour’s climate change policy tells a very different story.
In 2009, James Hansen wrote a book titled Storms of My Grandchildren, about the massive storms he expected his grandchildren to have to endure if greenhouse gas emissions weren’t sharply reduced. But if he re-released this book in 2017, he’d need to call it “Storms of Us”, because – in Edgecumbe, in Mumbai, in Bangladesh, in Houston, in the Caribbean and in Florida – we are now experiencing those storms.
They are already bound to get worse in response to continuing greenhouse gas emissions, but the world still has a chance to prevent them – and sea-level rise, and fires, and sheer heat – become civilisation-ending. But we must act to quickly reduce emissions, act to prepare ourselves for the consequences of climate change, and act now.
And while leadership matters, policy – the things a party says it would actually do in Government – matters too.
Sadly, Labour’s climate change policy and its more detailed climate change manifesto come nowhere near matching up to Jacinda Ardern’s inspiring rhetoric. Far from a vision of bold action, this is a cautious, incremental, not-stepping-on-any-toes policy, a policy that allows the mining and drilling of the fossil fuels that are cooking the planet – coal, oil and gas – to continue unchecked.
In contrast, the Greens’ climate change policy captures the necessary urgency. A Labour-Greens Government is much more likely to take the necessary action on climate and a range of other issues than a Labour Government with Winston in its ear.
Every vote for the Greens helps the election of a Government that will tackle the major challenges facing this nation. And that’s why I’ve decided to party vote Green this election.