Once upon a Green party conference

ANDREA VANCE
Last updated 09:38 01/06/2014
Russel Norman
KENT BLECHYNDEN/Fairfax NZ
GREEN PARTY CO-LEADER: Russel Norman

Relevant offers

Politics

Prime Minister John Key has confidence in OIO despite Onetai farm sale 'mistake' 'Alarming' non-voting levels of NZ youth must change: Winston Peters Pressure on water bottlers to pay up Heat on Maori Television chief executive Paora Maxwell over staff turnover Spotlight on possible John Key visit to Marlborough's theatre Ted Cruz supporter 'feels like wind sucked out of our sails' as campaign ends NZ unemployment jumps to 5.7 per cent despite strong job growth Pharmac has been given a $50m total funding boost between Government and DHB funding Has Winston Peters scuppered David Carter's chances of London High Commissioner post? OIO faces 'independent review' following Onetai farm sale

Once upon a time, Green party conferences provided plenty of quirky material for journalists.

OPINION: Famously, there was the morris-dancing. There were always weird beards. Occasionally, sandals.

Last year, the entire venue was fragrance-free.

Now the Green machine is so slick, so corporate, the best I could come up with was an animal print-mohair waistcoat. And, to be fair, it was bitterly cold out in the Hutt Valley yesterday.

Really, the only thing out of place was guest speaker Australian Senator Scott Ludlam's hair - so luxuriant it has its own Twitter account.

Parliament's third largest party is so mainstream that yesterday, its keynote announcement was an extension of a recently signalled National party policy.

If the Greens make into government, they want to roll out free GP visits and prescriptions to 13-17 year olds. In last month's Budget, National extended the scheme from six to 13-year-olds.

While National want a ''brighter future,'' the Greens are promising ''healthy futures.''

It's a family-friendly, centrist package - in line with a raft of policies announced by National and Labour this year. Surprisingly, it's universal, not just targeted at low-income families.

The conference marks the fifth anniversary of the co-leadership of Metiria Turei and Russel Norman.

They've worked hard to project an image of stability.

Compared to the two-headed Internet Mana hybrid, the devilbeast of John Key's imaginings suddenly looks tame.

With a $3m down payment from panjandrum Kim Dotcom, Hone Harawira is no longer a noisy one-man band, but a serious (and organised) competitor for votes on the left.

The Greens leadership team, Metiria Turei and Russel Norman, claim not to be worried.

But they've set an ambitious target of 15 per cent (an extra six MPs) for September's election.

Current polling puts them at around 12 per cent (just one extra seat).

With National holding steady up around 50 per cent, Labour and Greens are already cannibalising each other's support.

Kim Dotcom's new hire Laila Harre also holds all the data on the soft vote, and the unregistered, from her various roles with the Council of Trade Unions, Labour and the Greens.

Where else is there left to look, but the centre?

Of course, the Greens will be careful not to disappoint the loyal core of supporters.

At a closed-door session yesterday, members were expected to vote for a stance that means a post-election coalition with National is ''highly, highly unlikely.'' (That's one more ''highly'' than last year.)

Ad Feedback

And, although he's not confirming it, Norman will unveil climate change policy, likely to be centred on scrapping the current carbon pricing system in favour of a tax.

A move that is sure to be loathed by business and loved by environmentalists.

- Fairfax Media

Comments

Special offers
Opinion poll

Should the speed limit be raised to 110kmh on some roads?

Yes

No

Vote Result

Related story: 110kmh limit moves closer

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content