Damien Grant: Greens should stick to saving whales and snails

There is room for an environmental party such as the Greens in government, but the party needs to return to protecting ...

There is room for an environmental party such as the Greens in government, but the party needs to return to protecting the planet not advocating socialist policies, writes Damien Grant.

OPINION: I was once stopped by an earnest young Greenpeace collector soliciting donations. I declined and sought to move on but she was persistent and full of youthful enthusiasm.

Why not, she enquired optimistically. Don't you want to save the planet?

The problem, as I patiently mansplained to this future hippie, was that I didn't mind the Green, it was the Peace I objected to. Greenpeace's agenda has moved well beyond saving whales and even co-founder and past president Patrick Moore denounced the organisation as having taken a dramatic turn to the political left.

Green Party MPs David Clendon, left, and Kennedy Graham resigned this week in protest at co-leader Metiria Turei's ...

Green Party MPs David Clendon, left, and Kennedy Graham resigned this week in protest at co-leader Metiria Turei's initial refusal to step down over her revelations she lied to obtain a benefit.

There has always been a tension in our own Green Party between those who want to focus on saving endangered West Coast snails and former Alliance members wanting to embrace Hugo Chavez-style socialism.

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Wanting to save the planet isn't the preserve of the left. Even rabidly anti-government extremists like myself are aware that there is a market failure when it comes to pollution; if it costs nothing to dump industrial waste and fresh corpses in a river then you are going to end up with the Ganges. A role for the state in preventing the fouling of waterways and protecting West Coast snails isn't unreasonable.

However, this week's memory-holing of two long-standing Green MPs confirms the drift from an environmental to a socialist party.

Damien Grant: This week's memory-holing of two long-standing Green MPs confirms the drift from an environmental to a ...
DAVID WHITE/STUFF

Damien Grant: This week's memory-holing of two long-standing Green MPs confirms the drift from an environmental to a socialist party.

Kennedy Graham has a Phd in nuclear disarmament and he brought some intellectual heft to the Greens' environmental agenda. I'm not sure what David Clendon brought to the party, and given his relegation down the list neither was anyone else. But, still, their ejection signals the last nail in the recycled, untreated timber coffin of the Green Party's environmental agenda.

The new crop of earnest young candidates is focused on saving the last working mother from the indignity of paid employment and wouldn't know an endangered snail if they slipped over one on the dance floor.

This is a shame because protecting the environment is something that most of us agree with but the economic incentives to pollute make it difficult for industry to be both environmentally friendly and profitable.

A role for the State here can cross party lines. However, given a choice between losing the occasional breed of snail and living under a government run by the collection of malcontents and publicity hounds that will form the next Green's caucus it seems likely that the snails will have to fend for themselves. 

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 - Sunday Star Times

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