Rod Donald Speech - Wrapping Up Green Campaign
If a week is a long time in politics, then a month is a political lifetime.
We opened our election campaign exactly one month ago to the day. At that point we had just reached 3.6% in one nationwide poll and Jeanette was poised to take the lead in Coromandel according to another.
Few outside the party were convinced we could win in Coromandel, although everyone conceded that we might, and most people looked bemused or sceptical when I stated my belief that we would top 5% in the party vote.
The most common question I was being asked around the country - and I mean around the country - I have visited Northland, Auckland, Coromandel, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, Wairarapa, Hutt Valley, Kapiti Coast, Wellington, West Coast, Nelson, Marlborough, Southland, Otago, South and Mid Canterbury during the campaign - the most common question was "Will my vote count if I give The Greens with my party vote?"
Those voters clearly already supported our message and our messengers. They liked our policies and they liked our people but they needed to be convinced that we would make it
One month later we can now say with confidence to all those people who want to Go Green "Your party vote will count on Saturday!" and if you live in the Coromandel "Your electorate vote will count for Jeanette!"
I believe we would have crested the 5% barrier in our own right but National's decision to launch a series of attacks on us has guaranteed our success.
Unable to find any dirt on Jeanette, "the steel magnolia of politics", they tried to pick on our policies and other people on our team.
Their strategy backfired badly - Nandor Tanczos is the most exciting candidate in this year's election campaign. Sue Bradford is the most passionate and committed, and our cannabis policy is widely accepted as the most rational and the best way to promote a drug-free lifestyle as the healthiest.
Thanks to National's attacks, our support in the polls began to soar, people started coming up to us on the streets and committing their vote to the Greens and the media are began paying much more attention to who we are and what we stand for.
The Nats were so out of touch with public sentiment and so desperate not to lose Coromandel that they then made the biggest mistake of all - they despatched Jenny Shipley to Coromandel.
Not only did this put the electorate and Jeanette Fitzsimons on the national stage, it also put National's own candidate under scrutiny.
This last gasp of a dying government certainly propelled us into the spotlight. And we rose to the occasion. The extra attention gave us the opportunity to demonstrate our fresh approach to politics, much to the delight of the public who had become well and truly bored by the rest of the campaign.
Support for the Green Party has surged ahead - to 5.2% in last Friday's New Zealand Herald poll and beyond, to 7.2% in the poll reported in the Sunday Star-Times. On top of that, Jeanette's lead has increased in the Coromandel. She is now five points ahead, on 44% according to last night's Colmar-Brunton poll.
As the likely size of the Green team in Parliament increases beyond Ian, Sue, Nandor and Sue Kedgley, we have just sent CVs of our next four candidates, Keith Locke, Mike Ward, Janine McVeigh, and Richard Davies, to the National Party research unit, to encourage the Nats to include them in their negative attacks against us. Unfortunately, they may have learnt their lesson.
New Zealand voters have had enough of negative politics. They want to elect fresh leaders with a positive vision for our country, offering a positive future for our people. Kiwis want to see co-operation replace competition in Parliament and in the community. They don't want short-term profit to jeopardise our long-term prosperity. They warm to our challenge to growth, because they know growth is no good if it threatens the environment and increases inequality.
Our stand on safe food - no genetic engineering and a shift to organics - has struck a chord throughout New Zealand. People expect governments to put their health ahead of big business profits, and we have made it clear that we will.
Our commitment to fair trade, self-reliance and support for local businesses and jobs over imported goods is plain common sense to most people. Wanting to build strong communities and protect the environment are central to a better quality of life. Full employment and decent wages are vital goals. But Jenny Shipley attacks our policies as extreme. It's National's policies which are extreme. New Zealand now has the worst current account deficit in our history and the worst trade deficit in our history. We are failing to pay our way in the world. Free trade has turned our export-led nation into an import-dependent one. The Employment Contracts Act is driving down wages and has destroyed the social contract. Young people are losing hope of every getting a decent job. Manufacturers have been kneecapped and provincial New Zealand gutted, all in the name of greed and selfishness. The people of New Zealand know "hands off" in government and "market rulz ok" haven't delivered jobs for their kids, security in retirement, caring communities and a sustainable economy.
Shipley's coalition partner Richard Prebble says the Greens will hold the balance of terror if we win seats on Saturday. In fact, the ACT vision for New Zealand terrifies most Kiwis. We would become arid, soulless country of consumers and taxpayers - individuals without a society, with our future defined by the size of our credit card limit if ACT ever got the reins of power.
Clearly voters will have the good sense to reject a National-ACT combination on Saturday. Equally clearly they will elect a Labour-led government. A party vote for the Greens is a vote for a change of government. We want to work with Labour and the Alliance - whether in a formal coalition or supporting them on confidence and supply - Jeanette will expand on this issue. Either way, we are determined that the new government will have a strong Green flavour.
You will decide how strong that partnership will be. The more party votes you give us, the more of our policies and directions we will be able to achieve on your behalf.
Despite our differences with Labour in some crucial policy areas, such as the need to shift the burden of taxation off income and onto pollution and waste, and our strong preference for fair trade over free trade, we are looking forward to working with them.
We share common ground on many areas of social policy and believe the particularly Green dimension of community-driven solutions which we have to offer will add to their policies.
And despite what some have suggested, we have no problems co-operating with the Alliance. After all, we have worked closely with them for over six years now and believe we can continue to work with Jim Anderton and his MPs in the best interests of New Zealand's future.
As the election campaign draws to a close, we are all looking forward to next week. We want to put our economy onto an ecologically sustainable footing and repairing the social fabric which has been so damaged by free market policies as soon as possible.
As we have said in our advertising, this isn't just an election campaign, it's our life's work. We are ready to roll up our sleeves and get stuck in. There's a lot of work to be done and the sooner we start, the better. I'm not about to make a prediction of how large our Green team will be, but I believe our time has well and truly come. As I've said to many in the media, we've been the Cinderella party of this campaign, and we are going to gate-crash the ball!
In closing, I would like to thank all our party workers up and down the country, especially the candidates who have campaigned for the love of it. Their belief in our vision has carried the day. They have put in the hard yards and I know their efforts will be rewarded on Saturday. Our challenge is to deliver on their faith in us. I'd also like to thank our staff who have worked way beyond the call of duty.
I would like to pay a special tribute to our forebears in the Values Party. They held the torch aloft in the seventies and the old First Past the Post environment made it virtually impossible to win seats even though they won over 5% of the vote in 1975. It's great to have several of them back again on our ticket, along with many people who stood for the Greens in 1990 when we made history with 9% of the vote in the electorates where we stood but no seats in parliament because of first past the post.
Which leads me to thank all those people who campaigned for MMP. Without a fair proportional system, we may not be looking forward to playing a full part in the next government.
MMP gives you, the voters, the chance to vote for both the person you most want as your local MP and the party you most want in Parliament and in Government. I urge you to make the most of those two votes by giving your party vote to the Green Party and ensuring that the next government provides the leadership, the vision, the commitment and the future which you deserve. Finally, I would like to offer my personal thanks to my partner Nicola and to my three daughters for all they have put up with over the last three years. I only hope I can make the world a better place for you to grow up in to make up for my frequent absences. With a strong Green team in parliament I'm sure we can do it!