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James Shaw Adjournment Speech

And here we are, Mr Speaker, the final hour of the final day of the 52nd Parliament.

Our business, for the moment, complete.

I know everyone here is champing at the bit to get out campaigning around the country.

Trying out their new election slogans.

There’s Labour: “Let’s keep moving.”

New Zealand First: “Let’s not.”

You can almost see the ads can’t you?

“New Zealand First: You can stop progress.”

Act are making a bold play for the assault rifle vote, with: “The Act Party – more deadly than serious.”

And National have settled on a new leader with a new slogan: “Why vote for the lesser evil?”

***

It’s not all slogans of course.

Parties will be laying out their policy platforms for the election.

Or maybe they won’t!

But it is important as we think about the post-COVID rebuild that voters are aware of the different political philosophies on offer.

National want to grow the pie.

Labour want to share the pie.

Act want you to get your own goddamn pie.

New Zealand First just want One Billion Pies.

The Greens, of course, say that the growth of the pie is limited by the size of the oven.

And whilst you’re making pie, you should really keep your oven clean or you’ll make your tamariki very sick.

I know – it’s not exactly bumper sticker material.

But we reckon there’s at least five percent in it.

***

Speaking of which, Mr Speaker…

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I asked my colleagues for the privilege of giving the Greens’ Adjournment Debate speech at the close of this Parliament.

Partially so I could deal with my PTSD from Election 2017.

You see, I also gave the Greens’ Adjournment Debate speech at the close of that Parliament too.

About fifteen minutes before I was due to speak, I got that evening’s TVNZ poll result which had us dropping below the threshold, at 3.5%.

The whole time I was delivering that speech, the thought weighed on my mind that it might well be the last speech by a Green Party Member of Parliament ever.

Ten weeks later we were in Government.

Four weeks after that I met the Pope.

I’m just saying… a lot can happen in the final six weeks of the campaign.

Now mostly I’m just telling this story to cheer up the National Party, who, right now, could do with a bit of false hope.

But also, because the reality is that there is a non-zero probability that this speech could also be our last.

Speaking statistically.

Actually, I would tell another statistics joke, but it’s not significant.

***

Mr Speaker,

I think the most likely outcome is that the Greens will be back in Parliament and back in Government after the election.

But if we aren’t, every one of us, current MPs, former MPs, current and former staff, volunteers, members and supporters, can be tremendously proud of the contribution we have made as a partner in this, our first Government.

We laid down the path to a zero carbon future for Aotearoa.

We made sure more of our loved ones, our friends and our neighbours have warm, safe and dry homes in which to live.

We have given people all over the country better, cleaner and safer options for getting to work in the morning and home again at the end of the day.

We have expanded conservation and put more people to work restoring and replenishing our native birds, forests and fish than ever before.

Our Government put an end to new sources of fossil fuels; we championed changes to our democracy; and reformed the way we tackle domestic and sexual violence.

Standing here today I can proudly say that because of the progress we have made, a better, cleaner, more equitable future for Aotearoa New Zealand is closer within reach than it ever has been before.

***

And that, Mr. Speaker, is in large part down to the seven committed, passionate and hugely effective Green MPs working alongside me.

To each of them, I would like to say thank you – thank you for making the last three years as fun, as successful, as weird, as they have been.

And to Gareth Hughes, our dear friend and colleague, we bid you farewell.

Everyone here is going to miss the passion and wisdom you bring to this place.

***

It is because of who we are and what we stand for that after just three years in Government, and with only eight MPs, that more people up and down New Zealand can make ends meet, that our economy is greener, and nature is healing.

And in those times when we didn’t get everything we wanted – we didn’t give up.

We didn’t get disillusioned.

We kept working.

Because for thousands of people all across New Zealand, having the Greens in Government shows that we can keep making life better for everyone.

The only way to make sure the next Government does everything it can, not just to navigate through the present crisis, but to build a better world for future generations… is to make sure the Greens are part of it.

We know we need to get out every vote we can.

Right now, there are thousands of volunteers working tirelessly in their communities – knocking on doors, picking up the phone, and talking to people about where the Green Party wants to take New Zealand in the wake of the pandemic crisis.

And they keep at it, every day – even amidst all the nonsense that accompanies every election.

To every one of you: thank you.

Because of you, I am more optimistic than I have ever been that, together, we can change our world.

***

Mr. Speaker, in the three years since the Green Party helped to form this Government, we have never forgotten that with every action we take, future generations are watching us.

For young people don’t look at this place the same way others do.

They don’t see the political point scoring in what we do.

They don’t see the one-liners, or the headline grabbing antics.

Rather, our ideas and our actions are the prism through which they see their future.

And when the polls open in four weeks’ time that is what we are deciding.

Not which individuals will sit in these seats, but who, together, will have the power to shape the type of country our children and grandchildren will grow up in.

***

Thank you, Mr Speaker, and, as I said in 2017, we’ll see you in six weeks.

Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa.

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