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Rob Donald Speech: Green Party campaign launch

Rob Donald Speech: Green Party campaign launch

Green Party Campaign Launch, Auckland, October 25, 1999

Speech given by Rod Donald, MP, Co-leader

A year ago commentators were describing the Green party as political compost. They had written us off as having no chance of making it back into parliament at this year's election.

Well, we all know that good compost grows the best greens. And that's exactly what's happening. Like good gardeners, we've had some luck with the weather but our growing success is largely a result of healthy seeds, a fertile environment and sheer hard work.

The Coromandel campaign team can certainly testify to the hard work! And their efforts are well and truly bearing fruit.

Yesterday's Sunday Star Times poll on Coromandel confirmed what we have known for some time: Jeanette is poised to take the seat from National and Labour is trailing well behind in third place.

Labour voters in Coromandel now know for sure that only Jeanette can beat the National incumbent. In fact, the poll revealed that two thirds of those Labour voters who were not already supporting Jeanette were willing to switch their electorate vote to her.

Helen Clark sent them a clear signal yesterday when she acknowledged that Jeanette has a good chance of winning the seat. Their support would give Jeanette a commanding lead with 44%, well ahead of the National candidate on 37%.

Nationwide support for the Green Party has grown from strength to strength in recent weeks. The latest poll - in last Friday's National Business Review - puts us at 3.6%. That's worth five MPs.

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But not just any five MPs. Jeanette and I would be joined by Ian Ewen-Street, Sue Bradford and Nandor Tanczos. What a formidable trio.

Ian is a successful organic beef and sheep farmer from Marlborough with a background in outdoor education and secondary teaching. Sue is a determined campaigner for the rights of the unemployed and an advocate for worker owned enterprises. And Nandor is a high-profile activist on genetic engineering, cannabis law reform and restorative justice, as well as a successful business entrepreneur.

Sue and Nandor already have the National Party in a lather, according to a press statement one of their MPs issued yesterday. The Nats don't like the fact that they both have long track records of standing up for what they believe in. They ignored the fact that both of them are also highly respected leaders in their communities.

National's broadside also ignored Ian, yet they have even more reason to fear him in parliament. During the last year he has tackled Ferderated Farmers' top brass, with startling success, over their positions on genetic engineering, organic agriculture and the impact of the free market economy on rural New Zealand.

But why stop there! With victory in Coromandel clearly in our grasp more voters will now feel confident to give their party vote to the Greens, taking our share over the magic 5% threshold and onto our target of 8%. That would give us five more MPs.

What a team. Sue Kedgley, at number six on our list, will not only bring six years' experience as a Wellington City Councillor but also a commitment and passion for ensuring the food we eat is safe.

Keith Locke, widely known and respected for his work with human rights, peace and justice organisations and as the manager of Trade Aid's central Auckland shop, will be a determined advocate for cutting military spending and promoting peace-keeping.

Mike Ward, self-employed jeweller, veteran multi-sport enthusiast, and former teacher will bring 12 years' local body experience in Nelson to parliament along with a passion for making our communities strong again.

Janine McVeagh, writer, publisher and polytech tutor from the Far North, will bring community development, education, rural and bicultural issues to the fore in Wellington.

And to round off our top team, Richard Davies, small farmer and home-stay host of Takaka, the man who has taken our native forest conservation message up and down the West coast without getting egg on his face. Richard, as the Green Party's Rainbow coordinator, will ensure that gay and lesbian issues aren't ignored in parliament.

That's who you get if you vote Green. We're doers, rather than talkers. Real people willing to be politicians, rather than politicans trying to be real people. Talented people with practical common sense policies for the new millennium.

This isn't just an election campaign for us - it's our life's work. We're passionate about the issues we believe in and know hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders share our concern about the direction successive governments have taken this country.

National's free market policies and hands-off economic management are stuffing the economy, tearing apart our society and destroying the environment. In the last few months several economic, social and environmental indicators confirm we are continuing to go backwards as a nation:

* New Zealand's Gross Domestic Profit increased by only 0.6% for the year and decreased by 0.3% in the June quarter.

* Statistics New Zealand also reports that the current account deficit has increased from $4.8 billion, or 4.9% of GDP, to $6.2 billion or 6.3% of GDP for the year to June. Projections are for it to blow out to over $8 billion.

* We are failing to pay our way in the world, with the biggest contributing factor being our $1.636 billion merchandise trade deficit - the 5th June deficit in a row - so much for the benefits of free trade and APEC!

* The latest jobless figures show that the number of registered unemployed has risen by 12.6% to 213,760 people at the end of June. Whay are there more people out of work, if as National keeps telling us the economy is recovering?

* The Lower Hutt Family Centre's low income family survey reinforces that there is no connection between economic growth and equity. Over a quarter of low income people are spending half or more of their income on rent and half couldn't afford to go to the doctor at least once a year.

* And what use is a growing economy if it is at the expense of the natural environment? New Zealand's biodiversity is in decline to the point that Forest and Bird says our national icon, the kiwi, is threatened with extinction.

The Hikoi of Hope was a cry of desperation. People don't want to live in a greedy society where the market-place rules. They want a government which cares for the people and the environment. One that fosters co-operation rather than competition, promotes equity rather than exploitation, and quality of life rather than consumption.

New Zealanders want to do the right thing and they need a government with the vision, the commitment and the leadership to help them.

Merely swapping National with Labour will not put us on the path to becoming a healthy, just, ecologically sustainable society. Labour is too committed to the free market and isn't prepared to make the environment, rather than the economy, the bottom line for decision-making.

That's where we have a pivotal role to play. The more Green MPs we have the greater our impact will be on a Labour-led government.

The more MPs we have the greater the chance we can stop Winston Peters from holding the country to ransom again.

Some people may not agree with all our policies but at least they know where they stand and that we can be relied upon.

MMP gives you the power to vote positively for what you believe in. Make your party vote last for generations. Go Green on November 27.


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