Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Heather du Plessis-Allan: James Shaw has bigger problem than Green School saga

I don't think James Shaw has yet managed to fix this problem he's created.

He's clearly scrambling to find a solution for the Green School controversy and so far that seems to be reclassifying the $12 million for the eco-school not as a grant but a loan.

But that's not going to solve much.

Because it doesn't really matter what he calls it – a grant or a loan or fairy dust – the fact is the money will still be allocated to the Green School. Which means it isn't available to other schools that need it more desperately.
And it doesn't really matter whether – as Shaw argues - this comes from the infrastructure pot or the education pot. In the end, it all comes from the taxpayer pot and if you take $12 million out to give to the kooky school, you don't have it for anything. That's called an opportunity cost.

So, this attempt to change the terms of the deal is probably not going to totally placate unions or teachers or schools, who will watch a private "crystal" school get built for kids of wealthy families while other Taranaki kids get taught in damp classrooms.

But that's actually not James Shaw's biggest problem right now.

His biggest problem is what he's done to this party ahead of an already-difficult election.

The Greens were already scrapping hard for the necessary 5 per cent to get them back into Parliament. They've lost voters to Labour as it's out-greened them with moves like the oil and gas ban. The popularity of Jacinda Ardern makes it hard to win those voters back.

And they're now getting drowned out by Covid-19 like most other small parties.

This is just makes that much harder for them. Up to now, I'd been confident that it didn't really matter too much where the Greens were polling. On the night, I thought, their supporters would flock back to save them.

But now, you've got to ask whether those supporters think they deserve saving. This is not like the Metiria Turei benefit fraud stuff-up from 2017's election when they nosedived in the polls but got saved by supporters anyway. Plenty of those supporters backed Turei's position on principle. This though, goes against their principles.

You have to almost feel sorry for Shaw. Imagine being the guy who made a hard-to-survive election that much harder.

Worst-case scenario, imagine if he's the guy who made a mistake big enough to lose the Greens their place in Parliament?

Heather du Plessis-Allan is a journalist and commentator who hosts Newstalk ZB's Drive show.

1 comment:

Ray S said...

"Worst-case scenario, imagine if he's the guy who made a mistake big enough to lose the Greens their place in Parliament?"
Fingers crossed this comes to fruition.