Friday, December 23, 2022

Point of Order: Another Green MP to retire next year: but how will the achievements be measured......

........Will democracy be better off?

Green MP and former Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage will not be standing at next year’s election.

By then she will have served 12 years as a Green MP.

She is the second serving Green MP who has decided she has come to the end of the parliamentary road.

Colleague Jan Logie, who was also first elected in 2011, had previously announced she won’t be seeking re-election next year.

Sage was Conservation Minister from 2017 – 2020 and Minister for Land Information. She is based in Christchurch.

She made her decision some time ago, well before the furore over the entrenchment clause in the Three Waters reform bill, according to Audrey Young in the NZ Herald.

She sought to strengthen public ownership of water assets by requiring a 60% vote for any change to that part of the Water Services Entities law, instead of a simple majority.

The Ardern Government reversed its support for Sage’s amendment and the Green voted against the bill altogether.

Announcing her decision, she said:

“What continues to energise and inspire me is the vision for change and the commitment and determination of individuals and community organisations, iwi and hapū outside Parliament – whether it is their practical work trapping rats, stoats and possums and controlling weeds to help plants and wildlife thrive; advocacy for zero waste, pushing for better care of our oceans or changing the way we farm to avoid water pollution. “

Part of being an MP was to take that vision and identify how best to reform the law and Government policies, programmes and spending to do better for people and the planet.

That’s the problem for Green Party MPs: they enter Parliament espousing a vision for the planet so lofty that only a limited number of voters relate to it.

Trapping rats, stoats and possums is well and good, but the average voter has to earn the daily crust, pay the rent, cloth and educate the family, before thinking of “better care for the oceans”, important though that be for the future of the planet.

Similarly, “changing the way we farm” is an important Green objective, even though it means a lower income both for the ordinary farmer and for NZ Inc.

And then there’s the Green Party attempt to have Parliament legislate a measure in the Three Waters legislation that would protect the four water-services entities from asset sales.

Wanting a 60 per cent vote by a future Parliament to undo this is not the only black mark against them – and Sage.

Her ministerial biography said she is a former Environment Canterbury regional councillor and

“The restoration of regional democracy in Canterbury is one of her priorities this term.”

She had been crusading on this for years, in the aftermath of the Key Government’s sacking of Environment Canterbury’s elected representatives and appointing a commission.

In November 2011, the Ecan in Exile website said:

Eugenie Sage joins other elected ECan councillors who have risen above the National led governments actions against their democracy and won the support of citizens to continue to serve democracy and their communities.”

In September 2012 – after the Key Government announced the cancellation of the 2013 election for Environment Canterbury and the continuing of a Government-appointed Commissioners until 2016 – Sage went out to justify her supporters’ confidence in her:

“Today’s decision shows a lack of faith in councils and is a vote of no-confidence in local government by saying that elected regional councillors cannot provide stable, effective and efficient governance.

“Local government should be local democracy in action. We need to celebrate and respect the ability of local and regional councils to represent their communities,” said Ms Sage.

In June 29 she issued a statement headed Time to restore democracy to Canterbury, saying Canterbury people should not be second-class citizens having to live with second class local body representation.

“No other regional or local council in New Zealand has a mix of elected and appointed representatives,” said Green Party Canterbury spokesperson Eugenie Sage.

“It is high time for the return of a fully elected, democratic regional council in Canterbury.”


“It is time for the National Government to trust the people of Canterbury to elect competent councillors and trust them to do their job and be accountable, not patronise Cantabrians by keeping ECan running under its appointed members.”

In July 2015 she reiterated her concerns after the Government’ decided to turn Environment Canterbury into a mix of elected and government-appointed councillors.

“The Government needs to trust the people of Canterbury and return a fully elected, democratic regional council in Canterbury immediately, the Green Party said today.”

But Sage’s objections to appointed councillors turned out to be dependent on who did the appointing.

She (and the Greens) supported the Canterbury Regional Council (Ngai Tau) Representation) Bill which entrenched the special electoral status for Ngai Tahu which the Key Government had bestowed on the South Island tribe when it included iwi members among the appointed councillors.

She said the Bill provided for representation of Ngāi Tahu as mana whenua, as a decision maker and not just an adviser at the council table,

“… and it’s critical because it strengthens democracy. It doesn’t diminish it, as the National Party is alleging. It strengthens it because it’s adding two additional representatives at the council table, ensuring that there will be a strong voice for Ngāi Tahu and active participation in decisions there.”

Point of Order noted that if adding two additional representatives strengthens democracy, then it is reasonable to suppose that adding three representatives would strengthen it further, four would make it stronger still – and so on.

Today we contend that our democracy will be strengthened by the departure of MPs who have cast their votes in support of legislation that erodes it.

Point of Order is a blog focused on politics and the economy run by veteran newspaper reporters Bob Edlin and Ian Templeton


Terry Morrissey said...

Sage and Logie have been proved to have been complete waste of upwards of $4 million during their political careers. Neither has achieved anything except an increase in the LGBTQeieio factor in parliament. As with all list MPs a complete waste of taxpayers' money.

Anonymous said...

Yep, I’m all for zero waste and trapping rats and stoats. Let’s start with the current Government.
Billions of $$ wasted and nothing to show for it.
Rats and stoats, hmmm, where do you start? How long do you want this text to be?
Isn’t it funny how their political careers seem to only just exceed 10 years, which happens to be the point where a full time pension for life kicks in.
Happy Xmas NZ xxxx