So parliament has finally finished for the year (YAY YAY YAY)
Friday afternon featured the traditional adjournment debate where all the party leaders traditionally stand up and indulge in some self indulging wank. It was slightly different in the fact that they got to pay tribute to the imminent departure of Jonathan Hunt.
So firstly, I do want to acknowledge the man. He’s pretty cool, and I always admire people with a commitment to process. I am looking forward to Margaret taking over but it does need to be ackowledged how solid (no pun intended) Jonathan has been as a Speaker.
But now is a time for us to look at party achievements and it has been a great year for the Greens.
Firstly the year started off with a bang with the success of killing Project Aqua. The Waitaki is one of the jewels in this nation’s crown and damming it would have been a real tragedy. Acknowledgment must go to the community resistance to this project and to Jeanette for ensuring that legislation would prevent it going ahead.
Energy will continue to be one of the biggest environmental issues facing this nation (indeed the whole planet) and until we can pull our heads in and start using energy eficiently we are setting ourselves up for some serious ‘uncomfort’ in the future.
Another big issue we had to contend with this year was the school closure project. I think the government seriously didn’t get the connection that they were closing schools at the same time and in the same place as they are building yet more prisons! While some schools marked for closure have indeed closed, many more haven’t, again thanks to awesome community organisation backed up by support from the Greens.
A big issue that the Greens have been alone (although it is the one issue we seem to have the National Front on side for *sigh*) on this year has been that of trade. I find it quite astounding that a Labour government is doing it’s best to destroy what’s left of our manufacturing industry by signing a free trade agreement with China. I just don’t get that one. Everyone else is wandering around bleating ‘free trade is good, free trade is good’ like fucking clones, without looking at any of the evidence to the contrary. Pitching our manufacturing industry up against that of China which has one hell of a bad reputation when it ocmes to workers rights means NZ loses, workers lose more. No question.
Thanks labour, looking more like the 1980s every day.
The most significant achievement for the Greens this year was the principled stand against the Foreshore and Seabed Confiscation. For Maori, it was yet another confiscation, and also a time to learn from campaigns gone before as to what works and what doesn’t. The hikoi certainly did. Not because it stopped the legislation but because it sent a clear message to the rest of this country that the indigenous people of this country will never be simply walked over.
For some of us Pakeha, it was a tragic time. Some of us genuinely thought land confiscations were a thing of the past. Some of us genuinely thought that people in this country had gotten over Treaty breaches. Apparently not.
One good thing about that bill however, was it gave us all a chance to see Metiria prove herself. Her ability to put up with the bullshit on select committee (which was well diaried too) and then come back to the house with an amazing speech made us all proud to be Greens. On ya Metiria, from the bottom of my heart, thanks for reprazenting!
On to other matters.. We had local body elections which were significant due to the introduction of STV across a number of councils and all the DHBs. While the counting process was a complete shambles the outcome wasn’t as bad as some people thought it would be. I look forward to the problems being ironed out in time for the next round of elections. All in all democracy was the winner!
Of course we had momentous legislation pass and come into effect. The Civil Union Bill was probably the most high on the public agenda. It was brilliant to have an opportunity to confront the blatant homophobia that still simmers amongst the population at the Destiny rally. All though it was pretty frightening at the same time.
Nandor’s Clean Slate bill that got picked up by the Government was eventually passed and has now come into effect. Also the first sitting of the Supreme Court whose existence is thanks to the support of the Greens.
The Supreme Court brought another exciting event, the release of Ahmed Zaoui which was a great day for Justice for sure! I hope he’s having fun in the sun.
And we’e had some damn fun protests this year!!
So next year is election year and yet again we can look forward to campaigning on protecting local business, ending child poverty and student debt, improving transparency on our food and medicine regulations, a sustainable energy future, some real social justice, better public transport and all at the same time as we nurture our relationships, our communities, our planet and our own lives.
This is probably my last post for 2004, so to those who have been reading regularly and for those who are new year, best wishes for the festive season. Please look after yourselves out there, this is a time when people get unneccessarily stressed and do dumb things like crash cars and get alcohol poisoning. Try slowing down and getting high on life.