Julie Anne Genter, Jan Logie, Steffan Browning and Eugenie Sage maiden speeches to the New Zealand House of Representatives. 2012-02-15.

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The first part of Julie Anne Genter's maiden speech was not included in the recording, the script content is supplied by Hansards Parliamentary records. Here in this recording the newest members of the New Zealand Green Party make their maiden speeches before the House of Representatives.

Speech start: 00:00:00

...are able to be here with legitimacy and call this place home.

Like many of my neighbours in Auckland, I was not born in Aotearoa. I chose this land to be my home because I love it. I love the forests, I love the lakes and rivers, I love the mountains and the beaches, I love the people. Like many New Zealanders, I grew up swimming in the Pacific Ocean, though it was on the far side. The Sierra Nevada mountains, the redwood forests, and the crystal-clear Yuba River are among the precious places that taught me a deep love and respect of the natural world that sustains us.

However, the wild beauty in the remote corners of California does contrast starkly with the place where I actually grew up. Anyone who has ever attempted to walk along in the undifferentiated suburban sprawl of Los Angeles County, along a loud and polluted eight-lane arterial, flanked by asphalt deserts of mostly empty car-parks and ugly strip development, will understand what I mean. As a young person I often wondered why it was so difficult and unpleasant to walk anywhere, why in a large metropolis with a nearly perfect climate the only place I saw other people was at the mall, and how it could be less costly for each and every person to have to make even very short trips in their own, expensive, 2-tonne box of glass and steel, rather than by walking, or cycling, or taking a bus or train. In fact, I have learnt, it is not.

The wealth of my homeland and the material comfort that I was raised with also contrast starkly with the endemic poverty that lies beneath the shiny movie screen surface of America. As a child I recall a few trips to downtown Los Angeles, another world from the big houses in our predominantly white neighbourhood. We visited many cardboard towns of homeless people set up underneath motorway flyovers. We brought them hundreds of brown bags with sandwiches, and carefully walked around broken glass, hypodermic needles, and rubbish that covered the footpaths. We went home to our safe, quiet neighbourhood, where it was easy for me to read, study, and achieve. Why is it like this? Does it have to be this way? Could the spaces between the buildings be places that we love? In a wealthy society, could everyone have a safe place to live, and have the same opportunities to achieve? These are the questions that have shaped the journey of my life so far.

The week I turned 18 I left home to seek adventure beyond the suburbs. I ended up in a small town in the mountains in northern California, where I lived and worked with people from all different backgrounds. We lived week to week on minimum wage jobs in restaurants and cinemas. We bought most of our clothes and furniture in op shops. We were happy, although in the winter we sometimes had to break the ice in the toilet, which had frozen overnight, and we could not really afford to go to the doctor or the dentist. My friends there were all doing their best, and were smart and hard-working enough to make a great contribution to society, but many did not feel that path was open to them. My privileged upbringing made it easy for me to move on when I was ready to continue my studies. I studied philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, to try to uncover the rational underpinnings of my political and ethical convictions. In my final year I took up French, in part due to a love of Voltaire and his pragmatic approach to humanism.

Ten years ago I left the United States. I initially went to France to gain fluency in the language, but I stayed because I could not bear to return to a country engaged in the futile and destructive wars championed by George W Bush. After some time working and travelling in Europe I was fortunate enough to receive a scholarship to undertake postgraduate study at Sciences Po in Paris, where I was able to study economics and political theory. My questions about the places where we live and the nature of our economy were slowly informed by my experiences, as well as by my studies. I eagerly delved deeper into new approaches to urban planning, transport, and resource management at the University of Auckland, and in my subsequent work as a transport consultant.

Every one of us travels, most every day, and every one of us consumes goods that have been transported from farther and farther away. We are all very personally familiar with the annoyances and the injustices that inevitably occur when we are running late and need to get somewhere. But there is a much bigger picture. The places where we live are fundamentally shaped by the transport system and policies put in place by Government. In turn, this affects the money and time we must spend travelling, the quality of our air and water, and the fact that nearly 40 percent of our energy use is for transport. We increasingly see that it affects our health, the value of our land, the cost of development, and the affordability of housing. It even affects the amount of interaction we have with our neighbours. Perhaps most pertinently for this Government, it affects our balance of trade and the amount of money we have left over each week to save or to spend in the domestic economy. The latest research in transport and urban planning tells us it is entirely possible to foster healthier, safer, and more livable towns and cities. Doing so will even save Governments, households, and businesses money, while facilitating economic development, so why are we not doing that?

It was when working as a consultant with district and regional councils, Government agencies, and private developers that I realised there are no technical, economic, or cultural, even, barriers to sustainable towns and cities. The impediments holding us back from doing things smarter are mainly political, and this is true in areas beyond transport. That is why I joined the only party with a good understanding of transport, and indeed a coherent vision for the future of our economy and society.

I am sure all members of this House will agree that we face some very daunting challenges. The global financial crisis, the end of cheap energy, climate change, and increasing inequality are the four big ones, and they are all interrelated. The flip side of these challenges is that we have an opportunity to approach things differently. We have an opportunity to improve the ways we live and do business, and it will enable us, our children, and our grandchildren to meet these challenges successfully, but to do so we will need to approach problems differently than we have in the past. We will all need to listen to one another. We will need to move past ideology and look beyond our prejudices.

If the House will indulge me, I would like to talk about an emerging view in cognitive science called the argumentative theory of reason. Since the Enlightenment it has been commonly assumed that each person has a uniquely human faculty of reasoning, which they could individually use to deduce the truth. However, the evidence from psychology does not support this; in fact, people do quite poorly on reasoning tests. But, as it turns out, we are all very good at arguing, especially in this House. People are very good at finding evidence to support their arguments. That is part of the reason why we struggle with confirmation bias: that is, we tend to find evidence to support the views that we already hold. This is well-documented in psychology.

This theory does not suggest that reasoning cannot lead to good decisions. The idea is that humans evolved in groups, and reason actually functions socially, through argumentation, rather than individually. We can see this as the wisdom of crowds, which is informing our digital age. It has interesting and inspiring implications for deliberative democracy. We often assume life would be better if we could just get on with it, whatever our favoured course of action happens to be. But doing more, faster, without the buy-in of everyone, is not necessarily advantageous. It turns out that we make better decisions collectively, when more people are involved in the debate, even if it takes longer. Having multiple perspectives represented means more valuable information is included in the evaluation, and more minds weigh up the validity of the arguments put forward. It gets round our confirmation bias and makes for more robust decisions. It is why MMP is so crucial, because it allows many more perspectives to be represented in Parliament.

I am proud to be a member of the Green Party, which uses a consensus model of decision making. Consensus does not mean we all agree. In fact, we often have heated arguments, but by taking the time to allow everyone to have their say and continue until everyone can live with the decision, I believe that makes our policy much more robust. Greater participation in decision making could help us with the challenges we face, in at least two ways. Firstly, it will prevent us from being seduced by expertise that may create more problems than it solves. As the members of this House will hear me say many times, I am sure, in the next 3 years, our transport predicament is at least in part due to the perfectly understandable but misguided approach of traffic engineering that focused on increasing the volume and speed of vehicles, to the exclusion of all else. When we take wider impacts into account, some of which are represented by the public health sector, and some represented by local communities, we get a better idea of the true economic impact of our infrastructure projects.

Secondly, groups that have profited from the status quo and have become very powerful have a vested interest in maintaining it. They will claim that any move to a more sustainable and fair economy will kill jobs or drain New Zealand of innovation. It is understandable that they react this way. They want to protect their short-term interests, but over and over again we see evidence that when small powerful groups have too much sway it benefits no one, not even them. We have seen special interests consistently lobby for deregulation that ended up costing everyone more in the medium term. Examples include leaky homes, US car manufacturers arguing against fuel economy standards, hedge funds, and deep-sea oil contractors—and these are barely the tip of the iceberg. All arguments are not equally strong. By not favouring certain points of view just because they are powerful or have claims to expertise, and by having more people involved in the debate, I believe we can collectively find solutions that will enable us to create a better world.

For my part, during my time here I hope to use my unique perspective and experience to contribute to law and policy that will enable us all to flourish. I would like to encourage and enable greater participation in our political process. I hope to move beyond the traditional assumptions and to persuade members from all sides of the House that New Zealanders will greatly benefit from a much smarter transport and urban land use policy; that we will all benefit from a fairer, more transparent, and less punitive justice system; and that we will all benefit from an independent, publicly funded broadcasting system.

I believe that every member of this House has come here because they believe in the possibility of democracy, and that their contribution can have a positive impact on our fellow citizens and on this beautiful place we inhabit. To the 50th Parliament I say that I acknowledge and respect our shared passion for service, and I look forward to working constructively with each of you where we can find common ground. I believe that we can move beyond our traditional assumptions and find new ways of doing things that will leave us all better off. Kia ora koutou.


Speech start: 00:14:05

JAN LOGIE (Green) : I acknowledge this House, the land it stands on, and the indigenous people of this place. To all the women and people from the margins who have gone before me in this place, I thank you. I will do my best to live up to your vision of a future where we can all speak constructively. To those still on the margins, I promise you my best efforts to redress hardship and injustice and to live up to your expectations. And to all the amazing Green Party activists and voters, again my thanks. I look forward to our ongoing journey.

I pledge to this House and to those who elected me that I will seek to honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi, the Declaration of Independence, and the principles of cooperation, inclusion, integrity, justice, and fairness. I stand here today as a leftie feminist lesbian, who sometimes despairs about what we are doing to each other and our planet. I stand here as an ordinary Pākehā New Zealander. I stand here knowing we could do things so much better if we did things differently.

I grew up in Invercargill. Both my parents worked really hard to give my brother and me the opportunities that they had not had. Dad worked for the electricity department, and mum was a theatre nurse. My mother was brought up in Lebanon for part of her life as a daughter of Baptist missionaries, and I remember as a child watching the Israeli bombing of Lebanon on TV and her pointing out a massive pile of rubble that had been her childhood home. For me it was an early grounding in global affairs and world politics, and I felt lucky to have her and to be watching from afar. My dad grew up in rural New Zealand, and he passed on his love of the outdoors to my brother and me, while teasing us for being townies. His history as a polar explorer was incredibly exotic and has given me a sense of unlimited possibility. Mum and dad always told my brother and me we could do anything we wanted, as long as we worked hard enough. And I would like to thank them for this start and for bringing me up to care about fairness and justice, the world, and our precious places. I would also like to apologise in advance for all the times in the coming years that you are going to be bemused by your radical daughter—sorry about that.

Despite having this amazing start in life, my teenage years were pretty tough. Like many people, many New Zealanders, I suffered from an undiagnosed mental illness. I was bewildered by the changing world, not sure of who I was, scared I would not be able to live up to my own expectations, and angry about the greed and cruelty I was seeing around me. It was the 1980s, and New Zealand was in the middle of massive social and cultural change. It was the time of the women’s conferences and the catchcry “Girls can do anything.”, as well, of course, as the media and discussion telling us we could not. It was the time of the Springbok Tour, Bastion Point, and homosexual law reform. During this time my friends were dealing with racism on a daily basis—as, sadly, friends are still now—being followed in shops, stopped in their cars, patronised, ignored, and mistrusted. Their tears, frustrations, anger, or extra efforts to conform disturbed me then and still deeply disturb me. The 1980s was also a time of radical economic change, and I saw this through the lens of a spate of suicides of fathers of students at my school, who due to the removal of Government farming subsidies faced the loss of their family farms and their identity. This was a tragic lesson on the human cost of decisions made in this place.

Being unwell, I went off the rails for a while during the 1980s and early 1990s, and the truth is I am very, very lucky that my friends and family—and particularly my brother—managed to get me through university and hold me here until I managed to get back on track. It was an incredibly precarious time for me, and I cannot express how grateful I am to have got through it. What got me back on track was discovering activism and community work. I started working for Women’s Refuge in the early 1990s, and this gave me a sense of purpose, of being able to make a difference, and of solidarity with others wanting a better world. I finally felt as if I was part of something, and had a sense of how I could contribute to the world.

I have never lost that feeling of purpose or the sense of responsibility that comes from thriving when I really know that so many others are not. Since then, increasingly, I have seen the focus in New Zealand turn to individuals and individual responsibilities, rather than to family, community, or shared endeavour. Yet societies cannot function if everyone acts as an individual. It is connection that makes our society work, not isolation.

Today one of the key stories I carry with me into this House is from the 1990s, when I was working in youth health. I was doing a suicide prevention workshop with a group of unemployed, disenfranchised, and disconnected young people. I asked these young people about what it takes to be successful, and they came up with responses like being smart and working hard. And I asked, in a rather leading way, whether they thought getting help from other people make a difference. They disagreed. When I asked whether they thought, say, Jenny Shipley or even Tupac had received help to get where they were, they again refused to acknowledge that possibility. These young people were already on the margins, out of school, out of work, and they believed it was their own fault they were in this position. They believed individual responsibility was all. But, rather than that myth spurring them into action, it put their lives at risk and it significantly increased their chances of remaining unemployed. All their charisma, energy, and ideas were left floating in the ether of individualism and self-blame.

If we cannot see we are interdependent, then we will not ask for help when we need it and we will be left floundering in polluted waters, unable to breathe. We are all beneficiaries and should be proud to be so. I am the beneficiary of years of support from family, friends, the State, not to mention the beneficiary of colonisation and at times the unemployment benefit. There should not be a stigma in accepting help when you need it. And there is benefit in sharing and helping others when they need it. Individualism locks in inequality and oppression, and as a result we all lose out.

I also carry with me today, into this House, all too many stories of gender-based abuse and violence. One in three girls, one in seven boys, one in 11 women, and up to one in two transgender people will experience sexual abuse in this country. One in three women experience psychological or physical abuse from their partners in their lifetime. On average, 14 women, six men, and 10 children are killed by a member of their family every year. Police are called to around 200 domestic violence situations every day—that is one every 7 minutes on average. Police estimate only 18 percent of domestic violence incidents are reported. Like most of you, I carry some of these stories etched into my heart from experience—my own, of others, and those I have worked with through Women’s Refuge and the Wellington Sexual Abuse Foundation helpline. The people of these stories who have been victimised by what is predominantly men’s violence are from all ethnicities, of all ages, genders, and sexualities, across an ability spectrum, and from every economic stratum. This is not an issue of poverty.

It is important to me that I bring these stories into this House, because these stories need to be shared and the shame taken away from those who are holding the stories. We representatives of the people of this country have a duty to honour the extraordinary strength of survivors and ensure, first and foremost, that they have adequate support to heal. They also need to see that we are working to prevent the same thing from happening to others or to them again. We have a duty too to those perpetrating the abuse to help them learn the fulfilment that can come from equal relationships, rather than ones of power and control. It is not enough to have a task force. We need to implement the recommendations of those task forces. And it is not in any way acceptable that funding for sexual abuse counselling through ACC has been cut in half and that domestic violence support services have effectively been cut, while their workload has increased by 12 percent. There are immediate changes we can make; they need to be a priority, for all of our sakes.

I also bring with me today stories of hope into this House. One is about the launch of the Assume Nothing exhibition at the Dowse Art Museum in 2008. Assume Nothing is a photographic exhibition by Rebecca Swan celebrating diverse gender identities. The exhibition showed a range of people who do not fit traditional gender roles or narrow definitions of male or female, looking strong and beautiful. Attending the exhibition, having recently returned from overseas, I felt so proud to be a New Zealander, proud to live in a country that has such spaces, and people willing to share so intimately of themselves in the pursuit of understanding and the celebration of our diversity.

I am here in this House to work for a world where we can enjoy our differences of gender, sexuality, culture, ethnicity, ability, and age—in every aspect of our society. We are a diverse population and I hope to see the potential of this diversity realised. Would it not be wonderful to see Government as a whole drive to increase innovation and productivity by addressing the barriers that are holding all too many people and communities back? I will work to grow this hope, so that we can all see the beauty of difference rather than the fear of the “other”. We all need to know we count. We all need to know that together we can make a difference for ourselves, our families, our friends, and our communities.

Through my work in the community sector I have learnt the importance of creative solutions, involving people in change, of having politicians who will work with you, keeping to your values, and how to do a lot with very little money. I bring these skills and others to this place.

All the stories I have shared today demonstrate who I am and who I am working for. To remind myself of these values I got a tattoo over the holidays, with the Audre Lorde quote “My silences have not protected me.” I will do my best to speak out for all of us, so one day we can all be protected and free. But my sister-in-law has suggested I should get my other leg tattooed with “Discretion is the best part of valour.” I am not quite ready for it.

I am very proud to be a Green Party MP because the Green vision is a new vision. It is a vision that holds equity, economy, and the environment together and acknowledges we are all important and have a duty of care for each other and the planet. I would like to thank the Green team and all the parliamentary staff in advance for doing all the work that enables us to make a difference. I hope I can. Finally, I would like to thank all my family—mum, dad, Noel, Ian, Anna, Liz, Maria, Kyran, Deb, Whetū, Jac, Caroline, Denise, and Billy—for all your love and support.

With your food basket and my food basket the people will thrive. Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.



Speech start: 00:31:04

STEFFAN BROWNING (Green) : Kia ora tātou katoa. I give my acknowledgment to this House, to those who have gone before, to the tangata whenua of this region, and, indeed, to Aotearoa. I acknowledge my parents, both no longer with us—Ivan passing just a few years ago, and Alice just a week and a day before the election—and my late half-brother, Trevor, who was also so supportive of my vision. To the Green Party MPs before this current 14—to the late Rod Donald, who led such a full but short life, inspiring me and many others to remain resolute in the vision of a fair and sustainable Aotearoa and world; to Jeanette Fitzsimons, now retired after 15 years of inspiring leadership and example; to Nandor; to Keith Locke; to Mike Ward; to Ian Ewen-Street; and to the two Sues, Sue Kedgley and Sue Bradford, who have both shown such significant output—thanks to you all for your support and friendship.

In acknowledging my fellow Green MPs and their skills, knowledge, and passion, I think of the great Green team and the party that has reached the New Zealand public in such a way that we are now 14—and we will grow. Many of you have put so much of your life into the Green cause—a very special thanks to you. To those Greens in my rohe of Marlborough—you and many others have directly encouraged and supported me. I am scared to start naming you all, because where do I stop? But for inspiration and leadership, Alison and Nozz Fletcher—I think we all say thanks. Bob and Jenny Crum—such special friends. Pam Nicholls and the great Green campaigners—so much effort from you all, and what a great crew. Thanks to the Van Pallandt family for your love and support. To my son Jordan, who cannot be here today, your love and support, as with Jamie’s, is a rock for me. To all my five siblings, all here in the gallery today with my son Jamie over from Melbourne, and other close friends, it is so great to have you with me today.

The non-governmental organisations—to my many, many friends and colleagues in the non-governmental organisations I have worked with for years, you are fantastic and a big part of why I am here. Much of what you strive for so very hard should be achieved for all New Zealanders by good leadership and vision from Parliament. You deserve better. You are another great big family that makes a wonderful world, striving for an even more wonderful world. Thanks to Philippa Jamieson, Elvira, Matt, Marion, Bob Crowder, Margaret Jones, Kyra Xavier, and the great Soil and Health Association team; the Bio-Gro and Organics Aotearoa New Zealand teams, Brendan Hoare, and Seagar Mason and whānau; to the Friends of Nelson Haven and Tasman Bay whānau—what a strong, close, hard-working group for coastal ecosytems—to Pete and Tukutai Beech from Guardians of the Sounds; to Tim Newsham and the Marlborough Environment Centre; to Susie Lees, Claire Bleakley, Zelka, Jon Carapiet, and Jon Muller from GE-Free New Zealand; to Alison White from the Safe Food Campaign, Meriel Watts on pesticides, and Murray Horton on peace and foreign ownership; and to many other non-governmental organisations and friends. You all really do rock, and we have achieved a lot. There are other very dear friends whose close love and support have helped me and my vision—you know who you are, and thank you so very much.

I would like to acknowledge my fellow members of Parliament—those who have returned, those other newbies like me, and those like you, Mr Assistant Speaker Tisch, who have been elected to further positions. I would like to acknowledge the parliamentary staff, also, who have been so helpful already—thank you. I include, especially today, in parallel to the members of Parliament, our executive assistants and collective office staff. You have either returned or are another set of newbies, thanks to the results of last year’s general election and your skills. Congratulations especially to my executive assistant, Angela McLeod, who is helping me find my feet and has so much experience to offer me—thank you.

What a great privilege it is to join the Green Party caucus in Parliament with portfolio responsibility in most of the areas that I am particularly passionate about, and also to get on to the Primary Production Committee. Primary production underpins our economy and most of the environmental issues New Zealand is grappling with. My year started with the challenge of theoretically taking holidays yet acknowledging the demands of many emails and Facebookers about what was wrong with the Food Bill. The Food Bill won overall. Time management, saying no, and prioritising among the many important issues are certainly the biggest challenges for me, and I have already learnt a strong lesson. My portfolio areas of agriculture, organics, forestry, fisheries, biosecurity, customs, genetic engineering, and security intelligence all have immediate issues to start on. I am looking forward to them, to the others that will arise, but especially to those that I will bring to the table.

So where did this Green MP come from? My family moved to Marlborough when I was 4, in 1958—No. 4 of six children—to an undersized house on a half-acre Blenheim section running down to the Ōpawa river. That was developed into a huge garden, with nut and fruit trees. The outdoors of what seemed to be a huge section and the wilderness of the Ōpawa riverbank gave us children a space from the constraints of the house, and gave our mother, Alice, a reprieve from incessant children. There were boats and fishing from what was then a tidal-influenced river, which has changed now, with shoals of mullet to try for, which are not there now; the then endless eels, which are fewer now; cowboys and Indians—they are not there, either—the huts; and all the childhood adventures. From that home we were all given a sense of curiosity and were taught to question beyond the obvious, and certainly encouraged to question authority. Clearly, that persists.

As a child I loved gardening and keeping lizards. With a keen interest in ecology, I can still recall in my sixth-form biology text—and those important teachers—the wonderful drawing of a giant rimu, including epiphytes and pīwakawaka, showing the complexity of the indigenous ecosystem. That interest persists in my work’s focus, in both marine and terrestrial sustainability. The interrelationships between organisms and ecosystem services that work so well in nature need to be modelled in productive and social systems for a sustainable humanity. They should underpin every decision from Parliament. The Green Party’s guiding principles interlink them well.

I lived in the bush for over 6 years, 300 metres up on the side of my maunga, Aorere—Mount Stokes—the tallest mountain in the Marlborough Sounds, at 1,200 metres, with an endemic daisy in its indigenous alpine floral summer mix. We could walk out the back door and climb to a snow-covered crispy top in the winter, with views over Marlborough, over Tasman Bay, up to the North Island, and past Cook Strait to the Kaikōura coast. My family—my then wife, Diane, and our two boys, Jamie and Jordan—looked out over Forsyth and the Chetwood Islands to a distant Stephens Island/Takapourewa, and we were totally off the grid.

My work on marine sustainability started there, when Anakoha Bay began to have mussel farms along nearly all of its 12-kilometre coastline. Marine farming—having submitted to more Resource Management Act marine farm applications than anyone else in New Zealand, I will focus on this just now. Friends of Nelson Haven and Tasman Bay remains involved in Environment Court proceedings from the last aquaculture gold rushes. We have built the case law supporting good planning in the Marlborough Sounds. I am keen that the National Government’s hunger for an aquaculture boom does not create the same environmental impacts or non-governmental organisation workloads as the last two gold rushes did. Yet National is now clearly supporting New Zealand King Salmon and others, through its aquaculture law reform. Reform was necessary, but not so enabling as to encourage King Salmon to try breaking down the community’s hard-won protections of smart spatial planning in the Marlborough Sounds.

King Salmon in Marlborough is a prime example of foreign ownership and what is happening throughout New Zealand primary production—a dairy conglomerate here; multithousands of hectares of forestry land there. The potential ownership of Marlborough Sounds water by the infamous Malaysian Tiong family needs to be prevented. Plan change and resource consent applications by King Salmon to the Environmental Protection Authority for eight new salmon farm sites in areas currently prohibited to aquaculture in the Marlborough Sounds were made following the aquaculture legislative reforms last year. The applications are for an initial 35 years as controlled activities, which without further plan changes mean an indefinite period of re-consenting—effectively, ownership.

Foreign-controlled salmon farming in New Zealand’s marine environment is akin to mining in the conservation estate. New Zealand King Salmon’s operation is no more sustainable than the Tiong family’s other operations: clear-felling rainforests in the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Burma, Africa, or the ancient forests in Russia. The fish fed to raise the salmon are from ecologically collapsing fisheries off Chile and Peru. The high pollution effects of salmon farming in New Zealand need further research. Human rights abuses attributed to Tiong’s Rimbunan Hijau Group companies in Papua New Guinea make for further reason why New Zealand should not be associated with this company. The Tiong family already has extensive interests, especially in forestry, in New Zealand but must be prevented from further ownership, including our marine environment.

The eight new areas applied for by the Tiong-dominated King Salmon are public space that has been zoned by the Marlborough District Council as not being appropriate for aquaculture, due to its amenity and wilderness characteristics and the balances of uses of the Marlborough Sounds. It should be a marine park, not an industrial park. The aquaculture zoning by Marlborough District Council was the result of extensive public consultation and Environment Court processes, which are now intended to be overridden by New Zealand King Salmon and the National-led Government through the aquaculture legislation changes. I am pleased to say that the Green Party is opposed to foreign ownership and supports landownership for New Zealand citizens and permanent residents only.

This has another twist in it: $500,000 was gifted by the National Government for marketing of New Zealand King Salmon products offshore because it was tough times last year. The question for the House could be “Who has shares in Direct Capital?”—the other 49 percent of New Zealand King Salmon. Well done, National, for giving half a million dollars to Tiong to promote unsustainable production! That is quite a subsidy for a 51 percent overseas occupier and polluter of New Zealand waters.

Forestry—foreign companies such as Tiong own or control the vast majority of logs or timber products going offshore, yet this Government seems hell-bent on making it easier for them. One is allowing the gassing of our communities and the ozone layer with spent neurotoxic and carcinogenic ozone-depleting methyl bromide from the log fumigations. Labour and National have both dodged forcing the recapture of the invisible, odourless gas, which cannot be tracked with confidence. Giving the industry 10 years’ latitude while we increase our exports and fumigations means people are getting sick and dying—dying for whom? The same foreign-dominated industry has this Government forcing councils back from implementing decent safeguards to stop the crude forest harvest practices loading our streams and estuaries with millions of tonnes of sediments. These are sediments that destroy fisheries habitats and nurseries. The Government just does not make the links—or it does not care.

The current iteration of the National Environmental Standard for Plantation Forestry, which limits councils in crucial areas of protection and will not measure sediment pollution, is still too tough, apparently, and Cabinet wants it further pared back. The cost-benefit ratio was not right. The hundreds of people terrorised by flood waves of log plumes and debris—from Pōhara to Tapawera, Marlborough to Ōpōtiki and beyond—and the thousands of kilometres of marine environment deserve much, much better. I am looking forward to a Green Government.

Time does not allow today, but I could speak for hours on the work I have done on exposing genetic engineering field trial abuses; how the last few Governments have been complicit through their agencies in cover-ups; how they have removed GE—or this Government has—from the Food Bill as something we need to regulate for food safety; and how they have allowed more than 70 GE food lines to be approved for New Zealand consumption, including the latest: GE soy and corn resistant to 2,4-D and other herbicides. 2,4-D on our kai? I think not. Why has National continued funding GE crop and forestry research yet sabotaged the organic sector, while our more civilised trading partners have set targets for organic production because they know that the environmental, health, and social benefits have so much value for their nations?

New Zealand farming, the great unsubsidised producer, is not what it seems, as the gross externalities from New Zealand’s farming, fisheries, and forestry are actually subsidies that are nicely tucked away by our free-marketers. Organic production can make us the “100% Pure Aotearoa New Zealand” that Mr Key’s Tourism New Zealand dropped last year on behalf of Federated Farmers’ lobbying and the lack of an aspirational vision for cleaning this country up and maintaining a brand that New Zealanders can be proud of. I am looking forward to a Green Government and to working with my colleagues here as well. Thank you.


EUGENIE SAGE (Green) : Tēnā koe, Mr Assistant Speaker Tisch. Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa. I greet the sky above and the air we breathe. I greet the seas that surround us and the lands on which we stand. I bring this stone from the Waimakariri to remind me of Canterbury’s great rivers and to anchor me here. The Waimakariri replenishes the aquifers that give Christchurch its water, which created the plains and creates wealth on those plains. The Waiwhetū aquifer and the Ōrongorongo and the Wainuiōmata rivers provide us with the water we drink in this House. I acknowledge the rivers, streams, lakes, wetlands, and aquifers throughout Aotearoa for all of the life they sustain. Without clean and healthy waterways and a temperate, life-sustaining climate, we are nothing.

When I first walked on to Parliament’s grounds as a member of this House last November, I heard a tūī practising its scales below the Beehive. The tūī’s chorus is sweeter than anything I might say in this Chamber, so I took its song as auspicious—a sign that if tūī have come to Parliament, their oral petitions would encourage this House to give more serious attention to our wild landscapes and our indigenous plants and animals, whose ancestry and tenure in these islands is so much longer than our own.

Aotearoa’s 70 million years of geographic isolation from other parts of Gondwana produced some of the world’s oldest and most unusual life forms: trees such as the kahikatea, fruit basket of the forest, and animals such as the tuatara, the wētā, and the giant carnivorous land snails, Powelliphanta. We can and must invest more in safeguarding the first inhabitants of Aotearoa and the places where they live. We have no treaty with them, but they define who we are. They are what makes New Zealand so distinctive in the eyes of the world. As Sir Paul Callaghan recognised recently, our natural heritage and clean environment are among the assets capable of attracting the world’s best thinkers and brightest minds to New Zealand, to help build our future here.

Working to protect nature’s healthy functioning is what inspires and motivates me. As a JAFA who rolled south 20 years ago to Canterbury and who stayed, I want to acknowledge the work of two earlier Canterbury members who helped shape a Pākehā land ethic: Thomas Henry Potts and Harry Ell. Thomas Potts was the member for Mt Herbert and a member of this House from 1866 to 1870. He was an observant naturalist and ornithologist and the first parliamentarian to press for forest conservation. Recognising kiwis’ role in the forest ecosystem, Potts sought their legal protection when thousands were being slaughtered to provide feathers for ladies’ muffs, which were fashionable at the time. And Potts advocated for national domains, the forerunners of our national parks. In October 1868, his successful motion that the Government ascertain the present condition of the forests of the colony, with a view to their better conservation, was the first step in the eventual establishment of forest reserves and a national system of public protected lands.

Potts’ vision was carried forward by Harry Ell, the member for Christchurch South. It was Ell’s persistent representations that gave us the Scenery Preservation Act of 1903. That was New Zealand’s first statute devoted to establishing reserves specifically for the purpose of nature conservation, rather than soil and water conservation. In 1903, when colonial New Zealand was more concerned with developing agricultural land and converting forest to pasture, the legislation was remarkable. Much of that land was seized or coerced from Māori and we are still working through the process of reconciliation and recompense to truly honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

This year, we celebrate 125 years of national parks in New Zealand. Thanks to the far-sighted initiative of Ngāti Tūwharetoa and their paramount chief te Heuheu Tūkino IV, their gift of the sacred peaks of Tongariro, Ngāuruhoe, and Ruapehu to the Crown in 1887 created our first national park. Today, our national parks and other protected lands are the basis of our tourism industry, places of recreation, and inspiration. They provide ecosystem services of incalculable value. We could be as similarly visionary today as Ngāti Tūwharetoa if we established large marine protected areas covering the submarine volcanoes and islands of the Kermadecs, Antarctica’s Ross Sea, and areas important to the 85 seabird species that breed in New Zealand waters. We could pass legislation to protect our native plants, which are unprotected outside parks and reserves.

If Potts and Ell were alive today, I hope they would be encouraged by the thousands of hours that volunteers devote each week to improving the prospects for wild nature by planting stream banks, killing possums, and controlling weeds. I hope they would be encouraged by the innovative farmers who are growing food and fibre while reducing their water use and nutrient losses. What would they make, however, of sending chemical cocktails deep underground to frack the earth and extract hydrocarbons, the ploughing under of the Mackenzie Basin’s dryland plants for yet more dairy pasture, and the killing of 14,000 albatross and hundreds of fur seals, dolphins, and sea lions each year as fisheries by-catch? Throughout lowland New Zealand, rivers, lakes, and streams are no longer fit for swimming, fishing, or harvesting kai. The waters of Lake Horowhenua were recently described as being able to kill animals and small children. Last weekend, the Canterbury District Health Board warned people to avoid reaches of the Hakatere/Ashburton, Ashley, and Waimakariri rivers because of toxic cynobacteria that can cause skin rashes, nausea, and numbness.

We can destroy or degrade our lands and water for the profits of a few, or we can recognise the vastly higher value to our citizens and visitors of making the clean, green image real. To do that, we need smarter regulation—strong national policies and environmental standards on fresh water—not the tissue paper national policy statement we have now. We need to limit dairy cow numbers in sensitive catchments such as the Mackenzie Basin and Te Waihora / Lake Ellesmere, and we need to charge for the commercial use of water to help fund sustainability initiatives. We can prevent Southland’s wildlife-rich Waituna Lagoon from flipping to become algal soup. We can say no to new dams on wild rivers. We can fund the Department of Conservation properly. Then it can control predators on much more than 12 percent of the conservation estate, as it does currently. By restoring the health of rivers, lakes, and estuaries, we can properly implement article 2 of te Tiriti so that Māori can have full enjoyment of their forests and fisheries.

New Zealanders have elected and put their trust in us to serve and value both present and future generations. That means enacting the policies and programmes to stabilise rising global temperatures. It is essential and urgent that we find the collective political will to do this. Irreversible changes in the Earth’s climatically sensitive systems would make life much more challenging than living with a Fukushima or a Chernobyl. Thinking globally and acting locally by curtailing further expansion of coal mining in New Zealand would help safeguard the climate. It would also retain productive farmland and natural treasures. The coal strata of the Buller coal plateau were laid down 40 million to 50 million years ago. A handful of human generations have used a sizable part of this resource. What are we leaving for future citizens 50, 100, or 500 years from now?

Indian writer and activist Arundhati Roy describes our nearsightedness thus: “Our inability to live entirely in the present (like most animals do) combined with our inability to see very far into the future, makes us strange in-between creatures, neither beast nor prophet. Our amazing intelligence seems to have outstripped our instinct for survival. We plunder the earth hoping that accumulating material surplus will make up for the profound, unfathomable thing that we have lost.” Non-governmental and community organisations such as the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society, the Environment and Conservation Organisations of New Zealand, Federated Mountain Clubs, the Environmental Defence Society, local protection groups, and many iwi and hapū are a vital thin green line in seeking to protect the future by safeguarding wildness and nature’s healthy functioning.

Activism for earth justice and the defence of mauri takes determination, hard work, and a thick skin. Corporations like to marginalise you as nimbies—people who are against progress. I honour all those who act and organise to protect oceans, keep coal in the ground, and prevent destructive and poorly conceived development proposals, from Southland lignite to Meridian’s Mōkihinui dam. All strength to you.

I acknowledge former Forest and Bird colleagues, including the late Jacqui Barrington, friend of kererū and foe of magpies, and the late, great Kevin Smith, a keen thinker who sharpened my activism. I am proud to represent a party that recognises the seriousness of the ecological and climate crisis, and the need for sustained and comprehensive political action. I am proud to represent people who understand that our preoccupation with economic growth is a major part of the problem and that progress is better measured by social and environmental well-being than by GDP.

As a list MP, I would not be here without the hard work of Green Party members, staff, and supporters, particularly by the Aoraki Greens. Thank you for trusting me to be a clear voice for the principles of the Green kaupapa. To my Green caucus colleagues: I value your sense of urgency, your passion for change, and your laughter. I thank Jeanette Fitzsimons for being such an example of serenity and calm wisdom. Jeanette and Rod Donald helped inspire me to join the Green Party and they helped build strong foundations. I remember Rod for his boundless energy and his championing of electoral reform and MMP. We are a much better Parliament because of that.

I thank the officers of Parliament and staff throughout the precinct for their friendly help to this new MP. Parliament’s effective functioning relies on your quiet work. As a recent graduate arriving here to be researcher in the mid-1980s from a patriarchal Forest Service, it was liberating seeing what the political energy and skills of the Labour women’s caucus could achieve for fairness and equality. I look forward to working with you again, and to working with members around the House on making good law and policy.

I am here today because of bad law. I would not be here if we still had elected regional councillors in Canterbury. I thank all 13 of my former councillor colleagues on Environment Canterbury for the practical lessons that they gave me that politics is the art of the possible. Robust debate in a council chamber shows that democracy is alive and well, just as it does in this House. It does not mean that council or Parliament is dysfunctional. I look forward to being a member of a House that recognises the fundamental principle of no taxation without representation and restores regional democracy to Canterbury.

Next Wednesday we remember the 184 individuals who died, and many others who were seriously injured, in Christchurch this time last year. I acknowledge the families who are going through the hardest of tasks, rebuilding their lives after losing someone special. Kia kaha. Coming from Christchurch, where hundreds of heritage buildings have been demolished and concrete tilt slabs risk becoming the dominant building style, it is a pleasure to work in such a beautiful historic building. The skills and craftsmanship evident in Parliament’s construction and the 1990s refurbishment and restoration show what is possible with a commitment to both seismic strengthening and heritage protection. Christchurch’s rebuild will not be enhanced by more Government-appointed commissioners or by enlarging the scope of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority’s powers. It would be enhanced by delegating more power and resources to the elected community boards to strengthen local democracy, decision making, and accountability. This would embrace the strong spirit of neighbourliness that has got us through the quakes and the thousands of aftershocks.

The earthquakes are a reminder that Gaia does not care very much about human survival. Using energy, water, and other resources more efficiently, and acting now to stabilise the climate, clean up our waterways, and conserve biodiversity will better protect our future and that of other species.

In closing, I thank friends and family who are here today or watching on television for your decades of love and support. To my parents, my brothers John and Phillip and their families, the late Stephen, and my dear partner, Richard, I love you all heaps. You make me strong. And particular thanks to my beautiful niece, Natalya, for travelling so far to be here today. I dedicate my time in this House to working to help create a better future based on sustainability and greater respect for nature, community, and democracy. Now, if I may, Mr Speaker: [Birdsong] Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tatou katoa.

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Year 2012

Reference number 173098

Media type AUDIO

Collection Sound Collection

Ngā Taonga Korero Collection

Genre Radio speeches
Nonfiction radio programs
Radio programs
Sound recordings

Credits RNZ Collection
Genter, Julie Anne, Speaker/Kaikōrero, Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand
Logie, Jan, Speaker/Kaikōrero, Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand
Browning, Steffan, Speaker/Kaikōrero, Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand
Sage, Eugenie, Speaker/Kaikōrero, Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand
AM Network (Radio network), Broadcaster

Duration 01:05:00

Date 15 Feb 2012

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