Pubdate: Fri, 10 Dec 1999
Source: Press, The (New Zealand)
Copyright: 1999 The Christchurch Press Company Ltd.
Contact:  Private Bag 4722, Christchurch, New Zealand
Fax: 364-8238
Author: Nick Venter
Note: Relevant portion occurs under the heading Cannabis and drug law reform


Idealistic rather than pragmatic, the Greens attach little worth to the
deal-making that is the lifeblood of most politicians.

Jeanette Fitzsimons's victory in the Coromandel electorate has added three
votes to the Centre-Left's parliamentary majority. But it has come at a
cost to the Greens' tentative allies. Labour has lost two MPs and the
Alliance one to help make room for the five Green MPs who could enter
Parliament on Ms Fitzsimons's coat-tails.

And the Greens are awkward allies. Just ask the Alliance MPs who spent more
than a year negotiating with the Greens before they finally made up their
minds to go it alone.

Idealistic rather than pragmatic, the Greens attach little worth to the
deal-making that is the lifeblood of most politicians.

Ms Fitzsimons and co-leader Rod Donald have pledged to support the new
Government on confidence and supply votes, but on other issues the Greens
will vote according to their policy.

Here are some of their main platforms:

Taxes: The tax system should be recast to promote jobs and the more
efficient use of resources.

The Government should introduce: a "low level" carbon tax to discourage the
use of fossil fuels; consumption and resource taxes to encourage
environmentally sustainable economic activity; levies on hazardous
substances to discourage their use; a "small" levy on the movement of
international capital to reduce speculation.

Agriculture: Organic production is the key to farmers' and growers' success
in a crowded international market. New Zealand should commit to becoming an
organic nation by the year 2020.

That would mean having half of New Zealand's agricultural production
certified organic by 2020 and the remainder in the process of conversion.
As a first step, 10 per cent of production should be certified organic by

The Government should: offer financial support and incentives to farmers
converting to organic production; set up an organics advisory service;
redirect science funding to organic research; incorporate organic growing
in all agriculture and horticulture courses.

Agricultural animals should be treated humanely. Castration, tail docking,
and ear marking should be minimised. Battery hen farming, sow crates, and
other forms of cruelty should be eliminated.

Productive land should remain in the hands of the individuals and
communities who work it, not foreign investors.

There should be no sales of productive land to people who are not New
Zealand citizens or permanent residents. Companies which are more than 49
per cent overseas-owned should not be allowed to buy land here.

Genetically engineered food: Genetic engineering is not accelerated
inter-breeding but the creation of entirely new lifeforms. GE products have
no safety record and the consequences of their use as food are unknown.

New Zealand should declare itself free of GE foods. They should not be
grown or experimented with here, and any imported GE foods should be
mandatorily labelled.

Conservation: The quality of life is underpinned by the health of the
country's eco-systems. To preserve those the Government should not allow
West Coast rimu logging contracts signed shortly before the election to stand.

It should establish new and bigger "mainland islands" to help save native
species, control the farming of potential pests such as deer and goats to
prevent the establishment of new pest populations in the wild and, where
possible, replace aerial poisoning with job-creating ground-based pest

Cannabis and drug law reform: Drug abuse is a social and public health
problem, not a legal one. The present laws stop users seeking medical care,
give thousands of New Zealanders criminal convictions every year, divert
police resources away from crimes against people and property, and alienate
people from the rule of law.

The possession and cultivation of small amounts of cannabis for personal
use should be decriminalised and the drug-education programme should be
expanded, ensuring that it promotes the drug-free lifestyle as the healthiest.

Welfare: The last 15 years have created inequalities on a scale not seen
before in New Zealand. The new Government should offer "relief" to people
on low incomes and beneficiaries before Christmas.

Housing: Housing is a basic human right and housing costs ought to be no
more than 25 per cent of income. The Government should initiate a
substantial house-building programme, support innovative building
techniques, and encourage "eco-friendly" house design.

Justice: We need a restorative justice system. The Government should impose
a moratorium on the construction of new prisons, expand the development of
habilitation centres, and put more resources into the rehabilitation of
existing prison inmates.

Security services: The Government should abolish the Government
Communications Security Bureau which runs the Waihopai and Tangimoana spy
stations and consider scrapping the Security Intelligence Service. Its
functions could be taken over by the police.

The law allowing the SIS to break into private property should be reversed.

Education: Young people burdened with big debts are leaving New Zealand in
droves. To reverse the trend the Government should: write off one year's
student debt for each year spent working in New Zealand, raising children,
caring for the elderly, or doing community and voluntary work. Full-time
students should be paid the equivalent of the dole to study.

Transport: Traffic growth is "choking" New Zealand's cities, "draining" the
heartland, and reducing New Zealanders' personal mobility, prosperity, and
quality of life. The Government should impose a moratorium on the building
of major new urban roads or motorways, introduce a rapid rail and/or busway
system along major traffic routes in Auckland, and make vehicle
emission-testing a part of warrant of fitness checks to cut down on pollution.
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