Monday, February 23, 2009


So, after 14 years as Green party co-leader, Jeanette Fitzsimons is finally stepping down and retiring to the backbenches. I'll miss her. The plaudits are already flowing, and much is being made of her being the "credible" voice of the Greens and her status as New Zealand's most trusted politician, and I'll happily echo them. But I also like her because she's an unashamed wonk who seriously knows her stuff. It's a rare quality in a politician - Bill Birch reportedly didn't even know how to read a graph - and Fitzsimons has raised the level of public debate on energy policy and climate change. While she'll still be around, her departure from the co-leadership will result in less time for that knowledge. But like Nandor, she's served her time and given us more of her effort than we have any right to expect. She deserves her life back.

As for who will step into her shoes, that's obviously up to the Green party membership. But the right is already lining up to bash the two leading contenders, Sue Bradford and Metiria Turei, for their activist roots. I don't think the Greens should care about that. What matters is not whether their co-leader appeals to Peter Dunne, but whether they appeal to potential Green voters, and whether they are effective in the House. Both Bradford and Turei meet that standard, and either will be good.