Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Not very radical

Green co-leader Metiria Turei gave her "state of the nation" speech today, in which she both defended the Greens' nature as a radical party, while also trying to claim that they're not very radical. And she's got points both ways: on the one hand, the Greens are consistently political leaders, advocating for policies that the other parties first decry, then adopt. Policies like capital gains taxes, better public transport, a price on carbon emissions, and not beating children. But on the other, one of the reasons these policies look radical in the first place is because policy has already been pushed in radical directions: by Roger Douglas, Ruth Richardson and their heirs destroying our economy and our society, by National and its efforts to pave the planet with roads, and by farmers who want to fill our rivers and lakes with shit. And compared to this, Green goals of clean water, liveable cities, and not letting kids starve or go homeless do look pretty conservative. Which is I guess a nice example of the fluidity of political labelling and its relativeness to the policy-space.

Also in the speech Meyt proposed a small policy: a Policy Costings Unit to provide independent assessments of the costs of political parties' policies. Its hardly a radical idea, but it is a good one. More information for voters is always good, and it would cost a pittance to provide. But there is one problem: the Greens would locate it within Treasury. While they'd firewall it against Ministerial interference, I don't think such firewalls could be trusted, and in addition Treasury is a deeply politicised department and cannot possibly be considered "independent". It would be far better if such analysis was done by a truly independent agency - and the best way to get that would if the unit was an Office of Parliament.