- The 1990s and the first Green Party campaign
- 2000: The Green Party enters Parliament
- Stopping asset sales
- Protecting Kiwi jobs
- Addressing child poverty
- Loving and protecting our environment
- Working with Government on Green Programmes
- Holding the Government to account
- Achievements within Parliament
In May 1972 a meeting at Victoria University, Wellington, launched the Values Party, the world's first national Green party.
The party contested the 1972 general election, with radical new policies such as zero economic growth and zero population growth and promoted reform of laws covering abortion, drugs and homosexuality.
These policies formed the world's first Green election manifesto 'Blueprint for New Zealand - An Alternative Future'.
Over the next three years Green policies were further debated, developed and expanded to create 'Beyond Tomorrow', the 1975 Values Party manifesto. This comprehensive statement of Green politics was widely distributed overseas and contributed to the development of Green parties elsewhere.
The Values Party achieved 5.3% of the vote in 1975 which, under an MMP system, would have earned it seats in Parliament. Unfortunately under the First Past the Post constituency-based system Values was never able to concentrate its vote in one electorate and thus could not win even one seat.
Despite a large and active membership, and a very professional election campaign in 1978, its vote dropped to just over 2% as voters attempted (unsuccessfully) to rid the country of conservative Prime Minister Rob Muldoon by voting Labour.
In 1979 Values was also torn by internal debate about its political orientation with an Auckland-led environmentalist faction and a Christchurch-led socialist/unionist faction. Those strands are still there in the contemporary Green Party but they are in concert rather than opposition.
It was difficult inventing Green politics before the term 'Green' was even coined (which came in 1980 when the German Greens contested their first national level election). But Green politics saw successes in New Zealand during that time, as many Values Party members came from or were heavily involved in 'movement' politics - particularly the peace movement, the women's movement, and the environment movement.
Values made major contributions of people, money, time and effort to the anti-nuclear movement, in both its anti-war and anti-power branches, largely running the Campaign Half Million petition and the Campaign for a Non-nuclear Future. Both were successful and New Zealand is a nuclear free zone.
Values members lead major environmental campaigns to stop excessive hydro-electric development and polluting, industrial growth. At the local level they were behind numerous campaigns for better public transport and cycleways, for recycling and reuse of waste, for urban heritage preservation and restoration, and for co-operative enterprises.
The Values Party also had the first female Deputy Leader of a New Zealand political party (Cathy Wilson, 1974) and the first female Leader (Margaret Crozier, 1979), and the first 'out' gay candidate (Robin Duff, 1978).
Between 1981 and 1989 the Values/Green Party existed largely in spirit rather than in practice. But in 1989 there was a revival of the Green impulse and Greens contested local body elections throughout New Zealand, with several successes.
The 1990s and the first Green Party campaign
In May 1990 the current Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand was formed from Values and the new Green groups, and contested the 1990 general election six months later, winning 7% of the total vote or nearly 9% in those seats where it stood candidates.
The Greens became foundation members of the four-party Alliance (Greens, NLP, Democrat and Mana Motuhake) in 1992, linking with other parties that also wanted electoral reform and opposed the New Right direction of both National and Labour. The Liberals joined later, making it a five-party Alliance.
In 1992 Jeanette Fitzsimons was elected Deputy Leader of the Alliance and when the Greens decided to elect leaders in 1995, she was elected alongside Rod Donald. (The Party had previously had four speakers.)
The Greens contributed to Alliance policy development, by championing environmentally-sustainable economic development and helped the Alliance contest the 1993 and 1996 general elections. It was in 1996 that the first Green MPs - Jeanette Fitzsimons, Rod Donald, and Phillida Bunkle - took their seats in Parliament. By then there were also more than 20 Green representatives at local government level, including Dunedin Mayor Sukhi Turner.
In November 1997 the Green Party left the Alliance and stood a separate list in the 1999 election. The Green Co-Leaders honoured their pledge to remain members of the Alliance caucus until the House rose to begin campaigning in 1999, while Phillida Bunkle chose to leave the Greens and stay with the Alliance.
In 1998 the Greens began developing separate policy from the Alliance, and policy themes for the election campaign were safe food, nature conservation and strong communities. A two-goal strategy was also agreed. The first goal was for Jeanette Fitzsimons to win the seat of Coromandel. The second goal was to win more than 5% of the party vote, the threshold for representation in Parliament. In the event that the Party failed to reach 5%, a Green victory in Coromandel would at least ensure that there were some Greens in Parliament.
The 1999 election campaign started with nothing - no campaign chest, no staff, no material resources, and with the Greens polling at less than 1%. Its main resources were the Green Co-Leaders, MPs Rod Donald and Jeanette Fitzsimons, who worked enormously hard to raise the Green profile. Genetic engineering proved a good publicity platform with major news breaks on secret GE trials in NZ. The Green petition for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into GE gathered 93,000 signatures.
The Greens were further helped by National setting the election date as late as possible and with its intemperate attacks on Green candidates Jeanette Fitzsimons, Sue Bradford and Nandor Tanczos. The attacks raised the Party profile more effectively than the limited paid publicity the Greens could afford, and attracted late enrolments from young people and other previous non-voters.
Yet by the middle of 1999 the Greens had just started to consistently poll over 1% and were still way short of the necessary 5%. This made media coverage difficult. By the end of October 1999, however, the tide began to turn. Polls showed Jeanette could take Coromandel, and 5% was within sight.
On election night, November 27, neither goal was reached. An agonising ten-day wait followed, while special votes were counted. These votes tipped the balance and Jeanette won Coromandel (the first Green in the world to win a constituency seat in a-first-past-the-post race).
The Party vote finalised at 5.2%, and seven Green MPs (Jeanette Fitzsimons, Rod Donald, Ian Ewen-Street, Sue Bradford, Sue Kedgley, Nandor Tanczos and Keith Locke) took their seats in the new parliament.
2000: The Green Party enters Parliament
The Greens began to negotiate with the new Labour/Alliance coalition Government for a co-operation agreement that would ensure the Government Green support while providing the Greens with access to Government information and budget initiatives. An agreement was drafted, and discussed several times by Green and Labour representatives, but never signed. The Greens found out much later that the Alliance did not want to improve Green access to government information and/or influence on government, and so put the brakes on the agreement. Despite no formal agreement with the Government, the Greens began to make their mark in Parliament.
The Party set a new milestone in New Zealand politics by negotiating a $15 million 'green' package in the first Labour/Alliance budget. This included spending on organics, energy efficiency, legal aid and other assistance for environmental organisations, biosecurity, smoking cessation programmes as well as complementary health planning and natural resource accounts.
The Royal Commission of Inquiry into Genetic Modification that the Greens had campaigned for was set up and began hearings in October 2000.
The first Green act - the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act - was also passed. This act was first introduced as a member's bill by Jeanette in 1998, and gained majority support.
The Green Party's public profile also increased, with opinion polls in 2000 reaching 7%. From mid-year the Greens generally polled as the third most popular party, overtaking the Alliance and ACT.
By the end of the year the seven Green MPs had made an impact on Parliament out of proportion to their numbers, and on December 7 2000 the Party celebrated its first anniversary in the House (Green Day) in a way not possible on election night 1999.
Among other things, it was important to celebrate the difference the Greens made to parliamentary debate. As a matter of principle - and common decency - the Greens never make personal attacks or use abusive language in the House.
Green MPs successfully negotiated $16.4 million of Green Budget initiatives in the 2001 Budget - funding projects ranging from a small grower's organic development programme, expanding organic gardens in primary schools and securing additional funding for EECA to develop the first national Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy, under the Act.
The Green MPs stuck by their charter principles and the Greens were the only party to vote against the Parliamentary resolution supporting the deployment of New Zealand SAS troops to Afghanistan.
Keith Locke forced Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff to back down from his attempts to secretly rush through draconian anti-terrorism legislation. The legislation was instead opened up to the democratic processes of public debate and submissions.
The Party ran a strong campaign to ensure a GE-free future for New Zealand, including a major submission to the Royal Commission on GE, cross examining many other witnesses and speaking to well-attended public meetings around the country.
In another tactical victory, the Greens pushed the Government hard to save the rail system by negotiating to take back the tracks.
And Keith mounted a campaign against the intrusions of the new email snooping bill, encouraging people to make submissions.
The Greens negotiated a $24 million funding package in the Budget covering an enhanced biosecurity awareness programme, $6 million for Environmental Education, the establishment of a Ministerial Advisory Group on Drug Education, a package for Auckland public transport, walking and cycling, and additional funds for environment centres. The Greens also successfully negotiated $3.2 million for cleaning up and registering highly contaminated sites.
The Greens made changes to the Local Government Bill to keep water in public hands. Jeanette secured amendments to the HSNO (Hazardous Substances and New Organisms) Bill.
The Green amendment to the Local Government Rating Bill saved ratepayers unnecessary interest charges.
The Greens were the only Party to oppose the Terrorism Suppression Bill.
At the 2002 election more than 140,000 voters put nine Green MPs into Parliament;, Jeanette Fitzsimons, Rod Donald, Sue Bradford, Nandor Tanczos, Sue Kedgley, Ian Ewen-Street, Keith Locke, Metiria Turei and Mike Ward.
The Green call for reason was answered when the Government bought back the nation's rail track.
Green MPs' votes were essential to ensure passage of the Maori Television Service Bill, enabling the establishment of Te Whakaata Maori on New Zealand airways.
The Children's Food Awards - organised by Sue Kedgley and supported by groups such as Plunket and the Maori Women's Welfare League - successfully raised awareness of food issues.
New national standards for organic certification were based on two of Ian's Budget initiatives, providing funding for the development of national standards and a production strategy for the organics industry.
The Government started to clean up the Mapua toxic site, for which Mike Ward and other locals campaigned for years.
The Complementary Health Resource was launched within the Health Ministry website, www.newhealth.govt.nz/maccah.htm, funded by a Green Budget initiative and, later in the same year, Sue Kedgley called for complementary health practitioners to be integrated into the health system.
Jeanette obtained a Government commitment to review kahawai catch limits and to fund data collection on the state of the fishery and size of the recreational catch.
Green-Government co-operation on transport issues lead to action on vehicle emissions screening.
The Government adopted the Green position on public access, setting up an agency to negotiate access to waterways.
Sue Kedgley's successful campaign to get New Zealand garlic back on supermarket shelves gave consumers choice and saved the local industry from a flood of Chinese garlic.
The Greens were the first to raise the peak oil issue in Parliament, proposing steps to cope with oil shortages, higher prices and higher international tension.
The Greens also focused on transport solutions for Auckland and Wellington, offering Aucklanders a way to fund an electric rail system and calling for a state-of-the-art public transport system through the Wellington region.
The Party also won a victory for human rights when the Government committed to the establishment of an Independent Prison Inspectorate.
The Greens supported the Muriwai community's condemnation of an offshore iron sand mining proposal.
The Greens and the Government launched a jointly-developed first national walking and cycling strategy, and together wrote the Land Transport Management Act, with sustainability as a major goal.
At the 2005 election 120,000 New Zealanders cast their party vote for the Greens returning six MPs to Parliament: Rod Donald, Jeanette Fitzsimons, Sue Bradford, Keith Locke, Sue Kedgley and Metiria Turei. While this was a loss of 3 MPs, all smaller parties were squeezed between Labour and National as the vote was close, and it was a smaller loss for the Greens than any of the other small parties.
However tragedy soon overshadowed the election result. On November 6, 2005 co-Leader Rod Donald died, his sudden passing caused by an inflammation of the heart muscle, a rare complication of campylobacter infection. Many feared the Party would not recover from the loss of Rod's inspiration, but the Greens' strength is collective. So while Rod's death was a sudden blow and his loss keenly felt, the Party itself continued to flourish. Nandor Tanzcos immediately took Rod's place as a Green MP while the male co-leadership of Party was to be decided by Green Party members, a vote that would take place in the next calendar year.
During the 2006-8 term the Greens had a co-operation agreement with the Labour Government that saw Sue Bradford and Jeanette running Government programmes - the $11.5m Buy Kiwi Made programme first proposed by Rod Donald (steered by Sue), and the energy efficiency programme which included a solar water heating programme worth $15.5m, and in which Jeanette led the work of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority. The post-election agreement also saw the Greens secure got $3m for a school nutrition fund.
The Greens launched 'Turn Down the Heat', a set of major proposals to address climate change in New Zealand today.
A Green Party campaign saved a New Zealand icon - the Overlander rail service. And the Greens successfully campaigned against the Government weakening its stance on GE.
The Party elected Russel Norman as male co-leader at its June AGM.
Both Metiria Turei and Russel Norman tramped to the Happy Valley protest site as part of the Greens' ongoing support of the Save Happy Valley campaign.
The Party highlighted illegal Pacific logging through a campaign that drew significant media coverage and made Woolworths end their import of unsustainable paper products.
The Commerce Commission upheld Sue Kedgley's complaint that Kiwi and Premier Bacon products were misleading consumers by implying their bacon was from New Zealand.
An Algerian refugee Ahmed Zaoui had his risk security certificate withdrawn, partly due to the unflagging political pressure maintained by Keith Locke for nearly five years.
Sue Bradford's Minimum Wage (New Entrants) Amendment Bill passed into law giving 16 and 17-year-old workers the same rate of pay as other employees.
The Government's Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy, overseen by Jeanette, was launched in October.
The Greens strongly opposed a proposal to add folate to all flour and the Minister of Health later announced that, unlike in Australia, organic bread was exempted from the new standard.
Greens won $8.8 million for wetland conservation in Budget 2007. Whangamarino Wetland in the Waikato, the Ashburton Lakes and the Upper Rangitata River in inland Canterbury, and the Waituna Lagoon and Awarua wetland complex in Southland were selected for new baseline funding of $2.2 million annually for four years.
The Greens also secured funding for a new Chief Advisor within the Ministry of Health. Supported by a policy analyst, the Advisor's role was to investigate ways to integrate complementary healthcare and conventional medicine, particularly for chronic condition management.
Sue Bradford's Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Bill passed into law, removing the legal loophole that allowed a 'reasonable force' defence for the purposes of correction, a loophole that had allowed parents to legally beat their children.
One of the Greens' key post-election negotiated programmes - the Organic Advisory Programme - was launched.
Sue Bradford helped expose criminality in major casinos, resulting in a DIA investigation and opening up the possibility of major regulatory and legislative reform.
Sue Kedgley helped the Government introduce new Food & Nutrition Guidelines in Schools.
The sedition law was repealed after pressure from the Greens and other small parties.
Keith won an increase in overseas aid in the Government budget. He also drew attention to human rights issues in China and the curtailing of freedoms in New Zealand due to the desire for a Free Trade Agreement.
The Dalai Lama visited the Green Party Caucus.
The Greens secured almost $100 million dollars in the Budget for a range of projects including: Community Restoration Projects, the Community Organisation Grants Scheme, more funds for Environment Centres, a National Antibiotic Surveillance System, Environmental Education, Community Internship Programme, and the largest ever Green bid, $53 million to insulate all state houses.
The Party also secured $8 million over four years to support five major research projects on climate change and its effect on conservation land.
Co-leader Russel Norman joined the Green team in Parliament on July 1 2008, using his maiden speech to take a swipe at Government spending on roads.
Nandor Tanzcos, and then Russel Norman negotiated with the Government to finally bring into law the Waste Minimisation (Solids) Bill, including a levy to support recycling projects.
Sue Kedgley's member's bill, the Employment Relations (Flexible Working Hours) Amendment Bill became law.
The Green Party's Vote for Me billboards were widely feted by media commentators, the advertising industry and many voters.
The 2008 General Election results brought an extra three MPs Catherine Delahunty, Kevin Hague and Kennedy Graham into Parliament.
The Green Party formed a working relationship with National to work on a few ideas where the two political parties have common ground. The first step was a $323 million home insulation fund to make 180,000 Kiwi homes warmer and drier over the next four years.
Another area of common ground is the New Zealand Cycleway where Kevin Hague added his expertise to the Prime Minister's tourism project.
In mid-year, the Green Party elected Metiria Turei as co-leader alongside Russel Norman - the first New Zealand party to boast Gen X leadership.
Metiria's first action as co-leader was to make MPs expenses public, a move that forced the other parties to follow suit and has given New Zealanders a clearer picture of what their politicians are spending and why.
A tenacious defence of New Zealand's conservation laws saw Russel Norman team up with community and environmental groups to push back some of the Government's most radical changes to the Resource Management Act. It means Kiwis still have a say on the future of New Zealand's water, land and wildlife.
For Catherine Delahunty, the battle to give New Zealanders information about toxic sites took a big step forward with new rules that require councils to make public what they know about potential contamination around our homes and neighbourhoods, farms and parks.
Jeanette Fitzsimons presented a plan for how New Zealand can make big cuts to its greenhouse gas emissions at low cost. The report, called Getting There, helped change the debate in New Zealand. Before Jeanette's report the Government said it was impossible to lower emissions, but afterwards the conversation shifted to why it wouldn't take the action most New Zealanders want.
Ties to the union movement also strengthened with a formal agreement between the Green Party and the Service and Food Workers Union.
The Green Party began shining light on the Government's murky plans to mine our national parks and conservation estate for oil, gas and minerals. We say it love it and protect it, but don't mine it. The Government tried to downplay its plans, but the Green Party revealed that it wanted to look for oil in Fiordland National Park, a World Heritage site!
The Greens' $323 million home insulation scheme had made about 80,000 Kiwi homes warmer and drier by the end of 2010.
We also continued work with John Key on Ngā Haerenga, the New Zealand cycleway. The Government confirmed close to $30million of new funding to build 11 more rides throughout New Zealand.
In another joint effort with the Government, we launched a $4 million pilot project that aims to protect New Zealand's forests and native species with better pest control.
Meanwhile, in a step to promote good government, we prepared legislation to establish a pecuniary interest register for judges. This would help avoid conflicts of interest - or even the suspicion of a conflict - and we expect the bill will have the Government's support.
We also found lots of ways to promote change independently.
We were glad to play a lead role in protecting our National Parks from mining. John Key's Government was forced to change its mining plans because New Zealanders love their National Parks.
Public opinion also prompted action to stop factory farming in the McKenzie basin, an iconic landscape that many Kiwis want to protect. We broke the factory farming story and campaigned alongside environmental and animal welfare groups to save the McKenzie.
The country's animal welfare standards took a turn for the better in 2010 with a plan to phase out sow crates, and the Green Party was acknowledged for a decade of work to stop this cruelty.
We also led the charge to clean up the system for MPs' pay and expenses. We started the ball rolling in 2009 by voluntarily releasing our own expenses, kept the pressure on for more change, and by late 2010 Parliament had agreed to adopt our policy and put an independent authority in charge of politicians' pay and perks.
Honest politics also demands a battle of ideas rather than money so we were pleased that, after a hard fought campaign, we convinced the Government to change its position and put in place campaigner spending caps for elections as well as the MMP referendum.
We also helped improve legislation designed to make New Zealand's courts more efficient. We were active in a cross-party negotiation that preserved the right for accused to be present at their own trial.
Fonterra reconsidered a plan to dump waste water in the Mangatainoka River after we demanded that our big industries show leadership to stop pollution. When we publicised Fonterra's efforts to get a 22-year extension to dump waste, the company announced it would reconsider its plans.
Lots of political change starts outside of Parliament and we worked with many community groups, individual citizens and businesses in 2010.
TradeMe joined us in the effort to save rainforests and support the local timber industry. Under new rules, Trade Me only allows the sale of new kwila furniture or decking products that have sustainability certification.
How we take better care of our elderly was also the focus of a major report from the Green and Labour Parties. We toured the country to hear your ideas and presented several practical suggestions to the Government - ideas such as a star rating system for aged care facilities.
We also spent a lot of time engaged in the ongoing debate about our economic future. We voiced the concerns of many Kiwis when it comes to foreign ownership of New Zealand's strategic assets and were pleased to see the Government back down on its plans to weaken the Overseas Investment Act.
In order to promote a smart, green New Zealand economic future, we also pulled together some of the country's leading economists, academics and business people plus MPs from the National and Labour Parties for a major conference on sustainable economics.
We showed how it's possible to have a fair society that works better for everyone when we released our 'Mind the Gap' plan at Budget time. Our eight practical steps for tackling growing inequality would close the gap between the haves and have nots, guarantee the essentials for our kids, and help to build stronger communities, and we've shared those solutions with thousands of New Zealanders in public forums around the country.
Finally, we note that 2010 saw our former Co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons retire after a decade in Parliament. In recognition of her considerable contributions to New Zealand politics and the environmental movement, Jeanette was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
We worked with the Government on a number of initiatives.
Our $323 million home insulation scheme has made more than 100,000 Kiwi homes warmer and drier. Extending the scheme to an additional 200,000 houses is part of our Green Jobs priority for the 2011 election.
We announced a joint Government/Greens plan to better manage toxic sites in New Zealand. As well as creating a national register of the highest priority sites for clean up, we secured an additional $9.9 million to clean up the former Tui Mine site near Te Aroha, one of the most toxic sites in the country.
In September, joint Green Party-Government legislation to ensure natural health products are safe and true to label had its first reading in Parliament.
We also continued work with John Key on Ngā Haerenga, the New Zealand Cycle Trail. One Great Ride - the St James Cycle Trail near Hanmer Springs - has been completed while 11 other Great Rides have sections that are now open and in use.
Meanwhile our $4 million pilot project to protect New Zealand's forests and native species with better pest control continues.
We also found lots of ways to promote change independently of the Government.
Like all New Zealanders, West Coast-based Green MP Kevin Hague was deeply saddened by the tragedy at Pike River Mine. Sustained pressure from Kevin and others led the Government to announce a new High Hazards Unit in August, instead of waiting for the Royal Commission to report before making things safer for the hundreds of miners going underground every day right now.
The Government's master banking contract has been held by Westpac for over 21 years, without a competitive tender process. We challenged the Government to open up the process and put the banking contract up for tender, and Finance Minister Bill English finally agreed to do so in June.
Over summer, Co-leader Russel Norman once again embarked on his infamous Dirty Rivers Rafting Tour, visiting polluted and threatened waterways around the country to highlight why we urgently need clean water rules now. After Russel visited the Mokau River in North Taranaki and spoke out against King Country Energy's plans to dam it, the controversial plans were withdrawn.
Catherine Delahunty's Human Rights Disability Commissioner Amendment Bill to appoint a Disabilities Commissioner was pulled from the ballot in 2010. Just days before Parliament was to vote on our Bill, the Government adopted our proposal, and New Zealand's first Disabilities Commissioner, Paul Gibson, was appointed in September 2011.
We co-hosted a major conference with the Labour Party to promote smart transport choices, bringing together transport experts and advocates to advance public transport, walking and cycling options for all New Zealanders.
Kevin Hague worked with queer youth advocate and researcher Murray Riches to launch a major report on making a safer environment for queer youth at the time of coming out which has received an overwhelmingly positive response from the queer community.
We've been leading the conversation in a number of areas to set the political agenda.
We released three detailed, costed plans to advance our three major priorities: bringing 100,000 children out of poverty by 2014, making our rivers and lakes safe to swim in again, and creating 100,000 new green jobs - a compelling Green vision of a richer New Zealand!
We led the way proposing a temporary Earthquake Levy to help pay for the rebuilding of Christchurch after the devastating earthquakes of September and February.
Our Earthquake Levy proposal was part of a wider Green Budget proposal released in May as an alternative to the Government's shortsighted economic vision.
When Green MP Catherine Delahunty's Equal Pay Amendment Bill was pulled from the ballot, we hoped it would create a national conversation about the gender pay gap, and thanks in part to the outlandish comments of former EMA head Alasdair Thompson, it did.
Finally, we farewelled our two longest-standing MPs, Sue Kedgley and Keith Locke. Both Sue and Keith have made outstanding contributions to New Zealand during their time in Parliament, and given voice to thousands of New Zealanders on issues not championed by any other political party. Their achievements are an inspiration to the next generation of Green MPs and candidates.
Stopping asset sales
The Green Party worked to stop the sale of our State assets, which will cost New Zealanders more in the long-term in lost dividends and higher power prices.
We helped organise a petition which will mean a citizens initiated referendum to stop asset sales is held next year. The Green Party has collected more than half of the 309,000 signatures required.
Protecting Kiwi jobs
The Green Party, together with other parties, launched a Parliamentary inquiry into the manufacturing crisis in New Zealand. We want to support manufacturers and develop a smart green economy which offers employment to the 170,000 Kiwis currently out of work.
Addressing child poverty
We worked hard to put child poverty on the political agenda. Metiria Turei's bill to extend a child payment to the children of beneficiary and student families was debated and we held a rally where people got the chance to highlight their concerns. We think all children need the chance to have a good life and a fair go for their future.
Loving and protecting our environment
Our focus on the environment didn't let up and we lifted the lid on what's been happening to water quality.
Our petition and campaign helped force Meridian Energy to abandon its plans to build an 80-metre-high dam on the Mokihinui River. Three hundred hectares of irreplaceable river gorge habitat for kiwi, blue duck, native bats and long finned eels were saved from being drowned by the dam. This is great news for all New Zealanders who love our rivers and want them to stay wild and free.
Working with Government on Green Programmes
Making homes warm and dry
Close to 190,000 Kiwi homes are warmer and drier thanks to our Warm Up New Zealand Heat Smart scheme providing clean heating and insulation. The number of houses that can get the grant has been increased by a further 41,000 this year.
Cleaning up toxic sites
We also worked with the Government to better manage toxic sites in New Zealand. As a result $9.9 million was used to clean up the former Tui Mine site near Te Aroha, one of the most toxic sites in the country.
Championing consumer rights
We continued work on the Natural Health Products Bill fighting hard to get much needed rules to protect consumers and the industry. We are pleased that we have been able to work alongside both National as part of the MOU and within the Select Committee to improve the bill. We will continue to work with National on the natural health regulations to achieve the best solution we can.
Building the cycle way
We continued to work with the Government on Ngā Haerenga, the New Zealand Cycle Trail. A total of $50 million will be spent to create 18 Great Rides that will take cyclists through some of New Zealand's most iconic and picturesque country. This funding is being matched by co-funding of $30 million from the local communities involved. Almost 800 construction jobs have been created by the project. To date, six Great Rides have been completed while the remaining rides are in various states of completion and will be finished by 2013. A further 2000 kilometres of on-road cycle touring routes are also going to be added to the network by that date.
Holding the Government to account
The Green Party held the National Government and its departments to account.
Spotlight on murky SkyCity deal
As a result of our actions the Auditor-General investigated the National Government's controversial deal with SkyCity casinos for a $350m national convention centre and police investigated the Government Communications Security Bureau's illegal spying on a New Zealand resident.
Changing culture at ACC
We were also instrumental in getting authorities to investigate ACC privacy breaches. The Auditor-General, in response to our request, investigated governance issues after major privacy breaches involving thousands of clients' personal information. The Privacy Commissioner also investigated and called for improvements.
The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment agreed to our call for an inquiry into fracking and when its final report is complete we hope to see better regulations in place.
Metiria worked to bring Child Youth and Families (CYFS) to account for flawed policy that allowed young people in the youth justice system to be placed in the care of aduts without police checks. As a result, this has been reviewed and those youth affected are being identified and supported.
Achievements within Parliament
We raised awareness and reduced barriers for deaf people by getting funding for note takers and other support in Parliament.
Catherine Delahunty's bill to close a loophole that allows polluters to dump waste in our waterways and oceans passed its first reading.
Holly Walker has a bill to make lobbying more transparent. We believe the public have the right to know who is influencing Members of Parliament and on which issues, and transparency around lobbying activity will help to level the playing field in terms of influence on decision-making. The bill passed with unanimous support and is being considered by a select committee.
And Kennedy Graham's Register of Pecuniary Interests of Judges Bill passed its first reading with unanimous support. The Law Commission reported on it and judges have testified during the select committee process. If it becomes law judges will have to make public information about interests.
Russel Norman's bills to restrict foreign ownership of land and change investment criteria used by the Super Fund, and Metiria Turei's bill to force casinos to pay back some of the proceeds of crime they receive through gambling were all also debated in Parliament.