Roles and Responsibilities
The roles are set out in the "swim lanes" (rows) of the process flowchart above. These are:
Our MPs in parliament contribute to setting policy priorities (including instigating an "urgent policy process); they may also be represented on a policy issue group, and they are responsible for releasing and promoting ratified policy
One or more members, including recognised groups within the party, can initiate policy development, participate in a policy development issue group, and provide feedback on draft policy.
Co-convenors & Strategic Policy Advisor (SPA)
The party has two Policy co-convenors (male and female), who coordinate the policy programme and the policy committee, as well as Strategic Policy Advisor (SPA), who reviews policy to keep it up to date, accurate and relevant.
The Policy Committee is the Party's policy making body, responsible for the development and ratification of Party policy and the administration of the policy process. It is comprised of Policy Networkers (a female and male from each province, 4 from Auckland), the Party Co-leaders, a Te Roopu Pounamu Rep and a Caucus Rep.
Issue Groups and IG Convenors
Appointed by Policy Committee, an issue group is responsible for Issue developing a draft policy. An issue group is comprised of any member who expresses an interest, plus appropriate MPs, parliamentary researcher, external individuals or groups. The SPA and the Policy Programme Coordinator are ex offico members of every issue Group.
The policy process follows the stages set out in the columns of the process flowchart above. Within each stage there are specified activities and decision points, as set out below.
Stage One - Initiate Policy Development
Policy development requires a commitment time, attention and resources. The party has to decide which policies it will work on at any one time, according to its needs.
Caucus has a role in guiding raise policy development priorities and shaping the policy programme based on the party's strategic priorities. Sometimes caucus may initiate an Urgent Policy Process to meet parliamentary pressures such as responding to topical issues where no policy yet exists, or where policy needs to be amended quickly.
Member(s) raising an issue give a written description to their Policy Networker who, with the SPA, sees if it's already covered by ratified or planned policy. If not, the Policy Networker takes it to the PN for discussion. If the PN decides no immediate action is required, the PPC will contact the member(s).
- If the member/s still wish to pursue the issue, the Policy Networker asks the Province to sponsor it to PN. If they won't, the Policy Networker and SPA help the member initiate a nationwide discussion forum, and, if there is significant provincial or other support for the issue, the PN re-examines whether to act.
- If a non member or group contacts a member, s/he passes details to the Policy Networker, who follows the process above.
Develop policy programme (PPC)
One of the Policy Co-convenors is the Policy Programme Co-ordinator (PPC). This person's role is to coordinate the party's overall policy development programme. This is done in consultation with Policy Network, Caucus and Executive and sets a timetable for the development, amendment or review of policies consistent with priorities identified in the Strategic Plan. That Plan is prepared by the Strategic Planning Facilitation Group and adopted by the AGM.
Draft Scoping Documents (SPA)
The PPC and SPA discuss the 'scope' of the work; whether to draft a discussion, review or amendment document., and a time frame. The SPA then drafts a scoping document for consideration by the Policy Committee.
Coordinate Issue Groups
One co-convenor is the Policy Committee Coordinator (PCC). One of this person's roles is to identify Issue Group Conveners, who will facilitate and moderate the work of the Issue Group Appoint Issue Group? Policy Committee reviews, and may amend, the Draft Scoping Document; it agrees the scope of work for a policy development project, and decides who the Issue Group Convenor will be.
Develop Draft Policy
A Discussion, Amendment or Review Document will be developed by the in the following way.
The Issue Group develops a draft policy document (discussion document), using some combination of an email list, face-to-face meetings, and the Green party wiki. If there is disagreement between the members of the Issue Group the different viewpoints are outlined in the document to enable the membership to consider the issues when the document is released for consultation. The Issue Group Convenor has to get the agreement of their Issue Group to send the document to the Policy Committee for release to the membership.
The PC may decide that further work or editing is required. The document is sent back to the Issue Group for further work, or to the SPA for editorial and technical amendments. If the PC accept it, the document goes to Caucus and the media unit to check for political and media sensitivity, then the PPC releases it to members for input , specifying a time-frame for feedback to be provided -generally for 6 weeks to 2 months.
Stage Three: Policy Discussion
Membership input to policy development comprises feedback on the policy draft or discussion document. Normally, the people most interested and involved in a policy issue are members of the Issue Group - this step allows the wider membership to comment and provide input.
Provide Feedback to Policy Networkers
The policy is made available on the Green Party website (members only section), and may be circulated to members by Policy Networkers at meetings or by email. Policy Networkers facilitate discussion and feedback from members in their province. Feedback is circulated by Policy Networkers to other members of the Policy Committee (via email on the PN list).
Compile Feedback (SPA)
the membership feedback is compiled by the SPA and incorporated into a draft policy for consideration by the Policy Committee.
If there is substantive feedback the Policy Committee may ask the Issue Convenor and Issue Group to amend the document, which then goes through the process again and is released for a further 6 weeks. However members can only comment on the amendments at this stage, not add new policy points. If there is little or no substantive feedback, the Policy Committee may amend the document to incorporate the member feedback and make other technical and editorial amendments. It will then decide whether to ratify the policy.
The Policy Committee makes a formal consensus decision to ratify the policy at a Policy Committee meeting (either a teleconference or face-to-face meeting). If the PC doesn't ratify approve the policy at this stage, it is usually due to fundamental disagreement within the party membership over aspects of the policy. In this case the Contentious Issues Process will usually be activated (see below).
Stage Four: Release Policy
The ratified policy goes to Caucus and Executive, who decide when to release it to the public. The document goes to Caucus and the media unit to check for political and media sensitivity, and may suggest changes to wording. A policy summary document may be prepared by the SPA, working with the relevant MP and the media unit, to help focus public attention on key campaign messages or political positioning.
There are additional processes in place to handle specified exceptions to the normal policy development process.
Urgent Policy Process
Sometimes Caucus may require decisions to be made quickly due to Parliamentary pressures.
- If the deadline is a week or less, at least one Policy Co-convenor needs to agree to the interim policy, inform the rest of Policy Committee within 48 hours and get membership agreement in a period set by Policy Committee.
- If the deadline is up to a month, the Policy CoCos sends a position paper to Policy Networkers, who consult members before Policy Committee decides on an interim policy.
If there are objections to an interim policy, the SPA prepares a discussion document and puts it through the full policy process.
Contentious Issues Process
If agreement can't be reached the member(s) who disagree may set out the reasons for their disagreement and suggest changes; this and the initial document go to Policy Networkers, who get feedback on the issue from their provinces; a preferred document is chosen via by voting by each Province, or, for issues that could affect Party unity, through consensus at a Party conference.
Review of Policy
Ratified policy will be reviewed regularly to maintain accuracy and relevancy. If members believe that a ratified policy should be reviewed or amended they are entitled to activate forward a proposal to review/amend policy 12 months after the policy has been ratified. The policy then goes through the process set out above - although it may be scoped to focus on a specific issue or area of concern raised by the membership.
Ratified policy will also be reviewed regularly in order to check that the policy still "makes sense' because changes in government policies, legislation, or facts may have occurred since the policy was ratified. If a policy does need to be updated with changes that are not substantive, this can be done by agreement of the Policy Committee.
Reframed and Repackaged Policies
Ratified policy may be repackaged to form a new policy if this is deemed necessary and appropriate by the Policy Committee. Such repackaging does not include substantive changes to existing policy. An MP, member of the leadership group, or PC member can activate the repackaging process.
Local policy should be concerned with local issues, and should not be in conflict with national policy, Green Party position statements, or Green Party press releases.
Policy Committee does not wish to rigidly prescribe a local policy process, however the development of local policies should, ideally, reflect the national policy development, consensus decision making and ratification process processes. Local policies should be placed on a provincial website page with a link to the policy page of the national Green Party site and a clear disclaimer that the policy is not that of the Green Party of Aotearoa.