Green development and green jobs provide a clear vision and economic direction for our nation. We can have good jobs without destroying the environment, and we can take advantage of the huge green economic opportunities overseas to supply exports with a premium. That's what smart green economics is all about.
It is the alternative to National's failed economic approach which has given us one of the fastest increases in unemployment in the OECD, the second-highest current account deficit, and further environmental degradation. National's attacks on the environment have accelerated since the last election.
National still believes that all growth is good growth, but it isn't. Growth that leads to more debt, pollution and environmental destruction is bad growth.
Now the dust has settled on Labour's leadership contest, we ask: where does Labour stand on the economic alternatives offered on the one hand by National and on the other by the Greens?
Labour MP Shane Jones has been vocal in the pages of the New Zealand Herald over recent weeks, criticising the Green Party over our concerns about the serious environmental impacts posed by deep-sea oil drilling off our coasts and the use of slave labour on foreign chartered vessels in New Zealand waters.
Given that Labour has been supportive of some environmental and worker protections in the past, we have to ask if these repeated outbursts from one of their senior MPs are simply the views of an individual, or something more.
The free rein given to Mr Jones to attack the Green Party on environmental issues suggests the latter. I hope this isn't the case. Protection of the environment is fundamental to what makes this a great place to live and is fundamental to our future economic prosperity.
Now you'd expect Russel Norman to attack National. After all, the two parties are at opposite ends of the spectrum. But Norman's comments towards Labour are far more surprising, given that the alternative to a National-led government is a hybrid of centre-left Labour and far-left Greens.
But wait, as they say in the infomercials; there's more. Dr Norman's attack on Labour is far from over; read on:
Just this month, the Pure Advantage group of leading New Zealand business people including Sir Stephen Tindall, Rob Fyfe, Jeremy Moon, Philip Mills, Sir George Fistonich and others released their second report on the green growth, green job opportunities for our economy. Their report offers many elements of an inspiring and lucrative alternative economic direction for our country.
Now that the failure of the National Government's economic policies is plain to see, it is refreshing to have a clear alternative strategy.
In this context, it is worrying that Mr Jones' anti-environmental tirades have been greeted with a deafening silence from the Labour Party leadership.
Mr Jones' outbursts won't deter the Green Party from doing our job in highlighting the risks of the National Government's decision to open up New Zealand to dangerous deep sea oil drilling.
The oil industry's promises of an economic boom are, in our view, inflated and need to be weighed against the real risks of a spill, highlighted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that devastated local wildlife and cost more than $40 billion to clean up.
The oil and gas industry tends to be risk-rich and jobs-poor. Coal, oil, gas and metal mining employs only 3000 people, according to Statistics NZ. That compares with around 200,000 employed in manufacturing. Any future job growth in the mining sector won't compensate for the 40,000 manufacturing jobs lost in the past four years.
Mr Jones claims to be driven by a concern about jobs for Maori. Yet while he was chairman of Sealord, the company chartered a Ukrainian vessel and foreign workers were hired rather than New Zealanders. After Mr Jones departed, Sealord continued the practice of using foreign charter vessels instead of employing New Zealanders.
Mr Jones accepted $10,000 from the company for his last election campaign.
The mistreatment of crews working on foreign chartered vessels has been well documented; they are essentially slave labour. The National Government has taken far too long to start to address this and Mr Jones played a part in allowing this disgrace to happen in the first place.
Russel Norman's criticism of the Labour Party leadership is especially interesting. Could it be that the Green Party might be far happier with David Cunliffe as leader, who professes to be further to the Left than the centrist David Shearer? That's they only read that we can put on Dr Norman's criticism of Labour's leadership.
There's no doubt that the Greens are riding the crest of a wave. But at the moment they are far from being the largest opposition party, and if a coalition was to be formed based on last night's two poll results, the Greens would be very much the junior partner in said coalition. Dr Norman must be careful not to have designs above his current level of influence.
Russel Norman is drawing attention to his article via social media, as are members of the Green caucus, including Gareth Hughes. The focus, as you will see from Hughes' tweet below, is on Greens vs National, with suggestions that Labour is missing in action
It's certainly an intriguing positioning exercise by Dr Norman, disregarding Labour, and going head-to-head with National. It will be interesting to see how Labour responds, unless the Labour Party is too busy with its own internal conflicts.