Without Laila, the Greens were nothing…

Yesterday, the Green Party released their Clean Rivers Priority. National may quibble over the possible economic cost of fully implementing the policy, but pollution rates in our rivers clearly show that the current system isn’t working. When almost two-thirds of our monitored river sites are too polluted to swim in, you know something’s wrong.

Caring about the environment was obviously the order of the day, as just three hours before the Greens’ announcement, the Internet Party released its environment policy. They want a moratorium on fracking and deep-sea drilling, and they support the Greens’ carbon tax policy (with some likely variation to the nature of the tax cuts that would flow from the carbon tax). The full policy is here, for those interested.

If it all sounds very much like it’s been pinched wholesale from the Green Party, you’d probably be right. Laila Harre, up until about two weeks before she became leader of the Internet Party, had been working on the Green Party’s strategy team and had apparently been in talks about taking a spot on the Green Party list. With the Internet Party having to release coherent-sounding policy within a short time-frame, I suppose it makes sense for the party’s leader to simply pinch what she could remember from her old employers. Given Kim Dotcom’s approach to copyright, perhaps it’s unsurprising that the Internet Party leader’s apple wouldn’t fall far from the party founder’s tree.

On 3News last night, Laila Harre was confronted on the issue, and had this to say:

 “Look, I contributed huge intellectual property to the Green Party in the 15 months that I spent working for them”.

Let’s get this straight – Ms Harre believes that because she contributed a great deal to the Green Party, as she was paid to do, she has the right to publicly use any Green Party policy ideas she wants?

Nonetheless, as my wife pointed out, the more parties with decent environmental policies, the better it is for the environment. And they do so that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery…

What effect the Internet Party will have on the Greens remains to be seen. Personally, I can’t see the impact being anything more than negligible, although it might cost the Greens one MP. The Greens’ established branding and track record on environment issues and personal freedoms will more than trump the Internet Party’s new kid on the block attempt to buy credibility.

What seems clear at this stage is that the Internet Party isn’t snaring new voters. Ms Harre is doing little more than spark a war between the parties to Labour’s left, with Internet Mana and the Greens fighting a battle for the left’s existing pool of voters. If Laila Harre wants to grow the left vote, she needs to offer something inspirational in her own right, rather than merely aping the Greens.

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