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Dirty tricks campaign: point-by-point rebuttal

Read Jeanette's Press Release on this subject.
View the Green Delusions smear leaflet (PDF, 115kb)
View the Green Delusions smear leaflet (JPG).

The leaflet "The Green Delusion" has a section headlined "The GREENS Policies", which is strewn with lies and half-truths. Below, we compare the pamphlet's claims with our policies' reality.

Summary:
Outright lies: 7
Half Truths: 7
True Statements: 1

Claim:

Introduce capital gains on family homes
Status: Outright Lie
Our policy:

The Greens do not have a policy that a capital gains tax should be introduced, let alone on the family home. We believe New Zealand should investigate whether introducing a capital gains tax exempting the family home would be good for our country. It could for example help reduce interest rates and house prices, as well as allowing cuts to personal and company tax. A capital gains tax exempting the family home already exists in Australia.

Claim:

Increase petrol and diesel taxes - increasing diesel prices by 30%
Status: Half truth
Our policy:

We do not have a policy to increase petrol excise duty. Currently petrol users pay some of their petrol tax towards the health costs of air pollution and similar problems. Diesel users are exempt from this contribution. We think this is unfair, especially as diesel causes some of the worst pollution, and we would end the tax exemption. Diesel prices would increase but by much less than 30% as is claimed, and diesel would still be considerably cheaper than petrol. We would also exempt bio-diesel from the health charges as it is less polluting - giving people a cleaner, cheaper option.

This is part of our tax shift package, which also includes making the first $5000 tax free - giving people about $15/week in the hand, which more than offsets any increased costs.

Claim:

Introduce a carbon tax, putting petrol prices up by a further 10%.
Status: Half truth
Our policy:

Labour and the Greens support a carbon tax as part of tackling global climate change. Doing nothing will cost us far more. It is estimated that the carbon tax will increase petrol prices by 4 or 5 cents a litre. At current petrol prices, this is a 3% increase, not a 10% increase.

The Greens' overall tax policy is aimed not at raising taxes, but at shifting them. We propose "ecological tax reform", which would move taxes off work and enterprise (so, the first $5000 of everyone's income would be tax free) and on to waste and pollution. So while the carbon and diesel tax changes would increase costs by around $6-7/week - people will get $15/week extra in the hand when the first $5000 is tax free.

Overall, it means around $8-9/week more in the hand and you get to help save the world!

Claim:

Support the Kyoto protocol - the one billion dollar bungle.
Status: Half truth
Our policy:

The Greens proudly support the Kyoto Protocol - but it isn't a "billion dollar bungle". Climate change is the gravest environmental challenge facing the world, and the Kyoto Protocol is the best mechanism humanity has found for combating it. We believe New Zealand should stand with the 155 other countries who've signed Kyoto and wish to combat climate change, rather than with the two (the United States and Australia) who have their heads in the sand.

The Kyoto Protocol will only cost New Zealand money if we do nothing. However, if we make New Zealand a less carbon-intensive place - by using more public transport, more fuel-efficient cars, more freight on rail - then Kyoto will earn us money. It's an opportunity, not an inevitable cost.

Claim:

Add 4 new Government ministries, 6 agencies and 5 commissions - more bureaucrats including a resident artist.
Status: Half Truth
Our policy:

The Greens have proposed a number of specific small agencies that we believe target gaps in policy (eg Waste Minimisation, Urban Affairs). We also believe in a strong, quality public service so that all Kiwis are able to access what they need - such as health care and a good education. We believe big, across-the-board tax cuts equal big, across-the-board public service cuts.

Some of our policies do call for the establishment of new agencies, however most are aimed at refocusing current government agencies (eg reforming the Electricity Commission into the Sustainable Energy Commission). Most of our proposals are modest, many could be met from existing resources and we do not envisage a significantly larger public sector under the Greens.

Claim:

Cut defence spending by 50% and disarm our forces
Status: Outright Lie
Our policy:

We do not suggest disarming our forces. The "50%" claim is based on our 1999 opposition to National buying F16 fighters. Currently we support some refocussing of spending towards creating a civil defence, peacekeeping and resource protection capacity. We believe it is possible to phase-out the two frigates and introduce vessels more suited to the South Pacific, creating some savings. We also support raising New Zealand foreign aid budget almost three-fold, from the current 0.24% of GDP to 0.7% of GDP. If this package of Green ideas was implemented, the amount of money the Government spends on making the world a safer place (defence, peacebuilding, foreign aid) would not decrease.

Claim:

Ban the building of new prisons
Status: True
Our policy:

The Greens want Justice reforms to put victims at the centre of the Justice system. We will review the adequacy of support for victims and their families. We do not believe building new prisons does anything to combat crime in New Zealand. Kiwis should be very concerned that New Zealand has the second-highest rate of imprisonment in the Western world, below only the United States. Imprisonment is very ineffective in preventing people from re-offending, and the Greens believe that tackling the causes of crime - such as poverty and unemployment - is a much more effective way of keeping New Zealand safer than locking up criminals for longer and longer.

Claim:

Spend roading money on uneconomic and novel public transport systems.
Status: Outright Lie
Our policy:

There is no such thing as "roading money". Money is allocated to the Government's "land transport fund", for use on the roading network and public transport infrastructure. The Greens and Labour have worked together on transport since National left office in 1999. In that time, the amount of money spent on roading has increased by 67% and the amount of money spent on public transport has increased by 510%.

Public transport systems are a far more cost-effective way of getting people around and between cities than single occupancy vehicles. All our proposals are based on proven approaches that have delivered better transport around the world. Criticising the Greens for offering people convenient, affordable alternatives to cars is especially bizarre, given that increasing petrol prices is quickly making high car use a preserve of the rich. We must build up public transport systems so that ordinary Kiwis have ways of getting around when petrol simply becomes too expensive for those on middle and low incomes.

Claim:

Block construction of vital new roads with tortuous RMA regulations.
Status: Outright Lie
Our policy:

The Resource Management Act does not "block" the construction of any new roads. Rather, it is a process for allowing everyone affected by a new project to have a say in whether it should go ahead. National proposes that new developments should be rail-roaded through, even against strong opposition from local communities, environmental organisations, and adjacent landowners. This is an affront to democracy.

Claim:

Push high country farmers off their lease-hold land.
Status: Outright Lie
Our policy:

The Greens do not propose to "push" anybody off lease-hold land. Any moves to review the tenure of high country farms will be open to considerable consultation and negotiation. The South Island high country contains a great deal of ecologically sensitive land which is owned by the Government and which has been downgraded by grazing. Furthermore, much of this land has been rented out to farmers at rents that have not been adjusted for inflation for many years, which means they're leasing it off the public at prices much lower than the land's actual worth.

The Greens support an investigation of the current tenure review process, to ensure that conservation values are protected, and that New Zealand's natural heritage is not lost forever.

Claim:

Permit the right-to-roam over private property
Status: Outright Lie
Our policy:

The Greens' land access policy specifically excludes the right to roam. We propose to appoint an access commissioner to build relationships between land owners and land users, and negotiate access arrangements - for example, along rivers - so that public access weighs up the right of everyone to access waterways with the right of landowners to have unimpeded control of their land.

Claim:

Decriminalise illegal drugs like cannabis (marijuana)
Status: Half-truth
Our policy:

The Greens will introduce a legal age limit of 18 years for personal cannabis use. We have never proposed decriminalising other drugs. The Greens recognise a drug-free lifestyle is the healthiest, but current laws are not working. We want to reduce alcohol, tobacco, cannabis and other drug abuse, as well as reduce the size and profits of the illicit drug market. The current prohibition framework with cannabis means that many Kiwis, including children, are exposed to gangs and other criminal forces because the sale of cannabis is driven underground. The current framework also allows gangs to finance themselves through the sale of cannabis. The Greens' moderate, mainstream policy on cannabis is an attempt to address these societal harms, and has been endorsed by leading medical researchers.

Claim:

Offer financial assistance to cannabis growers for alternative employment.
Status: Outright Lie
Our policy:

Our drugs policy does not include offering financial assistance to cannabis growers. This is wrong and offensive. However, we do believe that industrial hemp - which has no psychoactive properties at all - is a worthwhile crop that New Zealand should investigate developing. Used in many other countries, hemp is useful for making rope, clothes and other household items.

Claim:

Create 'rainbow' communities. Legalise adoption for same-sex couples.
Status: Half-truth
Our policy:

"Rainbow" communities - that is, communities of gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual Kiwis - already exist. The Greens will not be "creating" them, or forcing anybody to be gay, or any other sexual orientation. We believe that all Kiwis, regardless of their sexual orientation, deserve respect, and we affirm and celebrate New Zealand as a diverse, tolerant country, and reject bigotry in all its forms. We believe that a couple's parenting skills should be the primary factor when considering eligibility for adoption, not their sexual orientation.

Claim:

the Greens voted against protecting private property rights
Status: Half-truth
Our policy:

The Greens voted against an Act Party Member's Bill to give private property the same status as human rights - as did the Labour Party and other parties in Parliament.

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