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Turning the Tide speech - Auckland - 13 August 2017

Thank you to members of the media for coming along today - but also thank you to those of you watching this on your live stream at home or wherever you are this afternoon.

Our slogan for this campaign was ‘Great Together’. But, to be frank, over the last couple of weeks we haven’t been all that together and it hasn’t been all that great.

We started out talking about the problem of poverty in New Zealand. We ended up talking about our own problems. It’s been messy.

I want to thank those who have supported us over the years and over the last few weeks, and to apologise to all those who feel like we’ve let them down.

I came to Parliament to get New Zealand moving on climate change, to restore our precious natural world, to ending poverty and to change the way we do politics.

I didn’t come to Parliament to act like other political parties. But this week that’s where we ended up. We have not been our best selves, and for that I am sorry. 

I have taken the last few days to review our campaign and today I am announcing a number of changes that reset our direction and starts to turn the tide of Election 2017.

It is my personal commitment to New Zealanders that this will be positive campaign. We will focus on the very real challenges our country faces and we’ll offer solutions no one else is promising, with the best MPs and the best candidates to get the job done.

We have a new slogan. ‘Love New Zealand’. Some of you will remember we used it in 2014. But we believe in recycling.

We believe it goes to the heart of what we stand for. Last election over a quarter of a million people voted for the Green Party because you love New Zealand. And I want you to know we’re still the same party with the same values. 

I want to spend the next six weeks of this campaign talking about New Zealand. I want to talk about the problems New Zealanders care about and want real solutions to.

I will talk about poverty. I will talk about climate change. I will talk about clean water. We were the first party to talk about these issues and we’re the only party that can do more than talk.

The only way we’re going to end poverty, clean up our rivers and see real action on climate change is with the Green Party at the heart of a new progressive government.

Today I’m also proud to announce a new caucus leadership team, each of who will take charge of one of our priority policy areas. Marama Davidson will be representing us on Ending Poverty. Julie-Anne Genter will take the lead on Climate Change. And Eugenie Sage will take the lead on Clean Rivers.

They are the next-highest ranked members of the Green Party caucus. Together they represent a depth of policy and political expertise that, I believe, no other party’s front bench can match.

My job is to talk about how all of those pieces fit together.

New Zealand experienced the biggest rise in inequality in the developed world in the 1980s and 1990s, and no government since then has chosen to reverse that.

In 2009, National’s first year in Government, 14% of New Zealanders were in poverty. Today, 14% of New Zealanders are still in poverty.

Our country makes its money from industries that poison our rivers and pollute our atmosphere, and by flying in tourists to admire rivers that are dying and native birds that are increasingly at risk of extinction.

All of these problems are connected. You can’t solve one of them without solving all of them.

That is why we will continue to talk about poverty. That conversation makes a lot of people uncomfortable. I’m comfortable with that. Making people angry by talking about a problem is better than trying to make everyone happy by pretending the problem doesn’t exist.

We are the only party committed to a carbon-neutral economy by 2050 - and with a plan to get there.

We are the only party committed to ending deep sea oil drilling, stopping fracking and not opening any new coal mines.

We are the only party who will stop all mining on conservation l

Over the upcoming weeks we’ll be releasing our full policy programme which will show voters how we intend to deliver on our priorities.

It will be clean, Green, lean and meaningful.

I also want to introduce the candidates on our list who’ve just moved up it after the spontaneous reorganisation of the last week.

We currently have 14 MPs. Our new Caucus line up after September will include all our returning MPs, as well as Chloe Swarbrick at number seven and Golriz Ghahraman at number eight. She will be the first Member of Parliament in the history of New Zealand to have arrived in this country as a refugee. She’s now an international human rights lawyer.

Jack McDonald, an emerging young leader within Te Ao Maori, will come in at number eleven. John Hart, a sheep and beef farmer who wants to help our agricultural sector become a sustainable, high value industry at number twelve. And of course, Hayley Holt will enter Parliament at number fourteen.

If we grow our vote even further at this election we get Teall Crossen, an environmental lawyer who represented the Small Island States at international climate change negotiations in New York.

And if we hit fifteen percent we bring in our first two Pasifika MPs, Te Anau Tuiono, a United Nations expert on climate change and biodiversity, and Leilani Tamu, a Fulbright scholar and former diplomat.

At fifteen percent we’ll also bring in Matt Lawrey, a Nelson City councillor and, hopefully, the next Member of Parliament for Nelson.

No other party has this calibre of new candidates representing them. No other party represents the rich diversity of New Zealand they way these people do.

A vote for the Green Party gets you this new Green team. But more importantly, it gets you a new progressive government.

It gets you an end to poverty in New Zealand. It gets you clean water and action on climate change.

It gets you a party that will speak out on the real problems we face, instead of pretending that everything is fine and trying to put a happy face over it.

And it will get you an election outcome in which Winston Peters does not decide who governs the country.

The past few days have been tough, but we’ve been through tough times before, and I’m committed to leading us through this and to turning the tide.

That’s why I’m asking all those who love New Zealand to vote Green.

No reira, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena tatou katoa.