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New Green MP Puts His Cards On The Table

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Gareth Hughes
Gareth Hughes

Wellington, Feb 24 NZPA - New Green MP Gareth Hughes used his maiden speech in Parliament today to talk about his environmental passions and take a swipe at the major parties for what he considers environmentally destructive and unsustainable policies.

Born in 1981 -- the same year that Labour leader Phil Goff joined Parliament -- Mr Hughes said he grew up in Gisborne loving cars and wanting to be an All Black, and was later exposed to environmentalism while at Victoria University in Wellington.

He quoted a line from British writer and environmental and political activist George Monbiot; "Humanity is no longer split between conservatives and liberals, reactionaries and progressives, though both sides are informed by the older politics. Today the battle lines are drawn between expanders and restrainers; those who believe that there should be no impediments and those who believe that we must live within limits."

Mr Hughes said it was from that understanding he became an environmentalist and started campaigning against genetically engineered food, bottom trawling, climate change and the likes.

He said he looked forward to the day when "we reform our constitution; ditch the monarchy, decentralise our political structures, and see genuine tino rangatiratanga for tangata whenua".

National -- and Labour before it -- had ignored warnings of the end of cheap oil and continued to build more motorways, under-invest in public transport and walking and cycling, and had perpetuated the housing crisis as a result, he said.

"As different as Coke is to Pepsi, they both ignore the crisis in the oceans, depend on debt to fuel growth, and continue to support growing inequality."

Mr Hughes also had a crack at National's proposal to open New Zealand's conservation estate for mineral mining, and accused both National and Labour of putting corporate and short-term interests before sustainability and prosperity in terms of tackling climate change.

He also floated a proposal to other young MPs to form an inter-party youth caucus aimed at addressing issues facing young people from crime and suicide to housing affordability and intergenerational debt.

Mr Hughes replaces Green Party veteran Jeanette Fitzsimons, who was farewelled a couple of weeks ago after announcing her departure last month.

He said taking her place was a matter of standing on her "strong shoulders" rather than filling her large boots.

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