25 Oct 2019

Former Green MPs unhappy with party's Terrorism Suppression Bill support

7:02 pm on 25 October 2019

Former Green MPs are unhappy that the party has dropped the tradition of opposing terrorism suppression laws.

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Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

The Green Party has given initial support for the Terrorism Suppression Bill after negotiating changes, such as making sure foreign convictions and deportations are not accepted without proper scrutiny.

It's the latest in a string of topics that have illustrated the growing divide among the old guard and the new wave of Greens.

This includes former co-leader Russel Norman, who is also Greenpeace executive director, who yesterdayberated the party for not putting agriculture into the ETS and a lack of climate action.

And now former MPs are at odds over the Terrorism Suppression Bill.

Former Green MP Catherine Delahunty said even with the changes it was still disappointing.

"Overall these kind of bills, which the Greens have had a tradition of opposing, are not going to make the world safer, they're not the direction we need to go in," she said.

Green MP Catherine Delahunty.

Green MP Catherine Delahunty. Photo: RNZ

"They're actually very narrowly focused, potentially reducting human rights for certain people."

Ms Delahunty said there were other ways to make the country safer from terrorism.

"It would be much more sensible to get out of the Five Eyes network, to make ourselves less of a target for people like ISIS, and actually stop being part some of the terror that countries like the United States actually visit around the world," she said.

"We need to educate our population so they understand why the big risk, which is white supremacy, is unacceptable and how to address that."

She said she knew the Greens would have been under pressure from Labour, but trying to suppress terrorism didn't work.

Former Green MP Sue Bradford was also against the party showing its support for the bill.

"There are such risks in this legislation, and in the past the party would have really been leading the charge against it, but this is just one part of the overall picture of what has happened to the party in recent years, which I'm really sad about," she said.

Ms Bradford said the party had clearly been forced into a compromise.

"I really fear for their ability to negotiate inside this government, New Zealand First seems to be much more able to hold lines and hold its position, whereas the Greens seem to bend far more and really sacrifice a lot of those original principals," she said.

But MP and Green Party defence spokesperson Golriz Ghahraman said the party was still working on further improvements in the bill and the decision was led by party reps and the full caucus.

"We were also led by our human rights kaupapa and I think if the Greens were ever in the position to stop what the National Party was proposing, that every Green Party MP, past and present, would do all they could to do that, and that's what we did," she said.

She said having no bill was never an option, so it was either an improved bill, or one with National's provisions.

And it's not just former MPs who have shown their displeasure with the direction of the party.

At the Greens AGM earlier this year Jack McDonald, who was a highly ranked member of the party, said he would no longer run as a candidate, blaming the centrist leadership under James Shaw.

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