MPs asked to leave climate change campaign launch

By Michael Botur

Dr George Laking (left), Lucy Lawless and Steve Abel at the Climate Voter campaign launch at the Nectar Bar in Kingsland, Auckland. Photo / Jason Oxenham.
Dr George Laking (left), Lucy Lawless and Steve Abel at the Climate Voter campaign launch at the Nectar Bar in Kingsland, Auckland. Photo / Jason Oxenham.

MPs were today asked to leave the non-partisan launch of a campaign to make voters conscious of climate change.

Climate Voter was launched at in Auckland this afternoon, and Green MP Denise Roche was denied entry to the event.

"We will not endorse, support, tick or tell you who to vote for. We want the parties to tell us who we should [vote for]," MC Steve Abel said as the official 1.30pm launch neared.

Ms Roche said Climate Voter organisers "made it quite clear" they didn't want her or other MPs at the launch.

"I popped in and they said I'm not keen to have you there, so I turned around and left.

"I thought it was fair enough. I didn't think it was an issue or unfair. I thought that was reasonable and I didn't want to intrude".

"I won't interfere with their policy."

After being kicked out, Ms Roche carried on door-knocking in Kingsland.

During his maiden speech, Mr Abel told the crowd that if any MPs were in attendance, they should depart. Nobody left.

More than 300 supporters were signed up to Climate Voter within its first 30 minutes.

It is a collaboration between Forest & Bird, WWF, 350 Aotearoa, Generation Zero, Oxfam and Greenpeace. The campaign kicked off to the triumphant sound of Strauss's Also Sprach Zarathustra, the theme tune to 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Dr Michael Kidd was a guest speaker and was in attendance with Ioane Teitiota, described as the world's first climate change refugee. Teitiota fled Kiribati for NZ in 2007.

A typical king tide in Kiribati is higher/taller than Teitiota's children, Dr Kidd said in his speech. "I've tried to get Labour to focus on climate change," he said.

"I'm going to wear my Climate Voter t-shirt until September 20," campaign supporter Lucy Lawless said.

Ms Lawless felt her NZ Herald guest editorship earlier this month was "about giving people credible information." Now she hoped prominent friends would join as Climate Voters. "I love the non partisan aspect because we need to say this is a social justice issue," Ms Lawless said.

Forest & Bird's Kevin Hackwell said in a pre-recorded message that because temperatures affect the gender of tuatara eggs "as climate change goes on, we will have nothing but male tuataras."

Climate Voter's only scheduled event will be a debate between the leaders of six parties on September 3.

Mr Abel didn't anticipate opposition from politicians. "I hope they'll see it as a positive democratic discourse.

Ashlee Gross of 350.org said "MPs know we need to act but [voters should be asking] are they going to vote for me? Climate Voter is about saying we're all in this together."

Greenpeace's Bunny Mcdiarmid said there had to be a political cost if politicians do not act.

This article previously stated incorrectly that Dr Michael Kidd was a Labour list candidate.

- APNZ

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