The only reason anyone lends a moment's notice to the idea of a new "blue-green" party – or a cyanobacteria party, as one friend aptly tagged them – is because the real Greens are rapidly fading into irrelevance.

Not, I hasten to add, because they aren't doing good works within the bowels of the Coalition Government – they are – but because they are so unassuming no one can see their trees through the wood of NZ First.

Let's face it, Winston Peters and Shane Jones and their mostly-anonymous cohorts got all the plums in this Government's arrangements. Lots of money to throw around wherever they wish, and bugger-all accountability to hold them back.

Every time Jones so much as passes wind he gets headlines. His little gusts are felt from Northland to Bluff, and he's revelling in it.


In contrast, notice how much James Shaw seems to have aged lately? It must be doubly galling to have been given charge of the most important portfolio for our future wellbeing – climate change – and be constantly stymied by the sly denials of Peters and co in Cabinet, preventing him from delivering on this key Green component.

Again, not for want of trying. But it's no secret NZF is obfuscating and nit-picking over the details of the planned Zero Carbon Bill and, with Labour seemingly still half-enamoured of the neoliberal mindset, the chances of a decent (let alone world-leading) act to address climate change emerging any time this term are lessening by the month.

It will, I'm betting, wind up compromised near to death.

This suits NZF well because if the Greens can't be seen to "get it together" on their core issue, they will quietly expire – to NZF's huge advantage.

It's also plain Labour are happier dealing with the devil they think they know in Winston, and looking forward to claiming many Green voters left disenfranchised by that party's demise, than they would be risking a conservative backlash were Green concerns given the full public spotlight they deserve.

Pretenders like Vernon Tava and his chameleon ilk are playing into this scenario, which in turn equally suits National; they'll take any "soft-green" votes they can get.

One "easy do" way to counter this and re-engage with the public kanohi ki te kanohi is to finally get serious about local body politics, and run a string of candidates this year. And not be afraid to back wide-eyed tree-huggers or bolshie activists, if their hearts are green.

In short, gain some cut-through by making noise. Lots of it.

To do that the Greens must get over portraying themselves as a responsible conformist group and as David Cormack, former head of communications for the party, suggests, "show us passion" while getting "comfortable alienating people that are never going to vote for it".

See, it seems an age since Jacinda Ardern pronounced climate change her generation's "nuclear-free moment" – and reminds of Barack Obama making a similar statement in Berlin before he was elected, then spending two terms being dissuaded from forceful action by his own colleagues.

Half a term here and the writing's on the wall: make-good money trees are in, hard societal change almost definitely out.

But there's always a chance, albeit slim - though Ardern's recent speeches have sparked some new hope – that Shaw can broker the sought-after pan-party accord he's seeking on the issue and somehow ensure Jac'll be right.

Whether that'll be enough to propel to Greens back to relevance and out of NZ First's shadow remains to be seen. But that – and some tough talk to go with it - would be a solid result.

*Bruce Bisset is a freelance writer and poet. Views expressed are the writer's opinion and not the newspaper's.