It may not meet with the approval of more fundamentalist members of their party, but the Greens' leadership knows that talking about the environment will get the party only so far in this election.

They know that they must talk about the economy if they are to get any further. And they must talk about it in simple, direct terms.

Backing for the Greens is currently around the 10 per cent mark. However, support for the party seems to have plateaued at this level, judging from recent polls.

The levelling off in support will have resurrected worries based on past experience that the party's election night tally will end up being several percentage points down on what the polls are registering.


No one questions the party's environmental credentials. But this election is not about the environment. It is about the economy. The Greens have to establish their economic credentials. If the party is to break through that apparent 10 per cent ceiling, it must convince those inclined to vote Labour and those leaning National's way that it would be a responsible partner in terms of economic management.

To that end, the party's strategists determined that yesterday's campaign launch would highlight a new(ish) policy to allow those in KiwiSaver to have their contributions to the scheme managed by the guardians of the New Zealand Superannuation Fund.

This "public option" would - the party says - make saving more attractive by cutting the high fees and other costs imposed by other KiwiSaver providers. The Greens say a 40 per cent cut in fees over a lifetime could increase retirement nest eggs by between $23,000 and $140,000 depending on contribution rates.

It may not have been the sexiest of topics with which to officially kick-off a campaign. When their savings policy is twinned with the Greens' advocacy of a capital gains tax, however, the party is seen to be making an almost textbook pitch for structural adjustments to the economy to enhance savings and boost investment in productive job-creating ventures.

Summarising all this in a sound-bite is not easy. Instead, the party has sought to condense its emphasis on the economy through its slogan "For a Richer New Zealand".

At the launch, Greens co-leader Russel Norman spoke of this meaning a "richer society" and a "richer environment". But there is no doubt the Greens want voters to also pick up on the meaning of "richer" in a financial sense.

The launch was also notable for the other co-leader, Metiria Turei, waving vigorously in National's direction. Turei indicated they wanted an "enhanced" memorandum of understanding with National post-election - one covering far more areas of mutual interest than the limited one negotiated during the just-concluded parliamentary term.

"We can get stuff done," she told the cheering party faithful. Whether that was in partnership with Labour or - as seems more likely - more loosely with National, did not matter particularly.


* "We need a national standard for rivers - not children." - Actor Robyn Malcolm, the MC at yesterday's Green Party campaign launch.

* "When they're not spending the Government's money, they pass legislation to spend your money." - Finance Minister Bill English castigates Labour's promise to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour as yet another cost imposed on business.

What's happening today: National to announce new policy to "pre-screen" parole hearings to cut the workload of the Parole Board. Hearings will only be held when there is a chance of the inmate getting parole.