A new political party was launched this week, though my guess is that only political addicts like myself and a few others noticed.
The Sustainable New Zealand Party looks very much like a vanity party designed to promote the political ambitions of its leader, Vernon Tava, who ran for the co-leadership of the Green Party when Russel Norman stepped down and got just one vote out of the 127 available.
• Sustainable NZ Party launches with promise to boost conservation spending by $1 billion
• Newest political party Sustainable NZ struck by tragedy before tomorrow's launch
• Vernon Tava launches first step in new 'teal' Sustainable New Zealand Party
• Wellington regional councillor finds home in Sustainable NZ Party
Then, having joined the National Party, he unsuccessfully contested a National Party candidacy for a byelection held in Northcote and didn't make the shortlist of five candidates.
Tava's vision this time is of a greenish party that would be business friendly and willing to form coalitions with either of the big parties.
There must be at least a minimal amount of support, possibly from National Party activists desperate to develop a coalition partner, as Tava claims to have the 500 members necessary to satisfy the New Zealand Electoral Commission and achieve registration as an official political party.
It's hard to see what gap in the political spectrum the clunkily named party could fill and I think that most commentators and politicians would agree with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's statement: "I do believe that environmental matters are a huge focus for this Government, and I don't see that there's necessarily a space that [Sustainable NZ] need to fill."
This party joins a lengthening queue of small parties that appear under the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) electoral system and which tend to last one or two elections and then disappear.
Just in the past few elections we've seen Gareth Morgan's The Opportunity Party, Kim Dotcom's Internet Mana Party and Colin Craig's Conservatives come and go.
The way our version of the MMP system works, getting your party into Parliament looks deceptively easy (and tempting) and it's worth recapping how the system works.
There are two ways for Tava's party to get seats in our Parliament, one is to get 5 per cent of the party vote and the second is to win an electorate.
In the previous general election in 2017, 5 per cent of the party vote amounted to roughly 130,000 votes and both New Zealand First with 7.2 per cent and the Greens with 6.3 per cent got over this hurdle.
The other way is to win an electorate seat and if a party manages to do this, a wrinkle in the system known as the "waiver" says that this validates a party vote of less than 5 per cent.
In the previous (2014-2017) Parliament, for example, Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell won the Maori seat of Waiariki and got a second MP for its 31,840 party votes when the Internet Mana Party, without an electorate seat, got no seats for its 34,095 party votes.
In the 2008 general election the Act Party, with the seat of Epsom gifted by the National Party, saw its 3.65 per cent - or 85,000 - party votes validate five seats and put John Key into power.
In the same election, New Zealand First outscored Act with 4.07 per cent of the party vote, but without an electorate seat, was excluded from Parliament.
That result shows exactly why National is so interested in fostering a coalition partner and why commentators speculated on National possibly helping Tava's party to secure a seat.
My personal view is that the rule that winning an electorate seat validates a sub 5 per cent party vote should be discarded as it encourages parties to game the system and produces unfair results as demonstrated above.
In 2012 the Electoral Commission Report on MMP recommended the abolition of this rule as well as reducing the percentage of the party vote needed to win seats to 4 per cent. It seems that the responsible minister at the time, Simon Power, was prepared to legislate these recommendations into law but when he resigned and Judith Collins got his job, this reform was shelved.
It would only take a simple majority in Parliament to effect this change, even if the party vote threshold for seats was left at the current level as New Zealand First believes.
This measure doesn't appear to be on the current government's legislative agenda, and it may be a matter the Labour Party and New Zealand First live to regret.
Perhaps one positive aspect of the launch of the Sustainable New Zealand Party is that there will be an even larger focus on aspects of the environment next year.
In this regard, we can count ourselves lucky.
The Australian Nationals is a climate change denying party and a coalition partner of the Liberal-led Federal Government.
Despite an unprecedented bush fire season in Queensland and New South Wales, climate change scepticism in the Coalition means that no special preparations could be made without admitting what is staring Australians in the face.
• Mike Williams grew up in Hawke's Bay. He is chief executive of the Howard League and a former Labour Party president. All opinions are his and not those of Hawke's Bay Today.