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March 5, 2018 | by  | in Interview |
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A Remembered Interview with Julie Anne Genter

At 12:20pm last Wednesday, I finished a short but revealing interview with Minister for Women, Associate Health and Associate Transport Minister, and Green Party Co-Leadership contender, Julie Anne Genter.

I was stoked.

At 12:25pm, I realised I had not recorded any of the interview.

There’s something especially dire about failing to press two buttons less than an inch apart. An action justifiably described as “pretty hard to screw up”.

The following is a summary of what I remember from our interview: *

Would you rather fight 100 duck-sized horses, or one horse sized duck ?

One horse sized duck.

Favourite book, movie, TV show, and album of 2017?

My favourite book is The Luminaries, which isn’t 2017 but is the best fiction I’ve read in a while. My favourite TV show is Orange is the New Black, and I have been listening to the most recent LCD Soundsystem album. I had tickets to go to the concert on Saturday, but they cancelled the show.

Who is someone, alive or dead, who has had the most influence on you/your politics?

Thich Nhat Hanh, who wrote Peace is Every Step. He outlines the importance of peace at every step of change, starting with internal peace of changemakers.

You recently announced your candidacy for the co-leadership of the Green Party. What does this role entail?

There are three main elements to the role.

1) Public: reaching into communities, building connections and support, fronting up on policies/making the case, appearing in debates.

2) Party: maintaining internal unity, facilitating internal democracy, ensuring engagement from membership, representing the party body.

3) Parliament: negotiation, maintaining working relationships, working on policy.

What is it about you that means you can fulfil those 3 elements?

I have broad, deep, successful experience at all levels of the party. I have been a party activist for 12 years, and I was on policy strategy committees for three. I have worked a variety of portfolios (simultaneously and separately), made gains on my own policy areas as well as other policy areas, and improved quality of national debate on issues (e.g. effective advocacy for medicinal marijuana while health spokesperson).

Are there certain issues you’d like to address if you become co-leader, internal or external to the party? For example, changing the male co-leadership position to “any gender”?

It’s not really the role of the leader to dictate to the party on issues like that, but I understands the co-leadership constitutional change is likely to happen at some point. I really wants to be able to regrow Green Party support going into the 2020 election starting ASAP so we can make the case for our policies and have a better position to initiate the change we need.

The Metiria/James co-leadership reflected an important dynamic in the party between the further left and centre-left groups. There might be some concern your politics are too similar to Shaw’s to reflect this dynamic, which could cause some internal dissent.

Do you think this is a fair representation of your politics in general?

Do you think this is a reasonable concern you will have to face?

I didn’t consider the left/centre-left dynamic was especially relevant to the co-leadership contest. Metiria Turei was the less radical candidate compared to Sue Bradford. Realistically, working on the consensus democracy model, it won’t actually make a huge difference what my personal politics are.

What’s your personal vision, in general terms, for Aotearoa New Zealand given you’re now part of the executive’s new “good green heart”? You’ve mentioned empowering communities, ending poverty, and real action on climate change in candidacy announcement. Anything else in particular?

It’s really important that we make the material changes needed to eliminate poverty in New Zealand and get real action on climate change. An important initial step to do this is empowering communities. Communities are important for creating change and rallying for issues, but central and regional government are responsible for the structural issues that facilitate or prevent communities growing. We need to remove these barriers (poverty, racism, sexism etc) to allow communities to assist in making the change we need. We also need to start making the case for reforms now, (e.g. comprehensive tax reform), to reduce inequality, redistribute wealth, and remove barriers.We need to be able to go into 2020 with a case to gain mandate for change which we don’t really have now. We need massive changes but have to start where we are.

Do you have any cheeky life advice for students/young people?

Do something you’re passionate about. Might sound trite but if you really seek it out, something will come along. Try get plenty of sleep and exercise. [*nervous laughter from interviewer*]

What are you looking forward to in 2018?

Having my first child will definitely be the best part of the year.

* These notes were run past Julie Anne Genter before publication because I’m probably already on her shitlist without misrepresenting her.

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