New MP Scott Willis tells of ‘hard political lesson’

New Green list MP Scott Willis has started his parliamentary career by criticising the place to which he has just been elected.

In his maiden speech to the House yesterday Mr Willis spoke about how he had been frustrated that efforts to build a community wind farm at Blueskin Bay in Dunedin and also to sustain a peer-to-peer electricity retail service, had been stymied.

"It pointed me directly towards the broken policy process in Wellington as the most significant barrier to any real progressive change on the ground," Mr Willis said.

"Misinformation from a small group of people, and canny use of a flawed policy environment, managed to derail a decade-long project to create an energy-resilient community.

"From this I learnt a hard political lesson. Put simply: it is easier to stop things than to make good things happen."

Mr Willis added that "stopping things" was what the new government had done so far, and that it had rejected solutions to the climate change crisis rather than make positive things happen.

"This is the political reality we now confront. It is familiar to everyone who works in the search for transitions to better energy futures," he said, 

"I stand before you as someone who will champion everyone trying to work towards cleaner, cheaper, smarter, power - for energy wellbeing and for climate justice for all."

Scott Willis gave his maiden speech as a Green MP yesterday. Image: Parliament TV
Scott Willis gave his maiden speech as a Green MP yesterday. Image: Parliament TV
Mr Willis told the House that much of his dedication to the natural world had come from being raised on a farm in the Waitaki.

He also set out a diverse career path before entering politics, which had included being a goat farmer in France, working as a jackaroo in Australia and trekking on donkey-back in Morocco.

His experiences overseas, and once back in New Zealand as a member of the Green Party, had taught him the value of perseverance, Mr Willis said.

"We might get knocked down, but we should never lose hope. Things may not go according to plan, but values and solutions are worth fighting for and we should never give up."

Embarking on a political career was about fulfilling a dream of a New Zealand with clear-running rivers and bush bursting with birdlife, where everyone lived in a warm cosy home with good local seasonal food on the table, Mr Willis said.

"A country where we live within our means and we engage that endlessly renewable resource, our creativity, to ensure everyone, whether rural or urban, can thrive. 

"This shouldn’t be simply a dream. It is all within our reach. It’s merely a political choice and we shouldn’t stand for anything less."