Jeanette Mary Fitzsimons CNZM (17 January 1945 – 5 March 2020) was a New Zealand politician and environmentalist. She was the co-leader of the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand from 1995 to 2009, and was a Member of Parliament from 1996 to 2010.
2 Political career
3 Member of Parliament
4 Personal life
6 External links
Before being elected to Parliament, Fitzsimons was a lecturer in environmental studies at the University of Auckland. She was also highly active in various environmental organizations such as the New Zealand Biological Producers' Council, the Campaign Climate for Change (which she founded), and the Environmental Council. She also worked as an environmental consultant to many local authorities.
Fitzsimons' first entry into politics was as a candidate for the Values Party, an early environmentalist based political party. She was its energy spokesperson from 1977 to 1982, and stood as a candidate in the 1978 election and the 1981 election. When the Values Party merged with a number of other groups to form the modern Green Party, Fitzsimons became an active member of the new organization.
When the Green Party joined with several other left-wing parties to form the Alliance, Fitzsimons became co-deputy leader (with Sandra Lee holding the other deputy leader position). In the 1993 election, Fitzsimons unsuccessfully contested the Hauraki electorate under the Alliance banner. In 1995, she became co-leader of the Green Party (which remained within the Alliance).
Member of Parliament
New Zealand Parliament
In the 1996 election, the first to be conducted under the new MMP electoral system, Fitzsimons was placed third on the Alliance party list. She also stood as the party's candidate in the Coromandel. She was unsuccessful in the Coromandel electorate, but entered Parliament on the Alliance list.
In 1998, Fitzsimons' Energy Efficiency Bill was drawn from the member's ballot. It was eventually passed into law as the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act 2000.
The Greens contested the 1999 election as an independent party, with Fitzsimons and Rod Donald serving as co-leaders. Fitzsimons was placed first on the party's list, and once again contested the Coromandel seat. To observers, it seemed that the Greens' chances of entering parliament were dependent on Fitzsimons' performance in Coromandel; in order to receive proportional representation, the party needed to either gain five percent of the national vote or win an electorate seat, and it appeared that the former option was unlikely. Labour Leader (and Prime Minister after the election) Helen Clark openly encouraged Labour supporters to give their constituency vote to Fitzsimons and their party vote to Labour. When normal votes had been counted, it appeared that Fitzsimons had been defeated in Coromandel by National's Murray McLean, but when special votes were tallied, Fitzsimons had a narrow lead. This guaranteed the Green Party seats in parliament regardless of whether it crossed the five percent threshold (as it eventually did).
Green Perty co-leaders Russel Norman and Jeanette Fitzsimons In her second term, Fitzsimons promoted bills to extend New Zealand's nuclear-free zone and to reduce road traffic. Both were defeated at their second readings.
In the 2002 election, Fitzsimons was defeated in Coromandel, placing third. The seat was won by National Party MP Sandra Goudie. Fitzsimons remained in Parliament as the highest-ranked candidate on the Green Party's list, and remained co-leader of the party until 2009, with probably the highest public profile of any Green MP. She became the spokeswoman for the Labour government's solar heating promotion initiatives following the 2005 election. This was agreed to as part of a policy package negotiated by the Green Party in exchange for its undertaking not to oppose the Labour-led Government on matters of confidence and supply until the next parliamentary elections.
In the 2005 term, Fitzsimons had three member's bills drawn, addressing climate change and dog microchipping. None passed, though her Resource Management (Climate Protection) Amendment Bill did make it to a second reading.
Fitzsimons was a list only candidate in the 2008 election and was ranked at number one on the party list.
She was the Green Party spokesperson on Climate Change, Energy, Finance & Revenue, Genetic Engineering, Research, Science & Technology, Sustainable Economics, Transport, Treaty Issues (Associate).
Colin James, of the NZ Herald, chose her as his New Zealand politician of the year in 2007.
In October 2008, respondents to a ONE News Colmar Brunton poll regarded Fitzsimons as the most trustworthy political party leader in New Zealand.
In February 2009, Fitzsimons announced that she would step down as party co-leader at the party's annual conference, and she was replaced by Metiria Turei on 30 May 2009. At the time, she intended to serve out the remainder of her term as a Member of Parliament.
In June 2009, her Sustainable Biofuel Bill was drawn from the member's ballot. The bill passed its first reading, but was subsequently defeated at its second reading on 4 April 2012 by a vote of 69–51, with National, New Zealand First, ACT and United Future opposing it.
Fitzsimons left Parliament on 11 February 2010, and was replaced by the next candidate on the Green Party list, Gareth Hughes.
In the 2010 Queen's Birthday Honours, Fitzsimons was appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for public services.
Fitzsimons died in Thames on 5 March 2020. She was married, and is survived by two adult children. She managed an organic farm with her husband in the Kauaeranga Valley east of Thames at the base of the Coromandel Peninsula.
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