Green Party's James Shaw on Labour deal: 'There's no kind of rule book here'

9:55 am on 2 November 2020

The Green Party co-leaders are standing firm on their co-operation deal with the Labour Party, although they say they've yet to work through some details.

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Green Party co-leaders Marama Davidson and James Shaw. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

The two parties signed the agreement giving the Greens two ministerial positions in return for not opposing Labour on confidence and supply.

Co-leader James Shaw told Morning Report this agreement was similar to the relationship they had built with Labour over the past three years.

As ministers outside of Cabinet, they will have little power if Cabinet disagrees with one of their proposals. But Shaw said even if they were ministers inside Cabinet, it wouldn't make much of a difference.

"Cabinet always has the ability to make a decision that the minister isn't comfortable with," Shaw said.

Asked about what situations the party would choose to abstain and whether the Emissions Trading Scheme was where they'd draw the line, Shaw said: "We haven't worked through all of 'what ifs', the principle is we're here to support the Labour government, and to lend our particular skills and expertise, but because we don't have any particular input into economic policy, it would be a bit tough to say that we would be required to vote for a budget when we have very little control over that budget."

"There's the presumption of goodwill, the relationship we've built over the course of the last three years with the Labour Party has been very constructive, very productive and there's no particular reason to think that would not continue."

Co-leader Marama Davidson also told Morning Report that there were still some things to be ironed out.

The party changed its stance during the election campaign on the plan to charge people for emergency housing, but it was still unclear whether Davidson would be able to commit to that change that as associate minister of housing.

"It's still not completely clear exactly what the delegation write-up will entail, so far we have ascertained that it's focusing on the emergency housing, on leading the homelessness strategy - which the government has already put into place - and also a focus on Housing First."

Minister of Social Development Carmel Sepuloni had also criticised the party for publicising its opposition. But the co-leader said that would not deter her from advocating for change.

"We don't think it's appropriate for people to be charged for emergency accommodation when there is no stability [due to Covid-19]."

On the cannabis referendum, Davidson said there was "massive building support for common sense drug law reform", despite 53.1 percent of votes so far against.

"We've said clearly our work has not finished and want to continue to build that public mandate for change ... it is quite important that we continue with the good work of sensible drug law reform because for the people who it is impacting on, it is having a real negative impact on their lives."

However, with almost half a million of votes still to be counted, New Zealand will need to wait until Friday for full and final results of the referendum.

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