30 Jan 2017

Labour and Greens not 'carving up' electorates, portfolios

8:26 am on 30 January 2017

The Labour and Green parties have agreed not to make strategic agreements on electorates, and will not split portfolios ahead of the election, Labour leader Andrew Little says.

The parties put forward a united front yesterday as they attempted to showcase their suitability for government during their joint State of the Nation event.

Speeches from the parties' leaders yesterday emphasised the "shared values" of the two parties while also launching an attack on the National-led government and new Prime Minister Bill English.

Speaking to Morning Report today, Mr Little said the parties would not divide up electorates between them.

"We are agreed that we are not going to have agreements on electorate accommodations, so what each party will do in each electorate will be their decision.

"We've had discussions about it. In the end, we got to the point where they want electorate candidates so that they can campaign for the party vote, we want electorate candidates because we want to campaign for both the electorate and the party vote.

"We make our selections on the basis of what we think is important, both for the electorate whose confidence we're trying to win and for our broader package of MPs that we want to put in front of the electorate."

He said in the case of a Labour-Green government following the general election, there would be a few shared policies.

"There will be one or two joint policies, in the end we are still two separate parties when it comes to the general election, both competing for the party vote.

"What we are, are two parties that share a conviction about changing the government at this year's election."

He said areas where the parties agreed included on aged care - with an announcement expected on that within a few weeks - as well as fiscal responsibility, fiscal guidelines and economic management.

He said although Labour did not want the broader cannabis liberalisation the Green Party sought, they would seek to legalise cannabis products for medicinal use in the first 100 days if elected.

The parties also disagreed on New Zealand's position as part of the Five Eyes intelligence network.

Labour also had its own extensive climate change policy, he said, and policy decisions on climate change would not simply be left in the Greens' hands.

"The basis of forming a government follows once the voters have had their say in the general election. That's why the memorandum of understanding we have with the green party takes us up to the election because we're not going to be drawn on 'well who's going to get what' and carve up the spoils. That's a matter for the electorate to decide.

"Both Labour and the Greens have said even in the memorandum of understanding, we're open to working with any party that's committed to changing the government."

He said he also would not rule out working with any party committed to changing the government, including the possibility of working with New Zealand First leader Winston Peters - even as a deputy Prime Minister.

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