27 Jul 2020

Green Party's James Shaw on polls, tax and hydro schemes

10:31 am on 27 July 2020

The Green Party is promising to establish both a minister and a parliamentary commissioner for animal welfare.

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James Shaw. Photo: RNZ /Dom Thomas

The pledge was one of many wide-ranging policies released by the party at an election campaign launch yesterday.

Green Party co leader, James Shaw, spoke to Morning Report about a range of issues including last night's Newshub-Reid Research poll. That poll puts Labour on 60.9 percent support with National at 25.1 percent. The Greens were on 5.7 percent.

"It's consistent with the trend of other polls we've seen over the course of both this election season ... and the last three year's we've been in government. We've been consistently above 5 percent," Shaw said.

"I'm not complacent, absolutely, but we are pretty confident we will be returned to Parliament and part of the next government."

He said he took polls with a "grain of salt".

"We don't have a lot of money to do polling ourselves, we don't in New Zealand have very frequent public polling any more and you can't really believe parties' internal polling when they leak them out."

It hadn't convinced him the party needed an electorate deal in Auckland Central, where the Greens' Chlöe Swarbrick is up against Labour's Helen White in what is set to be a strong contest.

"We've never really been into deals. We know that we can get back above the 5 percent threshold on our own steam... Chlöe is running a really strong campaign in Auckland Central and I think we have a strong possibility of winning that. The two are not connected to each other.

"The whole package really is a way of showing New Zealanders how we will navigate in our next term in government... we will negotiate, hopefully, with the Labour Party after the election, to put as much of that policy document into the programme as possible.

"However, our top priorities we are actually signalling separately. We have already released two. One was the poverty action plan ... followed with a clean energy plan. Those are very detailed, costed proposals. Those are our top priorities for negotiations."

Asked about an online joke from co-leader Marama Davidson that "tax is love", Shaw said it was a spin on a far right statement that tax was theft.

"What it says, actually, is this is what we do in civilised society to look after each other. Tax pays for our hospitals, it pays for our wage subsidy schemes when we have crises like the one we are getting through at the moment.

"What we are saying here is in a post-Covid world, we know there are some substantial challenges facing this country. I don't think that it is credible that during one of the biggest economic downturns since the great depression, to go into an election season not talking about government revenue."

Shaw said there was no evidence that higher tax disincentivised working hard.

Asked if the Greens could support hydro schemes being investigated by the government, Shaw said: "This could be the key to getting us to 100 percent renewable electricity generation in this country. So I do think it's worth supporting the investigation but we have got to make sure that investigation takes a full look at the local ecological effects and anything you can do to mitigate those and I think our support for this scheme would depend on the outcome of this investigation.

"As climate change minister I think it would be silly not to and it was one of the key recommendations of the interim climate change commission."

Energy and resources minister Megan Woods said the government was spending $30m looking into the recommendation involving hydro schemes which pump water to manage peak demand, solve the problem of dry years for storage lakes and the irregular supply of renewable energy sources such as wind.

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