24 Sep 2020

Wealth tax not a bottom line for Green Party but they will push for it - Shaw

9:29 am on 24 September 2020

Green Party co-leader James Shaw says one of his senior MPs misspoke under pressure when she said a wealth tax was one of the party's bottom lines.

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Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

The party wants to bring in a 1 percent wealth tax for those with a net-worth over a million dollars.

Yesterday Julie Anne Genter told a small business panel discussion the plan would have to be part of any government deal.

Shaw told Morning Report: "It's a heat of the moment thing and that happens during these debates" and said the extended election campaign was taking its toll.

"People are getting tired and I think she was just pressed on the point."

She did not accidentally "tell the truth", he said.

Earlier this month Shaw and party co-leader Marama Davidson told RNZ they had absolutely no bottom lines.

Shaw put it like this today: "At every election we lay out a series of priorities and say 'how many MPs do we have and are we in a position to negotiate?'

"Last time we did this of course, we came up with a confidence and supply agreement which had ... things from our different priorities and we will be doing the same again this time."

Shaw says the Greens aren't making the tax a bottom line because "when we get into negotiations we have got to see what the result of the election is. And it's as simple as that".

But they will be pushing for it.

"[Tax] a top priority and we have said that. We want to make sure people have enough to live on. We know that Covid-19 has exposed those pre-existing inequalities in our society. Actually the stimulus is making those things worse because the capital is flowing through wage earners and towards asset owners, so it's driving up house prices, and we've had a record close on the NZX even while the median wage has fallen.

"So there is a fundamental imbalance... and we're just saying it is not unreasonable given increased expenses and declining revenues to ask those people to chip in a bit to cover those differences."

Whether or not it becomes a bottom line depends on how many people vote for the Greens, Shaw says.

"That is ultimately the situation we are in. We want to ensure that the next government is led by Jacinda Ardern again, that the Greens are part of that government and that we are able to ensure that it is as transformational a government as possible...

"We are pushing for [tax], we are pushing to significantly expand the state home building programme... we are pushing for significant action on climate change, for sustainable farmers... and so on.

"We will be putting all those things on the table with Labour after the election and saying 'What can we do together?'.

"I think over the course of the last three years we have demonstrated that we are a we are a very good partner to Labour Party in government. We are a strong and stable and reliable partner in government and we want to be in that position again."

He brushed off the latest poll results that put the party at 6 percent, saying despite the party's solid track record, "at the moment people are looking at the leadership that Jacinda Ardern has demonstrated over the course of multiple crises and particularly the Covid-19 crisis and want to reward her for strong and effective leadership - and that is an entirely understandable thing".

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