‘A project design issue, not a James Shaw issue’ - political commentator weighs in on Green School saga

James Shaw’s decision to sign off the funding for the Taranaki Green School is not Shaw's issue, but “a project design issue", one political commentator says. 

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The Q+A panel discuss the Green Party’s public backlash against the shovel-ready funding announcement. Source: Q+A

Public relations consultant and former National government press secretary Ben Thomas told TVNZ1’s Q+A he believed “Shaw is a bit of a victim of the process”.

Thomas said because of the high number of applications for shovel-ready project funding “you’re just not able to do real due diligence on those projects”.

He said it was unfair to accuse Shaw of hypocrisy because the Green School project did meet all of the criteria that was laid down.

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“The criteria didn’t include ‘Do you think it’s worthwhile planting crystals in the middle of the Taranaki?'

“That’s a project design issue, not a James Shaw issue," said Thomas.

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It comes after days of political pressure on James Shaw after he supported a nearly $12 million boost to help the Taranaki green school. Source: 1 NEWS

Also appearing on the panel, unionist and former MP Laila Harré, said her gut instinct was the saga would “not be hugely significant to their [the Green Party’s] public support” come election day.

The party was  at the crucial five per cent threshold to return to Parliament in 1 NEWS’ latest Colmar Brunton poll on July 30.

However, she said it made Shaw appear “disconnected from the social justice kaupapa of the party”.

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As for the public backlash by Green Party members against Shaw’s decision, she said: “No one outside likes to see disunity or thinks that’s a positive thing.”

“People make a mistake by using that [social media] against their own party.” 

Watch their full conversation in the video above.