Green Party co-leader James Shaw says he hasn’t had the chance to speak with Labour leader Jacinda Ardern yet about a potential coalition after last night’s “historic” election results.
While the election results have left Labour with 64 seats so far - enough to govern alone - Shaw told TVNZ1’s Q+A Labour may still choose to enter into an agreement with his party of 10 seats to govern with a larger majority.
A greater majority would give Labour an advantage in areas like select committee membership.
“Many Labour voters are also Green voters and vice-versa. When people are casting their vote, they’re actually casting their votes for a Labour-Green Government,” Shaw said.
He said he didn’t know if the Greens would enter into a confidence and supply agreement with Labour, or become a coalition partner.
The only contact with Ardern he has had since last night were congratulations texts, and any other negotiations would “come over the coming days and weeks”, Shaw said.
He didn’t rule out negotiating the Greens’ wealth tax policy.
“I’m going to take everything I campaigned on into those negotiations.”
As for securing himself a seat in cabinet, he said he would want to be the Climate Change Minister again. Shaw said Labour would benefit from “experienced and competent Ministers” from the Greens.
But, he said any cabinet positions would depend on the outcome of any negotiations, and that it was hard to commit to a position at this point because he didn’t know what the Government’s work programme would look like for the next three years.
“We are in Parliament in order to create change - to do what we can on climate action, on protecting nature, on making sure everyone’s got a roof over their heads - what we can do to advance that, we will do,” Shaw said.
“I want Green MPs to be in a position to do as much good as they can do.”
A centrist Labour?
Both Ardern and Labour’s finance spokesperson Grant Robertson stressed last night they would be a party that “governs for everyone”.
Q+A host Jack Tame asked Shaw what it would mean for the Greens’ left-wing agenda if Labour had to consider its centrist supporters.
“They’ve got a colossal mandate which does stretch right across the political spectrum, he said.
“At the same time, we know that we are running out of time on climate change … we know that the housing crisis is getting worse.”
This meant there were still reasons to “accelerate” action on those issues, Shaw said.
Chlöe Swarbrick’s Auckland Central win
Shaw called Chlöe Swarbrick’s win in Auckland Central last night “absolutely historic”. It’s the first time the Greens have won an electorate seat in 21 years after their late co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons won the Coromandel seat for one term.
No small party had ever won an electorate seat without a tacit agreement with a larger party, Shaw said, making reference to seats like Epsom’s National-ACT agreement.
“She [Swarbrick] won it on its merits and on her merits … she is a phenomenon.”
Swarbrick won by a margin of nearly 500 votes over Labour’s Helen White.
‘If I was him, I would be going fishing’
Addressing NZ First bowing out of Parliament after it failed to make the five per cent threshold, Shaw said it was “unsurprising”.
He said NZ First had “irritated” its voters - both those who had wanted them to enter into Government with National in 2017 and those who wanted them to govern with Labour.
“But then, of course, they spent much of the next three years undermining the Labour Party.”
As for whether Saturday marked the end of leader Winston Peters’ decades-long career, Shaw said he’d be 78 years old if he wanted to stand in 2023.
“If I was him, I would be going fishing.”