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Greens 'frustrated' as housing crisis sees skyrocketing prices, promise to continue pushing cannabis reform

Housing is on the Green Party's agenda in 2021, with the co-leaders adamant they're not up against a brick wall despite the push back from the Prime Minister on their plea for tax reform.

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Marama Davidson and James Shaw say they are frustrated over the housing crisis. Source: 1 NEWS

Last month, Marama Davidson and James Shaw spoke to 1 NEWS about what the party hoped to achieve in the new term of Parliament. 

On what changes they hoped to make, Climate Change Minister Shaw said advice given early this year would give them a "good steer on the first three emission budgets, which is how much pollution we're allowed to put up in the atmosphere and we have to make a decision around that".

Davidson, who is Minister of Prevention of Family and Sexual Violence said one change she hoped to implement was ensuring frontline workers such as teachers and health workers could spot the signs of when harm was being inflicted. 

"Then also how to refer or support that person or family. It's something that is not consistent across the country at the moment."

With skyrocketing house prices projected to continue to rise and homeownership rates at the lowest level in 70 years, the Greens criticised the Government for digging "their heels in on measures that could help fix the problem".

"It is a disservice to New Zealanders not to use all of the tools in the toolbox to fix this runaway housing crisis, and that includes taxing wealth or capital," Davidson said in November. 

Finance Minister Grant Robertson last year revealed the Government would be introducing a package of housing measures early this year. 

Davidson said the Greens this year would be looking at "what would a good tax system look like that stops just taxing workers and earners, and starts to also tax owners". 

Labour had repeatedly said it would not be implementing any other tax measures this term aside from the creation of a new top tax income rate - as it promised during the election campaign. 

"We're frustrated, we've been quite clear, it is simply wrong that we are not putting all the tools on the table so that people can just afford a place to live," Davidson, who is also Associate Housing Minister (Homelessness), said. 

"We have for far too long been treating houses as simply a tradable commodity to make wealthier people even wealthier. People, including people who rent, have just been hammered by rising house prices. It is unaffordable. We know that needs to change."

"We feel like this is the best opportunity we've had in a long time to get some real change."

The Green leaders also said they won't give up on the issue of cannabis, after its legalisation referendum narrowly failed during the last election. 

When asked if that included pushing decriminalisation of cannabis, Davidson said they wanted to "fix up" the Misuse of Drugs Act.

"We're really pleased the drug testing was quickly put in place, especially for summer, and yes we are going to continue on our work towards a more mature and grown-up approach to drugs, including cannabis."

On the secretive post-election negotiations that resulted in the party's cooperation agreement with Labour, Davidson and Shaw had multiple meetings with Labour, at the time only disclosing the biscuits offered in the meeting and that the talks were "progressing well". 

Davidson said most of the work was done prior, pulling Green Party members "around the table, working out what exactly our priorities were and then going back and forth with the Labour leader's office".

"By the time we turned up into the (negotiation) room, actually it was an informal and friendly conversation. We'd been very clear, even in the last term, this was about relationships, not just transactions."

"We've had a very productive relationship with Labour over the course of the last three years, and that provided a really solid foundation," Shaw said.

"Ultimately, we are kind of rowing in the same direction," he said, adding, "some of us want to row at a slightly different pace."