Sustainable New Zealand leader says new party could work with Labour or National

In less than a day since it's launch, Sustainable New Zealand has already been compared to the Green Party, but leader Vernon Tava disagrees.

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Vernon Tava talked to TVNZ1’s Breakfast after his party’s launch yesterday. Source: Breakfast

Taking a shot at the Greens, Mr Tava told TVNZ1's Breakfast today his party stands for sustainability and doesn't lean left or right, but simply wants the best for the environment.

Sustainable New Zealand launched in Wellington yesterday, with Mr Tava outlining their environmentally-focused policies, including on business innovation and productivity.

"It's time for parties that give a focused offering," he told Breakfast.

"We're strong on environment policy, but it's important that you have an economic vision to pay for all this that needs to be done and also transition this to a more sustainable footing as an economy."

However, Mr Tava said the party was not ignoring or uninterested in social issues.

"The voters want, and I've been hearing this consistently since 2017 - we're answering a widespread public call, people want a party that's focused on the environment, that's focused on sustainability, that can work with any major party of Government."

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The new environmentally-focused party also says it's a less-activist alternative to the Greens. Source: 1 NEWS

He added that the mistake the Greens have made is tying themselves to one side of the political spectrum.

"Both National and Labour want to eliminate poverty, they have their own policies and approaches to that, but if we pick one side or the other, we take a left or right punt on that area of social policy, then we end up ruling out one side or the other, consigning ourselves to opposition at least half the time which is the mistake the Green Party have made."

Mr Tava said his party's membership was made up of people who voted for various parties last election, including "some disgruntled Greens".

Mr Tava himself ran for co-leadership in the Greens, only gaining one of the 127 delegate votes.

"I've moved well beyond disgruntlement into doing something about it," he said, adding questions needed to be raised about the party.

"Is this a left-wing party or is it a party that's beyond left and right and for sustainability which is always the image which has been held up, you know, the public face of the party.

"I got the answer very clearly which is no, this is a left wing party and if you don't accept that you don't belong here. So I thought "well, let's start a new one".

"What people are looking for and what we're hearing consistently is that people are looking for a party that prioritises the environment, that has an economic plan for doing that and doesn't get caught up in social issues."

Mr Tava said National and Labour had the mandate to work on those issues, and Sustainable New Zealand could work with either of the two.

"We're focused on getting the best deal for the environment and a good, sustainable economic transition. When people vote for us they won't get surprised by what other weird policies we've got going on in the background."