With polls showing the likeliest coalition to be between Labour and the Greens, assumptions about what’s up for negotiation are being made and rejected

It was a bit like organising a date using go-betweens. On NewstalkZB Mike Hosking was talking to Jacinda Ardern about coalition negotiations. On RNZ Corin Dann had James Shaw on the line, conveying what Ardern said. 

Ardern and Shaw seemed open to the possibility of coalition dalliance, but have differing ideas on some key details.

Currently the Greens are hovering around the five percent mark, if this holds firm in the voting booth, then the party will be back in Parliament. 

The interviews gave a glimpse of how negotiation conversations might go between Labour and the Greens if voting plays out like current polls suggest.

The main topic at hand, a wealth tax proposed by the Greens which Judith Collins said will “strike fear in all New Zealanders who are working hard to create a better life for themselves and their families”.

According to National’s finance spokesman Paul Goldsmith the Green’s wealth tax is just a capital gains tax with a different frock on, so Ardern can implement it while keeping her promise of never introducing a capital gains tax.

Labour denied this is the case during this weekend, saying National was being mischievous and trying for a “last roll of the misinformation dice”. Collins said she didn’t believe Labour. 

In the morning radio session it was the first question Hosking put to Ardern: “Explain to a Green voter, who wants to vote for the Greens because of the wealth tax, are they now wasting their time?”

Ardern’s reply: “We’ve said all along, that is not our policy and, nor – even if we were in the position where we were having to negotiate with the Greens – would that [policy] be part of the negotiations.”

The major party forming a government should be the one setting tax policy, she said, not minor parties. When pushed by Hosking for a 100 percent, hand on heart confirmation of no wealth tax she repeats slowly, almost to the point where fullstops can be heard between each word: “We have ruled it out.”

New taxes on the table are a tax for top earners and a digital services tax which the Labour Party would look at progressing with other OECD countries. 

Over on RNZ’s Morning Report, Greens co-leader James Shaw was also talking negotiations and tax. “Do you expect to be having negotiations about it with Labour?” asked Corin Dann.

“Yes I do,” Shaw responded. “I don’t know how those things are going to go. It depends on the election on Saturday.”

Dann breaks to Shaw that Ardern had again today “emphatically” ruled against considering a wealth tax.

“Where does that leave you?”

Shaw didn’t appear concerned by the rebuff. His response is to find out after the election. He believes voters need a chance to have their say, and then a negotiation should take place.

Aside from one now-walked-back claim from MP Julie Anne Genter, the wealth tax is a bottom line, the Green Party has studiously avoided saying it has any bottom lines for the negotiation. 

Instead it says it has six top priorities. The wealth tax is a top priority, its oceans policy is another top priority, as is a plan for farming, transport, clean energy and housing.

“People who are working on a salary or wages and paying tax on those are getting hammered as a result of the economic downturn, whilst assets owners are seeing the values of those inflate because it’s the money that’s going through in stimulus money into the economy. I don’t think it’s credible in that situation to not have a conversation about the fairness of the tax system,” Shaw told Dann.

He has previously said if the party holds the balance of power there is a possibility it would walk away from negotiations it wasn’t happy with.

Without a coalition or confidence-and-supply agreement, a minority Labour government would need to get the Greens’ support for legislation each time it wanted it. 

Hosking asked Ardern what her thoughts were about governing alone if Labour won a majority of seats, suggesting it would be a lonely three years without a coalition partner.

Ardern didn’t appear too concerned at the prospect of a term in government without a coalition dance partner, saying she wants a strong mandate to focus on economic recovery.

“It’s fair to say in an MMP environment, multiple different parties can slow things down.”

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