Two leaders, two policy platforms, two potential partners in a coalition agreement and a possible two terms in government. Is the second time a charm for the Greens?
An evening at the upbeat Greens closing campaign rally would have you believe all good things come in twos.
There’s the “dynamic duo” of co-leaders, the party’s double platform of planet and equality and an air of inevitability the election result is all but in the bag, with two victors likely to share a second term in power.
Then there are the policies aiming to create solutions for a “post-Covid-19 world” and a “post-carbon world” and give future generations “a living environment” and “a living wage”.
If polls play out and the Greens make it over the crucial five percent mark in the party vote, a coalition partnership with Labour could be on the cards. New Zealand First, polling well below five percent, looks set to depart what’s been an awkward MMP threesome.
The Greens appear confident they’ll be in a position to negotiate a partnership agreement with Labour after Saturday’s election.
“Labour cannot govern alone,” said co-leader Marama Davidson. “Unchallenged decisions can mean bad decisions, and with the Greens at the decision making table, we’ll make sure that we truly face the challenges we’ve been ignoring for too long.”
Partnering with National was ruled out as “inconceivable” by Davidson, who said Judith Collins’ party and other small parties had attempted to “divide us, and to make us scared, in the pursuit of power”.
“Which is why next term, in our opinion, the only possible Government which will ensure people are safe both now and in the future, is a Greens-Labour partnership.”
The speeches were delivered on script, to a clapping, and sometimes cheering support-base of around 120 attendees packing the Karangahape Road venue in central Auckland.
Davidson pushed supporters for their vote: “The more support the Greens get, the bolder Labour will be.”
Although there was a brief mention of redistributing wealth, the two contentious words – wealth tax – which have dominated this week’s headlines didn’t make it into either leader’s speech.
The tax plan is a very public fly in the ointment between a Green and Labour coalition, and is at the heart of the Greens’ hopes of bold change.
Both parties are at an impasse on the tax even before they reach a negotiating room. The Greens say it’s a top priority that they expect to discuss in negotiations. Labour leader Jacinda Ardern says she’s ruled it out multiple times.
Neither party is backing down.
Greens’ bold plans
The Auckland rally was touted as closing the Green’s election campaign with a Covid-19 recovery pitch which aimed to “build back better”.
Shaw said: “At this election, I can confidently say that the Green Party is the only party putting forward proposals that are actually bold enough to meet the scale of the challenges we face.
“The reality is that we are not going to see this kind of upfront investment in our communities, again, anytime soon.”
Stimulating the economy was needed, he said, but this had to be done wisely, with jobs created for a “post Covid-19 world” and a “post-carbon world”.
The Greens want to install solar panels and batteries on state houses and to cut the price of solar panels in half. New industrial coal burners would be banned immediately, and coal phased out by 2030.
Farming would be transformed from the one of the “drivers of climate change” to “one of the biggest solutions” with a package of $300 million to help farmers transition to regenerative farming.
A third of New Zealand’s oceans would be protected in marine reserves and a 10-year moratorium would be placed on seabed mining.
Fast inter-city rail would be built between cities and regions and public transport would be free to children, students, beneficiaries and superannuitants.
Finally, there’s “progressive tax reform”. This includes the wealth tax. The tax is aimed at net wealth (so, excluding debt) over $1 million for individuals and $2 million for couples, and would apply to around 6 percent of the population.
The party has repeatedly said it has no bottom lines in a coalition negotiation, just “top priorities” but has said it would walk away from negotiations it wasn’t happy with. There’s also talk of ministerial positions.
“We’ve got to have an election. We know what we are going to be proposing in those negotiations. We’ll see how those negotiations go. This is not the only thing we’re running on, this is just how we pay for the things we’re running on,” said Shaw.
Without a partnership agreement, the Greens and their bold plans are on their own.