Green Party co-leaders Marama Davidson and James Shaw will say goodbye to their respective portfolios of passion – Prevention of Family and Sexual Violence, and Climate Change, but are promising to advocate hard in opposition.
Prime Minister-elect Christopher Luxon has committed to having a minister for each, but who it might be and whether they would sit around the Cabinet table, he says, remains to be seen.
“That will be determined by the makeup of our negotiations and who actually has those responsibilities,” Luxon said on Monday.
Davidson was the first minister of the violence prevention portfolio and oversaw the launch of Te Aorerekura in late 2021.
The 25-year national strategy commits to preventing family violence by fixing its root causes and improving reporting and support.
Women’s Refuge chief executive Ang Jury said the fact family violence did not feature as a campaign issue this election was really “interfering with sleep”.
“It doesn’t figure at the top of anyone’s radar, except for the Greens. So what that means in terms of the priority when they award it, I’ve really got no idea.”
She said the country could not afford to slow or stop Te Aorerekura.
“It took a lot of years to get our national strategy across the line … and we really simply can’t afford to do any stop-starting on it. If we lose what momentum we’ve got, and there’s still a long way to go, it’s going to be really hard to get it back.”
‘In the prevention of violence space, the roots that I managed to put down came from the community… Bloody good luck to anyone trying to wind that back’
– Marama Davidson
Newsroom interviewed Davidson when Te Aorerekura reached its one-year anniversary.
The passion for the task and the motivation was authentic. This was a minister who truly believed in the work they were doing.
On election night when asked about the Greens’ biggest success, getting that work programme over the line was the first thing she said.
“Obviously we would have preferred to carry on in government. [James and I] have got very busy work programmes, that we’ll be handing over to a new government. But we’re also very proud of the work that we have done over the course of the last six years, and we think that we have left a legacy for others to build on.
“And in fact, in the prevention of violence space, the roots that I managed to put down came from the community … Bloody good luck to anyone trying to wind that back,” she said.
Jury is less sure about how deep those roots go though.
“I think those green shoots are probably still a little bit fragile, without some full-on government support for what’s happening. There’s nothing much that’s really to the point where it’s bedded in that way.”
She said the way National and Act planned to deal with family violence would likely not be effective.
“Both National and Act talked about needing far more accountability. Both consider it something that needs to be dealt with … what does that look like? There was no detail. National appeared in their response to point to the strengthened sentencing polices as being something that would be helpful.
“I don’t know whether we can police and jail our way out of family violence.”
Luxon has previously expressed the importance of cross-party support for Te Aorerekura.
When the strategy was announced he said it looked great but did not commit to supporting it in government given he had not been able to digest it at that point.
National created a family violence prevention spokesperson role earlier this year for Louise Upston who also holds Social Development and Child Poverty Reduction.
With regard to climate change, Luxon is on the record in early September saying he would have a Minister for Climate Change in Cabinet.
“Climate change already is a very important portfolio, but if you think about how it’s going to be shaped and move forward over the future, it’s going to become increasingly a very economic portfolio that’s critical to everything that we do.
“So if you just think about the progression of the climate change agenda, and what a minister has had to deal with 10 years ago, versus five years ago versus today, and what they’re going to need in five-10-15 years from now, it’s going to become a very important role,” he said at the time.
‘We know the Green Party have good climate policies and we hope they will fight hard for them in opposition’
– Amanda Larsson, Greenpeace
Simon Watts currently holds the climate change spokesperson role and would appear to be the best person to take that job, given he is also high enough on the list to warrant a seat at the Cabinet table.
Greenpeace head of campaigns Amanda Larsson said it was pessimistic about National’s plans to combat climate change.
“Based on what we’ve heard from National on the campaign trail, I am very pessimistic about their commitment to real climate action. There have been a number of alarm bells, most notably that they plan to reverse the ban on offshore oil and gas exploration, which would be a disaster for the ocean and the climate.
She said Shaw’s time as minister would be remembered in particular for the Zero Carbon Act (which Act wants repealed) but not much else.
But she is hopeful having Shaw and the Greens in opposition would see them hold the new Government to account on climate policies.
“You could say that he built a nice-looking house but, unfortunately, it wasn’t furnished with the policies needed to meaningfully reduce emissions. We were particularly disappointed that the biggest polluter in the country, intensive dairy, continued to get a free pass during his six-year term.
“We know the Green Party have good climate policies and we hope they will fight hard for them in opposition.”
As explored ahead of the election the new government will need to put in place effective frameworks for implementing and funding climate adaptation and managed retreat, with cross-partisan agreement. They will be charged with producing the next Emissions Reduction Plan, covering 2026 to 2030, and laying out how New Zealand will meet its 2030 Paris target. Final decisions will also need to be made on the pricing of agricultural climate pollution, whether through He Waka Eke Noa or something else.
Whoever takes on either of these two roles, no matter what priority they are given within the new government, will have a lot on their plate and an eagle-eyed opposition to contend with.