Labour offers Greens two ministerial portfolios

This story was originally appeared on RNZ.co.nz and is republished with permission

Green Party delegates are voting on whether to accept a proposed deal with Labour which would give it two ministerial portfolios outside of cabinet.

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Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Labour has offered the Green Party two ministerial portfolios outside of cabinet, as part of a proposed cooperation agreement.

The portfolios would be held by the Green Party’s co-leaders, Labour leader Jacinda Ardern revealed this afternoon.

Watch Labour leader Jacinda Ardern’s media conference here:

James Shaw would be Climate Change Minister and have Associate Environment (Biodiversity), while Marama Davidson would be made Minister for the Prevention of Family and Sexual Violence and Associate Minister of Housing (Homelessness).

The areas of co-operation would be “achieving the purpose and goals of the Zero Carbon Act”

through decarbonising public transport and the public sector, increasing the uptake of zero-emission vehicles, introducing clean car standards, and supporting the use of renewable energy for industrial heat.

A second is protecting the environment and biodiversity and a third improving child wellbeing and action on homelessness, warmer homes, and child and youth mental health.

In return the Greens would not oppose the government on confidence and supply for the full term of this Parliament, and support Labour on procedural motions in the House and at select committees

But the Greens would be free to take their own position on any issues not covered by the ministerial portfolios and areas of co-operation.

A decision on whether to accept it may take several hours.

Several rounds of talks on potential areas of cooperation between the two parties concluded on Thursday.

About 150 Green Party delegates have been presented the deal on a zoom call, which began at about 4pm.

They will vote on whether to accept the deal and 75 percent of delegates must support it for the deal to be ratified.

Ardern said in the interests of transparency, Labour was releasing the deal publicly in tandem with the Greens’ deliberations.

“On election night I said I wanted to govern for all New Zealanders and to reach as wide a consensus on key issues as possible. This agreement does that, while honouring the mandate provided to Labour to form a majority government in our own right.

“The cooperation agreement balances these two objectives, whilst not committing to a more formal coalition or confidence and supply arrangement.”

Ardern said strong, stable government was essential to New Zealand as it recovered from Covid.

“Between this agreement and our existing parliamentary majority, we won’t be held back from getting on with the work needed to rebuild our economy and continuing to keep New Zealand safe from Covid-19.

She said policy areas where Labour and the Greens could work together were places where the policy and experience of the Greens would provide a positive contribution to the Labour government, but without any requirement for either party to have to reach consensus.

“James knows climate change inside out, his expertise in this complex and detailed policy area is an important skill set to tap into, and he has a range of domestic and international stakeholder relationships that are important to maintain.

“Stability and predictability in climate change policy I see as key, and that has also been feedback that I’ve picked up from stakeholders ranging from environmental NGOs to the business community.”

On Davidson’s role, she said Green MP Jan Logie had led the work on family and sexual violence as an undersecretary, and it was at an “important phase of implementation”.

“Again, continuity on addressing this area of national shame is at the front of my mind. It’s also my strong believe that this is an area which should be a ministerial portfolio in it’s own right, and so that’s what we’re doing.”

She said the agreement struck the right balance of the parties working on issues where there is agreement, “allowing space for disagreement and independence, delivering business continuity and predictability in key policy areas, especially climate policy, and guaranteeing that Labour’s majority is bolstered on key votes to ensure the ongoing stability of the majority government.

“Never before has one party won a majority under MMP, but that’s not to say that the principals of MMP should be ignored. Furthermore it is also simply not how I do politics.”

She said she would not have invested time and energy in this agreement unless she thought it was in the best interests of the government and also for New Zealand.

“My view is there are skills and talents that exist in other parties in parliament, I want to make use of those from the Green Party, and work on policy areas in which there are skills and expertise as well, it makes sense for New Zealand to do that. At the same time though, I will use the mandate that we’ve been given.”

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Greens co-leader James Shaw and Labour leader Jacinda Ardern. (File photo) Photo: RNZ /Dom Thomas

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