The Greens who are only teetering on the edge of getting back into Parliament last night implied their set of six policy priorities is negotiable if they get a chance to be involved in government formation talks.
Co-leader James Shaw would not even commit on whether he would seek a coalition rather than a confidence deal with Labour.
In the past, the Greens have talked privately about the need to be in coalition this term and with that the opportunity for their Ministers to be in Cabinet.
Even so, co-leader, Marama Davidson, gave a heavy hint that she would want to be a Minister this time around.
Meanwhile, NZ First leader, Winston Peters, who is likely to be out of Parliament according to every published poll, in a rambling speech yesterday in west Auckland spent most of his time rehearsing old NZ First themes and had little to say about what his party might want or do if it got another term.
That’s what his campaign seems to have boiled down to; reminiscing about the past perhaps realising that there is likely to be only a future out of power ahead..
He is not alone. Privately the Nats know they are toast. Labour is the only party that can be certain it will be in government on Monday.
So it is now a question of what happens to Labour’s former partners.
The Greens have undoubtedly embarrassed Labour with their strong pitch for a wealth tax.
In their campaign windup last night, co-leader James Shaw talked about addressing the long term crises that existed before Covid.
“Like the climate crisis which puts all of our futures at risk,” he said.
“Like the biodiversity crisis, which threatens our dawn chorus and our native birds’ life.
“And the crisis of deepening poverty in Aotearoa New Zealand.”
Part of the party’s solution to that is a wealth tax.
What Shaw hinted during a media conference was that the party’s policy priorities were negotiable. And that included the wealth tax.
“Look, we’ve going to put it up for discussion alongside our plans to transition funding for a more sustainable future, alongside our plans to clean up our oceans and to protect our marine wildlife,” he said before he was interrupted and forced to end his policy priority list.
But he eventually continued: “Let’s have an election and sit around the negotiating table and see what happens.”
One big issue that would be on that table would be whether any deal the Greens and Labour did was a coalition agreement or a confidence and supply agreement.
A coalition deal would see Green Ministers inside the Cabinet but would require that the party unreservedly back all Government decisions.
A confidence and supply deal – which is what the Greens have had with the previous Government — would allow them to vote however they liked on anything but the Budget and any confidence motions. But their Ministers would be outside Cabinet.
The Greens leadership have previously suggested that this time around, they would prefer a coalition since that would give them more clout inside the Government.
But Shaw was equivocal yesterday.
“We will determine that as we get into the negotiations,” he said.
“It ultimately comes down to the six priorities that we are putting up in this election, seeing how much progress can we make on them and what form of arrangement makes the most sense.”
However, co-leader Marama Davidson seemed to suggest that this time around, she would like to be a Minister.
She said she believed it had been useful for the Greens having her as co-leader but not a Minister and that had helped preserve the independence of the party.
“I think we have got to the point where, regardless of whether it’s me, where we can be in ministerial positions without compromising the right to have our own independent decisions,” she said.
The other support partner from the previous Government, New Zealand First, is not even daring to talk about future Ministerial positions.
It is not polling anywhere near the five per cent threshold in any public poll and looks set to be out of Parliament this coming term.
Maybe recognising that, at a rally of around near 100 in the west Auckland electorate of Kelston yesterday, NZ First leader Winston Peters talked mostly about the past.
At various points in his speech, he referenced former Prime Ministers Richard Seddon (PM: 1893 – 1906); George Forbes (PM: 1930 – 1935); Sir Keith Holyoake (PM: 1960 -1972) and Norman Kirk (PM: 1972 – 1974).
He referred back to his party’s record with a somewhat ironic recounting of its history given that he has spent the last three years as Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.
“We’ve had the courage over the years like no other party to take on the establishment and hold it to account,” he said.
“Time after time in the most unpopular causes, we’ve taken on the establishment and held it to account.
“That used to be the media’s job; I don’t want to go back in history, I’m just saying time after time we’ve been taking them on one at a time.”
But the anti-establishment rebel did concede that he had been a part of the most recent government and appeared to suggest he would be happy to be part of it again.
“What I am pleased about is to have made a choice that we believe we could help work and it has worked,” he said.
Unfortunately, it appears that his party may get little credit for that.
With even the Greens not sure they will be back, the reality of this election is that it has become a coronation of Jacinda Ardern and her Labour Party.
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