Of Negotiations, Opportunities and an Obligation to Voters to Govern


Analysis by Selwyn Manning.

Selwyn Manning, editor of EveningReport.nz.

There’s a mood circulating among some circles that it would end badly for the Green Party in 2023 should it negotiate a part within a now-powerful Labour-led government.

The argument goes; that should the Greens negotiate roles within the new Government, that their voice and policies would be watered down, rendered irrelevant by the large, expanded, Labour Party. That Labour’s success in being able to govern alone would mean the Green Party’s place and purpose would be seen to be irrelevant.

It boils down to a resistance to govern for fear of being seen as mediocre.

But the counter-argument suggests: should the Green Party bow to the above narrative – to shy away from an opportunity to assert its core environmental and climate policies, to abandon the ability to inject itself into the new Executive Government’s priority policy settings – then it would relegate itself into legislative insignificance and potential political oblivion by 2023. It would also pay-waste to the ministerial experience, gains and momentum that its members of Parliament established during the 2017-20 term.

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It can be argued, the Greens have proven that the Red-Green tag-team works. Unlike Winston Peters’ New Zealand First, the Greens have experienced an increased share of electoral and party list support, despite one-spectacular own goal, and despite being in government as a smaller party within the 2017-20 Labour-led Government. That is redefining MMP history.

Let’s examine that phenomenon.

Traditional Green support (that withdrew in large numbers during the 2017 election campaign) returned in part in 2020 perhaps to assist their Green Party to survive. The effect: the Green Party avoided the sub-five percent dry horrors and indeed secured a generational-shift with Chloe Swarbrick’s impressive win in Auckland Central.

As such, the Greens have made history, defining a maturing of New Zealand voter behaviour where, as a third party, have increased voter support after presiding over significant ministerial portfolios in partnership with a large party-led government.

New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern. Image, Wikipedia.

The Greens should avoid the cautious, strategic trap. Should the Greens shy away from negotiating, then they will likely commit themselves to a future of legislative irrelevance. That scenario would see its natural partner party Labour – under Jacinda Ardern, an environmentally and climate change sensitive leader – hoover up good and sound Green Party policy and make it its own.

It appears, Labour does not want to do that.

Labour leader and Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, indicated on election night and over the weekend, her wish to embark on consensus building. Her call on Sunday to Greens co-leader James Shaw set out a pathway ahead toward negotiations. While refusing to get ahead of herself on the elements of discussions between Labour and the Greens, she clearly indicated an intention to develop a consensus around policy, and use common ground as a basis of dialogue. Those are strong negotiation points that the Green leadership, caucus and membership can leverage from.

Also, both Labour and the Greens share a need to cement in a consensus-driven red-green bloc, a movement of significance, that could reshape Aotearoa New Zealand society, policy-sets, and the political and economic environment for the next two Parliamentary terms. This was a bloc of significance in determining the make-up of Government in 2017, it played a significant part in Labour’s connection to environmentalism in 2020, and will prove absolutely necessary once Labour’s main opponent, the National Party, re-invents itself to campaign as match fit and as a centre-right cabinet-in-waiting in future election cycles.

This, one get’s a sense, is what drives the Prime Minister’s pursuit of consensus building at a time of absolute power. That, in turn, offers the Green negotiators a powerful lever beyond what the numbers would suggest – ie; mutual interest.

It’s likely, Labour knows the 2020 election result is the zenith of its political successes.

Labour is not a broad-tent party. In Jacinda Ardern, it has exceptional leadership. In Grant Robertson, it has solid, assuring, strategic financial leadership. It has a deep and deepening pool of political talent in ministers that stretch well beyond the top-five. It has a ministerial line up that now has significant ministerial experience. It has a pool of caucus members ready to express their commitment to Executive Government representations. One gets the strong sense it is the party, with the politicians, with the policy sets… for this time. Interventionism, Keynesian economics shaped for the 2020 decade, and a Government with the energy to get things done. The most enduring criticism of the Ardern-led Government is the pace of incrementalism. And that, is something that the challenges of these times can demand be addressed. It is also an idiosyncrasy of which the Green Party can challenge with considerable honest broker-ship. One gets a sense that the elements of a unified red-green bloc could well sustain voter enthusiasm through this term and potentially 2023-2026.

Labour’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern’s post-election media stand-ups demonstrate she knows this.

Jacinda Ardern’s wish to build consensus across the centre-centre-left, acknowledges the success of the Green Party’s election campaign. She also has indicated an interest to have discussions with the Maori Party should special votes shore up its election night win in Waiariki. Her comments appear to signal to Maori that the Ardern-led Labour Party wants to work with, and cooperate with, every Maori MP that the Maori electorate voters send into Parliament.

So is the host of Green Party MPs really reluctant to join their successes with Labour’s landslide?

It appears not.

While significant debate is occurring within the party’s membership – again that should the Greens enter into a coalition, then that will end badly for them in 2023 – the Green leadership has indicated an eagerness to negotiate.

Green Party co-leader, Marama Davidson. Image, Wikipedia.

Co-leaders James Shaw and Marama Davidson have been clear, there is much work yet to do beyond what they achieved during the 2017-20 term (despite New Zealand First’s centre-right hand-break) and are keen to have their ministers and caucus talent play their rightful part.

Additionally, Chloe Swarbrick’s impressive performance winning Auckland Central demands recognition of significance. A strong signal of resolve and commitment to the generation Swarbrick represents, would be to promote her to the executive so as to initiate her to the demands of ministerial politics and governance. One get’s the sense Chloe will become a highly significant element of future governments, and now would be the perfect time for her to engage in that journey.

Green Party co-leader, James Shaw. Image, Wikipedia.

Meanwhile, after specials, with a slightly expanded caucus (potentially including the impressive activist Steve Abel) the Greens can definitely broker relevancy on party-based constituency issues, principles, while rolling their collective sleeves up to develop policy throughout the term. Indeed with a larger slice of a Parliamentary Service research budget, the Green caucus can truly embrace opportunities for fact-based environmental activism, and work with like-minded ministers to get real gains for their voters, members, and Aotearoa New Zealand.

Such opportunity does not call for reticence. In other words, the opportunity is reality, the dangers are, at this time, abstract. With political planning, such perceived dangers can be rendered irrelevant and relegated to very last-century thinking.

After all, voters do vote for a party’s policies on the understanding that should they be able to inject those policies into government then real change will be achieved. To shy away from that democratic mandate would be an abuse of the support that the Green Party has been given.


  1. ‘shy away from an opportunity to assert its core environmental and climate policies’

    The Greens don’t have any core environmental and climate policies.

    What the Greens call environmental policy consists of continuing to destroying the environment and what the Greens call climate policy consists of continuing to ignore the facts about Planetary Meltdown whilst promoting slight tweaking of business-as-usual.

    As a joke (scam) party, in the past the Greens have promoted:

    ‘tourism as a sustainable component of the NZ economy’

    ‘Quantitative Easing (money-printing) to stimulate the economy’

    [non-existent] ‘biofuels as an alternative to oil’

    and since then they have got worse.

  2. “Negotiations” ?

    In the truest sense of that action, each party needs to have something the other wants and or needs. These are bargaining chips in an negotiation. We all know what Labour has that the Greens want and or need but what do the Greens have that Labour want and or need? As a result, there is no “negotiation” and nor should there be.

    The Greens foolishly went the early crow and attempted to negotiate their Wealth Tax before a coalition was even required. That was a fail and has backfired. What are the Greens bargaining chips? Labour will get one or two high profile greens onboard but they owe the Greens nothing.

    “There’s a mood circulating among some circles” is laughable. We’ve just had three years of the anti Government brigade spouting off “the sky is falling the sky is falling”. The coalition won’t last three months. The coalition won’t survive a year. The coalition will never survive the whole term. Labour will absolutely be a one term Government bla bla bla. How accurate were these adamant claims that resulted from ” a mood circulating among some circles”?

    It’s my contention that Labour will win an unprecedented 4 terms. I base this around Ardern, the positive change that’s required from a progressive Government and the way NZ is embracing that change along with the growing need for it. The National Party are always going to be the biggest threat to Labour but they are conservative dinosaurs who are decades away from smelling the coffee regardless of who’s leading them.

    NZ will also make sound economic progress which National will hate as it leaves no water in their pool to swim in.

    When a political party has fearmongering as it’s number 1 gateway to Government, it’s doomed to fail. You’d think National would have learned that but they are only interested in looking outward to blame others for their failings.

    • Jacindafan – The Greens annoyed a lot of genuinely environmentally concerned people by flaky stuff, like identity politics, genitalia lectures, and own agendas – all of zilch relevance to real working people living out in in the real world.

      Their so- allied wealth tax look like a jealousy tax, with Marama saying “rich” people should give money to the poor – or some-such. At the time of the last elections, I searched the Greens, and the three most vocal, Shaw, Davidson, and Swarbrick, did not appear to own their own homes, but Shaw. seems to have bought one since then.

      What was rich, was this group, not having been prepared to put in the very hard work, discipline and self-sacrifice which so many of us did, to buy our first family homes, behaving like Meghan Markles – do what I say, not as I do. I doubt any one of them will ever paint as many ceilings as I have, or sew as many miles of curtains, or sow and grow, and harvest as many vegetables. They appeared to be little more than priviliged self-serving dilettantes, frightening my old pensioner neighbours, worried that their humble homes could increase in value. I visited one in respite care, who I cajoled into voting Green at the last election, to specifically advise her not to vote Green this time.

      Like others, I decided that the Maori Party was the only one upon which I could rely for environmental issues. Marama’s decision to not support the govt message of “ We are all one people,” in the aftermath of the Muslim massacres, and grab it as an opportunity to put the boot into Pakeha, suggested to me that she may not be the best team player in government. The Greens are the only party I have ever contributed to financially, but
      they are not what they were, or could have been.

      • The Greens are also the only political party I have contributed to and I am now 70. I agree about the Maori Party’s climate change policy which is better than any other party and that is primarily to do with Jack who publicly left the Greens a year ago and has been active in the Maori party ever since, he is a good man.

        I was a member of the greens for 15 or so years but was appalled by a number of things the Greens did in the past 3 years so I left.

        However I think your putting the boot in over home ownership is absolutely wrong.

        “What was rich, was this group, not having been prepared to put in the very hard work, discipline and self-sacrifice which so many of us did, to buy our first family homes, behaving like Meghan Markles – do what I say, not as I do. I doubt any one of them will ever paint as many ceilings as I have, or sew as many miles of curtains, or sow and grow, and harvest as many vegetables. They appeared to be little more than priviliged self-serving dilettantes, frightening my old pensioner neighbours, worried that their humble homes could increase in value.”

        Chloe Swarbrick is 23 isn’t she, how the hell would she have got a deposit together for an Auckland property? And Marama has six children and she is really in the same boat. I think to suggest that either of them have never made sacrifices, done the hard yards etc in order to try and own their own home is outrageous and wrong.

        • Michael, There is much that may be outrageous. Davidson has chosen to have six children, and has the right to do so. There are women who would love to have more than two, or one, or zero children, but find that it is not feasible, and not
          necessarily for selfish reasons. Swarbrick is, as you say, young. I would query whether persons not personally acquainted with the dynamics of owning a property, trying to maintain it on a fixed income, and living in fear of constantly rising rates, should be making those sorts of decisions about others for whom this is a day to day reality.

          Some now dubbed millionaires in the parlance of the Greens, may never have had much money in the whole of their adult lives, and certainly nowhere near the sort of amounts which MP’s earn. There is something totally grotesque about expecting them them to produce thousands in taxes, when they are often now “millionaires “solely as a result of inadequate government housing policies – and government then trying to squeeze them for money which they do not have, and may never have had.

          Swarbrick’s statement to Victoria University students, that experience doesn’t count, I thought outrageous, and absurd from somebody who hasn’t had a great deal of it herself. Not nice to see the knowledge of the elders, or their peace of mind, cavalierly discounted by anybody.

        • +100 Michael ,,,
          I thought the message from applewoods post is that he’s hes a sanctimonious dickhead ,,,

          he managed to post something as fucked up as the Auckland housing / home ‘market’….

          Who Owns New Zealand Now? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HzSAmOQuyjU

          “New Zealand is in the grip of a housing crisis.

          Auckland has become one of the most unaffordable cities in the world, ranked just behind Sydney, Australia.”

          • In spite of dubbing yourself ‘ Reason ‘ you’ve assumed that only men paint ceilings and sow grow and harvest vegetables, and you’ve assumed wrongly. I dig too, mend fences, and fix lavatory ball cocks – probably as close as I’d get to being a dickhead.

            Your world may be narrower than mine, but you know, girls can do anything out here. We always have done.

  3. The Miracle

    The Miracle
    Not in my life
    Has the god
    Visited in his feet

    You can’t be serious
    Let’s do this
    Let’s keep moving

    Making up jokes
    Is no longer fun
    For this written play by whom
    For our faerie princess?

    The castle and
    The heavens stairicase
    Has shown itself
    The portcullis and moat is no more

    Storm the gates, the barricades
    Shake the EQC state to it’s roots
    Rebuild not from the past
    But for those at the bottom
    And see the miracle in flesh!

    This is godpower princess!
    Can you set fire to the fire economy
    Finance, insurance and real estate
    Orr will u sit and watch the table overturned?
    Again . . once more

  4. Nandor Tanczos tweeted at the weekend that they should stay out of the tent, I am inclined to agree with him. My worry is that Ardern is repeatedly saying ‘I will govern for everyone’ everyone I expect means the middle class who don’t want any CGT or financial transactions tax or anything that might effect them. I want what Ardern originally said ‘transformational government’ child poverty, inequality and climate change are the most important things to address, I am not holding my breath.

    • I want what Ardern originally said ‘transformational government’ child poverty, inequality and climate change

      So do I.
      And, I am optimistic that we in Aotearoa will move in that direction. Though, it may require many reminders and encouragement from everyone out here who also sees the urgent need for these changes. Jacinda also includes all of us, remember: “Let’s do this!”

    • You’re not wrong Michal. This is exactly what will happen. But it is also what needs to happen. The multitude who have supported Labour, either with an electorate or party tick, or both, are looking for confirmation of what others have termed “a tacit understanding”, that is, in contemporary times, a way forward that balances neoliberalism with the Third Way. It’s all in the slogans, ‘Let’s keep moving’ and ‘Let’s do this’, where ‘us’ is inclusive of government and ‘us’, the team of 5 million. For Labour to break that contract with voters will end very badly for them. So maybe little real transformation. No CGT- taxing the so-called middle class never works, unless in socialist regimes. And how does one separate hard-working folk from the greedy anyway? But equally, no GST exemption on fruit and vege. No sugar tax. No real effort to take on multinationals, or global corporates. But don’t give up hope. Within the constraints of the tacit understanding, there may well be gains on child poverty, inequality and climate change. Not quick enough or deep enough for some for sure. But surely we are better off than under a National/ Act partnership.

  5. Nandor Tanczos tweeted at the weekend that they should stay out of the tent ”
    Yes that is my view given the NZLP has a workable majority. The Greens will be pissed on inside the tent so that leaves the option of supporting reasonable legislation or voting against or abstaining. I am sure they will be there for confidence and supply but that won’t be necessary given the configuration of parliament with the results being confirmed on November 6th. 2023 will be a different prospect entirely and the Greens need to keep that in mind going ahead. There is a big difference between being needed and being surplus to requirements.

  6. Labour need to govern alone to catch up its promises at the 2017 election. Build some houses and figure out where to put 400,000 unemployed folks back to work. Then, sort out the growing and forecasted $221b debt monster on the back of the recession turning into a depression. Lots to do this time round instead of more talking about it.

  7. Is there 2 thirds majority (80 out of 120) votes required embedded legislation? I seem to recall something about that with the Bill of rights Act. A block of Labour/ Green/ Maori would only have 75 anyway, pending specials.

  8. In my view the Greens would be mad to get into bed with the center right neo liberals again. This is a COVID19 anomaly and after another 3 years of status quo capitalism, the only thing the Greens need do is point out Labour’s shortcomings, of which I’m sure there will be plenty more to come, to stay relevant. 2023 will be here soon enough.

  9. I make a couple of points:
    Firstly; The election shows that the voters treated the two coalition minor parties very differently. They voted the one that was collaborative and worked positively back in with an increased presence and totally voted out the one that was demanding, self centred and uncompromising. I think the public have clearly stated they want politicians to work together. I think they have always wanted that. The last 3 years have shown that Labour and Greens can do it.
    Secondly; Chloe has won Auckland Central. She will work incredibly hard, will always be high profile and will hold that seat even if the tide flows back to blue in the future. She guarantees a Green presence in Parliament and a support partner for Labour even if the Greens get less than 5%. Labour needs the Greens.
    Also; The arrangement over the past three years has not hurt Labour and it has not hurt the Greens… the election results prove that. Let there be more of the same.
    And lastly; A working relationship where the Greens propose the more radical ideas and Labour adjust those ideas until the electorate is ready to accept them is a win win for both parties (and for us all). Already the ‘wealth tax’ debate is showing that. This radical idea is out there and being debated (and consolidating the Green vote). Labour by ruling it out (for now) reassures and holds the middle vote. And the change that is essential in the long term gradually gradually happens.

  10. I’m giving the benefit of the doubt that the Labour team will do right by NZers, but then again they haven’t before so I don’t have much confidence in that doubt turning into they are actually going to be transformative, and am prepared to be totally unsurprised when they do diddly squat just like the last 3 years. Sigh they are in it to do the same shit…but heres hoping, fingers and toes crossed.

  11. We’re on the road to nowhere
    hollowed out utopia please
    foreign military occupation did follow
    such was the extent of the disease

  12. Labour needs to seriously tackle climate change now.

    Labour needs to get real about addressing climate change by removing truck freight increases at 6% to 12 % every year and replace rail freight to de-carbonise our transport emissions which are increasing daily since 1990 so lets keep moving forward labour please and save our doomed plant fast becoming our nuclear moment; – so please read this.


    UN News

    ‘Staggering’ rise in climate emergencies in last 20 years, new disaster research shows

    OCHA/Danielle Parry
    Extreme weather events are devastating many countries, including Fiji which was hit by a cyclone in 2016.

    12 October 2020
    Climate Change
    The first 20 years of this century have seen a “staggering” rise in climate disasters, UN researchers said on Monday, while also maintaining that “almost all nations” have failed to prevent a “wave of death and illness” caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
    In an urgent call for countries to prepare better for all catastrophic events – from earthquakes and tsunamis to biological threats such as the new coronavirus – data from the UN Office on Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) indicates that wealthy nations have done little to tackle the harmful emissions that are linked to climate threats which make up the bulk of disasters today.
    Short odds
    “Disaster management agencies have succeeded in saving many lives through improved preparedness and the dedication of staff and volunteers. But the odds continue to be stacked against them, in particular by industrial nations that are failing miserably on reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said Mami Mizutori, UNDRR chief, and Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction.
    According to the UNDRR report – produced with Belgium’s Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters at UCLouvain – there were 7,348 recorded disaster events worldwide, during the last two decades.
    Approximately 1.23 million people died – approximately 60,000 per year – with more than four billion affected in total; many more than once.
    These two decades of disaster also caused $2.97 trillion in losses to the global economy, with data also indicating that poorer nations experienced deaths rates more than four times higher than richer nations.
    By comparison, the previous 20-year period (1980 to 1999) saw 4,212 reported disasters from natural hazards, with 1.19 million deaths, more than three billion people affected and economic losses totalling $ 1.63 trillion.
    Climate danger spike
    Although better recording and reporting of disasters may help explain some of the increase in the last two decades, researchers insisted that the significant rise in climate-related emergencies was the main reason for the spike, with floods accounting for more than 40 per cent of disasters – affecting 1.65 billion people – storms 28 per cent, earthquakes (eight per cent) and extreme temperatures (six per cent).
    “This is clear evidence that in a world where the global average temperature in 2019 was 1.1 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial period, the impacts are being felt in the increased frequency of extreme weather events including heatwaves, droughts, flooding, winter storms, hurricanes and wildfires,” UNDRR reported .
    Despite the pledge made by the international community in Paris in 2015 to reduce global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, Ms. Mizutori added that it was “baffling” that nations were continuing knowingly “to sow the seeds of our own destruction, despite the science and evidence that we are turning our only home into an uninhabitable hell for millions of people”.
    COVID-19 exposure
    Turning to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has “laid bare many shortcomings in disaster risk management (despite) repeated warnings”, the UNDRR report recommended urgent action from Governments to better manage such overlapping disasters.
    These hazards included known “risk drivers”, such as poverty, climate change, air pollution, population growth in dangerous locations, uncontrolled urbanization and the loss of biodiversity.
    Chronic needs
    By way of an example of chronic weather risks which should be the focus of better national preparedness measures, the agency pointed that shifting rainfall patterns pose a risk to the 70 per cent of global agriculture that relies on rain and the 1.3 billion people dependent on degrading agricultural land.
    Despite the fact that extreme weather events have become so regular in last 20 years, only 93 countries have implemented disaster risk strategies at a national level ahead of the end-of-year deadline, Ms. Mizutori said.
    “Disaster risk governance depends on political leadership above all, and delivery on the promises made when the Paris agreement and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction were adopted,” she said. “But the sad fact is that we are wilfully destructive. And that is the conclusion of this report; COVID-19 is but the latest proof that politicians and business leaders have yet to tune into the world around them.”
    She added: “It really is all about governance if we want to deliver this planet from the scourge of poverty, further loss of species and biodiversity, the explosion of urban risk and the worst consequences of global warming”, in a joint statement with UCLouvain’s Professor Debarati Guha-Sapir.
    Although the UNDRR report indicates that there has been some success in protecting vulnerable communities from isolated hazards, thanks to more effective early warning systems, disaster preparedness and response, projected global temperature rises could make these improvements “obsolete in many countries”, the agency warned.
    Currently, the world is on course for a temperature increase of 3.2 degrees Celsius or more, unless industrialised nations can deliver reductions in greenhouse gas emissions of at least 7.2 per cent annually over the next 10 years in order to achieve the 1.5 degree target agreed in Paris.


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