The Greens now have a warmer relationship with the NZ First leader, and are ready to work together whatever their disagreements, says co-leader Metiria Turei. She also reveals, in an interview with the Spinoff, how close she came to quitting, and what Greens in government would do if Donald Trump were to visit.
With less than six months to a general election, the leaders of the Green Party have insisted they are ready to deal not just with their memorandum-of-understanding partners the Labour Party, but also Winston Peters’ NZ First Party, if that’s what it takes to make it to government.
In an interview for the Spinoff alongside co-leader James Shaw, part of a special series of wide-ranging election-year conversations with party leaders, Metiria Turei said the Greens and NZ First were slowly moving towards friendlier relations, and that his “racist views” were no deal-breaker.
“Oh, I really like him,” Turei told the Spinoff.
“He’s annoying as hell and all those things. But he’s given me really good political advice in the past. And you’ve just got to admire his tenacity, actually. I admire his tenacity, his staying put. For a Māori man in New Zealand politics, he’s been there for a really long time, and I don’t agree with him on lots of stuff, I’ve had huge arguments with him in public about his more racist views … but those are his views and that’s our political disagreement.”
She said: “We have to be able to work with people across the political lines, whether we agree with them 100% or 80% or 40%, and that is the reason why the Greens remain in parliament, is because we’re committed to working with people, even if we disagree with them on lots of stuff.”
Asked about the prospect of Labour agreeing a deal with NZ First instead of the Greens, leaving them out of government yet again, Turei conceded “that’s a scenario”.
“What we have now, though, with Andrew Little coming out and saying we’ll be the first that will be called and they’ll talk with us first about forming a government – we’re satisfied with that.”
Reflecting on the result of the last election, which saw the Greens slip slightly to under 11%, Turei said it was right for one of the co-leaders to go, Turei said, and she had contemplated leaving herself.
“I was certainly disappointed, and I suspect Russel [Norman] was, too, with the result. We had quite high hopes for doing better than we did, and it’s very hard not to take on the full responsibility for that. And we are largely responsible for that, because we are the key political communicators of our party.”
While the Greens were ready to compromise in joining a government, said Turei, that did not extend to opening arms to a hypothetical visit by Donald Trump.
“We would not welcome him,” said Turei.
“What we would do in response to his visit I just can’t say, but we certainly would not welcome him, and his misogyny and his racism.”
Shaw and Turei also responded to furious criticisms over the “Budget Responsibility Rules” agreed last week with Labour, the challenge of promoting a new generation up their party list, and what happened last week with Steffan Browning and his bloody drink. Read it in full here.
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