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Green Party co-leader James Shaw (Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King)
Green Party co-leader James Shaw (Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King)

The BulletinJanuary 31, 2024

James Shaw goneburger

Green Party co-leader James Shaw (Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King)
Green Party co-leader James Shaw (Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King)

The Greens co-leader is stepping down after nearly nine years in the job. So who’s going to replace him, asks Catherine McGregor in this excerpt from The Bulletin, The Spinoff’s morning news round-up. To receive The Bulletin in full each weekday, sign up here.

The consummate consensus-builder bows out

“James Shaw goneburger”: As the party press release announcing his resignation went out to newsrooms, the Greens’ co-leader pressed send on his own instantly iconic tweet. After almost nine years in the job, Shaw will step down as co-leader in March, but stay in parliament “for the time being” to support his members bill that proposes adding an environmental clause to the Bill of Rights. The driving force behind the landmark Zero Carbon Act, Shaw’s tenure as a parliamentarian was characterised by consensus-building – an approach that drew criticism from the party’s left, culminating in a 2022 attempt to oust him as co-leader. But for Shaw, writes the Herald’s Derek Cheng (paywalled), it was more important to create effective legislation that survived changes in government “than something stronger that would just be repealed before it could really make a difference”.

Does Swarbrick want the job?

Candidates to replace Shaw can put themselves forward from today, with the election scheduled for March 10. Shaw was elected under the old rules that required the co-leaders to be a man and a woman, but a change in 2022 means the party now only requires one of the co-leaders to be a woman and one to be Māori, setting the stage for an all-female leadership team. Auckland Central MP Chlӧe Swarbrick is the “de facto frontrunner”, says The Spinoff’s Stewart Sowman-Lund. She’s the “it’s hers if she wants it” candidate, writes the Herald’s Thomas Coughlan. But having made no secret of her distaste for parliament, “whether she wants the job is a legitimate question”. Electing Swarbrick is the “obvious, most sensible thing to do”, says Stuff’s Tova O’Brien. “But the Greens are many things, predictable they are not.” The other two leading contenders are party stalwart Julie Ann Genter and up-and-comer Teanau Tuiono.

Judith Collins defends NZDF deployment

Even before Shaw made his announcement, Tuesday was set to be the biggest day in politics so far this year. After a Cabinet meeting in the morning, ministers fronted up in the debating chamber to face questions on some controversial political calls. Judith Collins made a statement about the deployment of six NZDF personnel to the Red Sea, calling it a necessary contribution to global security as well as being in NZ’s national interest. The Greens’ Marama Davidson said Collins was choosing a risky path given the current situation in the Middle East. “This government’s denial that this conflict in Yemen is connected to the war in Gaza is naive and dangerous, at best, wilfully ignorant.” Collins was having none of it. “The member may wish… to express support for the Houthis, but I do not, and nor does this government.”

NZ reviews humanitarian funding over allegations of Hamas links

Earlier in the day, PM Christopher Luxon said New Zealand’s scheduled payment to the UNRWA – the UN agency that provides food and medical supplies to Gaza – is on hold while foreign minister Winston Peters receives MFAT advice on alleged links between UNRWA employees and Hamas. New Zealand joins at least 13 nations, including the US and UK, in pausing or reviewing funding after Israeli intelligence claimed 12 UNRWA staffers were involved in the October 7 attack or its aftermath. The UN has fired nine of the accused; two others are missing and a third is dead. Former PM Helen Clark, who was later the administrator of the UN Development Programme, is appealing for funding to continue. “It makes no sense to cripple the major humanitarian delivery agency of the United Nations at this time.” While New Zealand is yet to decide whether to make the payment, our $1 million contribution isn’t due until June.

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