Green Party co-leaders Marama Davidson and James Shaw at the party's State of the Planet speech in Auckland on Sunday. Photo / NZME / File
By Giles Dexter, RNZ
The Greens have laid down a challenge to potential coalition partners: come to the table with faster and stronger climate action if you want our support.
Co-leaders James Shaw and Marama Davidson said it was time to "finally shake off the shackles of visionless government".
"It will not be acceptable to the millions of people who are demanding bolder action, nor to the Green Party, nor to me, if the next government fails to muster the courage and moral clarity to confront the climate crisis with the urgency it demands," Shaw said.
At the party's State of the Planet speech in Auckland on Sunday, Shaw wanted the party faithful to know he was as frustrated as they were.
He said so eight times in the space of two minutes.
Last week, a swathe of Green-championed policies were dumped or deferred by the prime minister, without consultation - breaching their co-operation agreement.
Shaw's response to the reprioritisation was, at first, surprisingly muted, but now he is fired up.
He admitted to supporters he had not got everything right, to which one audience member responded "that's true," prompting laughter from the crowd and Shaw himself.
But he said he was not willing to compromise any more.
"I will not walk away and give up now. I will keep fighting for the government we need to make it happen."
James Shaw said the solution was to get more Green ministers in the next government, as well as for the first time at the cabinet table. Photo / RNZ / Giles Dexter
Walking away was what Shaw was told to do by Te Pāti Māori, which said on Tuesday he should resign as climate change minister.
But Shaw was adamant the solution was not to resign, but to get more Green ministers in the next government - and this time, for the first time, at the cabinet table.
Speaking after the speech, Marama Davidson took a dig at the government's reprioritisation, and the prime minister's now signature quote.
"We can't think of anything more bread and butter than people who are struggling with the impacts of climate change right now. Our strong message is that we must take care of both climate issues, and social justice issues. We know people want to see more of that. That is why we need more Green MPs in Parliament."
Current Green MPs who attended the speech shared their co-leaders' frustrations.
"Unless the Greens have a strong mandate next term, we're going to continue having a government that delays the necessary action to tackle climate and inequality. The past week has been one of us reigniting that commitment to fight tooth and nail so Labour is forced to deliver the changes that are necessary for people and the climate," Ricardo Menéndez March said.
Teanau Tuiono said it was frustrating to see the policies ditched, but had encouraged the Greens to put the pressure on.
"The fire is stoking, if I can put it that way."
Golriz Ghahraman said the crises and the solutions to solve them had always been there.
"It's been the inaction of successive governments that's been frustrating for us."
The Greens have challenged political parties to come to the table on bolder climate action if they want their support come October.
But when they say "political parties," they mean Labour.
The chances of them working with National are practically zero.
Shaw has grave concerns for what a National-ACT coalition would mean.
Shaw said it would be "the most reactionary race-baiting right-wing government we have seen in decades".
"A government for the wealthy few, at the expense of many, not just in this generation but also those to come. A government of climate inaction and delay."
Should the numbers be there, doing a deal with National just to keep ACT out of government is an option, and the co-leaders would not 100 percent rule it out.
But Marama Davidson said any deal would be up to the party membership, who would be unlikely to sign it off.
"It's clear where their values are, and they are completely opposite from ours," she said.
National's campaign chair Chris Bishop said he would make the decision for the Greens: it's not happening.
"James Shaw can turn up and give a speech mainly about National Party, it seems, all he likes. We're not going to be lectured to by the Green Party, we're going to lay out our policies and lay out our agenda for government if we're in a fortunate enough position to form one after the election."
ACT's deputy leader Brooke van Velden laughed off the Greens' disdain. She said it was distraction from the fact the Greens had not been able to achieve what they set out to do.
"The only thing they've been able to succeed at over the past five years is proving how ineffective they can be. They're good at posturing, but bad on policy."
And policy was pretty light yesterday, but a capital gains tax is very much on the table.
James Shaw said former prime minister Jacinda Ardern's decision not to pursue one was his biggest regret, and he wants it back.
"That to me I think was probably the best moment and opportunity that we had to finally introduce some fairness into the tax system, and to start taxing wealth not just work."
Whether the new prime minister agrees could define coalition negotiations come October.