28 Jan 2019

Plans firming up for new green party to partner National

3:37 pm on 28 January 2019

The formation of a new green political party that could partner with National is not being ruled out by the man linked to it.

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Voters deserve a centrist party that cares about environmental issues, Vernon Tava says. Photo: PHOTO NZ

Vernon Tava, a former Green Party candidate and leadership contender and someone who has also tried for nomination as a National Party candidate, believes the time is now right for a new centrist party.

"This is an idea whose time has come."

He said voters deserved a wider choice of parties than existed now because currently the only environmental party people can vote for, the Green Party, is a long way to the left and it has ruled out ever working with National.

"We are in an MMP system and yet roughly 80 percent of the vote goes to the two major parties or it certainly did in the last election."

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Vernon Tava Photo: Supplied

Mr Tava said voters with environmental concerns deserved another option than the Green Party.

He said he has been contacted by a number of people in favour of a new party but it was certainly early days.

"There have been lots of talks over barbecues and that kind of thing and talks along the line of it having strong potential and that it is time to do something about it."

He said it was hard to say what effect a new party would have on the Green Party.

"Ultimately it is for the voters to decide who has primacy and it is not fair any one party should have a monopoly on environmental concerns.

"To vote for the Green Party you have to not only care for the environment but also ultimately support a party to the far left of politics," he said.

Mr Tava said a new centrist party would be able to work with any other political party and push the environmental interests of its members.

"A party that could credibly say and honestly say that it is able to work with any side of politics and a party - because the environment is that important - could be a permanent party of government."

He said it was certainly an idea that people in the National Party welcomed.

"It is really important that any new party doesn't go down the same track that the current Green Party has of essentially being set up as a support for one of the major parties."

Leadership ambitions

Mr Tava said if a new party was formed he would consider "very, very seriously" standing for leader.

"I would really be at pains to make sure that it was the party that could honestly and plausibly say that the environment is so important to New Zealanders that we are able to work with whichever party happens to have the most votes or is in the best position to form a government.

"And that is not something you can do if you have already promised to be a support partner to one party or the other without knowing what the deal is."

Mr Tava said at this stage the formation of a new centrist environment party was only in discussion but for it to happen in time for next year's general election it would need to be formed some time this year.

He was confident financial backing would not be too much of an issue and the backing would be significant.

Mr Tava said whether the Labour/New Zealand First/Green coalition government should be concerned at the prospect of a new party was up to the voters.

The government's response

Senior government minister Chris Hipkins says the proposal is a desperate and cynical attempt by the National Party to find friends.

Chris Hipkins said he believes National leader Simon Bridges is backing it.

"I think it's a cynical attempt by the National Party to look like they care about the environment," Mr Hipkins said.

"To look like they have some allies... when the reality is all of the environmental groups are very critical of National's policies because they know they're not good for the environment."

He said National have a track record of doing cheap and dirty deals in order to try and sure up votes in Parliament.

"I think voters can see through that though," said Mr Hipkins.

He said the Green Party is doing a great job in Government and he doesn't believe there's a gap to fill on the environmental front.

The Green Party itself refused to be interviewed by RNZ about any new centrist green party, saying they had nothing to add on the matter.

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