INDEPENDENT NEWS

Q+A: James Shaw interviewed by Greg Boyed

Published: Sun 22 Oct 2017 11:34 AM
Green Party says Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary plan still on the table
Green Party leader James Shaw told TVNZ 1’s Q+A programme that the scheme is still on the negotiating table.
JAMES Yes, well, it’s certainly still on the table. Obviously, there’s still a lot of issues to work through. It is a complicated issue, but we are still committed to doing our best effort to making sure that it happens.
GREG This has obviously come out – Winston Peters’ relationship with the fisheries industry – is it in jeopardy? Let’s put it another way.
JAMES Is the relationship with the—?
GREG No, is the sanctuary in jeopardy?
JAMES No, I don’t think so. It is a complicated issue. We absolutely need to work alongside Maori in order to make sure that it happens, but I think that we are all committed to making sure that it does.
On water issues, Mr Shaw said the Greens will be pushing for a package to help farmers make the transition to more sustainable ways of farming:
GREG And keep those cow numbers down? Or cap them or lower them?
JAMES No, I don’t think that you’ll see much activity on that in the immediate future, but I do think that what we are aiming to do is to work with the market itself to say, ‘Well, what are some things that we can put in place to make that transition, over the course of the next few years, to more sustainable ways of farming.’
Q + A
Episode 33
JAMES SHAW
Interviewed by Greg Boyed
GREGWelcome to Green Party leader James Shaw.
JAMESGood morning.
GREGCongratulations. How are you feeling?
JAMESDelighted. Yeah, really good. Thank you.
GREGLet’s get to, first of all, the news that’s come out this morning. The Kermadec Marine Reserve – is that gone?
JAMESNo, the story’s incorrect.
GREGSo it’s definitely still there?
JAMESYes, well, it’s certainly still on the table. Obviously, there’s still a lot of issues to work through. It is a complicated issue, but we are still committed to doing our best effort to making sure that it happens.
GREGThis has obviously come out – Winston Peters’ relationship with the fisheries industry – is it in jeopardy? Let’s put it another way.
JAMESIs the relationship with the—?
GREGNo, is the sanctuary in jeopardy?
JAMESNo, I don’t think so. It is a complicated issue. We absolutely need to work alongside Maori in order to make sure that it happens, but I think that we are all committed to making sure that it does.
GREGOkay, let’s go back to Thursday night. You looked pretty stoked on Thursday night, and I would imagine, after what happened two or three months ago with Metiria Turei and what happened in the polls, it would have to be a position you are pretty happy to be in, wouldn’t it?
JAMESI’m delighted. I mean, this is the first time that we’ve ever had ministers. We’ve got a pretty extensive policy programme to work through. The areas where we’ve got ministers – and the prime minister will make an announcement about that next week – are in the areas that we campaigned on. So we’re finally going to see some action on the things that we think are really important and that people voted for us on.
GREGAre you in government or are you ‘sort of’ in government? There is a lot of debate about this. You’ve got ministers that are outside cabinet, so what teeth, what say do you actually have there?
JAMESWell, it’s obviously a different status from being inside cabinet, but in practical terms, it’s actually not all that different. So associate ministers and ministers who are outside cabinet will still attend all the cabinet committees. That’s actually where most of the things get thrashed out. And then they will actually attend cabinet for the portions of the agenda that deal with the issues that are in their cabinet papers. So in practical terms, it doesn’t make a huge difference. I think, to the vast majority of New Zealanders, they won’t really be able to distinguish— They’ll just sort of think of us as the government. But in technical terms, we are in a confidence-and-supply arrangement, supporting a Labour-New Zealand First government.
GREGIn terms of the climate change job, that was in cabinet. It’s now going to be outside cabinet. What does that say about the importance put on the job and the teeth that particular role will have?
JAMESLook, I think if you listened to Jacinda Ardern in the opening weeks of her leadership of the Labour Party, she was very clear that she sees climate change as one of the greatest challenges facing New Zealand and the world today. And so it will be at the top of the government’s agenda. Again, like I said, in technical terms, it doesn’t actually make that much difference whether the person who holds that role is outside cabinet or inside it.
GREGSo, what changes are we actually going to see?
JAMESWell, as she said this morning, transport is one of the most visible areas where you will start to see some action. I think you’ll see a much greater uptake of electric vehicles, led by the government itself. There will, of course, be significant moves in public transport and in urban design, and I think those are the things that the public will see first. We’re also hoping to move faster on reform of the energy market to get towards 100% renewable energy generation in as fast a timeframe as is possible. And I think those are the things that most people will see in the near the term.
GREGA number of the points you raised – this has been your stock and
trade – and the thing we have to talk about is Winston Peters. Your relationship with Winston Peters, his view on the Greens Party – how are you going to manage that?
JAMESWell, look, I think I said this the other night – that there’s a lot of mythology about that relationship that stems back, kind of, 12 years to 2005 and before.
GREGSome of it’s not mythology, though. He called the Green Party an albatross around Labour’s neck in July. That’s not mythology; that’s a man that doesn’t clearly rate your party.
JAMESHe also called us Kermits in a speech to Fed Farmers at one point. That’s all just campaign talk. I don’t really worry about it a great deal. His relationship with me has always been very cordial.
GREGWhen did you last talk to him? How much have you talked to him in the last two or three months?
JAMESDuring the course of the election campaign, but I haven’t actually seen him since the election.
GREGYou weren’t actually mentioned when he made the announcement on Thursday night. It was ‘I’m going into partnership with Labour. Boom – I’m out of here’. Is that gutting?
JAMESNo, no. I mean, if you look at the history of MMP, every government that we’ve formed since 1996 – the largest party has always put together parallel agreements with its support partners, and those have then become public after those are signed, and this is actually no different in that sense. So I’m pretty relaxed about that.
GREGYour relationship with Jacinda Ardern is well known. You go a long way back, and you clearly get on very well. With Winston Peters, I think even the most optimistic person is… There’s work to be done there. When do you plan on talking to him, and what will you talk to him about?
JAMESWell, I intend to talk to him about having a stable and responsible government and making sure that the work programme that we’ve got for us over the course of the next three years is carried out.
GREGWhen?
JAMESI think that the most important thing is that we’ve also got really good working relationships with a number of his MPs, people like Tracey Martin and Fletcher Tabuteau – very constructive relationships between our MPs and their MPs, and that’s actually where a lot of the work will happen. So I think a lot of this is just, kind of, hype. I don’t think most people are terribly affected by it, and are going to be more interested in what we actually get done over the course of the next three years on their behalf.
GREGBut, you know, he’s the leader; you’re the leader. And on that point, you need a co-leader. Who’s that going to be? The smart money’s on Marama Davidson.
JAMESWell, I can’t comment. I mean, there’s a number of potential nominees. But at the moment, we’ve just got through the election. We’ve now got to set up getting into government. There is going to be the summer recess, and I think we’ll address all of that in the new year.
GREGAlready, though, the 2020 referendum on legalising cannabis has leaked out. That will be a polarising thing for you to sort of nail to your mast quite early on for some people, won’t it?
JAMESYes, for some people. But the public mood, I think, has shifted dramatically on that over the course of the last few years. If we tried this 10 years ago, it probably wouldn’t have had a snowball’s chance. But now, my sense is that with Helen Kelly’s campaign around medicinal cannabis use – it made a lot of traction. And also because you’ve had Canada; you’ve had six different US states and a number of other jurisdictions have all gone to some form of regulated market model. And not only has the sky not fallen in, but, actually, those places are seeing reduced harm; they’re seeing fewer people taking drugs; they’re seeing that the trade has been taken out of the hands of the gangs; they’re seeing reduced prison populations, and those are all of the reasons why I think it’s a good move. But, ultimately, that’s also why we said it should be a referendum, because rather than the politicians making their minds up about that, actually, you know, we just do want to gauge what the public sentiment actually is on this.
GREGI’ve got to ask you – do you smoke yourself?
JAMESNo.
GREGOkay, all right.
JAMESYou know it’s not terribly good for you, right?
GREGI was just about to make a suggestion for you getting together with Winston, but I’ll leave that there. I’ll just park that one up. As far as the medicinal cannabis and the broader use of it, though, those two issues have kind of crossed over, haven’t they?
JAMESYeah, they have. They’ve become somewhat conflated, and, of course, they are actually different, and you need to treat them separately. So I suspect we’ll see some rapid movement on medicinal cannabis in the reasonably short term. Whereas, obviously, wider use is more of a broader public health issue, and that’s why we are going to take it to the public.
GREGCleaning up water – that’s another big one for you. And, unfortunately, we are running out of time. But, very quickly, what are your short-term goals? What’s a success by the time we get to 2020?
JAMESWell, one of the most important things is that we’ve actually got to help farmers to make that transition. And, of course, a lot of dairy farmers are still heavily in debt from the acquisition of the land and also the conversions. And, of course, it’s a pretty, you know, difficult time when the price of milk is still somewhat depressed. So, you know, the thing that we’re going to be pushing hardest on is making sure there’s a package available for farmers to help them make that transition.
GREGAnd keep those cow numbers down? Or cap them or lower them?
JAMESNo, I don’t think that you’ll see much activity on that in the immediate future, but I do think that what we are aiming to do is to work with the market itself to say, ‘Well, what are some things that we can put in place to make that transition, over the course of the next few years, to more sustainable ways of farming.’
GREGGreens leader James Shaw, thank you very much.
Transcript provided by Able. www.able.co.nz
The interview will be posted here soon.
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