Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for November 2. All the latest New Zealand news, updated throughout the day. Reach me on email@example.com
Labour’s deputy leader Kelvin Davis has revealed he won’t be putting himself forward for the role of deputy prime minister.
However, Davis said he wants to remain deputy leader of the party.
Jacinda Ardern offered him second-in-command, Davis said, but he decided to turn it down. He has told media he will focus on Māori issues within the next government.
It makes the obvious frontrunner for the deputy role Grant Robertson, however a final decision will be revealed alongside the full caucus announcement at about 1pm.
The ink on the new deal between Labour and the Greens has barely had a chance to dry, and we’re already expecting more information on the shape of the new government. Jacinda Ardern is set to unveil her cabinet today, including the coveted role of deputy prime minister along with the minister who will be in charge of the ongoing Covid-19 response.
The Spinoff’s editor Toby Manhire has written a detailed explainer on the big calls Ardern has to make and made some bold predictions on what the new government will look like. In particular, Manhire’s predicted Kelvin Davis will become deputy prime minister, Chris Hipkins will remain education minister (but loose health), and Peeni Henare and Willie Jackson will move within cabinet. I note these predictions because if I was a betting man, I’d probably place my life savings on a Manhire prediction.
Keep your eyes out for the announcement later today.
Green Party co-leader James Shaw has given the new Labour-Green cooperation deal a “seven-and-a-half” out of 10, acknowledging it gives his party the chance to criticise the government where needed.
The new deal, which you can read all about here, gives Shaw and his counterpart Marama Davidson ministerial positions (outside cabinet) and ensures the two parties cooperate on climate change, the environment and poverty
“The areas of cooperation speak to the Greens’ strength and where we have some common ground with Labour,” Shaw told Newstalk ZB today.
He said he’d be “delighted” if Labour decided to go even further on environmental issues.
Asked why former Green MPs, including ex-co-leader Russel Norman, have been voicing dissatisfaction with the deal, Shaw said they have “anxieties” about the party being “subsumed” by Labour. However, he thinks the Green Party will be able to “deliver an enormous amount” over the next term of government.
Shaw said he was disappointed that the results of the cannabis referendum didn’t go in favour of legalisation, but hopes that progress can be made on making the system safer. Justice minister Andrew Little has ruled out any significant changes to drug laws over the next term.
“There is a huge constituency of people who do want some form of reform,” Shaw said, admitting it’s unlikely the result will change based on the special votes. The result, however, will “tighten”, Shaw said.
The Labour-Green deal includes capacity to look at changes to electoral laws, including implementing a four year parliamentary term. Jacinda Ardern has stated any major changes would likely go to referendum.
Shaw said the changes he backs were already recommended by the Electoral Commission – and “should have come about”.
Green party delegates have ratified a deal with Labour that will give them ministerial portfolios, but mostly outside of cabinet where the big decisions of government are made. Co-leader James Shaw will continue as climate change minister, along with picking up an associate environment role focusing on biodiversity. And co-leader Marama Davidson will be minister for the prevention of family and sexual violence – a new position – along with being associate housing minister with a focus on homelessness.
As Justin Giovannetti reports, it’s a cooperation agreement rather than either a coalition or confidence and supply agreement. This means that the Greens will remain a basically independent party outside of government, and the right to abstain on budgets and the sort of procedural motions that formally give the government the numbers to govern. While Shaw and Davidson will be outside of cabinet, they will be called in to cabinet committee discussions when their portfolios are directly affected. However, they’ll also be bound by the expectation of collective cabinet responsibility, meaning they’ll basically have to back cabinet decisions in their portfolio areas even if they disagree with them. As Giovannetti puts it, “it’ll be a difficult juggling act if the future government runs afoul of the Green base.”
Writing about the agreement, professor Andrew Geddis says it represents a longer term strategy for both parties, who realise that they might need each other again in three years time. But the nature of the agreement means power still firmly resides with Labour. To quote:
But make no mistake, this agreement is all about how the Greens will slot in alongside the Labour government, rather than how the Labour government will bend to accommodate the Greens. The agreed upon areas of common policy development “represent areas where the policy and experience of the Green Party provides a positive contribution to the Labour government”. As far as Labour is concerned, the Greens are there to add value to their governing mission for the next three years, and will be allowed to participate only insofar as they do so.
While the Green delegates voted for the deal by a margin of more than 75%, the acceptance could cause some disquiet. It is understood that the margin in favour was less than the almost unanimous support among delegates given to the deal offered in 2017. Among the criticisms voiced by some activists and even former MPs is the fact that the titles aren’t necessarily accompanied by the ability to spend real money addressing the problems, and therefore there’s a power imbalance to deal with. Newshub reports Russel Norman and Sue Bradford have been particularly scathing.
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