Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Robust debate on Greens' agenda

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman. File photo / Daily Post
Green Party co-leader Russel Norman. File photo / Daily Post

The lack of Auckland representation at the top of its party list, along with a controversial proposal to allow a post-election coalition with the National Party, look set to dominate discussions at the Green Party's AGM this weekend.

The Greens, New Zealand's third largest political party, meet at Point Chevalier's Te Mahurehure marae days after finalising its party list for the November election which features just one Auckland-based candidate - David Clendon - among its top 10.

The new party list now has a distinctly southern cast at the top with Kaikoura-based Steffan Browning jumping from number 15 on the draft list to number 10 in the final version, and dumped Environment Canterbury councillor Eugenie Sage leapfrogging Mr Clendon and another sitting MP Gareth Hughes to secure sixth place.

The Greens' North Shore candidate Pieter Watson, who is himself well down the list, said there was some frustration evident among Auckland members at the party list's southern flavour given that more than half the nation's population was in Auckland.

He expected robust debate on the issue this weekend.

But a more difficult pill for many members to swallow is the proposal to open the door to a potential confidence and supply agreement with National, a possibility the Greens have clearly ruled out in the lead up to previous elections.

Even if the remit is passed, it will likely be a largely symbolic move intended to position the Greens further into the political mainstream, in the minds of voters at least.

Co-leader Russel Norman has already said that even if the remit is passed, a coalition with National is extremely unlikely.

Dr Norman expects a lively debate on the issue given indications that some party members found the prospect extremely unsavoury, while others wanted to "moderate" the remit to suggest such an arrangement is more possible than the words "extremely unlikely" would suggest.

As in the case of current Government coalition partner the Maori Party, social policy is likely to prove the area where many Greens and National fail to find common ground.

Co-leader Metiria Turei's speech to the meeting on Sunday will be about social issues and is likely to contain strong criticism both of National's policies and of Prime Minister John Key. She will also announce the outcome of the debate and vote on the party's position on potential support for the next Government.

Dr Norman believes his party, which is currently polling at around the 7 per cent mark still has "a pretty good chance" of winning 10 per cent or more of the party vote this November which would give them as many as two or three additional MPs and a total of 12 to 13 seats.

Dr Norman's speech at the conference will seek to consolidate the Greens economic credentials and promote their vision of a "Green economy".

A central part of that vision is the retention of 100 per cent state ownership of the energy companies that National intends partially privatising as they remain among the few large locally owned corporations with the ability and expertise to breathe life into the Greens' vision.

Australian Greens leader Bob Brown is to address the meeting on Monday.

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