The four Green Party candidates who are in a contest to replace Russel Norman as the party's male co-leader presented their credentials to Wellington members today, ahead of the vote at the end of May.
MPs Kevin Hague, Gareth Hughes and James Shaw and lawyer Vernon Tava spoke with the media first and these are their edited answers:
Are you prepared to work with National to be in Government?
Hague: Prepared to work them on issues but not to form a Government with them.
Shaw: What Kevin said.
Hughes: We have a track record of working with all parties on issues where we can agree but when it comes to a confidence and supply agreement, my party has said it is highly unlikely and I stand by that.
Tava: My future vision for the Greens is that they be at centre of every Government. I think the problems we face are too urgent for us to continue sitting on the sidelines.
On a free trade agreement that Prime Minister John Key is set to announce with Saudia Arabia:
Hague: John Key in the House got on his high-horse to justify sending troops to Iraq to fight Isil, mounting his case based on human rights arguments. Those same arguments apply to Saudi Arabia or to Iran or to other countries in that region. It's a double standard from the Prime Minister and that is not acceptable in a Government.
Shaw: If you look at our trade agreements it would be pretty hard to say that Saudi Arabia is going to stop beheading people because we have a free trade agreement with Saudi Arabia, for example. As we consider these kinds of agreements, we need to look at the human rights records of the countries we are going into those agreements with.
Hughes: I think Kiwis are looking to the New Zealand Government for an ethical and consistent foreign policy. When it come to the allegations made by John Key around Isil, we also see ...beheadings happening in Saudi Arabia. Kiwis want to feel proud and feel their Government is doing the right thing and when we are boosting trade with someone who is beheading people, that question remains open.
Tava: What we increasingly need to do as a country and what the Greens would lead, is actually factoring in the social and environmental consequences of these deals as well, not just looking purely at the financial aspect of trade. We have to lead by example.
On the media coverage of the PM's pony tail pulling and it says about John Key:
Hague: I noticed that John Key today has said he is the most relaxed Prime Minister that we've ever had and I guess this behaviour shows where that approach to being Prime Minister takes us.
Shaw: I think we expect more from our Prime Minister and when I heard that, I thought it was really weird that any grown man would go around pulling people's hair. It's just very strange behaviour.
Hughes: The media have been right to cover the story. There is a genuine public interest. The fact is the Prime Minister has been acting inappropriately. He has apologized but questions remain as to why he continued to do it for so long. It is a little odd; it is a little weird and I think Kiwis are reviewing their relationship with the Prime Minister.
Tava: I think it largely speaks for itself. It's certainly odd behaviour. I'm not interested in talking at length about it...but it was bullying behaviour and it does show a sense of entitlement that I think would make a lot of people uncomfortable.
The biggest hurdle to becoming Greens co-leader:
Hague: I have inside and outside Parliament a track record of leadership both in community, business and government sector organizations so I'm very well qualified for the role but that...could be an obstacle because some people may be looking for novelty or a change of direction.
Shaw: I entered Parliament in September last year, so I've got a short record in Parliament but I bring with 20 years of experience in New Zealand and around the world.
Hughes: Some people, very few, are judging me on my looks and what have been described as boyish good looks.
Tava: A lot of members, a lot of voters, identify very strongly as left and that's fine. That's not a problem but for us to appeal to more New Zealanders as we must to really deal with the issues we are facing, then it's time for us to abandon... what seems to be an unrequited relationship with Labour and actually at how we can best grow our voter base to achieve Green policy.