Green Party co-leader James Shaw is downplaying the idea of seeking concessions in exchange for supporting a waka-jumping bill, saying it is not a "big deal".
A Green Party internal email was accidentally sent to Fairfax yesterday, floating a proposal to seek support for a National Parihaka Day in exchange for its votes on a waka-jumping bill - a key part of the Labour-NZ First coalition agreement.
The proposal was only sent to Green MPs, and Justice Minister Andrew Little confirmed that the Greens had not raised the proposal with him, nor had they given any indication that they might vote against a waka-jumping bill.
But the idea of horse-trading over waka-jumping was quickly criticised, with Little saying it would be "cheap" and New Zealand First leader Winston Peters saying the ideas should be judged on their own individual merits.
Speaking to the Herald from the COP23 climate change conference in Bonn, Germany, Shaw said he was aware of the issue.
"It doesn't sound like a terribly big deal to me."
Asked about the possibility of horse-trading, he did not rule it out and declined to comment further until he knew more about what had happened.
A waka-jumping bill would ensure a party's proportional representation was maintained if an MP left a party. It would prevent the scenario in 1998, when several NZ First MPs jumped ship to support the National-led Government.
The Government has added the bill to its 100-day plan and will need the Greens' support if National opposes it, which it is likely to.
Little said he wanted a high threshold before an MP could be expelled. One option would be to require the support of two-thirds of the party caucus.
The internal email, from justice spokeswoman Golriz Ghahraman, said that the Greens could oppose the bill.
"Opposing the bill would cause political tensions given the inclusion of the bill in the Labour-NZ First coalition agreement and the apparent importance the Government is placing on it.
"Supporting the bill would be seen as changing and weakening a long standing and public party position. It would risk criticism from our core supporters and commentators."
But the Greens agreement with Labour also requires it to act in good faith and allow Labour to comply with its agreement with NZ First.
"Labour agrees that it will not enter into any other relationship agreement which is inconsistent with this [Labour-Green] agreement, and the Green Party and Labour agree that they will each act in good faith to allow all such agreements to be complied with," states the Labour-Green agreement.
A spokesperson for the Green Party said this was an "internal document that was sent in error".
"It's not surprising that Labour Party and Green Party MPs are having these kinds of constructive conversations and working together."