A group of left-wing Green members will this weekend try to change the party's rules to slow down the process of going into government after an election.
The Green Left, a group representing the party's more left-wing members, will try to pass a remit at the party's AGM on Saturday that would give members 10 days to mull over any governing deal after it had been negotiated.
Green Party voting delegates, who number over 100, must approve any governing deal before the party can formally agree to it and become part of the Government. Currently there is no minimum time set between delegates seeing an agreement and voting on it - delegates could be forced to vote on an agreement that they have not yet seen.
Where things ran into difficulty is that the speed of negotiations and the fear that details from a deal might leak has meant that delegates have often had little time to read any deal before voting on it.
Green Left co-convenor Nicole Geluk-Le Gros said the rule change came after the last two governing agreements, hashed out in 2017 and 2020, were put to members at very short notice. In 2017, delegates voted without seeing the full text of the Confidence and Supply Agreement and in 2020, delegates were given about 15 minutes to read the deal.
"It's not so much about what's gone wrong, but what is the right process, and right process is appropriate decision making, which means that people have the document early enough to understand and make a decision," Geluk-Le Gros said.
The Greens were meant to hold their AGM in Christchurch this weekend, but on Tuesday announced they would instead move it online, citing Covid concerns.
The remit will be put to members on Saturday and require "consensus" or the support of 75 per cent of voting delegates to pass. Geluk-Le Gros is confident and the Green Left has organised an event on the Sunday of the conference to run through how the amendment would work in practice, assuming it passes.
However, not everyone in the party is happy with the proposal. Some Greens say it would make negotiating an agreement with Labour almost impossible, because the senior party would naturally prefer to negotiate with a party that could ink a deal quickly and without interference from members. It might render extinct governments like the one that emerged from the 2017 election.
Some were also concerned it could look like the Greens were holding the country to "ransom" in the way New Zealand First leader Winston Peters was alleged to have done during 1996 coalition talks.
About six weeks ago, the Green Left met with the Green Party caucus to discuss the remit.
Caucus proposed an amendment that would shorten the timeframe from 10 days to three. This was rejected.
However, the Green Left agreed to make one change: the inclusion of a "backstop".
This would allow the Kaunihera, the party's executive governing body, to shorten the 10-day period to just 48 hours if it was politically necessary to do so.
Getting the eight-member Kaunihera to agree to shorten the timeframe might be difficult. The two party co-leaders comprise two of the eight voting members on the Kaunihera, meaning they are strongly outnumbered.
Co-leaders James Shaw and Marama Davidson gave a statement to the Herald that backed the Green Party's internal democracy, but did not take a view on the remit itself.
"We know that having this choice is of paramount importance to our members. It will be up to them to decide whether or not the proposed remit is consistent with this and the principle of member-led decision making," the statement said.
"The Green Party has a proud history of upholding the highest standards of internal democracy. It is a great testament to the way our party works that members can come forward with new ideas for how our party makes decisions in line with our founding charter.
"Prior to negotiations in 2017 and 2020, the party leadership undertook a great deal of consultation with our members to gather their views on what our priorities throughout those negotiations should be. If New Zealanders vote for us to be in a similar position where we can negotiate to form the next government after the 2023 election, we will of course do the same.
"One of the Green Party's founding principles is to make sure decisions are made directly at the appropriate level by those affected. Upholding this principle is a priority for us as co-leaders. Regardless of whether we are in position to negotiate with the largest party alone, or whether we are part of a process that involves several other parties, the ultimate decision about whether the Green Party forms a government should continue to rest with our membership".