James Shaw 'loves' Metiria Turei's response to benefit fraud

Green Party leader James Shaw has admitted he "loves" Metiria Turei's handling of her benefit fraud scandal ahead of the election.

The former co-leader resigned in the aftermath of the saga, after she admitted she had to defraud WINZ in order to get enough money to raise her young daughter.

In a Facebook Live interview with Newshub, Mr Shaw chose to say he "loved" her handling of the matter.

It brought the issue into the public sphere again, Mr Shaw argued - including being brought up at the Newshub Leaders Debate on Monday night.

"That debate last night, both of the leading parties talking about 100,000 kids [in poverty], that is down to Metiria's work over the last 15 years," he said.

"The story that she shared was as a result of trying to get that on the agenda. We wouldn't be talking about that at the election if it wasn't for her.

"I think [poverty] is like our dirty little secret, we don't like to talk about that... Our approach in this country seems we'd rather have a war on the poor than a war on poverty."

The party isn't planning to choose a new co-leader until next year, but Mr Shaw hasn't been shaken by being suddenly thrust into the sole leadership position just ahead of the election.

"I have an amazing team behind me. The whole caucus have really stepped up, we have fantastic staff in the party and in Parliament," he said, describing the candidates as "working their butts off".

"We have some amazing talent on our party list... I honestly think that person for person, we have the best team of candidates lined up for this election."

He also wouldn't rule out, or endorse, any MPs for the co-leader position next year, including Marama Davidson. The vote will be held in the middle of next year.

"If you want to have a say in who's the next co-leader of the Green Party, join the Green Party," Mr Shaw said.

When Ms Turei resigned, she said her admission of benefit fraud had put her family under "unbearable" scrutiny, and said it was distracting away from Greens' policies.

In the interview, Mr Shaw, 44, also said he was pleased with how he's led the party since, and admitted he's only recently got his driver's licence and is still on his restricted.

He also teased a policy announcement for Sunday, which would see households pay up to an extra $100 a year to help make New Zealand carbon-free by 2050.

He admitted Labour, its likely coalition party, doesn't yet know about the details of the policy and costings.

"We've got a few days, we'll have a chat about it, it'll be fine... We've done a bunch of modelling on this," he said.

Watch the full Facebook Live chat with Ryan Bridge:

Newshub.

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