OPINION: The Green Party is being shafted in this week's coalition talks, and leader James Shaw is letting it happen.
Winston Peters will only negotiate with Labour, and not the Greens - even though they all might be sitting around the same Cabinet table together in just a few weeks.
How on earth can New Zealand First and the Greens govern the country together, make joint decisions together, and have daily interactions together if they won't meet with each other before going into a deal?
Most Kiwis would be shocked that all three parties hadn't sat around the table together before forming a government. It's like Married at First Sight: Political Edition.
Peters gets most of the blame because he's the one who is refusing to meet with the Greens, but Shaw must shoulder some of the blame too for being so weak.
Shaw's argument that it's normal practise because that's what happened in 2005 and 2002 doesn't wash - the Greens weren't vital back then like they are now.
Labour and New Zealand First cannot form a government this time without the Greens - they can't pass a single law without them.
The Greens are an essential piece of the puzzle. They have power. They have leverage. And they need to use it.
But they're not. They're allowing New Zealand First to bully them, and walk all over them.
And Labour is sitting back allowing it to happen. Labour is taking the Greens' support for granted.
How can you form a strong, stable government if you've never sat down together? It's bonkers.
James Shaw needs to put his foot down and leverage the power his party holds, instead of letting Winston and Labour walk all over the Greens (again).
Lloyd Burr is a Newshub political reporter.