Greens admit 'never thinking' of objecting to waka-jumping in negotiations

The Green Party's James Shaw, Marama Davidson and Julie Anne Genter.
The Green Party's James Shaw, Marama Davidson and Julie Anne Genter. Photo credit: Getty

The Green Party "didn't even think" of objecting to New Zealand First's waka-jumping bill during negotiations, so now its hands are tied in supporting it.

A screenshot from a private Young Greens Facebook group reveals during negotiations Labour asked the Greens to provide a list of New Zealand First policies the Greens don't support. The Greens "didn't even think of the waka jumping bill", and as a result of a failure to raise its opposition, the party has to support the bill. 

A spokesperson from the Greens told Newshub the policy wasn't raised because the negotiating team didn't anticipate it would be a New Zealand First demand.

"During the negotiations, we looked at the policies that parties ran on during the 2017 campaign. Waka-jumping wasn't one of them. We are now managing this issue within the Green Party.

"This legislation has been historically problematic in the Green Party.

"Support is the price of entering government but the Bill is imperfect and we think there may be further improvements that can be made to the Bill through Select Committee stage."

The leaked Facebook post relays information provided during an executive call. It was posted a week ago.

The message from Young Greens co-convener Max Tweedie says "most of" the Young Greens oppose the waka-jumping bill, but advises public opposition to the bill would be a waste of "political capital on something we can't change".

"James [Shaw] has explained why the Greens are supporting the waka jumping bill," Mr Tweedie wrote.

"NZF and Labour, and the Greens and Labour conducted blind negotiations for the agreement. Labour requested a list of NZF policies that we don't support, and while we went through, we didn't even think of the waka jumping bill. As a result because of the agreements between us, we have to support the bill because our opposition wasn't flagged."

The screenshot posted to Reddit.
The screenshot posted to Reddit. Photo credit: Reddit

The Greens supported the Bill through its first reading. When she launched her campaign, co-leadership candidate Julie Anne Genter signalled she may not support the Bill through the further stages.

The screenshot was posted to Reddit by the user 'YGThrowaway22, the YG presumably short for 'Young Greens'. The user appears to have created the profile in order to share the screenshot.

The Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Bill - nicknamed the waka-jumping Bill - prevents MPs from being able to quit a party and remain in Parliament as an independent. NZ First negotiated the bill's inclusion in its coalition agreement with Labour, a sort of safeguard against the dissolution of a party or coalition.

The Greens have historically opposed such legislation on the grounds that it gives parties the power to force MPs to conform with the party line, risking an MPs freedom to publically oppose party decisions. The Greens opposed similar waka-jumping bills in 2001 and 2005.

Mr Tweedie's post also requests the Young Greens stay publicly neutral during the co-leader election. "It'd be really awkward if our co-leader ended up being one we didn't endorse", the post says.