Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick 'frequently thinks about leaving Parliament'

Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick.
Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick. Photo credit: Getty

Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick has revealed she "frequently thinks about leaving Parliament" and often wonders if she could be "more effective outside". 

Swarbrick, a Green Party list MP, made the revelation in an AMA (Ask Me Anything) thread on Reddit, in which users put questions to New Zealand's youngest MP. 

The 25-year-old was asked for her "honest opinion" of Winston Peters, who leads New Zealand First, one of the three parties that form the Government with Labour and the Greens. 

Swarbrick said she has no overlapping portfolios with him, and therefore doesn't have a lot to do with him. But she described New Zealand First MPs as generally "honest", "upfront", and "genuine and decent people". 

But in the next sentence, Swarbrick revealed she doesn't "identify with any style of politics that isn't earnest, straight up and what's best for folks and who we're supposed to represent". 

She went on to say, "I therefore regularly get frustrated with gameplaying, which is far too common in our political system, and frequently think about leaving Parliament - wondering if I could be more effective outside." 

Swarbrick said she was "gutted" when Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern revealed in April that the Government had ruled out the prospect of a capital gains tax (CGT) and that it would never be considered again while she was in power. 

Before the 2017 election, Peters said a CGT was "off the table".  When Ardern announced a CGT wouldn't go ahead, speculation rose that Peters' party had exercised too much influence over the decision - which he denied

Introducing a CGT is party of the Green Party's economic policy

Former MP Peter Dunne described the Greens as being "responsible" as a Government partner so far, because of the "chain mail blanket of constraint called New Zealand First which smothers them" within the coalition. 

When a Reddit user said they felt let down by the CGT decision, and suggested New Zealand First was behind it, Swarbrick responded: "Greens hold only 8/120 seats and we've therefore got to work with what we've got."

"On CGT, the Greens are the only party still willing to stand by it... We want to do more and do it faster, but to get there, we need greater numbers and therefore greater leverage."

Despite admitting she contemplates leaving Parliament, Swarbrick said she has "no regrets at all" joining the Greens. She said she felt they had the "most coherent value framework of all political parties". 

Swarbrick said in joining the Greens, she didn't "have to wait 10 years to have an opinion" compared to other larger parties where she'd have had to "climb the ranks". 

She said by that time, "I may be so indoctrinated I mightn't know what 'my' opinion actually is". 

The Greens have a confidence and supply agreement with Labour, so the eight Green MP votes are necessary to pass any piece of legislation, unless the Opposition supports it. 

For that reason, Swarbrick said as a backbench MP she gets "a substantial amount of input into any Government decision" in her bundle of portfolios. 

In the thread, Swarbrick also hit back at National MP Paula Bennett, who earlier this year said she wouldn't return on-air to debate her about recreational cannabis law reform. 

Bennett, 50, criticised the Government for not taking cannabis legalisation seriously by "throwing something this important out to a very junior Member of Parliament".

Swarbrick said she found the "insinuation that a backbencher is incapable of doing anything meaningful rather insightful". 

Swarbrick is the Greens' spokesperson for education, mental health, open and accessible government, drug law reform, local government, arts, culture and heritage, small business, broadcasting, and youth. 

She became a candidate for the Greens in 2016 following a high-profile but unsuccessful run for the Auckland mayoral election. 

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