Julie Anne Genter denies claim Greens used leverage over Let's Get Wellington Moving

Julie Anne Genter is denying claims by Wellington city councillors that the Green Party used its confidence and supply agreement as leverage over a massive transit package. 

Genter, a Green MP and the Associate Minister of Transport, says her word should be taken over the councillors who reportedly say she threatened to resign if the Greens' demands weren't met. 

Wellington Mayor Justin Lester reportedly told a number of city councillors Genter threatened to resign if they did not vote for the Let's Get Wellington Moving (LGWM) transit plan, according to Stuff.  

Onslow-Western Ward Councillor Simon Woolf has been quoted saying city councillors were told by Lester that Genter and another Green MP threatened resignation if their demands were not met. 

Other councillors have been quoted saying they recalled the meeting, including Onslow-Western Ward Councillor Diane Calvert, and another councillor who did not want to be named for fear of repercussions.

The councillor told Stuff it was "alluded to" that Genter had threatened to walk from the negotiations "and withdraw her support and resign".

That would put the Greens' confidence and supply agreement with Labour in jeopardy. 

Genter denies she ever threatened to resign, telling media on Thursday: "I have not threatened to resign... I don't know why you would take the word of councillors over myself."

Wellington Mayor Justin Lester.
Wellington Mayor Justin Lester. Photo credit: Facebook

Lester is also denying the allegations, telling Stuff there is "no record of any conversation". 

He told The AM Show on Thursday: "Wellingtonians I don't think are too interested in gossip or speculation - they just want to be able to get around their city."

The accusations follow calls from National MPs for Genter to release a letter she sent to Transport Minister Phil Twyford over concerns the Greens influenced a decision to delay the proposed second Mt Victoria tunnel.  

The tunnel was part of the $6.4 billion LGWM package announced in May, which proposed integrating modern rapid transit, walking and cycling upgrades, and an extra Mt Victoria tunnel set for completion between 2030 and 2034. 

National's transport spokesperson Chris Bishop has raised concerns about the proposed completion date of the tunnel. He's alleged Genter convinced Twyford to push back the date over her concerns about it.

She confirmed in Parliament late last month that a letter she sent to Twyford weeks before the package was announced related to "concerns" about the sequencing of projects, particularly the second tunnel.

The original LGWM proposal - a joint initiative between Wellington City Council, Greater Wellington Regional Council and the NZ Transport Agency - planned for a second Mt Victoria tunnel be built between 2024 and 2029.

Green MP and Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter.
Green MP and Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter. Photo credit: Newshub

But the LGWM proposal announced by the Government after it agreed to adopt the plan had the completion date pushed back to between 2030 and 2034. 

Bishop has said Wellingtonians deserve to know how much Genter was responsible for pushing back plans for the tunnel to beyond 2030, and is demanding Genter release the letter. 

Genter said the content of the letter was "political party consultation and that is why we consider it is not in the public interest to release it".

She's leaning on a ruling the chief ombudsman made in June that there is "strong interest in maintaining the Government's ability to undertake effective and efficient political consultation with political parties".

Twyford told media on Wednesday that Genter was "writing as the Associate Minister but expressing her view on behalf of the Green Party".

National MPs aren't accepting Genter's justification. Wellington-based MP Nicola Willis has laid a complaint with the chief ombudsman who will investigate whether the letter can continue to be withheld. 

Genter said: "Ultimately, we received advice and we attempted to answer it in retrospect with a forensic eye on the content of the letter."

She said the National Party is "much more interested in throwing mud and implying that there's some sort of scandal when it's business as usual".