Greens co-leader James Shaw reveals what it would take to work with National

If National committed to addressing inequality and "doing more than just lip service when it comes to climate change", the Greens might consider working with them, co-leader James Shaw says. 

Shaw told The AM Show he has "a lot of respect" for National's new leader Todd Muller having worked with him on the Zero Carbon Bill, but he said National is yet to win over the Green Party membership. 

"It's actually Green Party members that decide who we go into Government with - not the leadership," Shaw told host Duncan Garner. 

"If the National Party was prepared to come up with a deal where they could beat Labour and come up with a plan on addressing inequality, on climate action, and on protecting nature - and they could outdo our current partners on that - then we'd put it to the membership and see what they said."

Shaw, who has co-led the Greens since 2015, said he would "like to see National try". 

Shaw said despite National's new leadership team of Muller and deputy leader Nikki Kaye being "Blue-Greens", he said political parties are "more than just the leadership". 

"If you look at what they've been doing recently when it comes to things like emissions trading reform, they're voting against that, they're voting against reforms of the Resource Management Act, it doesn't appear that they've changed a great deal," Shaw said. 

"The point is if they're going to compete, they're going to have to build up a bit of a track record that says that they're genuine."

Shaw acknowledged it is "better to be in Government and be able to implement even a portion of your agenda than it is to sit in Opposition”. 

But he said it is "highly unlikely" that National could offer a better deal for the Greens than Labour. 

"If the National Party could change their track record, if they could actually commit themselves to properly addressing inequality in this country to protecting nature properly and to actually doing more than just lip service when it comes to climate change, then good on them... let them compete," Shaw said.

"But so far, I don't see any evidence of that."

Garner asked Shaw how the Greens would react if National was in a position to offer them a partnership, pointing to National's confidence and supply agreement in 2008 with the Māori Party.  

"Where are the Māori Party today?" Shaw asked. 

"Dead," Garner replied. 

"Yeah... so, there's your answer," Shaw said. 

He said it is "rubbish" to suggest that the Greens are in Parliament to serve Labour. 

"The whole point of being in Parliament and in Government is to try and make things better according to the set of values and beliefs you bring with you," he said. 

"When you say that we're here to serve Labour, we are not. We are here to ensure we can protect nature and end climate change and address inequality. 

"The question is, in the constellation of parties that make up Parliament, how do we best do that with the circumstances that we've been dealt?"

Garner suggested New Zealand First is in a stronger negotiating position than the Greens going into the election because leader Winston Peters has traditionally kept the door open to both National and Labour. 

Peters has been vocal recently about his disagreement with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern over when the country should shift to alert level 1, which Garner described as NZ First trying to make it clear they are different to Labour.  

Shaw said the Greens have had a "different strategy". 

"We've been doing quite a lot of online town halls around the country and we've had several thousand people participate in those and for us that was about talking to people directly rather than trying to misbehave to carve out media time."

Garner asked Shaw if he was accusing the Deputy Prime Minister of misbehaving. 

"No, not at all," Shaw replied. "It would be completely unlike me, as you know Duncan."

The Greens formed a confidence and supply agreement with Labour at the 2017 election - it was the first time the Greens had been in Government with ministers. 

Shaw is the Minister for Climate Change and Statistics.