Grant Robertson has categorically ruled out adopting the Greens' tax policy if Labour is re-elected, but James Shaw says he's prepared to walk away from forming a Government with them if a wealth tax isn't adopted.
Shaw, co-leader of the Greens, visited Wellington City Mission on Thursday to hear about their work and to talk about the Green Party's policy for a wealth tax, guaranteed minimum income, and plans to increase housing supply and affordability.
COVID-19 has them run off their feet.
"We went up nearly 500 percent in volume. We distributed a years' worth of food in about 12 weeks," Murray Edridge from the Wellington City Mission told Shaw.
The Green Party co-leader said it is "clear from the pressure that they've been under to deliver food parcels and so on that there's a real need here".
To stem that need, the Greens want everyone to have a guaranteed minimum income of $325 a week paid for by two new income taxes and a wealth tax.
"Reforming the tax system and ensuring that people have their basic living costs met is one of the highest priorities that we are taking into this election campaign," Shaw told Newshub.
National Party leader Judith Collins says that's the Trojan horse that will storm through Labour's "no more new taxes" if elected policy.
"The Labour Party having released its tax plan has not ruled out doing deals with the Greens on more asset tax or anything else," Collins said on Thursday.
Except Labour's finance spokesperson Grant Robertson did when Newshub asked him if he could categorically rule adopting the Greens' tax plan.
"Yes. This is Labour's tax plan that we announced yesterday and I said very clearly yesterday that is what we will implement in Government," Robertson said.
His message is don't even bother bringing it to the negotiating table. The only tax Robertson will add is Labour's higher tax rate of 39 percent on income over $180,000.
"I can't be clearer than what I've been," he said.
But Shaw seems optimistic.
"There is the small matter of an election to go," he said.
And if voters send the Greens back to Parliament, Shaw says they won't accept a raw deal.
Newshub asked Shaw if he would walk away from negotiations if the Greens don't get their tax plan and if he will sit on the cross benches outside Government.
"It's always a possibility," he said.
Robertson said he heard Shaw say yesterday that it was a top priority and not a bottom line.
He's not sure if he'll even do any negotiating actually, telling Newshub: "We'll leave any negotiations for them to take place if they take place."
Though it appears he didn't run his hard line by the boss.
When Labour leader Jacinda Ardern was asked if she would flex to the Greens, she said, "In the aftermath of the election we deal with what the voters give us."
That is what you call wriggle room.