Jacinda Ardern on giving Greens post-election deal despite Labour majority: 'I wanted to govern for all New Zealanders'

The Prime Minister has offered the Greens two ministerial positions in a post-election deal despite her Labour Party winning a majority because she wants the Government to represent all New Zealanders. 

Jacinda Ardern concluded discussions on Friday on the final text of a cooperation agreement between Labour and the Greens - a Government that will have a combined 74 seats out of 120 in Parliament, if the Greens sign the deal. 

Ardern said despite the Greens still needing to agree to the deal, she released the text to the public on Saturday evening "in the interests of transparency", as she explained during a press conference why the deal was even necessary. 

"On election night, I said I wanted to govern for all New Zealanders and to reach as wider consensus on key issues as possible. This agreement does that while honouring the mandate provided to Labour to form a majority Government in our own right." 

Ardern said the cooperation agreement "balances these two objectives whilst not committing to a more formal coalition or confidence and supply arrangement", the latter which the Greens were offered after the 2017 election. 

"The agreement commits the Greens to not opposing confidence and supply votes and supporting the Government on procedural motions," Ardern said, which means the Greens will have to vote in agreement on things like the Budget. 

"This has the effect of strengthening the Government's stability and will ensure there is always a strong majority in Parliament on the most important votes," Ardern said. "As we accelerate our recovery from COVID, a strong, stable Government is essential to New Zealand."

Newshub had already learnt that Green Party co-leader James Shaw had been offered the climate change portfolio - a role he's held over the last three years - but Labour's offer to give co-leader Marama Davidson a ministerial position came as a surprise. 

Davidson, who has never held a ministerial position before, has been offered the new position of Minister for the Prevention of Family and Sexual Violence and Associate Minister of Housing with a focus on homelessness. 

Shaw would continue as Minister of Climate Change and would also be Associate Minister for the Environment with a focus on biodiversity. Both Shaw and Davidson would be ministers outside of Cabinet. 

Prime Minister and Labour leader Jacinda Ardern.
Prime Minister and Labour leader Jacinda Ardern. Photo credit: Getty

Green MPs Eugenie Sage and Julie Anne Genter held ministerial roles in the last Government but have been offered nothing this time. Ardern said that's because she recognised Kiwis have given Labour a strong mandate. 

Labour would cooperate with the Greens on achieving Zero Carbon Act goals through decarbonising public transport and the public sector, increasing the uptake of zero-emission vehicles, introducing clean car standards, and supporting renewable energy. 

"James knows climate change inside-out. His expertise in this complex and detailed policy area is an important skillset to tap into and he has a range of domestic and international stakeholder relationships that are important to maintain," Ardern said. 

Labour is also promising to work with the Greens on environment and biodiversity, and improving child wellbeing and marginalised communities through action on homelessness, warmer homes, and child and youth mental health. 

Ardern said Davidson would pick up on progress made during the last term by Green MP Jan Logie, who led the work on family and sexual violence as an undersecretary.

Green Party co-leaders James Shaw and Marama Davidson.
Green Party co-leaders James Shaw and Marama Davidson. Photo credit: Getty

"Again, continuity on addressing this issue of national shame is in the front of my mind," Ardern said. "It's also my strong belief that this is an area that should be a ministerial portfolio in its own right and so that is what we are doing."

Ardern said the proposed cooperation agreement "reflects yet another evolution in our system of MMP", the mixed electoral system New Zealand adopted in 1996 which gives Kiwis two votes: one party vote and one candidate vote. 

"Never before has one party won a majority under MMP, but that is not to say the principals of MMP should be ignored. Furthermore it is also simply not how I do politics," Ardern said. 

"There is no doubt that MMP can cause complications. It can cause policy to be slowed. This arrangement allows us to have both the benefit of continuing with a strong mandate and delivering on those things that we campaigned on, whilst using the skills and expertise from the Greens as well."

It is now in the hands of Green members to decide if Labour's offer is good enough. If delegates vote against it, the Greens will go into Opposition.