NZ Election 2020: Jacinda Ardern plays down chance of Greens getting everything they want

Jacinda Ardern says voters should ignore "mischief" claims Labour will end up having to adopt lots of Green Party policies if the two form a coalition after voting ends on Saturday.

The latest poll has the two parties sitting on a combined vote of 54 percent - Labour on 46 needing the Greens' 8 to stay in power. 

The Opposition has been claiming all week this would result in the Greens' wealth tax being adopted, despite Ardern repeatedly ruling it out. Judith Collins claimed earlier this week James Shaw, if he took on the Acting Prime Minister role in Ardern's absence (like Winston Peters did when she had a baby) would be able to sneak in the wealth tax, despite this being impossible without also having Labour's support. 

Ardern told The AM Show on Friday there was no need for such "theorising" over how a Labour-Greens Government would work.

"You've seen them in Government over the last three years," she told host Duncan Garner. "I do think some of the mischief-making is just political tactics. You don't have to theorise, you've already seen it." 

The Greens have continued to push the wealth tax despite Labour's flat refusal to consider it. Ardern said this didn't bother her.

"It's their policy - of course they're gonna keep campaigning on it. They've also accepted that they don't have bottom lines."

The Greens have instead called it a "top priority".

"It really depends on the votes that we get - we cannot pre-negotiate until we have seen where the votes have fallen," co-leader Marama Davidson told The AM Show on Thursday.

Ardern declined to say what other Green Party policies she wasn't interested in, telling voters nothing they want will pass if Labour isn't also keen. 

"I'm not going to get into the situation here of critiquing every single Green Party policy. I'm the Labour leader. Look, from the last term you would have seen that where we don't agree, we don't proceed. That's how it works. 

"Ultimately MMP means consensus - if the two parties don't agree on something, it doesn't happen. Which is why I've been so clear on things like tax policy."

She declined to comment on whether her deputy Kelvin Davis or one of the Greens' co-leaders would be Deputy Prime Minister in a coalition scenario.

What about NZ First? 

Ardern did hint however that only having one coalition partner would speed up progress. Current coalition partner New Zealand First is polling around 2-3 percent, and would be out of Parliament on those numbers. NZ First leader Winston Peters has described his party's role in Government these past three years as "a handbrake for silly ideas".

"If you've got a spectrum from easy to hard, the smaller number of parties that you have, the easier it is, no question," said Ardern "However, I'm not making any predictions on what I might end up working with." 

On Thursday night during TVNZ's final leaders debate she said if NZ First was in a position to choose the next Government - as they often have been in the past 25 years - she'd be happy to take them back. 

Winston Peters and Jacinda Ardern.
Winston Peters and Jacinda Ardern. Photo credit: Getty

Political academic Bryce Edwards of Victoria University said NZ First could potentially make a last-minute comeback. According to Thursday night's TVNZ-Colmar Brunton poll, the party is up from 2 to 3 percent - at that low level of polling, a statistically significant movement. 

"Most of us have written NZ First off with no chance of staying in Parliament after Saturday, but there does seem to be a glimmer there of hope for them," Dr Edwards told Newshub.

"New Zealand First could still be getting close to 5 percent. NZ First will have just a little bit of confidence there could be a late surge, but given so many people have voted it's going to be very hard to turn that around." 

Dr Edwards said the Greens' rise from 6 to 8 percent - away from the 5 percent threshold - is good news for not just them, but Labour too. 

"There's been enough people shifting over perhaps from Labour to the Greens to give their survival assurance. That's good news for the political left as a whole. It's good news for Labour, even though they've lost 1 percent in this poll - having their coalition partner there gives them certainty." 

Ardern doesn't want to take any chances though. 

"I'm looking for every vote I can for Labour - and then whatever I end up with on election night, that's what I'll work with."

Tune in on Three and from 7pm on Saturday for Newshub's Decision 2020 election special.