NZ Election 2020: James Shaw speechless after being accused of sounding like Winston Peters

James Shaw found himself lost for words during an interview on The AM Show on Wednesday after being accused of sounding like NZ First leader Winston Peters.

The Green Party co-leaders were explaining to host Duncan Garner how the Greens would handle their negotiations with Labour, should the two parties need each other to form the next Government. 

The Greens say they don't have any bottom lines, and wouldn't expect Labour to adopt any policies in particular - despite what National leader Judith Collins has been saying about the party's wealth tax.

"It really depends on the votes that we get. We cannot pre-negotiate until we have seen where the votes have fallen," said Marama Davidson.

"What we're saying is let's have an election, let's then have a negotiation - we want to see progress against six priorities," said Shaw.

"This sounds like Winston," interjected Garner.

"No, look, but, it's, but..." said Shaw, visibly unsure how to react.

"That's the worst thing you've ever said to me," he eventually said, prompting Davidson to roll her head back in laughter. 

Davidson laughs at Garner's burn on Shaw.
Davidson laughs at Garner's burn on Shaw. Photo credit: The AM Show

But she was next. Asked if they accepted Labour isn't going to adopt the Greens' wealth tax, Davidson said: "Let's have an election. We are being very clear."

"You sound like Winston too," said Garner.

"Is that a compliment? I don't know," responded Davidson. 

The Greens have supported the Labour-NZ First coalition on confidence and supply over the last three years, despite their differences. 

Peters is notorious for playing his cards close to his chest, usually refusing to side NZ First with either Labour or National ahead of each election. In the 1990s he bucked expectations and backed his former party National, but since then has opted to give Labour the reins whenever the opportunity arose.

The Greens have always said Labour was their preferred coalition partner, rejecting suggestions this weakens their hand when it comes to negotiations. 

"We have got a very productive and constructive relationship with the Labour Party," said Shaw. 

"If you look at our track record over the last three years of working in Government with them, most of what we actually delivered... wasn't even in the confidence and supply agreement. It was a function of being in Government with ministers, and we are very proud of that." 

He said there is no desire within the Green caucus or membership to force another election, should negotiations between them and Labour not go well.

"There is absolutely no reason to go around mischief-making and saying that it's all going to collapse now. Why would we do that? ... Jacinda Ardern has done a fantastic job as leader." 

Without NZ First - who look unlikely to make it back into Parliament, on recent polling - Shaw said Ardern's second term as Prime Minister would be in charge of a "tighter" Government that will make more progress than it did over the last three years, even if Ardern has ruled out big changes - such as the wealth tax. 

If National should pull off a miracle comeback and be in a position to form a Government, however, it's a different story - Davidson saying they're "moving in the opposite direction to where we want to go".