Election 2023: Red-Green friction heats up as James Shaw says Chris Hipkins 'prepared to do just about whatever' to win

New figures released on Tuesday firmly put the crisis into the cost of living crisis.

Bonds for new tenancies show that rents have risen $175 in the past five years, and while median house prices have ticked up in many regions in the past month, they're still down 13.9 percent nationally on this time last year. 

Aucklanders also found out that they'll have to pay 9.5 percent more for their water from July.

But there is one group who are doing all right. Bank profits surged to a record high of $7.18 billion - 17.3 percent higher than a year ago.

However, as the Government chooses to focus on the cost of living, critics argue it's happening at the expense of climate change action.

Flood-damaged fridges as far as the eye can be seen at one Auckland tip. Buried among the flood rubbish is stuff that shouldn't be like plastics - recyclable plastics.

The Government on Monday trashed a policy that would've helped - a container recycling scheme.

"We're not not doing it, we're not doing it right now… uh make sure I got enough nots in there," Hipkins said on Tuesday afternoon.

So trashed for now. Container return schemes are hugely successful overseas. 

They work like this: you drop off your drink bottles, off it goes, and you get cash. Simple as that.

But simple as it is, it's gone.

That specific policy was a Green Party policy, a commitment in the Labour-Greens cooperation agreement: "taking action to minimise waste and problem plastics".

"We've been working on this together for the last five years. It is almost ready to go," said Greens co-leader James Shaw. 

Hipkins denied he had breached the cooperation agreement. 

But Shaw said it is part of that agreement. 

"We are talking with the Prime Minister about how to retrieve that."

The Greens are promised consultation on areas of cooperation in their agreement. Was Shaw consulted before the policy reprioritisation announcement on Monday or was he just given a heads-up?

"A heads-up," Shaw said. 

Would he expect to be consulted on something like that? 

"I would've, yes."

Hipkins said there were "conversations with the Green Party".

Shaw said it's "very disappointing". 

He's disappointed with the lack of consultation and with Hipkins' focus on the cost of living crisis over climate crisis.

"It's clear that the Prime Minister is very keen to win the election and he's prepared to do just about whatever it takes to do that."

The Government's most expensive cost of living measure to date is the fuel discount, costing $115 million a month. It was announced exactly a year ago on Tuesday. 

Documents reveal the Government was warned not to do it.

Transport officials said the fuel discount "wouldn't be targeted at those most likely to be experiencing financial stress from the spike in fuel prices".

The officials proposed an alternative, widening the Winter Energy Payment into a more general energy grant, pay it at a higher rate and extend it beyond beneficiaries and superannuitants to workers on lower incomes too.

The ministry said its idea best addresses the problem and warned that fuel discounts would be hard to unwind.

"I wouldn't rule out doing something different in the future but at the moment it's still the quickest way we can get the financial benefit," said Hipkins.

So is he looking at an energy payment?

"I'm not going to play that game," the Prime Minister said.

A review of the policy found the fuel discount would increase carbon emissions by 3500 tonnes a month. By the time it ends in June, that 15-and-a-half months adds up to 54,250 tonnes of extra emissions. 

"I think it's bonkers," said Shaw.

"I cannot work out why, especially after two of the worst climate-related disasters in this country's history, you would persist with a policy of subsidising the very pollution that causes climate change in the first place."

The Red-Green friction heats up as fast as the planet.

Jenna Lynch Analysis

Firstly, let's just put that 54,000 tonnes of emissions in context.

The Government is saying that's not much, giving us the comparison of replacing a coal boiler at Silver Fern farms reducing emissions by four times that at a cost of $3 million. 

But Newshub's got information from the Ministry of Transport saying 54,000 tonnes is the equivalent of taking 18,000 cars off the roads.

The Government argues the schemes it slashed would have a minuscule climate impact and they can do more with the money saved.

From what Newshub understands, they're looking at a twofer policy - dreaming up something that tackles both cost of living and the climate for this year's Budget.

So keep your eyes peeled for something like their half-price public transport that helps people travel and encourages mode shift to drive down emissions.

They're hoping to kill two crises with one stone.