Former Green MP Gareth Hughes criticises party's muted response to Government's axing of climate policies

An ex-Green MP has criticised his former party's response to the Government's recent axing of climate policies, saying they're too worried about rocking the boat with Labour.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins revealed a policy bonfire - announcing the dumping of multiple policies, including ones related to climate change, so the Government could put more focus on the cost of living crisis.

Former Green MP Gareth Hughes told Simon Shepherd on Newshub Nation's political panel the Government's scrapping of climate policies was "staggering", particularly after recent catastrophic weather events.

"Individually none of these projects adds up to much but collectively they do," Hughes said.

But when it comes to the Green Party's response to the axing of a series of climate policies, Hughes was expecting more.

"Their press release was kind of a written equivalent of a shrug of the shoulders," he said.

Gareth Hughes.
Gareth Hughes. Photo credit: Newshub Nation

In reaction to the announcement, Green Party co-leader James Shaw said had he been at Cabinet on Monday, he would've argued against cutting back on climate actions that would help low-income households.

"The Clean Car Upgrade would have provided households with more low-emissions choices about how to get around," he said. "This doesn't sit well on top of the previous extension to the fossil fuel subsidies, which we know benefits the highest earners most.

"Our climate targets remain the same. Every time we kick climate action into the future, we make it harder for ourselves to meet those targets.

"It is more important than ever that there are more Green Ministers around the Cabinet table so we can shape the direction of the next Government."

However, Hughes found the party's response demonstrated the Greens were too conscious of "rocking the boat" with Labour, a party the Greens have previously been in coalition with.

"I know it's not expected of them to declare war on Labour but I think people want to see a bit of passion, a bit of fire, particularly on their core issue of climate change," Hughes said.

Victoria University associate professor of politics Lara Greaves agreed, telling the panel the Greens have a balancing act to juggle.

"Their kind of backed into a corner at the moment in the same way ACT is with National," Dr Greaves said.

"They've got this awkward situation where they have to buddy up to Labour but also they have to some way differentiate themselves from Labour, so it's like that balancing act."

Watch the full video for more. 

Watch Newshub Nation 9:30am Saturday/10am Sunday on Three & Three Now, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter. 

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air.