Green Party activist Alex Foulkes pitches radical manifesto in leadership bid

Story by RNZ

A Dunedin-based activist and conservationist is putting his hand up in the race to become the next co-leader of the Green Party.

The current co-leader, James Shaw, stands down from the position next month.

Alex Foulkes has announced his intention to run for Green Party co-leader.
Alex Foulkes has announced his intention to run for Green Party co-leader. Photo credit: RNZ/Supplied

Alex Foulkes, 48, said he was standing to ensure there was a lively debate about the future of the Green Party and Aotearoa.

On Saturday evening, a Green Party spokesperson confirmed to RNZ Foulkes had announced his intention to run but he was yet to submit his nomination.

Foulkes said the time was right for the Greens to displace Labour as the main left-of-centre party and become the party of the working class.

Born in Edinburgh, Foulkes emigrated from the UK to New Zealand in 2002 and has worked on several conservation projects around the world. He currently works as a biodiversity lead for Otago District Council.

Foulkes put forward a radical manifesto including allowing trade unions to affiliate themselves to the Green Party, changing Te Tiriti o Waitangi to abolish the monarchy and making all essential services free.

Foulkes will face the prospect of campaigning against the current favourite, Chlöe Swarbrick, who was seen by some as the leading candidate to succeed Shaw.

Despite a torrent of online abuse, Swarbrick said that she was persuaded to run and has promised to work on delivering a Green-led government.

Despite recent electoral success the party has faced some damaging headlines after Golriz Ghahraman resigned as an MP following allegations of shoplifting from two high-end clothing stores.

Shaw has said he will remain in Parliament to support his Members Bill, which would insert a new clause into the Bill of Rights Act stating that everyone has a right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment. The bill was introduced to Parliament in December and is yet to have its first reading.

Nominations for the leadership contest close on 14 February with ballots sent on 16 February. Following policy conferences and party wide zoom calls branches will hold internal discussions with ballots to be returned by 8 March. The new co-leader will be announced on 10 March.