Jacinda Ardern’s Labour party has signed a “cooperation” agreement with the Green party, the prime minister has said, saying she hopes the agreement will be an extra level of stability for her second term in government.
The Labour party scored a landslide victory in the 17 October poll, securing a parliamentary majority in its own right. However, Ardern spent the last fortnight negotiating with the Greens, and on Sunday signed a deal that gives the left-leaning party, which is outspoken on environmental and social justice issues, two ministries outside of cabinet.
“This agreement is unlike any other. It does not require consensus to be formed. It allows the parties to take their own positions on issues where that is important, but offers to work together in other areas too,” Ardern said.
“This cooperation agreement represents the relationship that the Labour party and the Green party have formed over the last three years and the continuation of that.
“Importantly for the government (the deal) brings stability.”
Greens co-leaders James Shaw and Marama Davidson will hold the climate change and family violence portfolios respectively, and both will sit outside of cabinet.
The Greens secured an increase to their vote in last month’s election by pledging to support Ardern’s government. The PM has earned record approval ratings as leader, and her government has won international and domestic praise for its handling of the pandemic, which has seen life return almost to normal in a matter of months.
“The Greens campaigned on working productively with Labour to get things done, especially in the area of climate change and inequality,” Davidson said.
“We are really proud of signing this agreement today.”
The decision to accept the Labour offer came down to a vote of grassroots Greens members, of whom 85% voted in favour.
Davidson and Labour deputy leader Kelvin Davis, who are both Māori, spoke in te reo Māori at the official signing.
The parties have also agreed to progress a shared policy agenda on climate change, environment, child wellbeing and “marginalised communities” issues.
In her second term, Ardern will be without a major “handbrake” encountered in her first term in office – Winston Peters’ New Zealand First party.
The agreement means that Labour and the Greens can now push forward with policies they both agreed upon but New Zealand First did not.
“It’s a new parliament and a new day,” Shaw, a long-time adversary of Peters, said.
One of those issues, implementing pill testing at festivals, could happen soon.
“That is a basic safety issue. That is about saving lives and I do think people appreciate that,” Ardern said.
Original author – Eleanor Ainge Roy with Australian Associated Press
Originally posted by – www.theguardian.com