Greens refuse to play political little sibling

JOHN HARTEVELT
Last updated 05:00 19/02/2012

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A bigger, stronger Green Party says it will not be "tuakana teina" to anyone.

Green co-leader Metiria Turei is today set to stake out what the party plans to make of its increased caucus and party membership.

In Maoridom, "tuakana teina" describes a relationship between an older and younger sibling. In a keynote speech to the Green Party policy conference in Palmerston North today, Turei will assert that the party should expect to be in government in 2014, but not in a "tuakana teina" relationship with either of the major parties.

"What we have seen when Labour and National have negotiated deals, the small parties have been the receivers of whatever the bigger parties want to dole out but not necessarily decision making," Turei said.

"We will be the ones who decide how we engage with government. From the outset, we need to make it really explicit that we are the ones that make the decisions."

The Greens grew their party vote from 6.7 per cent at the 2008 election to 11.1 per cent in last year's poll. That has allowed them to introduce seven new faces to parliament, all of whom delivered maiden speeches last week.

Turei said it was too early to suggest what the party could grow its party vote to – "but the fact is, we expect to grow". The support achieved at the election was "just the starting point".

"This is not the high water mark. ... We have to be prepared to get much bigger and broaden our support base."

The Greens remain in talks with National for a renewed "memorandum of understanding" to work together on a series of projects. It is expected to take in more projects than the previous agreement in 2008, but it is only with Labour that the Greens could expect to be in government.

"If we are in a relationship with Labour, we don't expect to be tuakana teina," Turei said.

"We need to start thinking about the formation of government in a very different way. It's not about one party directing who all its friends will be."

National faced a "risky" scenario at the 2014 election with its support parties "getting smaller", she said.

The Greens conference in Palmerston North today is also set to make a renewed attack on National, focusing in particular on a deal the government is working on with SkyCity to build a national convention centre in exchange for regulatory changes allowing the casino more gaming tables and pokie machines. "The SkyCity deal means New Zealand law is for sale," Turei said.

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