Labour and Green leaders announce closer co-operation agreement
Labour and the Greens have announced a formal pact to work together to change the Government.
"Labour and the Greens have reached agreement, common ground," Labour leader Andrew Little said at a joint press conference on Tuesday.
In a public sign of the deal he will be the keynote speaker at the Green's annual conference on Saturday.
That is seen as a symbolic reminder of Helen Clark's speech at the Alliance conference before the 1999 election that buried the hatchet between the former rivals.
Little said it's time for a change and the parties intended to build a stable credible and progressive alternative to National.
Green co-leader Metiria Turei said the Memorandum of Understanding [MOU] between the two parties would provide "crystal clear clarity" that was lacking in the last two elections about an alternative government.
The MOU included an agreement to co-operate in Parliament and investigate a joint policy and/or campaign.
Little said Grant Robertson would be finance minister in a Labour-Green government but no other discussions had been held over other roles.
Turei said the shape of a Cabinet would come much further down the track, after the election.
The wording of the MOU implies it will run only until the election and it is not being presented as a coalition deal.
Asked about NZ First's role Little said: "We both agree this is not a monogamous relationship."
He would welcome any other party committed to changing the government and advancing progressive policies.
But he refused to say whether he would leave the Greens out in the cold and form a government with NZ First if it had the numbers and its leader Winston Peters insisted.
'AGREE TO DISAGREE' PROTOCOL
Turei said the Greens worked well with NZ First and she had no concerns about being elbowing out.
These were different times, different parties and different leaderships than when Peters blocked the Greens from governing with Labour.
The MOU was completely different from the campaigning deal the Greens proposed before the 2014 election, which was rejected by Labour.
An "agree to disagree protocol" notes that while the parties' policies are compatible "we accept that as independent parties there will be differences in specific policies and strategies".
They agreed to a "no surprises" arrangement that included warnings of major announcements and speeches.
"We agree to invite each other to appropriate forums," the MOU said.
PETERS: NO 'JACK-UPS OR RIGGED ARRANGEMENTS'
NZ First leader Winston Peters rubbished the agreement.
"We do not like jack-ups or rigged arrangements behind the people's back. We'll go into this election, just ourselves and our policies seeking to change how this country is governed."
Both Labour and the Greens' supporters would be scratching their heads over the deal.
"Because this indicates that their policies are up for compromise - our policies most certainly are not."
He would not answer whether NZ First would be part of a Labour-Green government, saying it was "mathematical crap". He also refused to say whether he would campaign to remove the Government or Key, though he was critical of the prime minister.
However, he rejected the idea of playing "third fiddle" to Labour and the Greens.
"Why would we pay third fiddle to a party we're past? When you come in where we come in, you don't play second fiddle to anybody - that's not a statement of arrogance, that's a fact."
JOYCE: NO SURPRISES HERE
National Party Minister Steven Joyce said the announcement would come as no surprise.
"This is a memorandum of understanding, which seems to have lot of get-out weasel-words in it. ... I just don't think it's particularly big news they're going to campaign together."
With the Greens opposed to removing the Auckland urban limit and Labour in favour it would be interesting to see who prevailed.
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