Election 2020: It takes two to tango in talks says Green Party’s James Shaw over Ardern’s wealth tax comments

The National Party was lying about the Greens wealth tax but at least people were talking about the policy, says Green Party co-leader James Shaw.

He dismissed suggestions from Jacinda Ardern on Monday that the policy would not even make it to any negotiations table between Labour and the Greens.

“It’s not really up to her,” said Shaw.”It takes two to tango. We’re going to bring it to the table.”

But he dismissed the claims from National’s Judith Collins that that meant Labour was going to accept it.

“They’re obvious lying about it to try and whip up fear but they are also talking about it so that tends to drive people who are interested in fixing the tax system towards us. It is not a bad thing at one level,” Shaw told the Herald.

“I was on ZB the other morning with Kerre McIvor – 40 minutes explaining it. It was great.”

Ardern and Finance Minister Grant Robertson have repeatedly ruled out the Greens’ wealth tax of 1 per cent on net wealth over $1 million and 2 per cent on net wealth over $2 million – with provision for deferral until the asset is sold.

The tax attack has been a feature of Collin’s final week in the election campaign and the claim that Labour will buckle to the Greens demands over the wealth tax after the election – as it had over ending new oil and gas exploration after the last election.

And New Zealand First leader Winston Peters joined in today as well.

“A wealth tax of the type being floated by the Greens will cripple many New Zealand families and senior citizens,” Peters said in Tauranga. “Due to house inflation, many of these people are asset rich and cash poor.”

The Greens tax policy is contained in the Green’s “poverty action plan”, one of only six policy areas priorities by the Greens this election.

The others are what it calls: the clean energy plan; homes for all; farming for the future, thriving oceans and the of transport plan.

“We made a decision to be fairly policy heavy with those six big priorities and with our 51-page manifesto and that was because we felt that this election was so important that people deserved it even if they weren’t interested in it,” said Shaw.

The Greens estimate that its tax policies – which also includes two new income tax steps of 37 per cent on income over $100,000 and 42 per cent on income over $150,000 – would raise $8 billion annually which would offset additional cost of policies such as a guaranteed minimum income $325 a week for students and unemployed.

Shaw said he could understand why Labour was ruling out implementing a wealth tax but there were “massive problems related to the tax system which are going to have to be resolved”.

“So if the they don’t want to do this, the question is what have they got? We’ll have that conversation next week.”

He is talking about post-election coalition talks and confirms that the Greens preference would be for a full coalition with Labour rather than a confidence and supply agreement.

“Obviously, it depends on the numbers and the deal,” said Shaw. “We want to keep the other options on the table but obviously the option that has the greatest influence is coalition.

He would also not rule out seeking the role of Deputy Prime Minister, but that would also depend on the numbers.

But the job carried responsibilities and ministerial appointments sought would depend on which areas they wanted to direct their energies in order to deliver policies.

“That is something I am learning from the experience of 2017,” said Shaw.

“There are obviously portfolios that have been directly very useful – climate change, conservation and so on – but there have some which I would say have been nice-to-haves which we might want to direct towards something that was more related to the work programme.”

“We are going to have to be very focused about that because there are so few of us.

He would not say which were the nice-to-haves – although he himself has been Minister of Statistics for past three years as well as Climate Change Minister.

He also confirmed that the Greens would expect co-leader Marama Davidson to be included in any ministerial consideration.

“She wasn’t co-leader when we started the term. She is now. And it was actually

useful for her to be a co-leader without executive responsibilities for that two years but we are in a different phase now,” said Shaw.

This is Shaw’s fifth consecutive election. He started campaigning in 2008, got elected to Parliament in 2014, then was the sole co-leader last election after Metiria Turei’s resignation.

He says the party’s ground campaign has improved markedly each election and he was enjoying this one.

“Especially in the last few weeks when we do this bonkers tour of the whole country, I have actually really enjoyed getting around, taking to people, doing different things.”

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