Labour has rebuffed a proposal by the Green Party to
present both parties as a coalition Government in waiting
during in the run-up to the September 20 election.
Labour co-leader David Cunliffe indicated that such a
pre-election arrangement could have posed problems with
post-election negotiations with other parties, such as New
The Greens never had a formal coalition with the three-term
Helen Clark Government, sufficing with a less extensive
support agreement and no ministers.
Mr Cunliffe told the Herald tonight he envisaged that Labour
would try to negotiate a formal coalition agreement with the
Greens after the election, but until then he would be
referring to a "Labour-led Government," not a "Labour-Greens
Government" - or a "Green-Labour Government" which had also
"I'm the leader of the Labour Party and my job is to maximise
the Labour Party vote," he said.
"The Labour Party will be the core of the incoming Government
working co-operatively with the Green Party who are our
But Labour would quite possibly be working with other parties
as well "and whatever the coalition arrangements are, they
need to be able to spread across more than two parties."
He said it was important to maximise the reach "all the way
from the greenest end of the green spectrum right to the
political centre and cross-over voters and in order to do
that, it is important that they have their brand and we have
our brand, and they have their policies and we have our
Asked if he had a preference for a coalition agreement or a
support agreement (which National uses with the Maori Party,
Act and United Future) Mr Cunliffe said: "We, I imagine,
would work towards a coalition agreement but after the
election what we have said is that while we are happy to
discuss process to ensure a smooth transition, we will not be
negotiating policy towards a formal coalition until we know
what the wishes of voters are."
Greens co-leader Russel Norman said tonight he was
disappointed Labour had turned down the proposal.
the proposal had largely been about the language they used to
describe their relationship.
"It was to present as a Government in waiting, if you like,
so that voters would have a clear understanding of what the
alternatives were. That was at the heart of the idea."
He said the Greens have long wanted proportionality in
cabinet positions as well.
He acknowledged that National often used the term
Labour-Greens Government in derogatory tones but believed it
could be turned into a positive to show coherent parties that
disagreed on some issues but had a way of working together.
If Labour had accepted the proposal , Dr Norman said there
would also have been more joint policy launches, such as the
launch on power policy last year.
"I think it fair to say that they are less likely."
Dr Norman said it was clear that Labour could not form a
Government without the Greens and Labour's voted wanted it to
form a coalition with the Greens.
A genuinely new forward-looking Government would need a
strong Green Party there.
"The stronger the Greens are there, the more progressive will
Polling suggests the Labour would not be able to form a
Government without the support of both the Greens and New
The Greens are committed to getting rid of National. New
Zealand First could work with Labour or National
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters entered a confidence
and supply support agreement with Labour after the 2005
election on the condition that the Greens were not part of
He has not said he would definitely take the same position as
2005 if he held the balance of power this year, but when Mr
Cunliffe said last month he might talk to New Zealand First
first after the election, that unnerved the Greens.
- Audrey Young of the New Zealand Herald