New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has accused the
Green Party of attempting to destabilise the Labour Party over
its approach to Labour for a pre-election coalition agreement.
Labour leader David Cunliffe this week rejected the Green
proposal for the two parties to campaign as a "Labour-Greens
Government" in waiting, preferring to stick with a
"Labour-led Government". But he has said he expected to
negotiate a coalition agreement with the Greens after the
Mr Peters said Labour was right to reject it and saw it for
what it was.
"You have an attempt by one party to destabilise another
party by seeming to offer friendship and collaboration in a
deal before the election campaign has even started, knowing
full well that the other party has not invited that and does
not want that. What do you call that? I call it unsuccessful
"I think the Labour Party saw it for what it was and they are
"I am not surprised it was rejected."
Mr Peters said the Greens would have known what Labour's
response would be and therefore putting up the proposal and
making it public was "an attempt to torpedo the strategy of
The stinging criticism is likely to cause some nervousness in
the Green camp. Mr Peters has worked with the Greens much
better this term than his previous term in Parliament, 2005
to 2008, when he vetoed the Greens from Government.
He made it a condition of his support for Labour that it was
with the Labour Government only, not a Labour-Greens
Government, on the grounds of stability. Asked yesterday if
there was any party New Zealand First could not work with
after the September 20 election, he said the Maori Party. "We
don't believe in race-based politics," he said.
"They will tear this country apart in time if we carry on
down that path."
He did not consider Mana to be a race-based party and did not
cite it among NZ First's exclusions.
Asked about the Greens he said it was the view of the media
and pollsters that the Greens would be significant after the
"It is not our view so we are not going to waste any of our
time talking about it."
"We intend to be the third force in the Parliament at the
He reiterated New Zealand First's position of not giving any
preference to Labour or National before the election. "The
voters will decide this election. We've got months to go. We
haven't heard half the policies yet. We are not going to make
any decisions until we have."
National deputy leader Bill English said Labour's public
rebuff of the Greens was a bad sign for them.
"It's a bit of a problem when two parties that are meant to
be able to provide cohesive government go through a process
where they fail to get an agreement and then one of them
leaks it on the other. That's a pretty bad sign.
"Labour and the Greens have to demonstrate that because there
are two parties making up 40 per cent of the vote rather than
one, that they are cohesive between them and this little
incident demonstrates that they certainly aren't."
He said Greens co-leader Russel Norman had made "roadkill" of
Mr Cunliffe. They were competing to be an effective leader of
the Opposition and Dr Norman was doing a better job, he said.
- Audrey Young of the New Zealand Herald