Shaw seeks common climate change ground

James Shaw
James Shaw
Newly-elected Green Party co leader James Shaw says he has no plans to cosy up to the National Party, but he believes there is room for the two parties to find common ground on the thorny issue of climate change.

In his first major speech as co leader, the former businessman yesterday dismissed any lingering fears that he was right leaning and a ''free market capitalist hero''. He rejected comparisons with Prime Minister John Key and reiterated his opposition to formal ties with National.

But Mr Shaw (42), who won the vote for party co leader on Saturday, spoke about the importance of the Green Party and National finding common ground on climate change, which was the ''single greatest challenge that is facing our country''.

He said the two parties needed to ''get past the Punch and Judy show of politics'' and work together on an ambitious national target for reducing emissions ahead of crucial climate talks in Paris in December. He challenged Mr Key to sit down with him to discuss the issue.

Mr Key did not specifically say yesterday whether he would meet Mr Shaw's request. But through a spokesman, he said consultation on climate change included listening to the views of other parties.

Last week. Mr Key said he was looking forward to facing Mr Shaw in Parliament _ an approach that Mr Shaw said was part of a strategy by National to undermine him.

Mr Shaw's first parliamentary appearance as co leader will be taking on Mr Key at question time tomorrow, and he said the Prime Minister should be ''careful what he wishes for''.

Mr Shaw's speech also gave an outline of the party's future direction.

The new co leader said the Greens would not drop their social policies to focus more narrowly on the environment, because the two areas were inextricably bound together.

But he did promise some changes, saying it was his job to make the Greens ''more like modern New Zealand''. This would involve increasing Maori, Pacific and Asian membership and recruiting more farmers, businesspeople and others.

''People vote for people they feel a connection to. If we aim to govern the country, then we need to represent it,'' Mr Shaw said.

He wanted to double the party's membership of 6000 in the next year and double it again in the next.

His speech did not mention his party's most likely ally, Labour, although Mr Shaw has spoken of working with it and said the two parties polled best when they presented a united front.

Asked about the party's policy on legalising marijuana, Mr Shaw said he agreed with it but it was not a priority like child poverty, climate change and the economy.

By Isaac Davison.

How the Greens voted

James Shaw
69 votes (54%)

Kevin Hague
56 votes (44%)

Gareth Hughes
1 vote (1%)

Vernon Tava
1 vote (1%)

(Note: Shaw won on the first round of preferential voting. Delegates cast votes on behalf of their electorate).

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