Cunliffe let Key off hook: Greens

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei in Dunedin on Friday. Photo by Linda Robertson.
Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei in Dunedin on Friday. Photo by Linda Robertson.
Labour leader David Cunliffe is not holding Prime Minister John Key to account for turning New Zealand into a ''wealth generating machine for the wealthiest'', Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei says.

On a visit to Dunedin on Friday, she was upbeat when asked about the Dirty Politics saga, saying it illustrated the contrast between National and the Green Party.

The polls were tracking exactly as the party hoped, she said. People associated the Green Party with clean politics, and ''when something like Dirty Politics happens, we are the obvious alternative''.

The Otago Daily Times spoke to Ms Turei at the party's campaign hub in Moray Pl, where she was catching up with local supporters and volunteers.

Nationwide, the Greens' campaign was hectic and in full-swing, and while she was not getting home to Dunedin as much as she would like, she was attending as many local election forums as possible.

She said the Green Party had been on the receiving end of dirty politics when it was targeted by the Exclusive Brethren-backed leaflet campaign in 2005, which was linked to National. However, the tactics revealed in Nicky Hager's new book had surprised everyone, she said.

She acknowledged the saga was diverting the election campaign away from policy debates, but said every election had sideshows and distractions.

''National have only said they want to engage in policy debates since Dirty Politics. Before that they had no interest at all.''

She was happy to debate issues such as inequality and child poverty with National ''any day they like''.

Asked about Mr Cunliffe's performance in holding Mr Key to account on his economic record at Thursday's TVNZ debate, Ms Turei was dismissive, saying it showed why the Green Party should have been included.

''They have turned our economy into a wealth generating machine for the wealthiest.''

Asked if Mr Key had been let off the hook, she said ''yes''.

''He is not being challenged on his record. He wasn't challenged [on Thursday] effectively on his economic failures.''

She also objected to Mr Cunliffe thanking Mr Key for leaving a lucrative career in banking to enter ''public service''.

''John Key does not understand what public service really means. Public service is about making sure that everybody who you are responsible for is doing well. And John Key has completely failed to achieve that.''

Asked if there was a risk the Greens were being too negative, she said people wanted the party to be real and talk about the issues.

''When we asked people what they wanted that's what they said. They wanted a sense of reality about their real circumstances.''

About 50 protesters calling for a change in government marched in central Dunedin on Saturday.

Supporters of the Labour Party, the Green Party, Internet Mana and International Socialists took part. Similar protests were held in Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington.

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