New Zealand Greens accept Ardern's offer of 'cooperation agreement'

Deal with Labour stops short of a coalition but will see Green’s co-leaders, James Shaw and Marama Davidson, hold ministries outside of cabinet


New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, has agreed on a governing “cooperation agreement” with the Green party, offering two ministries and agreeing to a handful of shared policy priorities for her second term – an offer they accepted late on Saturday.

Labour won the general election in October with an outright majority, meaning they could govern alone. But Ardern invited the Greens into a “cooperation” agreement, saying it would allow the government to benefit from the expertise of Green party members in areas such as the environment, climate change and child wellbeing.

In a move being applauded by supporters of the left, Green party co-leaders James Shaw and Marama Davidson will both hold ministerial portfolios outside of cabinet, making the most of their areas of experience, interest and expertise.

Shaw will continue as climate change minister, as well as associate environment minister (biodiversity), while Davidson will be appointed to the new position of minister for the prevention of family and sexual violence, and will also take on the role of associate minister of housing (homelessness).

Davidson is a survivor of sexual assault. In 2015 she was thrown out of parliament for revealing she was the victim of sexual violence as a child and has since become an activist for victims of abuse. A member of the Maori community, she is also an advocate for indigenous rights.

“We showed in the last government we can work well with the Green party,” Ardern said. “On environmental and wellbeing issues there is much we agree on that is good for New Zealand and I want to draw on our shared goals and expertise to keep moving forward with that work.”

Ardern was re-elected a fortnight ago in a resounding win, gaining a parliamentary majority in the 17 October poll. She has held talks with the Green party – a government partner during her first term - since the poll.

“This cooperation agreement reflects the positive working relationship between our two parties and our areas of shared interest while respecting the mandate voters gave Labour to form a government,” Ardern said.

“It will deliver stability and cooperation in key policy areas while allowing the Greens to take an independent position from the government on all other matters.”

The Labour leader’s offer has given the Greens the chance to continue their alliance for the next three years.

“On election night I said that I wanted to govern for all New Zealanders and to reach as wide a consensus on key issues as possible,” Ardern said. “This agreement does that.

“This arrangement allows us to have both the benefit of continuing with a strong mandate and delivering all those things that we campaigned on, while also using the skills and expertise that exists in the Green party.”

More than 75% of the Green party’s 160 members voted to accept Labour’s offer on Saturday night, after a teleconference.

Davidson said the party was “thrilled” with the agreement. “We entered into this negotiation hoping to achieve the best outcomes for New Zealand and our planet,” the co-leader said.

“New Zealanders voted us in to be a productive partner to Labour to ensure we go further and faster on the issues that matter. We will make sure that happens this term.

“In the areas of climate change, looking after our natural environment and addressing inequality, there’s no time to waste.”

Coalitions are common in New Zealand, which in 1996 changed electoral systems to give minor parties a bigger role. This deal falls short of a formal coalition, with Labour calling it a “cooperation agreement”.

The parties have agreed to work together on climate change, environment, child wellbeing and “marginalised communities”.

The deal does not bind the Greens from speaking out against government policies they disagree with.

Ardern will announce her full second-term ministry on Monday, and meet for the first time as a cabinet on Friday after the confirmation of the final results from the electoral commission.

• This article was amended on 2 November 2020 to better reflect Marama Davidson’s career and biographical details.

Contributor

Eleanor Ainge Roy in Queenstown

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Jacinda Ardern considers coalition despite New Zealand election landslide
Prime minister says she will be ready to form a government in two to three weeks as New Zealanders enjoy return to normal life

Eleanor Ainge Roy in Auckland

18, Oct, 2020 @4:37 AM

Article image
Jacinda Ardern to govern New Zealand for second term after historic victory
New Zealanders give Labour more votes than at any other election in past five decades

Eleanor Ainge Roy and Charlotte Graham-McLay in Auckland

17, Oct, 2020 @3:26 PM

Article image
Jacinda Ardern's popularity with young voters could spell trouble for the Green party | Claire Robinson
2020 will be a make or break election for the Green party in New Zealand, who could find themselves out of parliament

Claire Robinson

07, Aug, 2020 @2:57 AM

Article image
Jacinda Ardern facing biggest challenge yet as New Zealand switches to Covid suppression
The prime minister has enjoyed huge support during the pandemic – but the country’s new course may force unpopular trade-offs

Tess McClure in Christchurch

09, Oct, 2021 @6:00 PM

Article image
Why New Zealand rejected populist ideas other nations have embraced
Labour’s historic win delivered Ardern a second term while voters punished politicians who embraced populism

Charlotte Graham-McLay in Wellington

19, Oct, 2020 @2:13 AM

Article image
'We made history': New Zealand Greens on the rise after voters return to the fold
Supporters jubilant after defying poor early polls and gaining first electorate win since 1999

Phil Taylor in Auckland

18, Oct, 2020 @1:59 AM

Article image
Jacinda Ardern saves best for last in New Zealand election TV debate | Steve Braunias
Judith Collins has the look of a defeated woman as Labour heads to likely victory

Steve Braunias in Auckland

15, Oct, 2020 @12:05 PM

Article image
New Zealand opposition leader Todd Muller resigns just two months before election
Muller steps down after just 50 days in the job, saying he was not a good fit

Eleanor Ainge Roy

13, Jul, 2020 @9:25 PM

Article image
Ardern v Collins: New Zealand party leaders clash in lively but muddled debate
Rivals veered into parodies of themselves, with most analysts declaring incumbent the winner

Charlotte Graham-McLay in Wellington

06, Oct, 2020 @11:17 AM

Article image
Danger lurks for Ardern even as her star power dominates New Zealand election
She is wildly popular in the polls but significant risk lies in Labour’s decision to pin all their hopes on their leader’s profile

Eleanor Ainge Roy in Dunedin

09, Oct, 2020 @7:00 PM