Green Party Co-Leader Metiria Turei says her party could form a coalition with NZ First, despite concerns surrounding leader Winston Peters' views on immigration.
Ms Turei says while "Winston Peters' racism is always a difficulty", the Greens can, and already do, work with him and his party.
"So we have worked with them and we will continue to do so where we can, but absolutely the racism of Winston Peters, particularly around immigration is a real concern, it always has been," says Ms Turei.
This comes on the weekend of the Greens AGM in Christchurch - a time when the party assesses its policy and political direction.
The co-leader says the party remains committed to forming a progressive government, but is realistic about working within a coalition.
"So, we will be working as best as we can with whoever is in that progressive government, and there will be areas where we have very serious disagreement with what other political parties in that government are wanting to do, and we have to find ways of working through those and develop those relationships now so we can work through those.
That is the difficulty with any coalition government that exists, including whether it's on the left or right of the spectrum."
Nurses in schools
Earlier, Ms Turei announced on TVNZ's Q+A that the Green Party plans to put a nurse in to every decile one to three primary and intermediate at cost of $30 million a year.
“It’s around 280 nurses to cover a bit over 600 schools and around 112,000 children. We already have services in secondary schools – school-based health services in secondary schools – and we have the free before-school checks for little kids, but there is a gap in primary and intermediate schools, and we think that gap needs to be filled.”
Metiria Turei also said the Greens support a universal child allowance, a proposal ruled out on the programme by Social Development Minister Paula Bennett.
“We know at heart the causes of poverty are income-based. That’s why we say there should be a universal child allowance, as the Children’s Commissioner has recommended, a living wage, an improved benefit so that families have a decent amount to survive on.”
On the party’s relationship with Labour, Metiria Turei said “I think it’s really important that they understand where we’re going with our policy.”
She said that the Greens are not damaging Labour’s brand.
“Oh, absolutely not, and I think Labour need to take responsibility for their own brand, as the Green Party does. So we know that we are a very strong and effective third political force in this country. We are growing in strength every day...
“So we’re in a great space at the moment. That’s why we’re putting out these solutions – because we need New Zealanders to really understand where the Greens will take any government we’re part of in the future.”
Metiria Turei conceded that Greens have held National to account at this weekend’s party conference.
“Oh, we’re going to tell the truth about what they’re doing. You know, if you look at their history of legislation over the last little while with the Sky City deal, with the carers legislation, with what they’ve done in Christchurch – and we are here today with our AGM. You know, they have removed democratic rights. They are making it much more difficult for New Zealanders to have a say.”
Metiria Turei refused to be drawn on which portfolio she would like if elected next year.
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