31 May 2015

Greens' new co-leader outlines priorities

8:36 am on 31 May 2015

New Green Party male co-leader James Shaw says his first priority will be to push the party's case for a smart, green economy.

He says he would also like to revive the party's memorandum of understanding with National and form a cross-party consensus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Green MP James Shaw

Wellington-based James Shaw has only been in Parliament for eight months. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

The Wellington-based MP, who has only been in Parliament for eight months, was elected as Russel Norman's successor at the party's annual meeting in Auckland yesterday.

Mr Shaw edged out experienced MP Kevin Hague by 13 votes in the first round of voting.

Speaking yesterday after the election result, he said he would be drawing on his 20 years' experience in business to improve the Greens' economic credentials.

"What I bring is to be able to build on the economic credibility that Russel and Metiria have created over the last few years," he said.

"I wouldn't have stood if I didn't believe that I was ready and I did canvas my colleagues and other people before I put my name in the hat."

He said he would like a leading role in finance or economic development in his caucus, and in the next government.

'Prime opportunity' to set emissions target

Mr Shaw told Sunday Morning's Wallace Chapman today that one part of his job would be to broaden the base of people that support the party.

But he rejected the suggestion this would require a shift for the party towards National.

"I get kind of annoyed that just because I have a business background, that people therefore assume that I have to be some kind of National Party sleeper agent."

Mr Shaw said he had ideas which he would be pitching to the party's caucus.

"The thing that I'd really like us to lead on, at least initially, is to try and revive the memorandum of understanding that we have had in the last few years with National, in particular around climate change."

He said he would like to form a cross-party consensus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions ahead of this year's United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris.

"We're really pitching for a strong target [and] National are currently consulting the country on what they think the target should be," he said.

"This is really a prime opportunity for us to get together and to say, well, can we have a cross-party consensus on an ambitious target?"

The new Green Party leadership team.

Newcomer James Shaw with co-leader Metiria Turei after the leadership vote yesterday in Auckland. Photo: RNZ/Demelza Leslie

Mr Shaw said yesterday that, while his lack of parliamentary experience made him a risky choice for members, he was paired with one of the most experienced MPs in Parliament.

He said the position was a tough role for whoever took it on but he was a fast learner.

Mrs Turei, who had earlier compared the male leadership race to television dating show The Bachelor, said the rose went to the right man.

"The party makes the right decision on co-leadership about the kind of direction they want to take, the ideas that they want to put forward," she said.

"I'm really proud of the way that we do this work, the way we choose our co-leaders."

She said the pair would work on reallocating portfolios in the caucus this week.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs