14 Feb 2017

Labour-Greens deny deal over Ohariu seat

5:12 pm on 14 February 2017

The Labour Party is refusing to acknowledge that the Greens' decision to stand aside in the key seat of Ohariu constitutes an electoral "deal".

Green Party co-leader James Shaw, left, and Labour leader Andrew Little at a climate march in Auckland.

Green Party co-leader James Shaw (left) and Labour leader Andrew Little have criticised National for electorate deals. Photo: RNZ / Alex Ashton

Under its Memorandum of Understanding with Labour, the Green Party would not stand a candidate in Ohariu this election to give Labour's Greg O'Connor a better chance of winning.

Greens co-leader James Shaw said the decision had been made after much discussion within the Green Party.

"I think New Zealanders will understand that, in an MMP environment, it makes perfect sense for us to not stand a candidate in Ohariu."

He said the Ohariu seat was important when National was looking to put together a government.

"Ohariu has a significant impact on the makeup of Parliament.

"Not standing in Ohariu increases the chances that we will be in a position to change the government in September - it's as simple as that."

Labour and the Greens have criticised National for electorate deals, but Mr Shaw denied this move was hypocritical.

"I would actually argue that we're being more transparent here by actually, simply saying we're not going to and it's within the structure of the memorandum of understanding with the Labour Party that we signed last year, where we actually held a press conference saying that we were going to work together to change the government".

But New Zealand First leader Winston Peters described the deal as "tawdry".

Mr Peters did not buy the Greens argument they were acting in a principled manner as they had been open about their intentions.

"It's underhand, it's under the table, it's behind closed doors - the kind of thing that they complain about politicians in the past as having been behaving that way, they are doing just themselves.

"It's sordid, it's tasteless, and we don't want to be part of it".

Mr Dunne is the leader of United Future, and a government support partner.

In 2014, Mr Dunne had a 700 vote majority over the Labour candidate, with the Greens candidate getting about 2700 votes.

Mr Dunne said he was confident there was enough support for him in Ohariu to get re-elected, regardless of the deal between Labour and the Greens.

"The reality is that if you look at the gap between the National/United Future vote at the last election and the Labour/Green vote, it's several thousand in our favour".

Mr Dunne said he would not ask National to stand aside.

"National's decision is National's business.

"I'm perfectly comfortable running on the fact that I've represented the electorate well for a considerable amount of time, I know it well, I know its issues."

National has encouraged its voters to support Mr Dunne as the electorate candidate in the past, but Prime Minister Bill English would not confirm if the party would take the same approach for this year's election.

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