8 Sep 2017

Minor parties clash in multi-party debate

9:15 pm on 8 September 2017

The minor parties went at it tonight in TVNZ's Multi Party Debate.

(from left) Marama Fox, Damian Light, David Seymour and James Shaw.

The leaders: Marama Fox, left, Damian Light, David Seymour and James Shaw. Photo: Screenshot / TVNZ

Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox, Green Party leader James Shaw, Act Party leader David Seymour and United Future leader Damian Light debated issues ranging from climate change to education.

Gareth Morgan, the leader of The Opportunities Party, had asked a court to compel TVNZ to include him in tonight's debate but was turned down.

TVNZ's rules state to be included a party has to be in Parliament or be polling over 3 percent.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters pulled out of the debate, saying if National and Labour were not taking part he did not see any reason to.

The Māori Party and Act said they agree that National Standards - standardised testing for primary school students - should stay but the Green Party and United Future are against the idea.

And all the parties were for the compulsory teaching of Te Reo apart from Act.

The environment, climate change and water tax

Mr Shaw reassured farmers they would not go broke if a tax was introduced to control carbon emissions.

He said if elected his party would pass legislation in the first 100 days to make law a target of becoming a net-zero emissions economy by 2050.

"We've been very careful about the pricing mechanism that we're talking about."

"We've gone through what the costs will be for farms ... for households, and actually everyone is better off.

Mr Shaw said the party would release its plan to deal with climate change on Sunday.

When asked about Labour's proposed water tax, Mr Shaw said it did not go far enough.

"We need to go for the cause and stop the pollution - we want to put a levy on the pollution itself and then use that money to help transition farmers from where we are now to where we want to be in the future."

Mr Seymour said a water tax would bankrupt the rural economy.

"There has to be a change. The state of our water is bad but to ... persecute farmers - farmers actually rely on their land and want to protect it.

"They are committed to plantings and fencing - where we need to go is property rights in water and property rights in discharge that farmers can trade within themselves," Mr Seymour said.

Ms Fox said if Labour thought they could own water on behalf of all New Zealand the issue would end up in court just like the foreshore and seabed.

"Māori have rights to water and we need to recognise those under the treaty and we need to work together as a community to address the issue of keeping our rivers clean.

"Of course we have to be future thinking, we have to think of our grandchildren's grandchildren," Ms Fox said.

On coalition partners

Marama Fox said she hoped the Māori Party never has to work along side New Zealand First.

"There is a feeling for a change and I look forward to working with a party like the Greens that are so close in policy to us.

"I could work with Labour I could work with the Greens and we have proven we can work with the National government."

Green leader James Shaw did not rule out working with New Zealand First.

"We've always said that a Labour, Green government could work with New Zealand First but we can't leave it up to chance because Winston Peters has not said which way he will go, and that is why the Green Party has to be the partner to the Labour Party this election.

"I trust Jacinda Ardern, when she says we are the first cab off the rank I believe her, I know and she knows what is at stake in this election.

"This time we are for a change of government the past nine years of National government have been bad for child poverty bad and bad for the environment thats why we want to have a new Labor, Greens coalition after the election.

"There is a new generation coming through and they look at things differently, and i am excited for that."

David Seymour said he could not support a labour government in its current state.

"This is a party that is going into the election with a tax policy which we wont find out until after its going back to 1970 labour relations that will bankrupt this country, and if Winston Peters thinks he is above being here and debating in front of New Zealanders than frankly he doesn't deserve to be in parliament."

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