Fran O’Sullivan: Will Jacinda Ardern invite Greens to join government?

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will take two to three weeks to form her new Government. But will the Greens be part of it?

There is a period of consultation ahead, including with Greens co-leaders James Shaw and Marama Davidson over what role, if any, the Greens will play in that Government either through Cabinet roles, or, a continuation of last term’s ministerial roles outside Cabinet in return for confidence and support in Parliament.

Labour’s 64 seats means Ardern has no need of support from any other party to pass legislation.

With so many of her own MPs to accommodate, including some highly talented and experienced newcomers, she will be under pressure to ensure few, if any, ministerial roles go outside Labour’s ranks.

But there is force for including at least James Shaw within the overall ministry.
The Greens’ co-leader was an asset to the previous Government — particularly in his Climate Change portfolio.CEOs responding to this year’s Mood of the Boardroom survey ranked him at 5th place in Ardern’s overall ministry.

The Mood of the Boardroom report said his centrist; corporate style was representative of the modern climate activist and it was well-received in the business community. He was rated highly for his individual performance in his portfolio and could take a good deal of the credit for the successful passage of the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Act.

Right through the election campaign, Shaw kept the announcements pumping saying New Zealand will be the first country in the world to require the financial sector to report on climate risks.

His announcement went on to say the new regime will be on a comply-or-explain basis, based on the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) framework. Businesses covered by the requirements will have to make annual disclosures, covering governance arrangements, risk management and strategies for mitigating any climate change impacts. If businesses are unable to disclose, they must explain why. In total, about 200 organisations will be required to disclose their exposure to climate risk. This includes large Crown Financial Institutions, such as ACC and the NZ Super Fund.

On November 3, Shaw along with Finance Minister Grant Robertson is due to be present at the launch of the Sustainable Finance Forum’s Roadmap for Action.

Robertson yesterday singled out his priorities were getting on with the recovery and rebuild from Covid-19, addressing inequality properly and creating high-wage jobs through improving productivity. In respect of climate change he pointed to a massive year in 2021, as the Climate Change Commission produces the first three emissions budgets covering the period until 2035.

This advicewill form Aotearoa’s first emissions reduction plan to show how the emissions budgets can be achieved and a review of Aotearoa’s first Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement.

This is not an area where a novice could be quickly expected to come up to speed.
With Winston Peters it is a different calculation.

Ardern and Peters had yet to speak by 2pm yesterday.He has had a mixed record when it comes to his standing with the senior ranks of the business community.

In the 2019 Mood of the Boardroom Survey, he was credited as a “voice of reason”. Some two-thirds of CEOs said Peters’ moderating influence on Labour within the Coalition had produced better outcomes for business and farming communities.

But campaigning on being a Government “handbrake” did not work this time round.
Peters has however been a highly rated foreign minister and in two different terms in that role forged valuable relationships for New Zealand worldwide, particularly with the United States.

It would be a pity if that valuable experience was not put to New Zealand’s future use.
In a Covid era where the next foreign minister — who will be from Labour — will not be likely to travel far in the short-term to forge strong connections for New Zealand, the ability for Ardern to call on Peters’ experience and skills should not be overlooked.

Hecould still be a considerable asset for New Zealand, if Ardern chose to think creatively.
New Zealand will host Apec virtually next year. Putting Peters as potentially the leader of an eminent persons group to support Ardern as host of the leaders’ meeting would be one option.

It would also be acknowledgement of his role in propelling a neophyte leader into the prime ministership in the first place.

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