New Green co-leader targets homelessness, health funding

New Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson plans to be a loud voice on the party‘s grassroots connections who want attention for their issues in the community, she says.

Ms Davidson beat her colleague Julie Anne Genter in the female co-leadership vote by 110 votes to 34 yesterday.

Speaking to Morning Report, she said she walked past the Auckland City Mission this morning, and found there were between 12 and 20 people sleeping on the street.

“There‘s no reason why there should be that 12 to 20 people sleeping outside that building in this – in Aotearoa. There‘s no reason why this should be happening in our communities.

“The grassroots groups and organisations pushing for us to fix that is, I believe, the mandate that the members have wanted me to uphold as a co-leader and really keep pushing to fix those core issues.”

She said it was a political reality that the Green Party‘s survival was at risk.

“On 6 percent currently, yeah it‘s a political reality that many first term … smaller parties on these coalition and confidence and supply agreements suffer.

Ms Davidson does not have a ministerial position, but said her independent voice helped her to secure the top spot.

She did not rule out taking up a ministerial role in this term of government, but said it was not something she or the party was seeking.

“I don‘t know exactly everything that‘s going to happen down the line,” she said.

“I was really clear that in this term we‘ve got an opportunity and an advantage as having me as a non-executive.”

She said changes were possible if someone left parliament or if the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern wanted to make changes.

Marama Davidson Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

National Party leader Simon Bridges said it would be difficult to work with the Green Party with Ms Davidson as co-leader.

Mr Bridges told Morning Report the move represented a move back towards the left.

He said conservation and the environment were issues of mutual concern but his party was not interested in picketing businesses or going on marches against capitalism.

“My preference to work with a genuine Green Party, because I think those issues are important to me, they‘re important to New Zealanders, but not the far left stuff.”

Asked about possible future coalition deals with the National Party, Ms Davidson said she had done long years of campaigning and advocacy for the environment and the National Party and Simon Bridges‘ policy history made the prospect unlikely.

“He [Simon Bridges] delivered block-offer oil seismic exploration permits that were going to harm Maui‘s dolphins, so I don‘t know why he thinks he‘s positioning himself as any sort of lover of the environment.”

“His party would need to come a long way away from the very environmentally degrading policies that they uphold.

“For me I would be saying as a co-leader ‘gosh, National … you would have to change a lot‘. For the Green Party to uphold what we want to do actually, it‘s not really about National, we want to transform the government.”

She said one of the things she wanted to focus on was improving funding for health services including DHBs, with news of mould growing in the walls of Middlemore Hospital being of particular concern for her, saying her own children were born there.

“If that‘s not symbolic of a flawed economic model and arbitrary targets on GDP percentage spending, that‘s, you know … there‘s something going wrong there.”

“All we want to do is make sure that our core government services have got enough to do good jobs.”