A Labour-Greens-New Zealand First coalition would ensure a “very good government” for New Zealand, Labour Party leader Andrew Little says.
Importantly, regarding post-election coalition potential, Little said that after turning initially to the Greens, he would then favour bringing New Zealand First into the fold over the Maori Party if either of those two would give him the extra numbers to govern.
Speaking to media Tuesday morning, Little would not go as far as to completely rule out working with the Maori Party, but said the scenario was not part of his current thinking.
Little attacked the Maori Party as having shackled itself to the National-led government while the wider situation for their people had gone backwards over nine years. He said he’d look to Maori leadership in Labour’s own caucus – Kelvin Davis and Nanaia Mahuta – to alleviate that.
“In the end, the future is about Maori sitting around every table where decisions are made. Not being called in on a grace and favour basis, as happens at the moment. That’s the big difference between us and the Maori Party and its relationship with National,” Little said.
“They haven’t proven themselves to be able to make a difference with the National Party. We’ve been working very closely with the Green Party, where we also have plenty of common ground, with the…New Zealand First Party where we also have plenty of common ground. Those are the places I am looking if I have the privilege of forming a government.”
“I am looking at the Green Party and New Zealand First, first, if I have the privilege of having the numbers and being able to put together a government. I am not contemplating or anticipating contacting the Maori Party as part of that.”
Asked whether he would rule out the Maori Party in a Labour-led coalition, Little said: “I just don’t see it happening. The way things are going at the moment, I think ourselves and the other two Opposition parties, the Greens and New Zealand First, we work well together, we have plenty of common ground.
“If the numbers fall our way we’re quite capable of putting together, in my view, a very good government for New Zealand. We won’t need anybody else,” he said.
Little was speaking after two sides of the Maori Party were put on view Tuesday morning. Interest.co.nz published an interview with co-leader Marama Fox, who said the animosity towards the Labour Party was the ‘old-school’ view, and that she could see a scenario where party members backed entering a coalition with Labour.
Later, party president Tuku Morgan on Radio New Zealand ripped into Labour’s treatment of its own Maori MPs. During an interview about the party teaming up with One Pacific in Auckland, Morgan said: “Our game and our outcome that we seek is always to break the stranglehold that the Labour Party have held over the Maori seats and Pacific Island community.”
“We understand the frustration of being oppressed by people like Andrew Little,” Morgan said. “Andrew Little has thrown his Maori MPs under the political bus. They don’t give a stuff about Maori aspirations, and the past nine years is an indication,” Morgan said.
“It’s been to our salvation that they haven’t been in government and they will be a further three years on the backbenches. We’re absolutely confident that we can shut out the Labour Party…”