Sustainable New Zealand leader Vernon Tava has blasted the Greens and New Zealand First in a message to the Prime Minister in which he appeals to work with Labour.
Tava, a former Green Party member, posted the video on Facebook in response to Prime Minister and Labour leader Jacinda Ardern throwing doubt on the newly established party earlier this week.
“I have to say, I would ask, you know, what is the political issue that they are trying to solve?” Ardern said at her Monday post-Cabinet press conference.
- Sustainable New Zealand Party launches
- Jacinda Ardern throws doubt on Vernon Tava’s Sustainable NZ
- ‘Bollywood overreaction’: Shane Jones digs in after angering Indian community
Tava has responded in a two-minute video by pointing out the party’s policy goals, including a $1 billion boost to environmental conservation over four years.
He fashioned the message off Ardern’s viral social media video in which she attempted to list the Government’s achievements in two minutes.
Tava highlighted how Sustainable NZ – which officially launched on Sunday – could offer something different to Labour’s current coalition and confidence and supply partners, New Zealand First and the Greens.
“Sustainable New Zealand is focused first and foremost on achieving what’s best for our environment… We’d like to help you do it, in a modern, open economy and in a way that brings along as many New Zealanders as possible.”
Tava said his party could “help” with Labour’s “little problem of managing a divided coalition with two minor parties pulling in opposite directions”.
“The Greens subscribe to a form of environmentalism based on fear, pessimism, and selectiveness with the science,” Tava, who quit the Greens after failing to win the leadership contest in 2015, said.
“Their view that we must have radical systemic change and an end to capitalism tends to alienate the great majority of voters who are then turned off anything environmental.”
Tava told Newshub the Greens expect science to be followed when it comes to climate change but ignore the scientific benefits of genetic engineering.
He also said the Greens have become too focused on social issues, alienating some voters who “either vote for the Greens reluctantly or they don’t vote for the Greens at all”.
He said minor parties should stick to the issues that they’re voted in for while the larger parties are the ones “who have the mandate to move on social issues”.
“We will be identifying a small number of issues which we think are the key to having a sustainable society,” he said, identifying child poverty as one of them.
A spokesperson for the Greens said they had no comment.
Tava then took aim at New Zealand First, describing it as the “party of nostalgia and economic nationalism”.
“They don’t offer much of value in dealing with global issues… Their main purpose seems to be to act as a handbrake on change, as well as being a bit xenophobic.”
New Zealand First couldn’t be reached for comment before publishing this story.
Tava told Newshub he “treads very carefully making those kinds of accusations”.
“I think it’s a fairly uncontroversial thing to say that New Zealand First have not been shy about exploiting anti-immigrant sentiment.”
He pointed to Cabinet Minister and NZ First MP Shane Jones whose recent comments about the Indian community caused offence.
“New Zealand First has a very, very long history that I’m sure anyone following politics will be familiar with, of jumping onto anti-immigrant sentiment whenever they feel like they need a bit of a boost in the polls.”
What does Sustainable NZ want to achieve?
Tava said the Government has “made some real progress on improving the environment” but said there’s “so much more we need to do”.
“Our vision is a clean, green, prosperous New Zealand, leading the world in clean tech innovation… And in the coming weeks, you’ll see some great policy on that.”
Tava told Ardern the “door’s open” to Labour and that his party’s “happy to work with you if you’re happy to work with us”.
He told The AM Show earlier this week his party would embrace economic policies the Greens won’t.
“We can’t ban and tax and protest our way to prosperity. Our vision is not only can we protect and regenerate the environment, we can actually make money while we’re doing it.”
He said if Sustainable NZ was in a position to choose the next government, they’d start by talking to the party that received the most votes.
National was ahead of Labour by two seats on 56 in Newshub’s poll last month, but it would need 61 seats to win. Labour was on 54, and with the Greens’ eight seats, it would have enough to form a government without NZ First.
Ardern took a massive drop in the preferred Prime Minister ranking, down 10.6 percent to 38.4 percent. But she was still way ahead of National leader Simon Bridges on 6.7 percent.