Can the Labour coalition last?

Jami-Lee Ross, MP for Botany, questions whether a NZ First coalition with Labour and Greens can last. Photo: Wayne Martin

National party whip and Botany MP Jami-Lee Ross has raised questions as to whether a NZ First coalition with Labour and Greens can last.

“Already we have seen over the weekend the first disagreement where the Greens say they will legislate for the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary, but NZ First says they will block it,” Ross told the Times.

“NZ First and the Greens do not make natural bedfellows, but I suspect they will work to paper over any cracks that form.

“I hope they do hold it together for the sake of the country. Dysfunctional Government doesn’t hurt politicians. It hurts the economy, investment, growth, and opportunity.”

Meanwhile Alan Papprill, Botany’s Labour Electorate Committee secretary, said that based on evidence from previous Labour-led coalitions, there is no reason to doubt that the NZ First leader will work constructively in the Ardern Labour-led Government.

“The mature manner in which the negotiations were conducted have certainly ensured that there will be a close and cooperative working relationship between all the parties that will ensure that this is a government that will endure.”

Speaking for the first time since NZ First leader Winston Peters’ decision last Thursday to support a Labour Party-led Government, Ross was deflated that the National Party would not be in Government.

“It is naturally disappointing for us as MPs, but more disappointing for New Zealanders and those that supported National at the recent election,” he said,

“Prime Minister Bill English won the support of 45 per cent of New Zealanders. In our local area, six in 10 voters chose National.

The election’s outcome was more of an MMP result, rather than an election result, Ross said.

“Winston Peters has now chosen to support a Labour/Green coalition. That is his right, but it will have come as a surprise to many.

“But, I wish the incoming Labour/Green/NZ First government good luck. Voters expect stability and growth from a government, and that will be their challenge.”

Asked how much thought had been given by National to work with the Greens as coalition partners, Ross said he received a lot of public feedback suggesting the party should work with the Greens.

“We tried. If the Green Party was truly an environment party, it would position itself to work with either Labour or National, and they would ultimately get more gains for the environment that way,” he said.

“National was very open to working with the Greens, however there was almost no interest from them.”

And what did he think of Winston Peters and his decision?

“It’s not so much what I think of him, it’s more a case of what his voters think of him,” said Ross.

“We have always known that he can flip any which way. Whether his voters realised they were signing up for a Labour/ Green government, that has priorities like cannabis legalisation, is another story.

“Whichever side of the Parliament I sit on, I am grateful for the support of 21,000 locals in Botany this year. This endorsement, with an increased vote, is hugely appreciated. I will continue working hard on their behalf.”