Article – BusinessDesk
May 30 (BusinessDesk) – First term Member of Parliament James Shaw has snatched the male co-leadership of the Green Party, beating out veteran MP Kevin Hague for the post and saying he believed the Green Party could attract support from people who …
Greens elect James Shaw as new male co-leader
By Pattrick Smellie
May 30 (BusinessDesk) – First term Member of Parliament James Shaw has snatched the male co-leadership of the Green Party, beating out veteran MP Kevin Hague for the post and saying he believed the Green Party could attract support from people who have been “holding their noses and voting for National.”
The 42 year-old, Wellington-based former management consultant replaces Russel Norman and joins female co-leader Metiria Turei leading the 25 year-old political party, which had hoped to push its vote close to 15 percent at the last election but achieved 11 percent and was disappointed not to increase its haul of 14 elected MPs.
Turei made no comment when asked whether Shaw was her preferred choice, telling reporters: “I am quite willing and open to the decisions of my party.”
Detailed results of the preferential voting system that gave Shaw his victory will be released later today, but both candidates said they expected the vote to have been close, with Hague acknowledging that Shaw had made a strong run late in the marathon round of meetings held with party members around the country.
Shaw staked out a desire to be responsible for articulating policy to create a “smart, green economy.”
Responding to suggestions by political opponents that he was too right wing for the Green Party, Shaw told reporters: “I think that that has been a deliberate strategy to undermine me amongst Green Party members because they are worried that I will be able to take votes off them.
“You’ve got to remember that it’s not that they’re National voters, right? It’s people that happen to have been voting National recently. There’s a huge number of New Zealanders we know are holding their noses and voting National because they believe that National is the party that can manage the economy and run the country and what I’m saying to those people is that there is a credible alternative and that we deserve their vote.
“I believe there’s a lot of people who really connect with the Greens at the level of values and policy but just still had some reservations, which meant that they held back their vote,” said Shaw..
Asked whether he could envisage the Greens going into a coalition government with the National Party, Shaw said: “My strong preference would be not to. I find it hard to imagine.”
However, the party would continue to seek “areas of common ground” to allow Green policies to advance, as has occurred already with both Labour and National-led administrations.
While he was not angling for a particular portfolio, Shaw said he had “staked my claim on the green economy, translating the ideas around the environment and society into economic language, so I would like to take on a leading role of some description both within our caucus and in the next government.”
Asked whether that meant he wanted to be Minister of Finance, he said: “We’re getting a little ahead of ourselves, It’s only been 10 minutes. Here’s a weird thing. Here is a politician who doesn’t have his sights set on any one particular portfolio area.
He will outline in a keynote speech tomorrow “what I believe a smart, green economy looks like.”
A Wellington High School and Victoria University graduate, Shaw spent 12 years offshore working with global companies including accounting firm PwC and as a sustainability programme developer for HSBC, the British global bank. He returned to New Zealand in 2010.
Having decided as a teenager not to get a driver’s licence “until someone invents an electric car”, Shaw said he had never needed a car when living in global cities but now had his learner’s licence.
On comments by Hague late in the leadership campaign that his “brand” as an urban-dwelling “metro-sexual” wouldn’t translate well to regional voters, Shaw said: “I’m very comfortable with my metro-sexuality.”
Hague said he had “desperately wanted this job” and was “very upset not to have got it.”
He was consoled immediately after the announcement of the outcome by former co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons.
Speaking to the party faithful after the result was announced, Shaw said he knew that “respect is earned” and that there would be “many people who will be disappointed at the outcome.”
“I’m committed to doing everything in my power to earn everybody’s respect over the coming months and years.”
Shaw is the party’s third co-leader, after Norman and his predecessor, Rod Donald, who died suddenly in 2005.