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Greens Into Action Tomorrow, Wait To See If One More MP To Come

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

By Maggie Tait of NZPA

Auckland, Nov 9 NZPA - A stronger Green Party are intending to flex as much muscle as they can to advance their causes despite being shut, yet again, out of Parliament.

They are getting down to business early with a caucus meeting tomorrow.

Last night the Greens returned with 6.5 percent of the party vote which gave them two additional MPs, bringing the total to eight.

New additions Kevin Hague and Catherine Delahunty could be joined by Kennedy Graham, depending on the number of special votes -- votes yet to be counted -- the party gets.

Dr Graham will attend tomorrow's caucus.

"We'll look forward into next year and how we are going to approach the incoming National-ACT government," Greens co-leader Russel Norman told NZPA this afternoon.

"Obviously we'll be constructive where there are opportunities to be constructive but we will also be a strong voice in opposition where they do things that we think are detrimental to New Zealand."

Dr Norman said that as the third largest party, the Green voice would be strong.

"We've got an experienced bunch, the six of us are strong and add another couple... it will be a really strong Green caucus and will be very powerful in Parliament."

The caucus meeting would also discuss portfolios and logistics such as staff.

Last night fellow co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons was philosophical about being shut out of government again.

She thought the party was in good heart and was optimistic Dr Graham would make it in.

Ms Fitzsimons said the country had decided for a change, and while the Greens would not support a National Government, it would try to add value.

"We won't support it on confidence and supply, we won't support a National Government, but we will work with them where we've got common ground to add value to the Government of New Zealand."

Greens campaign manager Gary Reese said the campaign had revitalised the party and rebranded it with a more professional image.

"It's actually boosted our morale and that will have real benefits after this campaign," he said.

"Everyone's feeling very good about who we are ... You can campaign positively and be successful."

Mr Reese said it was likely young supporters who did not vote were responsible for the result being lower than expected.

Last election the Greens did not make it into government when New Zealand First and United Future refused to work with them, so Labour left them on the sidelines.

NZ First failed to win a seat and United Future leader Peter Dunne nearly did not make it either.

Labour's Charles Chauvel came close to taking Ohariu, and would have torn it from Mr Dunne had he secured the local Green candidate's 2229 votes.

Ms Fitzsimons said that was an unexpected situation, and no thought had been given to telling Green voters in the seat to support Labour.

"We haven't done those kinds of deals and trade-offs but we weren't even asked to," she said.

"I don't think anybody had any idea that Charles Chauvel was so close to Peter Dunne."

Green feelings about Mr Dunne were strong with one supporter last night saying "you filthy, filthy thing" when his image loomed on a big screen over the gathering.

Another supporter, Aucklander Terry Payne, said parties had to make their own ways.

"The Greens wanted to work with Labour last time and got rejected, I'd hate to see that happen again."

Supporter Georgina Ellis was less upbeat.

While pleased the Greens were back, she was unhappy with the bigger picture.

"I'm feeling quite depressed. (A National Government) makes me very concerned for our country ... hey, how much damage can a government do in three years?"

Ms Fitzsimons, in her victory speech, touched on that concern -- that the environment and other Green concerns would not be a priority.

"I want to particularly thank all of the 6.5 percent who have stayed loyal to the Greens, loyal to the future of our children, loyal to the planet," she said.

"And I wonder if in 20 years time whether there will be people who look back at 2008 and say `I am really glad I voted for tax cuts rather than future of our children'."

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