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New Greens co-leader aims to 'change the party' to win

New Greens co-leader aims to 'change the party' to win

By Pattrick Smellie

May 31 (BusinessDesk) - Newly elected Green Party male co-leader James Shaw says his job is to "change the party" to prepare it for government rather than an opposition, massively grow party membership to reflect a broader cross-section of New Zealand society and articulate economic policy that goes beyond both capitalism and socialism.

Button-holed by opponents as a right-wing candidate because of his background as an international business consultant, Shaw got a rousing cheer from the 250 delegates at the party's annual congress when he told them he was "not a hero of free market capitalism, because free market capitalism is dead" and had been since governments bailed out private sector banks in the 2008 global financial crisis.

"The reality of politics in the wake of the global financial crisis is that there is no longer a struggle between capitalism and socialism. What we have now is a hybrid model that takes some of the good but most of the bad elements of both systems.

"There's no name for this system that we now live under," said Shaw. "It's not capitalism or neo-liberalism. And it's not conservatism. Nobody speaks for it. Nobody voted for it."

It was a product of lobbying, deals behind closed doors and driven by polling.

"My opposition to our current, deliberately broken economic system is not ideological. It is moral," he said, to applause.

While he opposed going into formal coalition with the National Party, he urged the creation of "common cause" with National on an ambitious national target for greenhouse gas emissions reduction ahead of this December's global climate change conference in Paris.

Shaw said also that the Greens need to modernise how it campaigns, using techniques that are "technology-based, data-driven but founded on communities, self-organisation and the passion of volunteers."

"I do want to change the Green Party," he said. "We need to grow. We need to transition from an opposition party to a party of government.

"I want us to double our membership in the next year and then double it again the year after that."

The party also needed to be "more like modern New Zealand", meaning more Maori, Pasifika, Asians, businesspeople, farmers, artists, doctors and lawyers.

"People vote for people they feel a connection to. If we aim to govern the country, then we need to represent it," said Shaw, whose speech did not refer once to the Greens' most obvious coalition partner, the Labour Party.

Shaw, who entered Parliament after the September 2014 election, became the party's third male co-leader in its 25 year history yesterday, convincingly beating front-runner and long-serving Green MP Kevin Hague, winning the support of 69 electorate delegates to Hague's 56, with other candidates, Gareth Hughes and Vernon Tava, winning one vote each under the party's electoral system..


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