Greens co-leader James Shaw ‘always disappointed in NZ First’ – this time over light rail

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Green Party co-leader and government minister James Shaw says he’s always disappointed in New Zealand First, after RNZ revealed the coalition partner won’t support Auckland light rail before the election.

Climate Change Minister James Shaw at a press conference announcing the Government's reforms to clean up our  waterways, Beehive Theatrette, Wellington.

Green Party co-leader James Shaw Photo: Pool / Stuff / Kevin Stent

The project, which would see light rail built from Auckland city to the airport, was a core promise of Labour’s going into the 2017 election.

But it’s a promise that’s set to be broken as Labour would need coalition partner New Zealand First to get it through Cabinet.

It’s a blow for both Labour and the Greens – the project is detailed in their confidence and supply agreement.

When approached by RNZ today, Shaw had little to say about the proposal being blocked, but then let his frustration slip, saying he’s “always disappointed in New Zealand First”.

Transport Minister Phil Twyford said there was a Cabinet process under way which would be allowed to run its course.

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“It’s a process that requires agreement from the governing parties… those discussions are going on as we speak and as soon as there’s a result we’ll be very happy to update people.”

He would not express confidence the proposal would survive the Cabinet process, saying he “put his faith” in it.

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Transport minister Phil Twyford. Photo: RNZ /Dom Thomas

Labour was in a coalition government with every issue “subject to discussions amongst the governing parties”, he said, and this was no different.

When asked again, he said he was not “expressing a view about that… I’m committed to the policy and we’re working through with all three parties to make a decision”.

He and Labour believed a modern, rapid transit network in Auckland was “one of the most important investments we can make”, he said.

“But you know coalition government, you’ve got different parties, different voices around the table and that’s why we have a Cabinet process”.

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New Zealand First’s transport spokesperson and associate minister Shane Jones declined to be interviewed.

Senior New Zealand First MP and government minister Ron Mark said leader Winston Peters had made the party’s position clear – “light rail’s not in our book”.

With just 99 days to go until the election, time is quickly running out for Twyford to present his case to Cabinet.

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