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Greens keen for power after NZ election

The Greens will campaign for re-election in New Zealand under the slogan “Think Ahead” and run a big-target strategy at the September 19 poll.

Co-leaders Marama Davidson and James Shaw unveiled a sweeping suite of eye-catching policies at Saturday’s campaign launch in Wellington, including big-spending welfare plans and a transition to a low-carbon economy.

Mr Shaw said his party’s goal was to form a new government with Labour after the September 19 election, and the Greens would use their manifesto as the basis for government negotiations.

The Greens are one of three parties in Jacinda Ardern’s coalition government, though they are seen often as a third wheel.

Unlike fellow minority partner New Zealand First, the right-wing populist party of Winston Peters, they are not around the cabinet table.

Emboldened by their spell in government and polls suggesting Labour will be need just one minority partner to govern after September, the Greens are gunning for more power.

Mr Shaw said the manifesto, badged “Think Ahead, Act Now” was the Greens’ biggest policy document released in years.

“It’s a reference document that will guide our caucus and ministers as we navigate the everyday choices that our government will have to make,” he said.

Among scores of policies, the Greens would ban greyhound racing and factory farming, stop new mines, increase benefits, lower the voting age to 16 and enact constitutional reform.

Te reo Maori, the indigenous language, would become a core school subject, the refugee intake would surge, community sentences would replace prison for many offenders and an opt-out union membership for young workers.

The party’s cornerstone policy to date is a guaranteed national income of $NZ325 ($A304) a week, funded by a wealth tax paid by the wealthiest six per cent, that would grow current welfare rates.

Ms Davidson said the Greens were “the only party that is willing to be bold enough, to be brave, to challenge the status quo”.

“We’ve proven ourselves a focused, responsible and a hard-working government partner.”

The Greens would also oppose New Zealand’s membership of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance, which includes Australia, the USA, the UK and Canada.

Mr Shaw said none of the Greens’ policies were deal-breakers, but all would be up for discussion should the party enter government negotiations after the September 19 vote.

“We would have to convince (Labour) that is a good idea,” Mr Shaw said of the Five Eyes withdrawal.

“All of our positions and who does what job will come out of the wash and that depends on how many people vote for us.”

Labour is yet to release any policy this campaign, and opposition party National has focussed so far on infrastructure announcements.

“We made a deliberate choice to fill the policy void at this election,” Mr Shaw said.

“The country is currently facing the single greatest economic crisis in many generations. This election should be about ideas.”

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