Shaw: Leadership questions not behind moving Greens AGM online

Source: 1News

The Greens' co-leader James Shaw says the party's decision on Tuesday to move its annual conference online has nothing to do with questions over his leadership.

Just four days out from the Green Party's AGM in Christchurch, Shaw said it was "too great a risk" to host the event in person while Covid-19 cases rose steadily.

It comes as 1News questioned Shaw on Monday about a possible challenge to his leadership from the party's youth arm.

When asked if that had anything to do with Tuesday's decision, Shaw said: "Don't be ridiculous."

His fellow co-leader Marama Davidson said it was about the health of the party's members and the health system.

In a joint statement from Davidson and Shaw on Tuesday morning, the pair said the Greens had a "proud history of creating safe and welcoming spaces for everyone to contribute to the running of the party".

They said asking members to travel to Christchurch, and the risk they could face as a result, "would be a barrier to everyone participating at the AGM on an equal basis".

"The risk of North Island members testing positive and having to isolate in Ōtautahi Christchurch away from their families, as well as the additional burden this could place on the health system, was also too great."

Davidson and Shaw were due to give speeches at the event, which would have been open to the media. Now that the event was online, those speeches were cancelled, and the media would be shut out completely.

The AGM would, instead, "focus on party business".

"We're actually really clear that we'd like to create another specific event for media. We agree that it's important," Davidson said.

Some of the questions around Shaw's leadership came from a faction in the party that felt he hadn't gone far enough to address climate change.

Shaw, the Climate Change Minister, said he didn't think he was too moderate for his party's members.

Davidson, meanwhile, said Shaw was "working his butt off".

"There are always members who would prefer someone else in both myself or James' roles."

Shaw's role as a leader was also challenged at last year's Greens AGM. But, Davidson had been able to avoid a similar process.

Green MP Ricardo Menéndez March said the difference between the Greens and most other political parties was that most of its major decisions were led by its members.

MP Jan Logie said Greens members cared deeply about taking urgent action on climate change.

"So, for some people, they are putting that on James," she said.

Elizabeth Kerekere said Shaw was "on the more moderate side of our membership" while MPs like herself and Teanau Tuiono were "more on the activist side of the membership".

ACT held its conference two weeks ago in a packed room. ACT leader David Seymour said the Greens' move was an overreaction.

"You have to wonder if they don't have other political reasons. I don't think we should use pandemics for political purposes."