Real Life

Green Party leader James Shaw answers your questions

Ahead of Election Day on September 23, Green Party leader James Shaw answers questions.
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**What do you think is the biggest problem facing New Zealand and if you’re in government, what would you do about it?

Chris (65) Rotorua**

There’s a few and they’re all connected. Poverty, particularly the number of children growing up in New Zealand without the basics; the state of our rivers and lakes; and climate change. It’s completely unacceptable to me that we have hundreds of thousands of kids growing up in poverty in New Zealand. The Green Party, in government, will start by ensuring that all parents have enough money to put food on the table and a roof over their children’s heads, and we will bring in rules that mean every house that is put up for rent is warm, safe and dry, and won’t make the people who live in them sick.

**How do you take your cup of tea?

Jenny (73) Tauranga**

Excellent question, Jenny! Strong, with milk, no sugar – after all, sugar’s bad for your teeth!

**I have a chronic illness and am on the Supported Living Payment. I am able to live at home with my mum, but getting by on this benefit is hard. How would you make it easier for people like me to get by financially when we have to be on a benefit long-term?

Alisa Boock (33) Dunedin**

The Green Party, as a priority, will raise all benefits by 20%, including yours. Our social welfare system needs to provide enough for people to get by on and, at the moment, it doesn’t. You’ll also be entitled to free off-peak public transport under our policy.

**Why should we persuade our parents to vote for you?

Matthew (11) Auckland**

If your parents want you to grow up in a country where all families have enough to get by on, where our rivers, lakes and birds are protected, and where everyone can live in a warm, safe, dry home, then they should vote for the Green Party.

**Immigration is a hot issue this election. What is your policy regarding our increased migration rate and will you put measures in place to slow it down until infrastructure can support such an influx?

Lyn (53) Auckland**

We want an immigration system that’s fair, respectful and treats people as people, not as economic units.

**Why did you get into politics in the first place and if you were not a politician now, what would you be?

*Shirley (60) Orewa**

I had an extended OE in London, working in the sustainability divisions of big companies. I loved the work I was doing, but I realised that there was a limit to how much I could do there – I knew that if I wanted to make substantive change, then politics was the best place to do it. If I wasn’t a politician, I think I’d still be working towards making life better for our people and planet – it’s what drives me.

**What are the challenges of being a politician?

Cole (13) Auckland*

You never know what’s going to come up in the media on any given day – that can be challenging but also exciting.

**How do you balance your career and your family?

Natalie (50) Wellington**

I’m very fortunate that I have an extremely supportive and understanding wife, Annabel. We met in the middle of the 2011 election campaign and I asked her to marry me six months later.

**Elections bring out a lot of negative comments and I would like to hear something positive. What is one positive quality you think the three other party leaders [Bill English, Jacinda Ardern and Winston Peters] would have if they were prime minister?

Angela (49) Auckland**

I find Bill English’s values conservative and I don’t agree with him on everything, but I respect the fact he has them. Jacinda is great. She represents Labour’s core vision and values better than anybody. Winston can be quite charming.

**You haven’t had the smoothest election campaign – what is your plan to win back the votes you’ve lost? Also, if you could implement just one of your environmental solutions, which would it be?

Helen, Auckland**

Our plan is to remind New Zealanders of the Green Party’s values and our vision for our country – clean rivers, an end to poverty, real leadership on climate change. If you want those things too, then vote for us. The one solution I would implement would be to stop the pollution of our rivers and lakes, and restore them to health so future generations can enjoy what we did as kids.

What makes you proud to be a New Zealander?

John (41) Dunedin

Like many Kiwis, I am proudest of our mountains, our forests and our beaches. I’ve been fortunate enough to have travelled all over the world, but there’s nothing quite like home.

**To hear from the other party leaders, click their name below:

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