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Former Green MP joins National

Published: 6:04PM Saturday August 05, 2006 Source: One News/RNZ

National has stepped up its campaign to sell itself as a green party signing up former Green Party MP Ian Ewen-Street, who is now set help develop the party's environmental policy.

Ewen-Street left parliament in August 2005 after serving two terms for the Greens. The 'home dad' and organic farmer quit politics believing the Greens had strayed from their main cause of the environment

Ewen-Street says his values and passion for the environment haven't changed, but he's changed parties because more progress can be made through a major party like National.

"I'm better to be on the inside helping creating something from ground zero."

He says he will help National to build a stronger environmental platform and has been asked to contribute to National's environmental paper due for release later this year.

Ewen-Street's very public appointment is a strategic one as National makes an aggressive raid on Green Party support. It aims capture one in 20 of their votes and Nick Smith is driving a process which will make environment a key policy plank at the next election.

"I think they have discredited their cause, and that's why there's such an opportunity for National," says Smith.

Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says voters won't be fooled.

"I don't think the National Party going after the green vote is very credible. I have been wondering how Ian will get on with their view on genetic engineering...I can't imagine they're going to change that," she/he says.

But Ian Ewen-Street is confident he can bring about change and says being part of a mainstream party is the best place to be. He believes National is likely to be the next government and he wants to influence its policy, so there are gains for the environment.