Politics | Government

Coalition talks: Christopher Luxon says National has agreed policy deals with Act and NZ First

National has agreed policy deals with both Act and NZ First.

National leader Christopher Luxon is set to meet with Winston Peters this afternoon to discuss ministerial positions, which he expects to be done quite quickly.

Act and NZ First will now be looking at the respective deals National has signed with them. Luxon doesn’t believe there will be major issues through that process.

Despite what he called significant progress, Luxon wouldn’t say whether it was likely the Government could be formed by the end of the week.

Luxon told reporters: “We’ve achieved, I think, a significant milestone overnight and that is that we have actually closed down and agreed policy programmes with both Act and also with New Zealand First.

“That’s a major achievement.”

Cabinet decisions next

Luxon said he will continue conversations to make sure Act and NZ First can also both sign on to each party’s policy programmes and agendas “that we’ve agreed with them individually”.

Luxon said the negotiations will “kick on” and move to ministerial responsibilities and cabinet.

“I don’t think that needs to take a long time. We’re going to work very quickly through it as fast as we possibly can.

“There is very good intention, from all three party leaders to resolve this as quickly as possible.”

Luxon said the negotiations have included going “through every line item of all three parties’ manifestos” and working through all the policy positions and “the differences and different mechanics for achieving the same or different goals”.

“We’ve done the policy work first and foremost before we’ve had any conversation around cabinet positions and we’ll now kick that off.”

‘Much stronger government’

Luxon said he was “very relieved” to reach this point in the negotiations.

“I really do appreciate everybody’s patience with the process but I do believe it will actually make for a much stronger government.”

Luxon said he wasn’t aware of any concern expressed by Act or NZ First about the deals that had been agreed to but didn’t “expect that to be a major”.

He still wouldn’t offer a potential date when the next government might be confirmed.

“I can just tell you, it just got a lot simpler, it’s getting a lot closer.

“We’re on the home stretch.”

Luxon said all parties had had to make trade-offs, which would be revealed when the final announcement was made.

Trade-offs but no specifics

“But from our point of view, I think all parties are getting the major parts of their agenda away.”

One of ACT’s key policy promises was a referendum on the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi, something National considered “divisive”.

Asked whether the referendum had been accepted by National, Luxon first referenced the trade-offs made by the parties. He later said he wouldn’t discuss specific policies.

Luxon confirmed National would deliver tax cuts but refused to say whether the proposed foreign buyers’ tax had survived negotiations.

He believed the process, lasting more than five weeks since election day, had been done quickly given he had sought agreement between all three parties.

“We actually want NZ First and Act to be able to support each other’s programmes when we get to government.

Willis keen to get on

“We have a very, very big work programme, a very clear agenda laid out for the next three years.”

Peters has now arrived at the Cordis Hotel, addressing media on his way inside.

Earlier, National Party deputy leader Nicola Willis reaffirmed the incoming government would deliver a mini-Budget before Christmas but stressed the emphasis on the word “mini”.

Asked on Newstalk ZB Wellington Mornings whether the new government would be in place by the end of this week, Willis said they had never set a deadline but they were keen to get stuck in.

“There is a real desire from everyone involved to get to work on implementing our manifestos, to get to work on steering this country in a better direction, so I’m pretty keen to be at my desk doing that work.”

Willis did not think there should be a time limit on negotiations because that could lead to “all sorts of other problems”.

Asked whether there would still be a mini-Budget before Christmas, Willis said there would be.

“Emphasis on the word ‘mini’,” she added.

‘Reasonable’ compromises

Willis said there have been compromises on all sides of the coalition negotiations and trade-offs have been made.

“We are making compromises but we’re doing that in a way that we think is consistent with the broad mandate we’ve been given by New Zealanders and by and large, the people we’re negotiating with are being reasonable about that.

“They understand that no one will thank them if they’re seen to hold the country to ransom with less than 10 per cent of the vote.

“No one wants the tail wagging the dog. No one wants a situation where a smaller party is dictating the direction of the country or the way it’s governed.”

Willis said she has not been involved in any discussions about ministerial portfolios and who does what - that was for the party leaders to consider.

She has been clear she wants to be in the finance role.

“I think reducing the cost of living and strengthening the management of this economy is critical and that’s a job I can lead.

“It’s not about me or my ego. If you go into politics thinking: ‘What can I get? Who can I be?’, you shouldn’t be there because it’s not about us as individuals, it’s about the country we are here to serve.”

- New Zealand Herald