By Alex Tarrant
Winston Peters says Saturday's vote has allowed for nine government permutations, although he's not going to talk about them, or coalition potential, until special votes are known on 7 October.
Interest.co.nz understands that included in the nine are situations where policies are supported (or not) on an issue-by-issue basis - effectively giving rise to the potential of minority National and/or Labour governments. But Peters on Wednesday wasn't giving anything away as to whether he and his caucus favoured one route or any other.
The New Zealand First leader spent 25 minutes on Wednesday fronting to the political press in Parliament, sometimes discussing New Zealand First’s approach to the next few weeks, but largely ripping into the media on pre- and post-election coverage and on the lines of questioning during the press conference on potential coalitions.
Peters and his caucus had just emerged from a two-and-a-half-hour meeting – the team’s first get together since Saturday’s election. After initially laying into the media with his initial remarks, Peters raised the issue of the special votes – why 384,000 people still had not had their votes counted, meaning NZ First had to withhold its views on government formation until after they were known on 7 October.
Peters told media there were nine permutations for the make-up of the government after the 23 September results. He said these didn’t include any with ACT involved.
He also asked the media not to write that one party [ie National] had “got the moral authority” to lead a government. “We’re not under first-past-the-post here,” he said. Peters said he would seek feedback from NZ First’s membership, but caveated this by saying he would expect the party board would already have a fair understanding of members’ views. New Zealand First’s final position is expected to be a result of the views of its caucus and board.
Peters said his caucus at the start of its meeting had forsworn not to put their own personal views above the interests of the party or the country. NZ First would make a decision in the national interest “when we know what the people of this country have said,” he said. Peters indicated that he expected he could have a final decision by 12 October.
Asked whether the timeframe of less than a week between 7 and 12 October was tight, Peters said he’d been aware of other parties’ policies for more than a year, and of their costings. While he acknowledged others had tried to cost NZ First policies, he said public references to any numbers had all been wrong. He accepted that conversations might be held in the meantime.
He also referred to speculation that he had a vendetta against National’s Steven Joyce. “I don’t hate people,” he said before saying he’d discussed the matter in an airport queue with Joyce himself Wednesday morning, with neither of them able to figure out the source of the speculation.