By Alex Tarrant
ACT Party leader David Seymour says he would enter a coalition that included New Zealand First’s Winston Peters, if that’s what National needed to form a centre-right government after September 23.
In an interview with Interest.co.nz Thursday afternoon, Seymour said he would not have entertained the idea a month ago, but due to the polls tightening up and showing that National might need two or three support partners, he would entertain the combination.
But he continued to lay into Peters’ character, and when prompted launched back into likening the New Zealand First leader to Mussolini. He also said Epsom voters had given the lowest vote to NZ First last election of all electorates, indicating they appeared pretty keen to not have him in government.
Peters earlier on Thursday had been asked by reporters whether he could work alongside David Seymour in a government. “Look, next question please,” Peters said. “Look, I’m not going to sit here and listen to ridiculous questions in this campaign any more. I’d like you to actually talk about things that might be important. He is not. Next question please,” he said.
If animosity between the two does look like keeping National from getting them both inside the tent, that might perhaps be aided by the fact Seymour has ruled himself out of taking a Cabinet position next term. He told me that now his euthanasia bill had been drawn from the ballot, he would put his effort towards getting that passed while at the same time taking on Under-Secretary roles, which are Ministerial support jobs outside Cabinet.
Below are Seymour’s comments on Peters and Cabinet. We’ll update this article later with more comments from the video interview above, including on house prices and the Resource Management Act.
Working with Winston
I started asking Seymour: “If National needs you and Peters to form a government...?”
He jumped in: “It won’t be National who needs us. It will be the people of New Zealand who want a centre-right government, who need us. That’s who we work for.”
So, he can’t rule it out – he wouldn’t just sit for three years in opposition because he didn’t want to be involved in a government with Peters?
“A month ago, I would have said, ‘no way’. But I think things have tightened up a bit. And if we want to continue to have a centre-right government, then we’re going to have to have at least two parties, and potentially three,” Seymour said.
ACT has shown they can work with the Maori Party, so he’s saying he could work in a Cabinet with Peters – a man Seymour referred to as “Mr Mussolini” in Parliament’s adjournment debate.
“Well, here’s a guy who’s built his whole career on beating up on immigrants, often with racist epithets, and he has his hair slicked back and wears a black pin-striped suit. I mean, what are you supposed to call him?”
Seymour said the deal he has with Epsom voters is that, “voting for me helps ensure stable centre-right government. Keep taxes down, keep the economy growing, keep the Left out. But look, if you consider that Epsom has the lowest vote for New Zealand First out of 71 electorates, you can see how people in Epsom are pretty keen not to have him there.”
“I won’t be a Minister this time because the other thing I’ve got to do when I get back to Parliament next week is, actually start pushing for my assisted dying, or euthanasia bill,” Seymour said.
“Remember, the ACT Party is not only fiscally conservative, we’re also socially liberal. I turned down being a Minister in order to have that assisted dying Bill, or End-of-Life Choice Bill, as it’s called, in the ballot. Now that it’s been drawn, I need to get that through,” he said.
“What I’ve found is, I can have enough influence as an Under-Secretary to get our policies over the line, such as partnership schools, because it allows you to be part of the government, get your hands on the tools.”
“If I was truly self-interested I would take the Ministerial post, but the assisted dying issue is a critical moral issue that no one else would put on the agenda. As ACT, that’s what we’ve done.”
More to follow.