Winston Peters indicates he's treating Labour and the Greens as one party in response to question on why he won't meet with James Shaw; 'They've hugged each other for years'; Greens tried to reach out to NZ First - no answer

By Alex Tarrant

We have an answer to why Winston Peters isn’t talking with the Greens: New Zealand First is effectively treating James Shaw’s lot as a branch of the Labour Party.

Even though that Labour-Greens memorandum of understanding officially terminated on election night, its impact is now being felt strongly through coalition talks.

And this means the Greens may be relying on Jacinda Ardern’s negotiating skills when it comes to whether any of their policies that NZ First doesn’t have a common stance on, get through into the final government manifesto.

Essentially, it looks like Shaw is left hoping Winston Peters agrees there is enough three-way commonality on some policy areas to give him something to work on these next three years.

Greens wanted to chat to NZ First

James Shaw revealed on Tuesday afternoon that the Greens had reached out to New Zealand First in the last week or two, although he added they hadn’t gone as far as to formally request a meeting with Winston Peters and his team.

“We just made some contact to say, if they wanted to, we’re available, but…” Shaw said to media Tuesday afternoon following a meeting with Labour. “We’ve made ourselves available, for anybody, but like I said last week, the Labour Party will be taking the lead in negotiations, and so that’s what they’re doing.

Shaw still seemed keen on at least a cup of tea with Ardern and Peters together. He maintained that, “at some point, I assume you’ve got to get in a room together with the people that you’re going to go into coalition with.” It was still Labour’s responsibility to put the government together, which they seemed to be doing a pretty good job of so far.

Shaw said he was following the process New Zealand had been using for most of the last 20 years – that the largest party took the lead in negotiations. “We’re not the largest party, so we’re just playing our part in putting together the next government.”

Asked whether this meant the Greens would just have to go along with the agreed policy platform between Labour and New Zealand First, he noted a comment he made on election night that the three parties had policy areas in common and areas of difference.

“Ultimately, when you’re trying to put together a government, the most important thing is to find those areas where you’ve got agreement to work together for the better of the country,” he said.

'They've hugged each other for years'

It was Peters’ turn next.

Speaking to the media after meeting with National, Peters wasn’t taking a bar of any suggestion that his talks with Labour should be expanded to a three-way conversation with the inclusion of the Greens.

He said he wasn’t aware of the Greens reaching out, although even if he did know, that doesn’t seem like it would have mattered.

“I made it very clear at the start, and everybody’s aware of it, that we were to speak to the National Party and the Labour Party, not necessarily in that order, but each day we’ve been doing that,” he said. He wouldn’t comment on whether he thought Labour might look to put Green Party points across in negotiations.

Asked whether it might be worthwhile to sit down with Labour and the Greens before he made a decision, Peters replied: “Well, I’ve got no idea why this question’s being asked of me. I told you all we were going to be negotiating in good faith with both the National and the Labour parties.”

Peters said New Zealand First hadn’t campaigned for another party, and that the rest did. “For months, and months, in fact for years, they all campaigned together, hugging each other, embracing each other, and loving each other. We didn’t.” New Zealand First “was never part of any pre-arranged structure, so why are you trying to force it upon us now?”

Was he effectively treating the Greens as a bloc of Labour?

“Well take a wild guess. That’s what they campaigned on. Have you forgotten?”

“Mr Tarrant, will you get with the programme? They ran on an MoU all those months, in fact years, and now you want to know how I explain this connection?”

He was also asked if there was a chance he could be sitting around a Cabinet table with Green Party MPs without having had discussions with them beforehand. “This is an extraordinary question,” he said. “That has no relativity to these discussions whatsoever.”

Peters was asked again about New Zealand First’s decision-making process. He said the party would make its decision on Thursday – note that he’s not saying that the public would know on Thursday.

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20 Comments

3 way negotiation would be too messy. It is up to Labour to get agreement with both parties to form a government.
I'm pretty sure the Maori Party and ACT wouldn't of held negotiations before forming the last governments.

“That has no relativity to these discussions whatsoever.”

Oops, you hit a raw nerve there.

The greens should take this as a positive or at least as good as it gets.

Jacinda is on a huge learning curve here, will help her in the future, for sure. She must thank Winston for this opportunity.

Perhaps the Wizened One is on a bit of an Austerity Jag, after realising there's a tight budget for Chicken Entrails?

he is right, a vote for the greens was a vote for a labour/greens block and visa versa. same as a vote for ACT in Epsom.
he has captured the middle by playing both sides BUT some of his supporters will be disappointed which ever way he goes UNLESS he gets key policy through quickly i.e cuts to immigration, ban on foreign owners, extra police, keeping super at 65
not sure how national are going to sell these policy to their key backers

That's a very bad sign for the left. If WP can't talk to the Greens now he surely can't hash out policies with them for the next 3 years

not only that for the greens to agree on the deal 75% of the delegates must pass it, and how many of those delegates are more concerned about the environment and how many for social policy.
i now think it will fall over because of the greens so he only has two options
cross benches and give supply and confidence but vote on issue to issue, which means for certain things national will be out voted (which i prefer)
or go with national with BIG concessions

NZF might be fine with working with the toothless chihuahuas that the Greens are, having chosen to be a hard left party ahead of being a centrist environmental party they will have almost no power in any govt they are part of.

I am wondering if National will give him PM, I think they coul dbe more likely to do that, than Grabour. I think whoever gives him the PM role as well as other key policies, could win, but then would they be selling out to give up the PM role?

.. why should Winnie waste one iota of his valuable time on the Greens ... they have been Labour's pet poodle since 1996 ... kicked from pillar to post when it suits their master ... left outside in the rain when it suited them to adopt another stray ... Winnie himself , in 2005 ....

And , after all . there's the memorandum of understanding ... the Greens and Labour went into the election locked at the lip ... as such , Winnie can treat them as one ....

... anyone got a small green stick ? ... there we go ... fetch , James ... go on , fetch the nice stick ... there's a good boy .... ahhhhhh ....oh , come on ! .... get off my leg you dirty little mutt .... get away with you ...

I bet WP will chose L&G.

Any more bets?

Yes I think so too.

He will choose whoever will allow him to be Prime Minister for say the first 12-18 month period.

Not going to happen

must suck to be a green voter - finally a parliament where it could go either way - and you are not in a position in influence or have any direct say in the negotiations. the proverbial whipping boys and girls

They should offer to talk with the Nats - As i reckon if they did that Winston would quickly invite them to the top table rather than risk not having the final say!

Labour/Greens are going to have to bend over backwards, Winston will be PM and we all better get used to it. Ardern is no where near ready to be PM and she knows it; Winston will be the better person for the job for the first 12-18 months. He mentioned 3 weeks ago when asked whether he wanted to be Deputy PM, he said ‘been there done that’!

Two (or more Lefts) can never make a Right, but One Right and One Iffy Right can always make another Iffy Right.

Someone very high up at NZF told me today "the greens are not very smart, they have the same number of seats as us, yet we get to negotiate our policies and decide who we will govern with and they have no say whatsoever"