By Alex Tarrant
Jacinda Ardern better be hoping Winston Peters and James Shaw are both fans of those surprise makeover TV programmes.
The typical episode sees a homeowner leave a bunch interior designers and builders to shake things up for a day, is led back in blindfolded when the work is complete, whips it off and screams with delight/surprise/disappointment/all of these when they see their revamped townhouse.
This is going to be playing out on the Left over the next day or two, if this is the direction Winston Peters’ lot decide to turn.
Labour Party leader Jacinda Ardern made headlines on Tuesday morning with comments indicating the Greens were going to wait until Kingmaker New Zealand First had made a choice on which way it would go, before Green membership delegates would vote to ratify the party’s agreement with Labour.
This could be read as the Greens demanding the final say. It’s not. My understanding is that, while movement from New Zealand First is required before the Green Party holds its delegate call, this doesn’t mean New Zealand First would have had to have made its final decision – privately or publicly.
The Greens are waiting for Labour to indicate to them that they’ve settled with New Zealand First on what a deal would look like, if New Zealand First were to eventually lean that way. (It’s likely that at the same time NZ First would have reached the same sort of agreement with National.) It’s not expected that the Greens would be told any details by Labour. This also doesn't mean that Cabinet positions would need to have been agreed on by this point (Peters doesn't want the baubles clouding the judgement of his caucus).
The Greens would then make the call to the 170 or so delegates representing the party’s membership to go over the nature of the Labour-Greens agreement which is already “pretty much” agreed on (Ardern’s comment this morning).
If 75% approval is received, the Greens will let Labour know, who’ll in turn let NZ First know that the Labour-Greens deal is signed off, and that they can go ahead with a Labour-led government if Peters decides this is the way he wants to go. Again, Peters isn’t expected to be told what the Labour-Greens agreement entails.
As Ardern noted on Tuesday morning, Labour has carried out blind negotiations with both NZ First and the Greens – neither knows the results of negotiations with the other. Labour is being “mindful that in the coalition or agreements that we sign that they are compatible with one another,” Ardern said on RNZ.
So, despite Peters effectively having the final say, his and Shaw's blindfolds will be lifted at the same time. Ardern better hope they don’t react too badly.