NZ First board agrees on what each policy platform would mean, hasn't discussed which way to go, Winston Peters says; Board heading home; Caucus to finalise finer points with Labour and National

By Alex Tarrant

Winston Peters met separately with National Party leader Bill English and Labour Party leader Jacinda Ardern on Tuesday night, after a two-day New Zealand First board and caucus meeting came to an end early evening.

The meetings were one-on-one affairs, with none of the three leaders accompanied by any aides. That the meetings were held straight after the internal NZ First discussions ended has kicked off speculation that announcement of a governing pact could come as early as Wednesday.

English told media after his meeting that he hoped "there's more to say in the next few days."

Policy agreement

Earlier, speaking to media Tuesday early evening after two days of party meetings, Peters said there was over 95% agreement from the group on policy. But, his comments got rather cryptic when media tried to ask whether this meant NZ First was leaning one way over another, as the two potential policy platforms being discussed were different - something he himself admitted.

The 'near-full policy agreement' comment didn’t relate to agreement on one potential deal’s policy platform over the other’s, Peters went on to say. He said the consensus was merely that the board and caucus had come away from the meeting knowing what each policy platform would mean.

He dismissed a question where he was asked to clarify that the party had come out of the meeting happy with both proposals. "No, I didn't say the board was happy with both of those; the board knows precisely what they’ll both mean, depending on what we do, if we take that choice," he said.

Work would now be done on presenting final proposals back to Labour and National, while also discussing government structure and positions.

Peters said discussions had been comprehensive. Preparations for the party to make a final decision were now underway. A lot of work had been done – and the board’s engagement in terms of that work was complete.

Now, urgent work would be undertaken to sort out differences of calculations and opinions and make sure understandings were such that, if an NZ First decision were finalised, an agreement with either National or Labour was there rather than anything requiring rewriting.

With the board now heading home, the caucus would press on and bring the matter to finality as fast as it could, Peters said.

Asked whether the board had come to a consensus, Peters had initially replied, “no.”

He added that the board had come to a consensus on policy work as far as it could be taken, although there were some outstanding matters. “But on the other issues, that is to be decided in discussions with the leader of, no doubt, the two parties. And we can’t make a decision as a party until we’ve had those discussions,” he said.

New Zealand First had “almost” finalised proposals to take back to the two major parties.

The board had not discussed the matter of whether they preferred to go with Labour or National – there was serious consensus on policies that were being put to both sides, Peters said.

“This is a case of policies that survived. And those are the ones that’ll be going into an agreement.”

When the party believed it had the policy side of things fully wrapped up, Peters said they will talk to Labour and National about “what it is that they want.”

Discussions will develop from these interactions to take to the New Zealand First board and caucus. Peters said the board could be contacted electronically, rather than having to meet face-to-face next time around.

He indicated a decision could still be made by the end of the week, although added this was also in other people’s hands.

The board had come to a “substantial consensus – an almost total consensus” on policy, “and that’s what really matters to us,” Peters said. The party was very happy with the progress that had been made. “We now know the other final decision we’ve got to make.”

Asked whether what was left to discuss was the form of government and Ministerial positions, Peters agreed: “the formal things to come in the future.” All nine of Peters’ possible government permutations were still on the table – “right to the end.”

Asked whether the board and caucus was leaning one way or the other, Peters said they knew which way they were leaning on policy. “We all know exactly what it is we want.” The group was 95%-98% there in terms of policy. “Substantially unified, massively unified on what we’ve negotiated thus far.”

There were two sets of policy arrangements. “They’re obviously different because they’re different parties.” Asked whether the board was happy with both of those, Peters replied he didn’t say the board was happy with both: “The board knows precisely what they’ll both mean, depending on what we do, if we take that choice.”

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I'm the king of the castle, you're the dirty rascals!

Nya nya nya nya nya.

He'll string it out for a while yet.

I actually I think Peters is genuinely trying to do the best for NZ, based on policies. It takes time to do a serious job to find agreement on policies between various parties.

Missing John Key already...

So am I, like a very sore toe.

He is ANZ.

if you are missing him that much, you can take out a mortgage with ANZ bank to buy a (not so over inflated now) investment property in Auckland.. yes???

Maybe he's pasted it!
You know its all too much!
He's been carrying the party on his back for so long.
He's done a hell of a job, but this, this is a bridge too far!
Because we get the words, the fine words, but actions, actions there is less than we were told to believe.

look at Winnie tonight , mental breakdown, the age was showing, maybe he was told to act his age by the board


Why the negative comments? I applaud the three Parties for their determination to work so diligently on the Policies each want and whoever "wins", we can be assured, with Winston in the middle, the outcome will be for all New Zealanders and not the main cities. Shame that people have not taken the time to read his Policies to understand him and what NZ First want to achieve - the media certainly don't have a clue.

actually anyone who tried to look at the policies would find that they are paper thin - bumper stickers with little actual thought. The media was generally kind to WP because he is good television but if you look at the guy espiner interview you realise that Winston is ok for 5 minutes of abusing interviewer but no real substance

looks like national NZ first, will be looking for the first question time to see if they sit there like lap dogs ala pervious partners.

Are we there yet?

It really is childish to keep bleating on regarding the time taken to form our coalition government. Even if it takes a week or more longer we will still be enormously faster than recent European governments such as Belgium and Holland. And as to Smalley's headline claim, NZF would be hard pressed to do worse than the last nine years of National.
Rachel Smalley: Taxpayers deserve better than Winston.

I'm starting to feel quite angry that almost a whole month has passed since the election and still no Prime Minister. What was the point of voting early?! Or even voting at all. The whole thing is ridiculous and I am fast losing faith in the whole system.

The point of voting early is load management.

MMP results in more people's views being represented in parliament. I wouldn't get too worried about a month. An RFP for a major business change often takes much longer to go through due process, so I don't see too much wrong with giving giving a bit of due time to how to steer a country.

Voting in MMP is like buying stuffs from TV Channel.. You must be quick if you are voting for National or Labour, but if you are the first 60 voters we can throw in NZF for absolutely no cost to you... YESSS, it's FREE!