Christopher Luxon has announced he will talk to New Zealand First leader Winston Peters if necessary to form a new Government after this year’s general election.
The National Party leader and Botany MP has deflected questions from reporters in recent weeks about whether or not he’s willing to form a coalition Government with NZ First.
He’s previously said Peters’ party is not in Parliament, or above the five per cent party vote threshold to re-enter Parliament, and he wouldn’t consider hypothetical scenarios.
However, several recent political polls have put NZ First at or above the five per cent threshold.
Luxon addressed the issue today in a video posted to social media and in an email to supporters.
He said it’s “crunch time” in the election campaign, with overseas voting opening on September 27 and advance voting opening on October 2.
“I’ve been on the campaign trail for three weeks and one thing is clear – Kiwis feel we’re heading in the wrong direction,” Luxon said.
“I’ve lost count of the number of people who say to me – ‘if you don’t win, I’m leaving’.
“Just ask yourself this: How will you feel if you wake up after the election and we have a Labour-Greens-Te Pāti Māori coalition set to take a wrecking ball to our economy? If that’s not the Government you want, then don’t leave it to chance.”
Luxon implored his supporters to cast their party vote for National, saying every election under the MMP system is tight and he expects this year’s result to be “extremely close”.
“Lots of people have been asking me about minor parties and how we might form a coalition Government. So here’s the deal…
“First and foremost, if you want to change the Government, please give your party vote National.
“Beyond that, my preference is to form a strong and stable two party coalition Government between National and ACT.
“I believe that Government would be in the best interests of New Zealanders at this very uncertain time.
“However, if New Zealand First is returned to Parliament, and I need to pick up the phone to Mr Peters to keep Labour and the Coalition of Chaos out, I will make that call.”
Luxon said he believes Labour Party leader Chris Hipkins would contact Peters also, despite Hipkins having ruled out forming a new Government with Peters and NZ First.
“New Zealand First hasn’t gone with National in 27 years – and could choose Labour again. That decision is ultimately up to you.
“So, if you want to change the Government, then I’m asking you to vote for change and choose a better New Zealand.”