Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Speculation over deputy PM role as coalition negotiations wind down

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National Party leader and incoming Prime Minister Christopher Luxon, left, with deputy leader Nicola Willis during a visit to Botany earlier this year. Times file photo Wayne Martin

New Zealanders should this week learn the make-up of the country’s next Government including who will serve in what role around the Cabinet table.

National Party leader and incoming Prime Minister Christopher Luxon has been taking part in regular talks in Auckland over the past week with ACT Party leader David Seymour and New Zealand First leader Winston Peters.

Pakuranga MP Simeon Brown is among the other National Party MPs who have taken part in the talks also.

Several senior National Party MPs, including deputy leader Nicola Willis and Chris Bishop, flew to Wellington today, November 22, while Luxon, the MP for Botany, remains in Auckland.

Seymour was reported to be in Auckland also.

In a press conference with reporters today Luxon said those involved in the coalition negotiations have made great progress.

“The only outstanding issues now are ministerial responsibilities and we’re in conversation with both party leaders about those positions last night and today.

“The policy programmes have been closed out with all three parties and that’s great.

“We’ve got a couple of just minor admin stuff to tidy up in the documents and the only outstanding issue there is ministerial responsibilities.”

Among the key Government roles to be publicly announced is deputy prime minister.

Willis, Seymour and Peters were among the contenders, according to political commentators, until Willis today said she was not in the running for the position.

Luxon said he’d had a good meeting with Peters about ministerial roles.

“It was very constructive and likewise we had a good session with David [Seymour] as well.

“What’s important to me is I want to use the talent that’s across all three parties to make sure the skills, abilities, and experiences are being well utilised and making sure we have a strong and stable Government.

“So we’ve got some negotiations and conversations to happen. I appreciate there’s lots of conjecture out there but the reality is those meetings will happen in the room.”

Luxon would not be drawn on comments by Seymour yesterday that proportionality, in that ACT received more party votes than NZ First at this year’s general election, should be taken into account with the distribution of ministerial roles.

“I appreciate there is lots of positioning and lots of conjecture around those roles and those positions but that’s actually not what it’s about,” Luxon said.

“What it is about is assembling the best possible team we can to lead this country to get things done for the New Zealand people and that’s what I’m fixated on.”

It’s believed the details of the new Government, with ministerial responsibilities, will be announced later this week.

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