D-day for talks may be Mon­day

Manawatu Standard - - News - HENRY COOKE

"It's ex­traor­di­nar­ily dif­fi­cult to meet time­lines.'' NZ First leader Win­ston Peters

NZ First will hold an all day joint­cau­cus and board meet­ing on Mon­day to de­cide which party to give their sup­port to.

Leader Win­ston Peters, wear­ing a tie em­bla­zoned with the acro­nym ‘‘TGIF’’, told me­dia yes­ter­day that the board mem­bers would be fly­ing in to Welling­ton from all over the coun­try on Sun­day evening and Mon­day morn­ing.

‘‘TGIF’’ stands for ‘‘Thank God It’s Fri­day.’’

His party could put ei­ther Na­tional or Labour in power, although Labour would also need the sup­port of the Green Party.

While for­mal ne­go­ti­a­tions with the two par­ties had wrapped up, Peters said he was still in con­tact with them to nail down fis­cal and pol­icy is­sues.

‘‘We have to get the pol­icy thing cleared up first. And also an un­der­stand­ing of the fis­cals. We’ve been through their bud­gets and our own, and we’ve got to make sure that we do it on the fig­ures we’ve agreed upon,’’ Peters said.

There would be ‘‘con­stant com­mu­ni­ca­tions’’ between the par­ties.

NZ First were hold­ing an all­day cau­cus meet­ing yes­ter­day.

‘‘We worked overnight and early in the morn­ing with the ob­jec­tive of get­ting as much com­pleted in terms of a sum­ma­tion both from the cau­cus’ and the board’s point of view ... mak­ing sure we have a very clear idea of what we need from the other par­ties to make sure there are no doubts,’’ Peters said.

He said the board mem­bers had ho­tels booked in case the meet­ing went into the night.

How­ever, this did not mean a fi­nal de­ci­sion would nec­es­sar­ily be made pub­lic on Mon­day.

‘‘It’s ex­traor­di­nar­ily dif­fi­cult to meet time­lines, par­tic­u­larly on this mat­ter that if you are jam­ming a time­line against a pub­lic state­ment of a date, and you com­pro­mise the qual­ity of your de­ci­sion, that would not be a very good idea, but we know time is of the essence.’’

He said his com­ments about the de­ci­sion be­ing ready ‘‘by the end of next week’’ had been ‘‘se­ri­ously mis­con­strued’’ - he meant the de­ci­sion would likely be far sooner than that.

How­ever, he was keen to get the de­ci­sion an­nounced pub­licly as soon as pos­si­ble.

‘‘The quicker we make it, the less the chances are of it be­ing leaked,’’ Peters said.

Ear­lier Peters said he had a ‘‘se­ri­ous com­pre­hen­sive dossier’’ from both par­ties to take to his cau­cus and board, promis­ing that a new Govern­ment would be de­cided by next Fri­day.

He has al­ready missed his first self-im­posed dead­line of Thurs­day, or ‘‘Writ Day’’.

‘‘I’m very very pleased we’ve got it fin­ished ... there’s some fis­cals to be shared to make sure we do agree but the sub­stan­tive part for dis­cus­sion of cau­cus to­mor­row has been done,’’ he said fol­low­ing the fi­nal ne­go­ti­a­tion meet­ing on Thurs­day.

Greens ready

Green Party leader James Shaw said he had a stand­ing con­fer­ence call booked with party del­e­gates for ev­ery day, so they would be ready to ap­prove the de­ci­sion as soon as it was ready.

He said ne­go­ti­a­tions with Labour had mostly fin­ished but there were still some small things to fi­nalise.

‘‘There’s still bits and pieces that we need to tidy up,’’ Shaw said.

‘‘We’re near­ing the end stages.’’ He was still keen on a full coali­tion ar­range­ment with all three par­ties in­side Cabi­net.

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern did not an­swer ques­tions about what steps her party would go through on Fri­day morn­ing, other than to say ‘‘we have our own process’’.

‘‘Over­all this has been a good process that has been fol­lowed,’’ Ardern said.

On his way into work on Fri­day morn­ing new NZ First MP Shane Jones said the amount of time taken to make the de­ci­sion was rea­son­able.

NZ First’s Mark Pat­ter­son said there would be a lot to get through in the meet­ing.

‘‘The talks have been con­ducted with the high­est in­tegrity, at my level we haven’t had any vis­i­bil­ity of what’s hap­pen­ing,’’ Pat­ter­son said.

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