Logistical issues ruin Peters’ vow
After four full days of meetings, NZ First’s talks with Labour and National wrapped up yesterday but leader Winston Peters said the coalition decision would not be finalised until at least tomorrow.
On his way out of a 21⁄ hour meeting with National, Peters said his 13-person board and parliamentary caucus would all need to meet in person to ratify the decision.
‘‘It depends on the logistic availability of the board, which could be Saturday, Sunday, Monday,’’ Peters said.
‘‘People do have to come from all over the country.’’
Peters said a teleconference would not be satisfactory.
‘‘We thought of that, we thought we could circumvent all that by doing it by Skype but that would not be the kind of serious discussion needed.’’
The meeting will likely take place in Wellington, a NZ First source said, but this has not been confirmed.
In July Peters said the public would know about NZ First’s decision by ‘‘Writ Day’’.
‘‘I make this guarantee that whatever decision NZ First arrives at post-election, it will be made public by the day the writs are returned, which is within three weeks from polling day,’’ Peters said.
The Electoral Commission confirmed the return of the writ yesterday afternoon, confirming the names of the successful electorate candidates.
The first meeting of the new Parliament must take place within six weeks of the return of the writ.
That is November 23, and preparations are under way for the opening of the 52nd Parliament.
But as meetings to form a Government have progressed, Peters has given only slight hints about the subject-matter being discussed.
He was set to meet Labour at 1pm yesterday and was likely to hold further meetings with the big two parties heading into the night.
He confirmed the high price of food was playing a part in the talks.
Peters said late on Wednesday night that he doubted his caucus would make a final decision by last night, but he expected they would have an array of options to take to the NZ First board.
If Peters decides to go with Labour, there could also be a lengthy process to get the Green Party’s sign-off.
Leaving his office after an 8am meeting with his caucus, Peters said he couldn’t tell media what policy was being discussed.
‘‘I’m being asked going to a meeting about policy, what I’m going to talk about, and the answer is policy,’’ Peters said.
He has indicated that allocations of ministerial posts would make up the last section of the talks.
‘‘We’re not going to think about offices and positions until we’re happy with the policy,’’ he said.
NZ First deputy leader Ron Mark wouldn’t comment when asked on his way to work if he was about to become a Cabinet minister.
Labour leader Jacinda Ardern wouldn’t speak to media on her way into work either.
NZ First’s board is not listed on the NZ First website.
Party education spokesperson Tracey Martin said she wasn’t going to tell the media who was on the board as they were ‘‘volunteers’’.
Peters himself put out a press release asking for the board’s privacy to be respected.
‘‘They are not politicians but New Zealanders who believe in the party and wish to make a contribution to the decision-making process,’’ he said.
‘‘By putting their name forward to serve on the board they do not expect to have their privacy invaded and to become public figures. This privacy extends to all party members.
‘‘NZ First values transparency but we also value an individual’s privacy especially when they volunteer their services.’’
However, Radio NZ obtained a full list of the party’s 13-member board and published it.
As dictated in the party’s constitution it includes party president Brent Catchpole, treasurer Holly Hopkinson, director general Kristin Campbell Smith, vicepresident North Island Julian Paul, and vice-president South Island John Thorn.
There are also six directors and Peters and Mark are on the board.
Peters said on Wednesday night that if he took more than one option to the board, he would be looking for ‘‘serious consensus’’ before forming a government.
A former Air New Zealand DC-8 which has been found in the Amazon. It will be brought back to New Zealand if sufficient funds can be found.