Lo­gis­ti­cal is­sues ruin Peters’ vow

Nelson Mail - - NEWS - HENRY COOKE

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. Writ Day 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. Board se­crecy 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.

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