Poised to decide power
Peters is expected to make it a condition of any deal that the age be rolled back to 65. Peters will also want to build on the legacy of his Super Gold Card, which offers over 65s free off-peak public transport as well as other concessions. Peters campaigned on a big boost to the Gold Card, including $800-$1000 on average per year tax-free though it is not spelt out whether that is on income or other spending. The card would be upgraded to resemble a loyalty card and would also be a debit card with an e-wallet payment system. Other extras included three free doctors visits a year, one free eye test and discounts on power bills during winter.
Among other pledges, Peters recommitted this week to standing by the families of the Pike River men who lost their lives and re-entry into the mine to try and retrieve the bodies will be a non-negotiable.
But Labour will also have to make some big concessions. Peters ran a hardline against Labour’s contentious water tax and wants that reined in, except for a tax on water bottlers.
People who know Peters well expect him to seek a ministerial warrant as the price of his support – and foreign affairs and racing are expected to have the inside running.
Peters has held both portfolios and they are still his first love.
The same insiders also believe Peters will still see the Greens as a big stumbling block to any deal with Labour. He would be more likely to demand their exclusion than not, said one.
Peters told Newstalk ZB yesterday that making a decision by Thursday – his self-imposed deadline was still completely doable.
‘‘It was always going to change and so the special votes were always important for that reason and knowing the facts now as we have them puts us in a better perspective to make judgments,’’ Peters said.
Ardern said she was confident she would become Prime Minister, adding she would be ‘‘proud’’ to lead a Labour-GreenNZ First coalition and yesterday’s result strengthened the mandate for change.
English said the final result makes it clear National has finished 10 seats ahead of the Labour Party and ahead of the Left block grouping.
‘‘It would have been nice to keep those two seats, two excellent members that are represented, but it doesn’t change the calculation. National is still the largest party,’’ English told media in Queenstown.
‘‘The fundamentals haven’t altered, and that is National have significantly more seats than Labour, and more than a Labour/Green combination.’’
Caterers will be working overtime in the Beehive today as talks get underway on neutral territory – a meeting room between the Beehive and Parliament buildings on level two – where all parties agreed in preliminary talks last week that room would continue to be used for formal negotiations.