Peters: No coalition favourite
Winston Peters says he is not favouring either side when it comes to who will form the next government.
But whichever way it goes, the decision will not be made until at least tomorrow.
Following a meeting with Labour yesterday afternoon, the NZ First leader said he was not leaning towards National or Labour at this stage.
‘‘I said I’d go into it with a total open mind, and I’ve asked my caucus and the board to have the same approach . . . I can honestly tell you I wouldn’t take a guess of what anyone is currently thinking.’’
The comment comes on the fifth and final day of meetings. Two more meetings were scheduled for late yesterday.
Peters said the decision wouldn’t be finalised until at least tomorrow, after he took all nine possible options for a government to his board and caucus.
The information presented to the NZ First board and caucus would be analysed, and agreed upon by both sides (NZ First and National, and NZ First and Labour).
On his way out of a 21⁄ hour meeting with National earlier in the day, 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 wouldn’t 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.’’
Peters said NZ First was doing the best it could to get as many people as possible from the board in the room. He said he had to work around those who were having logistic issues.
The meeting will likely take place in Wellington, an NZ First source said, but this has not been confirmed. Earlier, Peters said board members were ready to travel to Wellington at the drop of a hat, but travel arrangements and personal commitments had caused some difficulty.
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.’’
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 was November 23.
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 yesterday, 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.’’
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.
NZ First’s board is not listed on the party’s website.
NZ First education spokesperson Tracey Martin said she wasn’t going to tell media who was on the board as they were ‘‘volunteers’’. Peters asked for the board’s privacy to be respected.
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 did end up taking more than one option to the board, he would be looking for ‘‘serious consensus’’ before forming a government.