Peters: No coali­tion favourite

Waikato Times - - News - HENRY COOKE AND LAURA WALTERS

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.

Board se­crecy

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.

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