Date: 27th November 2011
Prime Minister elect John Key is expected to formalise his coalition plans with the Maori Party, Act Party and United Future today, but he will also face managing a record number of MPs in his caucus.
Key is wasting no time in getting his team to run the country for the next three years together.
The National Party won the election with an overwhelming result at the polls on Saturday, but Key will still need the support of coalition partners to have a majority in Parliament.
“We’ve currently got 60. We need one further vote to be able to have a majority in the Parliament,” National MP Steven Joyce said on TVNZ’s Q+A programme yesterday.
Key met with senior ministers at his Auckland home yesterday, and will hold coalition talks in Wellington today.
And the message is: “We want them all [United Future, Act and Maori Party] involved,” Key told ONE News.
Key was guaranteed a second three-year term with the return of current coalition partners, Act and United Future each winning one electorate seat.
“It’s a small majority when you think about it in the context of the Parliament, but it’s a very rock solid majority,” Key said.
Key also expressed interest in including the Maori Party to ensure National has support on the left and right.
“We’d like to keep working with them (Maori Party). We think they got real gains being in government, we believe it did advance the causes of their people and we think it gave a balance.”
And there are two cases where the Maori Party could be crucial – the sale of a 49% stake in five state owned companies and also the policy of welfare reform – both cases were very controversial in the election campaign.
Joyce said on Q+A that the Maori Party “will be an additional buffer” but Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia said she was not prepared to show her support for National just yet.
However, she did hint that they were in favour of becoming a partner with National.
“You can’t make gains unless you’re sitting at the table of the Government,” she said.
Michelle Boag, former National Party president, told TVNZ’s Q+A it was clear Key wanted to have the Maori Party involved and it is going to be a “critical negotiation”.
“The Maori Party also has to think about its transition to a new generation.”
Joyce said it depends on numbers in terms of whether they can credibly lead a Government without the Maori Party being involved as ministers on confidence and supply.
“I think the Maori Party, United Future and Act are all crucial… and in that respect, it’s not that much different to last time,” Joyce told TVNZ’s Q+A.
“With a 48% party vote, it’s a pretty strong endorsement of where the Government sits, and we’re confident we’ll be able to build the relationships needed to go ahead with the programme.”
At the 2008 election the Maori Party sat down with National and came up with a confidence and supply agreement.
“They didn’t agree with everything that we proposed to do, and they didn’t vote for some of it, but they voted for confidence and supply. So that’s the sort of relationship we’d be looking to form, but those discussions have to take place,” said Key.
Where the numbers do fall nicely for National is that it has the ability to pass legislation by teaming up with just Act and United Future or by just adding National and the Maori Party votes together – so Key does have flexibility there.
He also said he would “sit down and have a talk” with the Green Party, who have won 13 seats, about signing a memorandum of understanding – similar to 2008. It is a less formal deal but will allow them to work on particular projects like home insulation.
Key has not ruled out ministerial positions for Act’s John Banks, United Future leader Peter Dunne and members of the Maori Party.
The other thing to watch out for is more cuts in government spending as they are pushing hard to get the books back into surplus and that will mean money will be tight.
Key made a late arrival to National’s celebratory party in Auckland on Saturday, saying he was “delighted”.
“What a fabulous night to be supporting the New Zealand National Party,” he told the National faithful.
“New Zealand has voted for a brighter future, and there will be a brighter future,” Key, draped in blue and white streamers, told ecstatic supporters.
National campaigned on promises to build on policies of the past three years with an emphasis on sparking economic growth by cutting debt, curbing spending, selling state assets and returning to a budget surplus by 2014/15.
“The government will be focused on building a more competitive economy, with less debt, more jobs, and higher incomes,” added Key, 52, flanked by his wife Bronagh and son Max.
He said he expected the election would be tight and that he was proud to be Prime Minister.
“More people voted National today than three years ago and I want to thank each and every one of you,” he said.
He said he was not “entirely surprised” that Winston Peters had been returned to Parliament.
The final tally of seats may change when tens of thousands of absentee votes are counted over the next two weeks.
Christchurch Central has ended in a dead heat with Labour’s Brendan Burns and National’s Nicky Wagner ending the night with exactly the same number of votes, 10,493.
Labour’s poor result
Labour suffered a dismal election, and will have just 34 MPs in Parliament on preliminary results compared with National’s 60.
Nine Labour seats were lost.
National took 48% of the party vote, compared with Labour’s lowly 27.1%. Although voter turnout was low with just under 74%.
Goff has vowed Labour will continue to fight and he celebrated the few wins Labour managed – Te Tai Tonga, West Coast-Tasman and some new MPs.
“It wasn’t our time, but we are members of a great political party … our time will come again, and we will be ready to take New Zealand forward at that time. We are a bit bloodied, but we’re not defeated.”
Goff is expected to make an announcement on his future tomorrow.
Published: 5:19AM Monday November 28, 2011 Source: ONE News