New Zealand to get new government on Black Friday

Ben McKay |

New Zealand’s new government is finally set to be unveiled, almost six weeks after election day.

On Thursday afternoon, the three party leaders involved in government negotiations announced they had concluded talks, with an intention to hold a signing ceremony on Friday.

The long-awaited deal will herald in the country’s first three-way coalition government, with a shared policy agenda and roles shared among right-leaning parties: National, ACT and New Zealand First.

National leader Chris Luxon will be prime minister, and his party’s deputy Nicola Willis will be finance minister, but all other positions have been open to negotiation – and remain under wraps.

“I’m really proud of of the negotiations,” Mr Luxon said at a press conference at parliament house on Thursday afternoon.

One of the last sticking points was the position of deputy prime minister, contested between ACT leader David Seymour and NZ First leader Winston Peters.

The outcome of that fight will become clear on Friday.

“We have completed our negotiations with the parties and those agreements are now before the parties for ratification, which we hope to have this evening,” he said.

“At which point I’ll talk to the Governor-General and formally confirm that we’re able to form a government.”

Mr Luxon said he was “absolutely” 100 per cent confident the party caucuses and boards would sign off on the deal to secure the next government.

Mr Seymour said he was “very happy with the way the whole deal has come together”.

“It is multi-faceted, it is about policy, it is about positions, but most of all, it is about three former competitors in an election united to start tackling the real challenges,” he told Newshub.

Mr Luxon said he intended to unveil the coalition agreement – which contains the policy and how the parties will work together – on Friday morning.

“It’s incredibly comprehensive and importantly also, it gives us a really defined work program for the next three years,” he said.

He will then unveil the cabinet posts on Friday afternoon.

The announcement comes as Kiwis became increasingly fed up with the wait for a government.

The talks will have taken 41 days since poll day, the longest negotiations in 27 years.

A Talbot Mills poll found 66 per cent believed the negotiations were taking too long, compared with 19 per cent which disagreed.

One-third of respondents blamed Mr Peters for the length of negotiations, 24 per cent blamed Mr Luxon, while 40 per cent were unsure who to blame.

Labour’s outgoing prime minister Chris Hipkins counted himself among the two-thirds showing impatience.

“I think New Zealanders are ready to know what the shape of the next government is going to be,” he said.

“Given the squabbling that we’ve seen over the last 40 days I’m not sure they can have a lot of confidence (a stable government) is going to emerge.”

On TVNZ on Thursday morning, former prime minister Jim Bolger pushed back against the idea the talks were taking too long.

“What’s the hurry? What’s the fuss?” he said.

Mr Bolger said Mr Luxon’s approach to talks showed “he’ll be a calm, thoughtful” leader.

He said Mr Luxon should follow in his footsteps and give the deputy job to Mr Peters, as he did in 1996.

“If I was Christopher Luxon, I’d be looking at my team, saying that none of them have had much experience in government, if any at all,” he said.

“Maybe the best bet would be to go with someone with a lot of experience in government and that has to be Winston.”