One Question Quiz
Coalition leaders Winston Peters, Chris Luxon and David Seymour.
Coalition leaders Winston Peters, Chris Luxon and David Seymour.

The BulletinNovember 23, 2023

Deputy PM position a sticking point as leaders gather in Wellington

Coalition leaders Winston Peters, Chris Luxon and David Seymour.
Coalition leaders Winston Peters, Chris Luxon and David Seymour.

An exodus from Auckland to the capital last night signalled that a deal is nigh. But when the dust settles will Luxon emerge flanked by Seymour or Peters as his deputy PM, asks Catherine McGregor in this excerpt from The Bulletin, The Spinoff’s morning news round-up. To receive The Bulletin in full each weekday, sign up here.

Government announcement looking likelier than ever

Another day, another huge workout for politicians’ Airpoints accounts. Last night party leaders and senior MPs joined an exodus from Auckland to Wellington, signalling that a coalition deal was, in National leader Chris Luxon’s words, “really close”. He and Act leader David Seymour are now in the capital, while Winston Peters is expected to arrive later today. Luxon has previously indicated he wants to be in Wellington to announce the deal, so all the air travel last night suggests it could be finally happening today. On the other hand, it could be more a case of logistics. Flight disruptions in Wellington have forced politicians to take any flight they can into the city, notes Newshub’s Jenna Lynch, and it might not mean a deal has been reached.

Deputy PM role still a sticking point

If no announcement comes today, continued wrangling over the role of deputy prime minister will be at least partly blame. While Luxon said the negotiations were “largely” finalised, he also admitted it was “fair to say” the deputy prime ministership remained a sticking point. While Seymour has been open about wanting it, Peters has held the role multiple times before. The Herald’s Claire Trevett and Michael Neilson report that “signs point to” the position being offered to Peters, who is understood to have included it in his list of requests at the outset of negotiations. Notwithstanding all the challenges detailed by constitutional law guru Andrew Geddis to RNZ, a job-share set-up isn’t out of the question, either. “Luxon didn’t rule out co-deputies,” reports Newshub’s Jenna Lynch. “It may turn out that a three-way coalition is not the only first we see under this government.”

It won’t be Nicola Willis

One person who definitely won’t be deputy PM is Nicola Willis, who yesterday ruled herself out of the running – or rather, reiterated that she has never been interested in the role. That’s unfortunate, writes 1 News’ Jessica Mutch McKay, given that Willis is clearly Luxon’s best choice. “She’d toe the party line and it would be drama-free option for being in charge while Luxon is overseas.” Talking to Tova O’Brien, former deputy PM Grant Robertson says that “without a doubt” a deputy from the same party would have made Luxon’s life easier. With that path closed off, Luxon has a tough choice to make, with either Seymour or Peters set for disappointment and at risk of acting out as a result. Cue Succession theme music.

Peters most to blame for hold-ups, poll finds

If an announcement is made today – and the chances are “over 50%”, according to Tova O’Brien’s sources – the official swearing in at Government House won’t take place until Monday at the earliest. “At least two days will be needed to get that ceremony arranged, guests approved and invited, ministerial warrants drawn up and all the other security checks needed ahead of such a significant event,” explains Newsroom’s Jo Moir. Today is the 20th day since official election results were released. A Talbot Mills poll finds that 66% of respondents think negotiations are taking too long, up 6 points since the last poll on November 17th. As for whose to blame, 33% point the finger at Peters, 24% say it’s Christopher Luxon’s fault, and just 4% think David Seymour is holding things up most.

Keep going!