One Question Quiz
Chris Luxon celebrating (Photo illustration by Tina Tiller)
Chris Luxon celebrating (Photo illustration by Tina Tiller)

The BulletinNovember 24, 2023

The deal is done

Chris Luxon celebrating (Photo illustration by Tina Tiller)
Chris Luxon celebrating (Photo illustration by Tina Tiller)

After last-minute wrangling put a pin in yesterday’s plans, the coalition agreement will finally be signed today, writes 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.

Coalition agreement to be signed today

The relief was obvious. Appearing before media just before 5pm yesterday, Chris Luxon looked like the weight of a thousand cabinet manuals had lifted as he announced a deal had been struck and the government was ready to be formed. While remaining tight-lipped about appointments, including the much-discussed role of deputy prime minister, Luxon said the deal was currently being ratified by the three parties and he would soon go to the governor general to inform her he had the backing to form a government. The official signing ceremony takes place at 11am this morning and ministerial positions will be announced this afternoon – time tbd. New ministers will spend the weekend moving into their new Beehive digs before being sworn in on Monday at Government House; a ceremonial meeting of the new cabinet will take place later that day. Luxon confirmed Parliament will resume on Tuesday week “and we intend to work pretty hard from 5 December right up to Christmas”.

The final sticking points

As the clock ticks down to this afternoon’s ministerial announcement, rumours continue to swirl about who has snagged the most important roles. The Post’s Luke Malpass (paywalled) reports that one of the hardest fought portfolios has been agriculture. The rural vote is hugely important to all three parties, Malpass writes, “however, it is understood that National has refused to let the plum position go to a minor party”. The issue of who would be attorney-general also caused some debate, Malpass adds, with NZ First being particularly keen on the job. Over on Stuff, Tova O’Brien suggests Winston Peters’ desire for the AG role – not a haggle over who would be deputy PM – may have been the last stumbling block. Whatever the issue, it caused a delay that “deeply frustrated” National, according to reporting by 1 News. O’Brien says the deal signing had been set for 3.30pm yesterday, before being derailed at the last minute.

MPs, coalition partners kept in the dark until now

On Luxon’s to-do list for this morning is telling his MPs which portfolios they’ve been given and delivering the bad news to those who have been relegated to the back benches. Somewhat surprisingly, Luxon said yesterday that Act and NZ First also remained none the wiser about the exact roles the other has been given, but they understood their counterparts’ ministerial responsibilities “in terms of macro”. It’s an indication that in their later stages, the negotiations “moved away from trilateral ‘we’re all in this together’ style talks and became far more secretive”, writes O’Brien. Still, now that the deal is done, the three main players seem pretty happy. Let’s see how long the honeymoon period lasts.

Labour’s Beehive staffers impatient to move out, and on

While the focus today is on the new set of ministers, it’s also a notable event for another group of political insiders. Labour ministers are about to finally be released from their holding pattern, and for many of their staffers it’s not a moment too soon. The Post’s Thomas Manch (paywalled) spoke to current Beehive employees about what life has been like in the weeks since the election and found they were bored, impatient, or both. One noted the irony of  having “all these Labour-Greens staff who are just absolutely desperate for a National government to take power”. Manch writes that urgent decisions were being directed to Chris Hipkins’ office, and from there onto Luxon’s staff to decide what should be done. “But if it’s not too urgent, it’s put aside to wait for the new Government – and the pile has been growing.”

Keep going!