Government negotiations get going

By Amelia Romanos

John Key has already spoken to Act, United Future and the Maori Party. Photos / Herald on Sunday
John Key has already spoken to Act, United Future and the Maori Party. Photos / Herald on Sunday

Negotiations will get under way today as National continues talks with potential Government partners following the party's win in yesterday's election.

Preliminary results gave National 60 seats, while Labour slumped to just 34. The result left National just shy of enough support to govern alone, and Prime Minister John Key said last night that he had already spoken to Act, United Future and the Maori Party about cooperation.

Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples this morning told TV3's The Nation the Maori Party would hold a caucus meeting today to discuss how to proceed.

"Should we join the Government, should we stay out, and look at having alliance with other parties and so on, that's going to be the main thing we're going to be discussing I guess," he said.

"But also what are our major policies we want to put forward if we join anybody."

With Act also at the negotiating table, Dr Sharples said it was important the party leans towards joining National in Government to provide some balance to that right-wing agenda.

Dr Sharples, who retained his Tamaki Makaurau seat in a tight race with Labour MP Shane Jones, told supporters last night that some of the party's constituency had been disappointed with the deal with National over the past three years.

He conceded there was little the Maori Party would be able to do to stop policies going through, in particular National's plans to introduce "mixed-ownership models" for state assets, which involve selling shares in state assets but retaining the majority stake.

"But the point is what we can do, what iwi want is to be involved in those asset sales."

United Future leader Peter Dunne, who will remain his party's lone voice in Parliament after reclaiming his long-held Ohariu seat, also said he would be participating in negotiations with the Government over the next few days.

"Certainly United Future's vote is going to be an important part of the Government's make up, in fact it just tips it over the top," he said.

With Act now in the same position having lost all but one seat, Mr Dunne said he could be in a better negotiating position than after the last election.

"In many senses this is a no-change election, the numbers have only shifted around marginally in terms of the two Government, non-Government blocks, so in that sense it's business as usual and we'll just work out what the next phase of that business is."

Meanwhile, the Green Party is celebrating its best result ever, after securing 10.6 per cent of the vote.

Co-leader Russel Norman said he would be speaking to National over the next week to discuss the ongoing memorandum of understanding projects, and what other projects could be brought in.

Another big winner last night was New Zealand First, which came back with 6.81 per cent of the party vote, and leader Winston Peters last night he would be "cooperative and constructive" in opposition.

- APNZ

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