Senior citizens post tops NZ First wishlist

Labour has offered Winston Peters various ministerial posts but the senior citizens portfolio at "the top of the list" for the New Zealand First leader, it was reported today.

Sources said Mr Peters was considering whether to accept a ministerial post with responsibility for senior citizens, as talks to form the next government continue.

Mr Peters said in a radio interview that any talk of ministerial posts was "pure speculation".

Accepting such a post, which would allow the party to drive through several policy concessions in that area, had to be weighed up against the potential fallout of a perceived change in the party's stance.

It is understood no final decision has been taken on the option.

"If you've got key policies you want to drive through then the attraction is that you would have some control over that," the source told NZPA.

Before the election, NZ First leader Winston Peters said the party would remain outside the next government, but would act to provide stability.

If Mr Peters accepts a ministerial post he will be part of the government's executive even if the party is not in coalition.

Mr Peters today said reports he was about to accept a ministerial post in a Labour-led government were speculation. However, he did not directly deny it.

"At this point in time all this is pure speculation. We will not be in cabinet and I've said that from day one," he said on Radio Live.

Prime Minister Helen Clark said reaching a final deal was taking time due to its complex nature.

"Before the general election campaign people campaigned on things, people are looking at what they said what their policies are, how these things are reconciled that's why its always been a complex negotiation," she said on Radio Live.

Helen Clark said responsibility for talks not taking place with Maori Party leaders so far this week lay squarely with the Maori Party.

"They for some reason are not booking their leaders in with us," she said.

"We've been asking every day this week, because we were told the previous week that they were going out to talk to their supporters and members and they were going to come back on Monday with feedback, and we just have not been able to get the leaders in the room."

- NZPA

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