Act leader Rodney Hide has sought to reassure Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia who is bristling at the suggestion that one of Act's taskforces could run the ruler over portfolios held by her or Pita Sharples.
Ms Turia, who is a minister outside Cabinet in John Key's National-led government, has also taken a swipe at "parties who think they know better than us".
Act yesterday won agreement for a series of private sector-led taskforces which will review government spending.
Mr Hide today attempted to reassure his new colleagues by saying that reviewing Maori affairs spending is a low priority and could damage the government's support arrangements with the Maori Party if it is cut.
But Ms Turia remained critical of the taskforces. She said: "I can't imagine anybody from the private sector to come into an office and go through the budget line-by-line to be able to tell us what we should or should not be doing."
She said her party was very close to its constituents and had given undertakings about how it would operate.
"That doesn't include political parties who may think they know better than us," she said.
Mr Hide today said it would be up to Prime Minister-elect what areas were reviewed, but there were higher priority areas than Maori affairs, which was also fraught with relationship dangers.
"I think we've got a lot of high priority stuff," he said on Radio New Zealand.
"I think the important thing is to build a good relationship with the Maori Party and starting out by doing a review wouldn't be the best way to do that quite frankly and I think there are plenty of other areas we could be getting on with."
The Public Service Association is also concerned about private sector representatives running reviews of government spending.
"Having the private sector chairing Task Forces reviewing government spending signals a return to the 1990s when National-led governments slashed public services and contracted the work out to the private sector," said PSA National Secretary Brenda Pilott this morning.
"The idea that this will create savings is a myth because unlike the public sector the private sector has to make a profit."
Labour leader Phil Goff says he believes John Key has his work cut out keeping his new support partners in line.
Mr Goff said Act and the Maori Party have diametrically opposed views in a number of areas, so there will be challenges in trying to get the country moving forward.
He said Mr Key cannot afford to have standoffs as that will delay progress on moving the country forward during the international financial crisis.
The Prime Minister-elect yesterday said whatever came out of the taskforces would have to go before Cabinet and it had yet to be decided which areas would be looked at by them.
Under the Maori Party's deal with National, Dr Sharples will be Maori Affairs Minister, associate education minister and associate corrections minister.
Mrs Turia will be Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector, associate health minister and associate social development minister.
- NZPA, NEWSTALK ZB, NZ HERALD STAFF