What is happening at Parliament?

National and Labour teams are preparing for their first substantive talks with New Zealand First, National at midday and Labour at 3 pm. Leaders Bill English and Jacinda Ardern will be involved in today's meetings with Winston Peters and his team.

Who will be fronting for the talks?

These talks are more secret than TPP. No one wants to say a thing in case it advantages the other side. But we can confirm that Labour legend Sir Michael Cullen who was in Labour's first pro-forma meeting will not be here. He has continued with a planned trip to the Galapagos Islands.

Shane Jones will likely be joining the New Zealand First team from today.

What are the leaders saying about the talks?

As little as possible. They are taking the Sergeant Shultz approach to talks of saying absolutely nothing or in the rare event of them saying something, making it as meaningless as possible.


They are afraid that anything they say could be misinterpreted by Peters who is quick to take offence.

For example when Jacinda Ardern was asked yesterday if she expected to be Prime Minister on Friday, she probably should have said "hopefully," rather than "yes" which sounded a little presumptuous.

Where are the meetings held?

In a meeting room on the second floor of the Beehive which is not exactly neutral territory - it's a ministerial meeting room - but who cares? So long as it secure and can't be bugged. Meetings with foreign leaders and ministers are occasionally held there so it goes without saying it will be secure.

The room suits National best because it can come and go from the Beehive without having to pass the media. New Zealand First and Labour have to pass a press posse.

How will we get a Government?

The New Zealand First caucus is scheduled to decide on Thursday after comparing two sets of agreements that emerge from the parallel negotiations this week with National and Labour.

Why Thursday?

No reason. Winston Peters has set the deadline to coincide with the return of the writ - the day the successful electorate candidates are handed to the Clerk of the House of Representatives.

The schedule could be easily extended if need be.

Has Peters indicated his preference for a party or type of deal?

No. There are pros and cons to New Zealand First joining a full coalition inside cabinet, a more distant relationship with ministerial posts outside cabinet or keeping its distance altogether on the cross benches. But whichever way it lands, any deal will have to contain some measure of support for a governing party and some policy gains to New Zealand First for having done so. Peters says there are nine permutations of Government arrangement to consider.