Welcome to the Politics Briefing as the last pieces of the triangular government are settled - just so long as Act and New Zealand First realise that this won’t be an equilateral triangle.
Incoming Prime Minister Christopher Luxon couldn’t wait to announce yesterday that policy talks between him and the two parties were done, and you could hardly blame him for being so eager to share after the heap of criticism he has had over his negotiating skills.
Some commentators went so far as to say that Luxon had been humiliated because the talks are taking so long. But as Jim Bolger once told me when I asked him how he felt about being humiliated over a particular thing: “To be humiliated you have to feel humiliated and I don’t.” You might think someone should feel humiliated, but you can’t impose humiliation.
David Seymour’s response to Luxon’s exuberance over the announcement - that Luxon had got up and had one too many Weet-Bix - suggests that for all the cautionary tales about New Zealand First, it may be Act that tests National’s patience more in the coming three years.
Claire Trevett has done a piece in defence of Luxon given the complexity of the talks; Thomas Coughlan has done a piece looking at how the three parties in the coalition could stay together, and I’ve done a piece looking at four of the difficult appointments - Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Agriculture, Attorney-General and Māori Crown Relations - although others may be challenging as well.
One of the interesting features of the executive, once it is formed, will be the number of brand-new MPs who become ministers. Act could have a couple in their number four and five on the party list, Todd Stephenson and Andrew Hoggard, and New Zealand First could have one in its number three, Casey Costello, or in former Wellington mayor Andy Foster.
Meanwhile, Chris Hipkins took off his caretaker Prime Minister’s hat when he called for a ceasefire in Gaza as Labour leader. It probably had more to do with internal pressure within Labour to make such a call on the day of further protests across the country than any need for Hipkins to keep up his profile.
“You can expect the full Budget in May - that’s when the real dog and pony show occurs” - incoming Finance Minister Nicola Willis manages down expectations around next month’s mini-Budget - although it’s anyone’s guess who the dog and pony are.
National has added four working farmers to its caucus as electorate MPs this election. Who are they? And for double points, who did they replace? (Answer below.)
New National MP for Upper Harbour Cameron Brewer for his election night victory speech over Sri Lanka-born Labour MP Vanushi Walters. In a tape just leaked to RNZ, he proclaimed to hoots of celebration that the “pale, stale male” was back.
Cameron Brewer almost redeemed his idiocy by showing how apologies are best done - admitting he was wrong (see above), acknowledging there is not really such a thing as a private function for an MP, and apologising.
Latest political news and views
Opinion - coalition talks: National Party leader Christopher Luxon has copped a fair bit of flak for the length of time his coalition talks have taken – but he should be cut some slack, writes Claire Trevett.
Coalition talks: The policy agenda of the next Government appears all but established as one of the three party leaders involved in coalition talks predicts a final deal could be signed in “a day or so”.
Israel-Hamas war: Labour leader Chris Hipkins has this afternoon called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, bending convention to speak in his role as Labour leader rather than caretaker Prime Minister.
Quiz answer: Grant McCallum (Northland) replaced Willow-Jean Prime, Suze Redmayne (Rangitikei) replaced Ian McKelvie, Mike Butterick (Wairarapa) replaced Kieran McAnulty, and Miles Anderson (Waitaki) replaced Jacqui Dean.
Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s senior political correspondent. She was named Political Journalist of the Year at the Voyager Media Awards in 2023, 2020 and 2018.
For more political news and views, listen to On the Tiles, the Herald’s politics podcast.