Act Party leader David Seymour is ruling out working with New Zealand First if the party is given Cabinet positions, but will not say whether Act would accept any other arrangement NZ First was a part of.
However, Seymour has confirmed he will answer those questions if Winston Peters’ party polled at or over the 5 per cent threshold multiple times, and that he wants National leader Christopher Luxon to rule out giving NZ First Cabinet positions if he holds that authority after October 14.
It’s a clarification of Act deputy leader Brooke van Velden’s comments to journalists today, which included her stating, “We are ruling out working with New Zealand First.”
Peters today refused to entertain any questions about potential governing arrangements, telling the Herald he would not conduct “negotiations by the media”.
“Over 30 years, we have never done deals behind the public’s back. Now, whether the commentariat, the political scientists or the media want to accept that, our policy, as a matter of principle, will go on.”
Peters, famously dismissive of polls, wouldn’t comment on the fact NZ First hit 4.1 per cent in last night’s Newshub Reid Research poll.
NZ First polling below 5 per cent was regularly cited by Luxon, Seymour and van Velden in their refusal to explain what level of collaboration with NZ First they would want.
“I have seen nothing that suggests to me that New Zealand First is making it into Parliament,” Luxon told journalists in Christchurch today.
“You are all getting well ahead of yourself, so I’m sorry about that, but I am focused on saying I want to change this Government, and the only way to do that, to guarantee a change, is: don’t do anything strategic, don’t do anything funky, actually just vote for the National Party.”
It was Seymour’s reasoning for not stating whether he would rule out Act working with NZ First in any kind of arrangement because he believed the debate was academic with NZ First still under 5 per cent.
However, he did commit to elaborating if the party did reach that threshold in multiple polls.
Seymour also clarified he didn’t expect Luxon to rule out Winston Peters past the point of Cabinet positions.
“I’m not asking him to rule out all permutations, but start with the one I have.”
Seymour did say it was his belief Luxon wouldn’t want to work with Peters.
“Look, I’ve got to know Chris quite well over the last 10 years, and from what I know of Winston Peters, I think Chris Luxon’s too principled to work with him.”
The focus on National and Act’s willingness to work with NZ First stemmed from Peters last year definitively ruling out working with Labour, leaving National as the only major party left.
On last night’s poll, National and Act could form a government while the left bloc of Labour, the Green Party and Te Pāti Māori could only muster 57 seats - four less than needed to form a government.
Several polls this year have shown different outcomes could be possible, including the left bloc getting to the 61-seat threshold and also a hung Parliament.