23 Nov 2023

Act leader David Seymour on completed coalition talks

From Checkpoint, 5:36 pm on 23 November 2023

ACT party leader David Seymour said he's "really happy" with the government agreement to be announced tomorrow, but would not reveal if he is about to become the new deputy prime minister.

Seymour told Checkpoint nothing would be revealed until Friday.

"As far as any details about positions or policies that will all come out in the agreements being released in the morning."

Seymour has been generally more open with media during the 40 days after the election than NZ First's Winston Peters or National party leader and Incoming Prime Minister Christopher Luxon, but said he could not reveal more.

"It's annoying to me too, I'd much rather reveal everything.”

"I'm really happy" about the agreement, he said.

"I guess I have two feelings, one, I'm very proud of what we've achieved, I think we've got a good team and a good agenda as a government.

"But I also know that we're going to face some real headwinds and really we've just got to the foot of a pretty big mountain if we want to deliver on the promises that people have entrusted in us by putting us into government."

Seymour said the new government will face "fiscal headwinds" to balance a budget with things such as issues about nurse and early childhood teacher pay parity.

"I suspect there will be other hidden problems in the books that a government going out isn't always as candid about as they would be if they thought there were going to be re-elected."

Luxon has said that all three parties had to compromise in the course of the nearly three weeks of negotiations since the final vote tally was announced.

"You've got three parties who were competitors in an election.

"Each had its own manifesto, and what we've done is we've gone through a process of merging that into one.

"In some cases, actually, there was a lot of overlap where we had similar aspirations and other places there were things where we perhaps had opposing views on a question which involved compromise.

"And then there's also areas where one party had an idea that perhaps the other parties weren't particularly for or against but saw as a positive addition to the government's agenda. All of those are in there."

Seymour said he could not reveal if a referendum on the Treaty of Waitangi would be part of the policies announced.

"I think people will see the agreement tomorrow, they'll look at the totality of it and they'll see that we've negotiated well and are going to cooperate well to make this a triple win-win-win."

Seymour said the ACT party board has signed off on their part of the deal, which is part of the party's constitution.

"Our board seems to be quite happy with where we've got to."

Seymour said there are dispute mechanisms if the parties in the coalition government disagree on issues that will be in place.

If an issue was not covered in the agreements that will be revealed on Friday, the parties would have to discuss them. Seymour said it was impossible to know what the next three years would hold, as seen in previous governments.

"Any government is going to face challenges that they wouldn't have anticipated.

"You only have to look at the previous government, in between the terrorist attacks, the volcano and then the pandemic, this government will also face circumstances that we don't know yet but, sadly, bad things tend to happen."

Seymour, who has had a notoriously fraught relationship with Peters in the past, said he did bond with him over one particular issue.

"I've learned that you can sit down and have a decent conversation with Winston, and that his love for dogs appears to be quite deep.

"He came and met Leo, who's our mascot in the ACT party office. Leo is about an 80-kilogram Leonburger, and I think that really melted him."