24 Nov 2023

Done deal: Incoming PM Chris Luxon on coalition completion

From Checkpoint, 5:17 pm on 24 November 2023

National Party leader and incoming Prime Minister Christopher Luxon said it didn't matter which of the minor party leaders was chosen to be his deputy. 

"I wouldn't get too hung up on that. I think what's the important thing is that both [Winston Peters and David Seymour] are going to do the job exceptionally well."

He said it would be "cynical" to suggest Peters got the better part of the deal because early on he would get the gains made from the coalition deal and could then separate his party from the government more effectively during the second half of the three-year term as a fresh election loomed.  

Luxon was also asked about previous negative comments he made during the election campaign about the New Zealand First leader, including saying he didn't want to work with Peters and it would be a risk to have his party in government.  

He responded that during the 20 days of negotiations the party leaders had got to know each other a lot better.

"I think we've come together incredibly well." 

Asked if New Zealand First was the big winner from the deal, Luxon said it was not and they weren't regarding it in that way. 

"Every party got a core of what they were interested in into the policy programme." 

National had achieved buy-in for its tax, fiscal, economic and 100-day plans and its pledge card while ACT and NZ First could also point to their policy gains. 

As far as National's tax package was concerned the foreign buyers' tax is not part of the three-way coalition deal.

Luxon said it would not matter - it was one of eight ways tax cuts were originally intended to be paid for.  

There was other "buffer" built into the tax package funding and further savings would be made in government spending, eg, moving fees-free from first year to third year. "That generates savings," he said. 

Coalition agreement signing ceremony between Christopher Luxon, David Seymour and Winston Peters.

Christopher Luxon at the signing ceremony on Friday.  Photo: Phil Smith

The tax package as outlined during the campaign would be delivered for low and middle-income Kiwis "exactly as we talked about, the amounts we talked about, is going to be happening," he said. 

Asked about possible job cuts in the public service, he said the chief executives in government departments were already looking at their spending and staff numbers with a view to cutting 6.5 percent from their budgets. 

Luxon was also asked if there was any agreement that if a minister needed to be sacked the replacement person would need to come from the same party. He said that would be decided at the time.