21 Nov 2023

Watch: National Party leader Christopher Luxon speaks to media

2:58 pm on 21 November 2023

National Party leader Christopher Luxon says he started a conversation about ministerial responsibilities with New Zealand First leader Winston Peters yesterday and spoke to ACT leader David Seymour this morning, as negotiations to form a coalition continue.

On Monday, Luxon said policy programmes had been agreed with ACT and NZ First and ministerial positions were being discussed. Today, he said conversations with both party leaders about those positions through late last night and today.

"All policy, the policy programmes have been closed out with all three parties and that's great, we've got a couple of - as I said - just minor admin stuff in the documents and the only outstanding issue now is ministerial responsibilities.

He said he started the conversation on ministerial responsibilities with Peters yesterday and spoke to Seymour this morning.

"What's important to me is that I want to use the talent that's across all three parties to make sure the skills, abilities and experiences are being well utilised and making sure we have a strong and stable government."

Asked about Seymour's comments about proportionality, he said: "As I've said from day one I'm not going to get into any of those conversations."

Asked again, he referenced comments Seymour previously made about him: "He probably got out and ate a lot of Weet-Bix this morning, I'd just say. And that's great cos [sic] Weet-Bix powers this nation, it's a great product by the way. But all I'd just say to you is I do my conversations in the room, as you've observed, and when I say I do something that way that's how I do it".

Seymour had argued the point on Monday after Luxon told reporters the policy details of the agreements had been "closed out and agreed" with ACT and NZ First, telling Stuff "I can understand Chris' enthusiasm, but I just suspect he's had one too many Weet-Bix".

Asked about deputy prime minister he said it was about "actually making sure we've got the right people in the right places. You will have observed that's really important to me in the way that I structured the National Party when I took on as leader".

Christopher Luxon at a media stand up in Auckland on 21 November 2023.

Christopher Luxon Photo: RNZ / Marika Khabazi

Again about deputy prime minister: "It's largely a ceremonial role ... there's a lot of talk about it but it's a ceremonial role to fill in for me when I'm incapacitated, away, or not in the House".

"We want to move quickly, as I said we've been working incredibly hard, we've come such a long way," Luxon said.

"Not only that we've got three parties each agreeing with each others' policy programmes as well. And we've now agreed how we're going to operate in Cabinet and how we're going to work together. We've got a couple of 'i's to dot and 't's to cross.

"It will take as long as it takes but I can tell you there's massive urgency from my side, and from their side as well."

After the last term which saw several breaches of the Cabinet Manual, Luxon said: "that's what we've got in our agreements, we've got really good clarity around making sure people adhere to the Cabinet Manual.

"And that's why we want to make sure that everyone understand their obligations to the Cabinet Manual, that they actually understand their duties, and that their behaviour and their conduct really matters."

He refused to comment on specific positions.

Luxon has been facing criticism for the length of time the coalition negotiations have taken.

Earlier on Tuesday, ACT leader David Seymour said having the second-largest government party with the second-biggest role - deputy prime minister - made sense - but that it was still up for negotiation.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs