23 Nov 2023

Government negotiations end, deal to be signed on Friday

5:49 pm on 23 November 2023

With coalition negotiations only waiting for final signoff, National's leader Christopher Luxon says it's hoped the new government can be formally sworn in on Monday, with Parliament resuming from 5 December.

The final deal is expected to be signed and formally announced on Friday after the parties and their boards have ratified the deal.

Speaking to media on Thursday afternoon, Luxon said it was hoped the ratification would be completed tonight.

"At which point I'll talk again to the Governor-General and formally confirm that we're able to form a government," he said. "Tomorrow morning we'll have a formal signing ceremony, also a formal announcement, and we hope to then push on in the afternoon and be able to announce our Cabinet and also ministerial responsibilities".

He expected Cabinet announcements would come in the afternoon. The parties would then move into their offices over the weekend, with a swearing in on Monday, "so that we can get the show moving and also get this country moving forward".

Christopher Luxon emerges to announce a government deal in Wellington on 23 November 2023.

Christopher Luxon on the tiles at Parliament. Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

The three-way coalition was "historic", he said, and getting it right was the reason they had spent so much time on it. There had been a few final issues to close out, but the final impasse was broken "earlier this morning".

He said he would not get into the details of that.

In recent days, however, it became clear the decision of who would be the deputy prime minister was a final hurdle in the negotiations. The solution remains unclear, but options included splitting the term - with ACT holding the job for one half and New Zealand First, the other - or having two deputies.

Peters on Thursday afternoon had rubbished the idea of co-deputies, a prospect which both Luxon and Seymour earlier declined to rule out.

"We've never had a co-deputy prime minister ever," Peters told reporters this afternoon. "Why would we [be] starting?"

Luxon said the deputy prime minister and other details would be revealed tomorrow once the deal has been ratified. He said there was "massive alignment" from the three parties around their goals.

"You'll be able to see exactly what we've delivered, and I think you'll see it's incredibly comprehensive but importantly also it gives us a really defined work programme for the next three years, so there's a lot of specificity there, that's very deliberate so that we all are aligned in what we're shooting for and what we're trying to achieve.

"I have to say over the process it's been a really good process, because inevitably you can talk transactionally about the tasks and the policies and the ideas but you actually get a sense of where each individual's coming from and what's motivating them and what's important to them.

"We've actually got to know each other very well as the three leaders which I think is a very important part of the process."

"We are really excited, we are genuinely excited, we have a fantastic country - as I say - we now have to go realise all the potential that sits in it. We have worked incredibly hard as three parties to deliver something that's going to have strong and stable government."

The news that negotiations had come to an end was first announced in a statement from all three leaders of the governing parties about 4pm. The statement was short.

"Negotiations to form a government that will deliver for all New Zealanders have concluded," it said.

"The parties are now going through their respective party processes for final sign-off and we expect that process to be completed this evening.

"Subject to agreement by all parties, a signing ceremony will take place tomorrow at Parliament."

Luxon said they were looking at restarting Parliament sitting from 5 December. He said both of the minor parties knew about each other's ministerial responsibilities "in the macro".

"They have a sense of that."

The parties would be moving into their new offices over the weekend, with Cabinet to meet ceremonially for the first time on Monday.

Winston Peters outside Treasury

Winston Peters speaks to media in Wellington today. Photo: RNZ / Russell Palmer

Presuming they are ratified, the signing of the deals would come three weeks to the day since the final election results were confirmed by the Electoral Commission, which themselves took nearly three weeks to process.

Anticipation of a deal was rising towards the end of the week, after the leaders of all three parties flew down to Wellington - Luxon and Seymour on Wednesday night, Peters the following afternoon.

Speaking outside Treasury on the Terrace, Peters had been asked whether a deal has been reached.

"Well if that was the case, I would have told you", he said, but when asked if negotiations were still going on said "no".

"Well, think about it, you're not going to nail me down, this is not my first rodeo, right", he told reporters.

Shane Jones

New Zealand First's Shane Jones today in Wellington. Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

Also speaking this afternoon, Seymour said he was "feeling very good about the future of the government".

"We've come through a long, and I know many people would say too long a process, but it's come together to create a very good deal and with some 'i's' and 't's' I think we'll be in a position to form that government.

"But obviously I'm not in a position to say the exact details of that or what any outstanding tasks or issues might be."

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