The National Party, working through back channels, is understood to have offered Winston Peters the role of Speaker in the next Parliament in a bid to lock in New Zealand First support for its government.
The former Prime Minister, Sir John Key, is believed to have played a role in suggesting the idea.
But POLITIK understands it has already been rejected by Peters, and now National is believed to be talking about offering the post to the former Speaker, Adrian Ruawhe.
Asked about the offer last night, Peters said: “Do I look like I’d be interested in the Speaker’s job?”
National’s relationship with NZ First has not got off to a great start.
The Prime Minister-elect, Christopher Luxon, confessed at his mid-morning media conference yesterday that he had not called Peters at that stage even though he had called ACT leader David Seymour twice on Saturday.
Peters confirmed last night that he had yet to speak to Luxon.
Luxon will need both leaders on board because National is highly unlikely to have enough numbers to form the National-ACT government that Luxon has always said is his preference.
Currently, National has 50 seats and ACT 11 in what will be a 121-seat House, which will become a 122-seat house after the Port Waikato by-election. That will increase National’s total by one, giving National and ACT a slim majority.
But there are 567,000 votes yet to be counted. These are the special votes, which include 80,000 overseas votes.
National Party campaign manager Chris Bishop said yesterday the party expects to lose “at least one” seat once those votes are counted.
That has to be by November 3, and as far as NZ First is concerned, serious coalition talks cannot begin till then because that final result will confirm whether they are an essential requirement to form the next government or simply a nice-to-have add-on.
“I honestly think that a lot of the commentary is totally premature at the moment,” Peters told POLITIK.
Luxon, on the other hand, appears to have been working on a deal with ACT for some time now.
He indicated yesterday that he has been having regular policy discussions through the election campaign period with ACT leader David Seymour.
“David and I have probably the last couple of months spoken every couple of days,” he said.
“We’ve been neighbours for a few years, so we know each other fairly well.
“Our parties work together very well.
“In terms of a broad brush, we have talked about wanting to get the economy rebuilt.
“We talked about wanting to restore law and order.”
“We’ve made sure that we have good alignment and good chemistry.
“And I think I’ve done a lot of mergers and acquisitions, courageous positions, and a lot of negotiations.
Getting the chemistry and getting the relationship right is the platform, the foundation for actually being able to work your way through the transactional issues.”
But those transactional issues will be difficult, if not impossible, to get an agreement with Seymour on.
He has confirmed to Business Desk that one of his three “key asks” from National would be ACT’s Treaty policy, which starts with a statement on its principles which would go back to the way the Treaty was interpreted before Judge Robin Cooke’s 1987 Appeal Court decision which declared that its fundamental principle was a partnership between Maori and The Crown.
New Zealand First opposes this, and Luxon has not specifically addressed it, but there would be significant numbers in his caucus who would oppose it.
Seymour did not have a happy election campaign, and ACT ended up with only one more seat despite having the second-largest war chest after National.
It has received $4.2 million in donations since 2021.
On election night, Seymour appeared to be referencing his controversial Treaty of Waitangi policy in his victory speech.
“We will work tirelessly and will not cease from the effort required to make sure that this country delivers the promise that is made to so many people, those who were born here, those who were born far away and chose to be here, those from north, those from south men and women, rich and poor; we are all New Zealanders who seek one five millionth of the opportunity this country has to offer,” he said.
National won the election in Auckland.
In the outer suburban electorates like Botany, Pakuranga, Upper Harbour and East Coast Bays, the swing to National from Labour was over 20 per cent.
These are mortgage belt suburbs dependent on transport where the rise in interest rates will be really hurting.
Campaign Technologies CEO Tim Hurdle, who has worked closely with the National Party and its former campaign consultants, Crosby Textor, is a freelance political consultant who specialises in analysing campaign polling and was the mastermind behind the victory of Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown last October.
He told POLITIK he saw the same forces at work on Saturday that created Brown’s win.
“I think the major factors are the pressure on the household budget from higher interest rates and the increasing cost of living that are putting pressure on the public,” he said.
“And the lesson for this government will be to deliver progress rather than enormous announcements about announcements.”
And then there were the migrant suburbs like New Lynn, Te Atatu and Mt Roskill, where over 30 per cent of the population are Asian and which also recorded a swing of over 20 per cent.
The Indian Weekender said Indian New Zealanders had supported National over economic policy and law and order, but the news site was critical of the fact that National would not have one single Indian MP.
“New Zealand voters seem to have got the change in government they desired,” Indian Weekender said.
“But the diversity they voted in at the 2017 election has been severely diminished.
“The National-Act coalition will have to work harder in prioritising their list factoring in not just the vagaries of the MMP system, but the NZ voter’s changing way of how they cast votes.”
Labour will have been traumatised by Saturday night’s result.
The increased National vote in the outer suburbs will simply add to existing National majorities, but the three migrant seats could see three high-profile Labour MPs, Michael Wood, Deborah Russel and Phil Twyford, looking to the list.
On present numbers, only Russell would make it.
Not only did Labour lose the National–Labour contest, but they have lost three more Maori seats to Te Paati Maori, which can now claim to be the true representatives of Maori in Parliament, and young people in Wellington Central and Rongotai helped give the Greens three electorates seats, and their party came second in another university seat, Dunedin.
POLITIK understands there are already questions from within the caucus about some of the decisions made by leader Chris Hipkins, particularly about his call, apparently made without consultation with the party or caucus, to not support a wealth tax and the way the campaign seemed to lack energy until the final week.
Writing on the pro-Labour blog site, “The Standard”, long-time Labour activist Greg Presland said: “As for Labour, it is time to rebuild. Hipkins’s future must be in doubt, and the need for new blood is clear.”
Labour’s rules require that the Caucus vote on his leadership no later than three months after a general election.
That would mean they must vote by the end of January, which might be too soon for a challenger from the left to build support.
But if the party and the caucus want to revive the wealth tax, he will have to go because Hipkins said there would be no wealth tax under any government he led.
New MPs will come to Wellington this week for an induction to their new roles, but it would seem highly unlikely that the House will not be able to meet until the second week of November at the earliest.