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In home straight, with final pitches being made to?the ‘kingmaker’

Opinion Piece

It is day four of the Winston Peters show, with just 24 hours remaining on his schedule for an October 12 announcement of the deal that sets in place New Zealand’s governing arrangements for the next three years.

A lot of nuts and bolts will have been used already in the bringing together of potential coalition deals. The two major parties will have determined early on what policy areas they can work best on with NZ First, and learned what Peters’ true bottom lines are.

Helpfully for voters, Peters has made clear they include changes to the laws around foreign ownership. On this point he has a much readier ally in Labour but National will no doubt be prepared to concede what it takes, knowing it has sometimes swum against a rising tide of economic nationalism to keep the welcome mat out for foreign investment.

Another area negotiators will have discussed in depth is regional development, and the outcomes of that will likely look quite different in the two potential deals. Labour’s will probably involve policies it campaigned on, with more money behind them, while National will be comfortable increasing the types of investment it sees as most beneficial to regional economies.

And, of course, the elderly will be well looked after in any deal.

It is the voters who put Peters and NZ First in this position, but it is Peters alone who set such a demanding timetable. The stories that do eventually come out about how the negotiations have unfolded will be fascinating.

Peters said at the weekend that it was all about policy — but that is hard to read much into when NZ First has so many policy areas where it differs from the major parties, National in particular. Its suite of policies was also deemed the most expensive to implement, by far, of any party.

In the home straight towards a fourth term, or a ticket out of opposition, National and Labour will now be making final pitches.

The Green Party, a necessary partner for a Labour deal, seems as though it will have to accept what it can get — and that would probably include support from outside the governing circle.