Winston Peters keeps things complicated

Winston Peters appears to be doing his best to kibosh any possibility of a coalition deal with National after the election. On TV3’s The Nation yesterday, Mr Peters stated that he would not work with United Future or the Maori Party after the election. So that’s two of National’s three current coalition partners ruled out. Mind you, if NZ First makes it over the 5% threshold and National is polling in the mid-40s come election day, National most likely wouldn’t be requiring Peter Dunne or the Maori party’s votes, assuming an agreement could in fact be reached with Mr Peters.

For the additional spanner in the spokes is National’s asset sales regime. Opposition to asset sales is basically a given for NZ First. Peters’ mob of elderly conservative racists don’t like the idea of foreigners to begin with, letting alone foreigners owning our stuff, so NZ First was never going to be supportive of the asset sales policy.

On The Nation, Peters stated that a key priority for NZ First will be the buy-back of state assets, and “if either side prefers to sell out New Zealand’s long term heritage, then they can line up and find their own support”. What he means by that is unclear (but then when is Peters ever clear on anything?). Will it be NZ First policy to buy back Might River Power, Meridian, Genesis and Air NZ? Even if it’s policy, will it be a bottom line? The government didn’t even own 100% of Air NZ – should ownership revert to its previous level, or is 100% government ownership vital?

A proposed buy-back of state assets is certainly a wedge policy between NZ First and National. After all the political headaches that the sell-off brought with it, National certainly won’t be jettisoning its policy and buying everything back. Which raises further questions: Would NZ First still come to a confidence and supply agreement with National, and remain on the cross-benches? Would remaining on the cross-benches mean that NZ First technically isn’t wiring with United Future or the Maori Party, should National sign them up as governing partners?

With Winston Peters, who knows. He probably doesn’t even know himself…

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