Banter, guffaws and hard talk as new guards gather in Parliament

“We want change that makes this country great country of ours even better. This Coalition Government will deliver that change.” National Party Leader Christopher Luxon walks with ACT Party Leader David Seymour (left) and NZ First Leader Winston Peters to announce the Coalition Agreement in Parliament on November 24, 2023

Kate Pereyra Garcia
Wellington, November 24, 2023

Things will get better, government spending will be curbed, and there is trust and respect amongst the government parties – the Coalition Leaders have stressed.

But New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters was going off script in the very first collective appearance since the coalition deal was signed.

The Leaders of National, ACT and NZ First revealed the details of their Coalition Agreement in Parliament today (Friday, November 24) following three weeks of secret negotiations.

Mr Peters was the first of the Deputy Prime Ministers to speak.

He quickly took aim at journalists in the room.

“Three Weeks, not 40 Days”

“We went to the wire for our people, in the same way, that David Seymour did for his (people), and Mr Luxon did for his (people) as well, and that is the nature of these coalition talks. Please understand that it was under three weeks. Please do not be mathematical morons and keep saying it was 40 days,” he said.

He got into a verbal sparring: “Do not argue about it. It is not a competition. You want to argue with me, you should have been there before the election, maybe I would have got more votes,” he said.

Mr Luxon jumped in with “alright, alright.”

Back on track, Mr Peters said that NZ First “knows that it is going to be a much, much better government,” adding that the Coalition Agreement spoke for itself and they got “everything… that we wanted.”

“We are back,” he crowed as David Seymour was introduced.

The ACT Leader spoke for longer than Mr Peters.

“A Government of Real Change”

He said they wanted to ensure it was a government of real change.

“I believe that we have made a positive and substantial contribution to this government’s agenda.”

Mr Seymour went on to list ACT’s achievements including Gun Reform, Charter Schools and the return of Over-The-Counter Pseudoephedrine – “a return to common sense and also a great relief.”

“There will be wholesale reform of the government’s approach to applying social services. We will no longer be treating people differently based on ethnicity as a starting point. We will be focusing public services on need,” he said.

Mr Seymour said that they would “grasp the opportunity” to make the country better.

Mr Luxon book-ended the speeches, declaring it a “historic” occasion and that it is the first time that three parties are a coalition, represented in the Cabinet.

He thanked Chris Hipkins for his efforts as the Caretaker Prime Minister.

But he said that turning around the “mess” that Labour had left would take time.

“Because it is a big job and we have to get it right.”

ACT Party Leader David Seymour with National and NZ First Leaders Christopher Luxon and Winston Peters speaking to the Media after signing the Coalition Agreement in Parliament on November 24, 2023

National’s Win and Loss

It was not all wins for National. The Party had to abandon its plan to allow foreign house buyers back in order to fund their tax cuts but Mr Luxon said that ACT and NZ First had agreed to support the “major elements” of National’s policies.

“Part of treating taxpayers’ money with respect is ensuring that New Zealanders get better value from government spending. We should all feel confident that the money is being well spent and that for example, kids are getting a good education at schools and that the health system is effective and responsive,” Mr Luxon said.

He said that his government would do that by setting targets, like shorter hospital wait times.

“Whether you are old or young, regardless of your ethnicity, if you live in Central Auckland or the deepest south, our government is going to deliver for you.”

Luxon outlined which policies had been adopted from each party and covered the key ministerial positions.

Reflections on Coalition talks

Each of the Leaders had his own take on how the coalition talks had progressed.

Mr Peters called them “seriously long, difficult and complicated.”

“Arduous in the extreme and we expected nothing less, cause that is the nature of life itself where we are as a country. But ultimately, they were successful,” he said.

Mr Seymour said the negotiations were “robust.”

“So has the growth in respect amongst us and the reservoir of trust and belief that will allow us to together work through the challenges our country will no doubt face,” he said.

Mr Seymour admitted that it was a “difficult” process but also “ultimately (a) successful one.”

Mr Luxon thanked New Zealanders for their patience saying that it was a credit to the country “that we now handle the MMP process with such calmness and maturity”.

“The negotiation process has been diligent, it has been focused and has proven to be purposeful. Our aim has simply been not to form a government but to form a strong and stable government that gets things done for Kiwis,” he said.

Kate Pereyra Garcia is a Journalist at Radio New Zealand. The above Report and pictures have been published under a special agreement with www.rnz.co.nz

 

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