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John MacDonald: Nats, ACT, NZ First: Did it really have to be this way?

Author
John MacDonald,
Publish Date
Mon, 6 Nov 2023, 1:32PM
(Photo / NZ Herald)
(Photo / NZ Herald)

John MacDonald: Nats, ACT, NZ First: Did it really have to be this way?

Author
John MacDonald,
Publish Date
Mon, 6 Nov 2023, 1:32PM

If you get a text message today from David Seymour - just reply. Just in case it is him. 

Which is what Winston Peters should have done. Instead of thinking that the text message he got after the election from “David Seymour” wasn’t from Seymour himself, but was from someone pretending to be David Seymour. 

But I suppose that’s what happens when you’ve been Foreign Minister before. You get all “5 Eyes” on it and you don’t trust anyone or anything.  

So, with the final election results in, Christopher Luxon now has the job of cobbling together a government with ACT and NZ First. And he’s putting on a brave face but did it really have to be this way?  

I don’t think it did. And I’ll tell you why.  

National has 48 seats. The Green Party 15 seats. Add them together. What do you get? You get enough to form a government. That’s what you get.    

Now think about how, before the election, Christopher Luxon used to bang on about how little time he spends in Wellington. 

Remember that? Every opportunity, he’d say that if he didn’t need to be in Parliament he’d be out of Wellington, on the road, meeting people up and down the country. 

Well, he might be regretting that. Because I think he would be a much happier man today if he’d actually spent a lot more time in Wellington over the last three years. 

If he had, he could’ve come up with a much more exciting, forward-thinking, innovative government than the one he’s been lumbered with now that the special votes have all been counted and we have a final result. 

His strategy over the past three years shouldn’t have been getting in the faces of as many people outside Wellington. His strategy should’ve been to get in the faces of key people in Wellington as much as possible. Selling them the idea of creating a truly transformational government. 

Yes, he’s Prime Minister and National is going to be in government again. And, if he pulls off the “strong and stable” bit, then he will have done well, given the personalities he now has to work with. But, overall, his strategy has failed. 

It’s failed because he hasn’t convinced enough people that two coalition partners are better than three and the best we can hope for during the next three years is a steady ship with no mutinies. 

But if Luxon had done things differently, imagine how things could have looked today. 

Imagine if Luxon had spent the last three years working the Green Party around to the idea of a National/Greens government?  

Look at the number of seats now the final result is in. National has 48 seats. The Greens have 15. Put those together - 63 seats. A majority in the House. 

Now I said before the election that I thought, for the first time since we’ve had MMP, people were going to be voting to have their values represented in Parliament - as much as voting for a government. 

And I think we’ve seen that. Especially when you consider how the minor parties really are the winners.  

But of those minor parties, and based on the results, it’s the Greens who have come out best. A record 15 seats. Compared to ACT’s 11 and NZ First’s 8 seats.  

Now you might think that Christopher Luxon would have just as much of a handful keeping James Shaw and Marama Davidson in check, as he will with David Seymour and Winston Peters. And you may very well be right. 

But imagine the possibilities.  

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