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Incoming Prime Minister Christopher Luxon says coalition talks with NZ First and Act could take up to a week to complete and he’s unlikely to make it to Apec.
Luxon had stated his desire to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Leaders’ Summit in the United States this week, which would require a deal to be finalised ahead of a flight on Wednesday evening.
Speaking to Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking, the incoming Prime Minister said that was now not likely.
An “awful lot of ground” had been covered in discussions with NZ First and Act, covering the manifestos and full policy positions of all three parties line by line.
Discussing every single policy was a huge amount of work, he said.
”We’re very aligned on the big goals but [we have] different policy mechanisms for how we deliver those goals.”
Discussions were now into areas that were “a bit crunchier” and discussions about Cabinet posts were underway.
But they hadn’t really talked in terms of bottom lines, he said.
”It’s been a bottom-up build of ‘Take us through your manifesto, we’ll take you through ours’.”
Speaking to both Hosking and TVNZ’s Breakfast, Luxon repeatedly refused to commit to delivering a foreign buyers’ property tax - claiming the confidentiality of negotiations.
He said what voters cared about was the outcome of tax relief to lower and middle-income New Zealanders, and he was absolutely committed to that happening.
It comes after various meetings took place over the weekend as National, Act and New Zealand First continued with talks in Auckland after spending time in Wellington last week.
It’s understood Christopher Luxon, David Seymour and Winston Peters are yet to meet all together but could have the opportunity to in the coming days with both Seymour and Peters indicating to the Herald on Friday they would return to Wellington at some stage this week.
Seymour yesterday was predicting the next government could be formed in time for Luxon to head to Apec on Wednesday.
He said representatives of the three parties had worked hard over the weekend but more work was still to be done.
“We’re narrowing the range of issues and that gets us closer to an agreement, but it would also be fair to say that we’re not there yet.”
Despite the progress made over the weekend, Seymour believed it wasn’t guaranteed Luxon would make it in time for Apec.
“Just the sheer amount of administrative stuff that has to happen, checking and cross-checking, makes it a really tight timeline.”
However, he was optimistic Kiwis could have their next government decided in a matter of days.
“I think there’s every prospect of having a government by the end of the week, but like I say, [government formation] only happens once every three years, every time is different.”
It has been speculated one aspect the parties were still working through was National’s $14.6 billion plan to provide tax relief.
To achieve that, National campaigned on partially removing the current ban on foreign buyers in the housing market so they could be taxed. Luxon intended to allow homes worth more than $2 million to be bought by foreigners but they would be taxed at 15 per cent.
Council of Trade Unions economist Craig Renney said it was possible removing the ban could be a sticking point in negotiations.
“I can’t see a universe in which New Zealand First decides it wants to restart selling New Zealand houses to overseas purchasers.
“I think one of the key reasons that New Zealand First possibly chose Labour in 2017 was because Labour had proposed a foreign buyers ban, so to do a complete 180 on that in that period of time would seem to be a bit of a stretch and it kind of runs completely counter to the economic philosophy of New Zealand First.”
Renney, also a former staffer of Labour finance spokesman Grant Robertson, said some compromise could be found concerning overseas investment in new builds.
However, Renney believed that was “pretty well covered” in current legislation.
Adam Pearse is a political reporter in the NZ Herald Press Gallery team, based at Parliament. He has worked for NZME since 2018, covering sport and health for the Northern Advocate in Whangārei before moving to the NZ Herald in Auckland, covering Covid-19 and crime.
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