Politics and media abhor a vacuum, so let’s see what Wayne Mapp can tell us about the next government

In business and politics, relationships are built on trust, just as in life generally. Obviously policies are part of that. You can’t really build trust by saying; “I respect you but I don’t agree with any of your policies.” For most people being respected for what we believe is part of the trust relationship.

What guide will this be for the current coalition negotiations, and also for the government that emerges?

My direct experience with New Zealand First and National agreeing on government is from the 1996 negotiations, but I was in parliament long enough to see how various coalitions were formed, and what made them successful.

It’s very simple.  They need to want to hold on to power more than they want to rip each other’s faces off.  And sometimes, the latter becomes more important because of a failure to manage personalities.  

So what might be the key factors for Winston Peters and New Zealand First during the current negotiations? There are essentially two. The first is respect; the second is stability.

For the first that means that the agenda of the new government that is ultimately agreed must be fully accepted by all those involved. That the new government will have a full package of policies that all members fully support irrespective of which party they come from.

If it is National is successful in the negotiations that means an understanding by all National MPs that a National/New Zealand First government will have essentially a new set of policies that all members will be required to support, and more importantly be willing to advocate publicly. It will be an essential change from 1996 if such a coalition is to have a good chance of success.

The ultimate measure of respect may be the prime ministership. On Q&A Richard Prebble speculated that Labour could yet offer the prime ministership to Winston Peters for the first 18 months as a means of sealing the deal.

The issue of respect may also test the Greens, particularly if they are directly within the coalition, rather than simply supplying confidence and supply. The Greens may not get very many wins. In fact Winston Peters may not even negotiate directly with them. Since Labour has already taken many Green policies on public transport and water quality, the Greens may have to accept such wins as theirs by default. Given that it is New Zealand First that has the negotiating power, the Greens will not get more refugees, they will not get accountability-free welfare, they will not get water taxes on farmers, or many of the other things they hold dear.

The country will revolt if there is a Prime Minister Winston Peters.  There will be a demand for a binding referendum on voting systems, and the pain will be felt for elections to come.  Nobody will accept Winston Peters as PM.   And unless Winston’s off his trolley, neither will he.  It simply has no upsides.  It would be the ultimate bauble, and the vainest own goal.

But that shows you the lack of understanding Wayne Mapp has about the current situation.  And why the possibility of a confidence and supply deal with National is still one of the most likely outcomes.  The alternatives simply don’t provide enough wins for NZ First.  Short term, or long term.

Most of the country has voted for more of National with some NZ First adjustments.  Drift too far from that and the voters will punish those they feel have disrespected them.


– Wayne Mapp, NZ Herald

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.