John Key talked to Newstalk ZB’s Leighton Smith today about possible alliances with other parties.
Leighton Smith: The post election alliances, the parties you’re prepared to work with, when are you going to announce that and let’s do it now.
John Key: So what we did at the start of the year, which is probably more than anyone else has done, we sat there and we said look, we’ve got some parties we can work with, we’ve worked well with United, Act and the Maori Party over the last six years and we’re happy to work with them again in the future.
We think we could work with the Conservatives if they make it, and we’d be prepared to have discussions with Winston Peters if he wanted to.
So that sort of gives people an indication of who we can and who we can’t work with.
You know what sort of accommodations we may or may not so, look we’ll make some decisions on that a bit nearer the time.
Obviously the particular issues are Epsom when it comes to Act, Ohariu when it comes to United, and whether we find some way of accommodation Colin Craig
Leighton Smith: It would appear as far as Colin Craig is concerned that you’ve run out of options…
John Key: Not necessarily…
Leighton Smith: …according to Mark Mitchell…
John Key: yeah, yeah well no I don’t think that’s right, in the end, National obviously believes that we’re the best party to be the governing party of this country, and MMP’s a system that causes, that forces you to find coalitions.
So you know in the end New Zealand’s got a chance to test that out in 2011. What they said overwhelmingly like it or not was that they wanted to keep that system and it’s a system that drives coalitions.
So what I’ve tried to do and am keen to do is treat the electorate with some maturity and respect and say look rather than play games here’s roughly the combinations and you guys decide.
Now when it comes to the Conservatives, they’re in a bit of a different position to United and Act. You’ve got to remember both of those parties won their seat in their own right at times where National pretty heavily contested those seats. That’s not the case with the Conservatives but that doesn’t mean that we couldn’t find a way through but I wouldn’t necessarily guarantee that we would.
Leighton Smith: When you say they won their seats where National contested them fairly heavily, you’re talking about about the original time or…
John Key: Yep. yeah I mean I accept that in 2011 we gave a very strong signal in Epsom for people to give their electorate vote to John Banks and the act Party and their party vote to National. Similarly in Wellington and Ohariu the same thing with United a pretty clear sort of view.
But I mean at the end of the day there’s nothing new about this, you hear David Cunliffe saying oh somehow there’s something odd about this. Well go back and trace the history of it. Labour’s done the same thing with Alliance, they did the same thing with the Greens. there’s nothing new and in fact you’ve got you know Mana doing that with that Internet crowd at the moment.
Leighton Smith: So where would you think if there was a hole for Mr Craig, where would it most likely be?
John Key: Ah well I don’t honestly know because I haven’t really thought about it in great detail, but what I would say is look, in the end if we had to try and do some sort of deal, um then I’m sure we could find one, because in the end if, if, any member of our caucus will want the Government, National to be a part of the Government, and in the end if that is what was required I’m sure they’d do it.
But I just wouldn’t jump to conclusions there because we’re a long way away from that position really with the Conservatives.
Leighton Smith: Right, but we’re not that far away, you are starting to run out of, well getting close to the wire…
John Key: Yeah we’re ninety nine days…
Leighton Smith: …it’s not that long, it’ll be gone in a flash.
John Key: Correct. But I mean don’t forget we’re in the position where we’re saying that. Labour on the other hand is saying well, you know, we’re going to work with Mana and Internet or whatever, um, Winston won’t tell you who he’ll work with and who he won’t, so half the political parties are going to talk to you after the election, half of them will try and tell you one thing and do another, at least we’re going to be transparent.
So look, before the, well and truly before people are going to go to the polls they’ll have a sense of what we think makes sense.
Leighton Smith: Let me ask a question that’s been asked many times before and there’s a standard answer but, but, the possible combination of National and Labour. Is there any set of circumstances you could envisage where that could happen?
John Key: Well it’s happened in Germany, that’s ultimately…
Leighton Smith: I mean here though.
John Key: Yeah I know. Ah well I think no, um, but you look in a lot of ways, ah at times in the history of the two parties they’ve been more similar, you know National’s been centre right and Labour’s been centre left.
This election is actually very unusual because you’ve got the Labour Party tracking a long way left and us staying very much in the centre, but I just don’t see that happening.
I think New Zealanders fundamentally want to have a choice, and I think they’d rather, they will probably, they’ve had a very canny way of making sure that there’ve been plenty of alternatives, or at least some alternatives to the um, ah, you know for the part that they’ve wanted to govern.
Leighton Smith: Just briefly cover this off for me. The election’s over. National is the biggest party with the most votes, marginally short of being able to pull together a coalition naturally, simply. We’re now into negotiations.
John Key: And that’s a very real possibility.
Leighton Smith: You’ve got, and you’ve got one or two parties that are sitting there, the mini parties that are sitting there hunting for the best deal that they get. Is it a case of government at any price? Or could you imagine a situation, literally imagine a situation where you would say no we’re not paying, we’re not going that far, we’re not paying that penalty. For instance let’s say that um Winston wanted a Prime Ministerial sharing.
John Key: Ah yes, so there’d certainly be circumstances where we’d just say no. And I think actually it’s be in the interests of the National Party to say no, because in reality if you did a deal that was so toxic that at the end of that three year period you unwound what I think has been the good work we’ve done in the last six years, ah then I think you’re failing the country and you’re failing your supporters.
For me it’s not Government at any price, um and I don’t think it’s practical to be starting to say well the Prime Ministership is something that we share around a bit like, you know, they player of the day.