There’s a lot of unknowns about how next year’s election will go. One of the biggest questions will be how National goes under Bill English’s leadership – will their support drop now John Key has stepped down? Will it stay dropped?
Labour are still struggling to be a major party. They seem to have given up competing head to head with National, and are now relying on Labour+Greens, but their Memorandum of Understanding doesn’t seem to have enthused voters.
There is one certainty – the media will continue to promote Winston Peters as ‘kingmaker’. There’s a good chance (but no guarantee) NZ First will end up in a position where they can play National off against Labour+Greens. Winston remains adamant he won’t do that until after the election.
But there have already a few bottom lines mentioned.
New Zealand First’s objective is to preserve the entitlement of New Zealanders to retire and receive New Zealand Superannuation (NZS) as it now is with eligibility at 65 years and as a universal non-contributory publicly funded pension scheme with no means-testing.
It’s very unlikely Winston would relent on this one.
2. No Maori Party
Ensure the future of the Maori seats is a decision for the people to make having examined the significant increase in representation numbers of Maori MPs under MMP.
And (in June 2016):
Stopping separatism …is a bottom line for NZ First working with any future government, Winston Peters says.
“…and for example a parallel state where you’ve got a state within a state because of separatist racist laws then we will not go down that path and I’m saying it right now.”
Peters has ruled out a coalition that included the Maori Party in the past. This doesn’t look like changing.
New Zealand First is committed to a rigorous and strictly applied immigration policy that serves New Zealand’s interests. Immigration should not be used as a source of cheap labour to undermine New Zealanders’ pay and conditions.
The rest of their Immigration policy sounds strong but is actually vague.
…stopping mass immigration is a bottom line for NZ First working with any future government, Winston Peters says.
“…if mass immigration continued…then we will not go down that path and I’m saying it right now.”
It’s difficult to know what Winston would insist on for immigration, but he plays the immigration card often to supporters so would have to make some demands.
4. Pike River Re-entry
Winston Peters says re-entering Pike River mine is a “bottom line” to any election deal made next year.
“I’m making no bones about it, we’ll give these people a fair-go, and yes this is a bottom line, and it shouldn’t have to be,” he said on TV’s Paul Henry show on Wednesday morning.
Any political party seeking New Zealand First’s support to form a government in the 2017 election will have to commit to re-entering the mine.
National want to leave any re-entry decision up to Solid Energy. Andrew Little has supported re-entry but has not absolutely committed Labour to it.
5. Police numbers
The New Zealand First leader and Northland MP wants the number of police officers increased by 27 percent, in line with Australia’s per capita ratio.
“We’re looking at something like 1800-1900 officers just as a start now to get to a level where we once were, and then build upon that,” he says.
He says it’s a bottom line in any negotiations regarding the formation of the next Government.
So that is five bottom lines that I’m aware of.
? Prime Minister
…here’s another theory that’s been doing the rounds much longer.
It is that Peters will only retire after he has fulfilled his ambition of one day being prime minister. It’s even said to have been put on the able in NZ First’s protracted negotiations to form a government in 1996.
That seems to be a claim only on the Paul Henry Show, Peters doesn’t say that. But is that one of his goals?
I don’t think National would agree to a Winston as PM deal, but would Labour and Greens, where none of none of Little, Metiria Turei and James Shaw have any government experience? Peters has already been deputy Prime Minister, from 16 December 1996 to 14 August 1998 (under Jim Bolger).
Are there other Winston/NZ First bottom lines so far?