Cognito: “You can’t always get what you want …

20 October 2017

Serva me, servabo te *

… but if you try sometimes you might find, you get what you need

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters quoted Mick Jagger and Keith Richards’ famous lyrics in describing the coalition deal with Labour.

It hints at the negotiations that took place and we’ve been told to expect detail of the deals with both New Zealand First and the Greens early next week.

Many promises were made on the hustings and it will be interesting to see how they all survive and whether each party did in fact get what they need.

This afternoon the Labour caucus will select its Cabinet line-up (in National it’s the party leader’s job), and Jacinda Ardern will then allocate portfolios over the coming week.

Mr Peters has not yet accepted the role of Deputy Prime Minister which might suggest he could try to wring some more gains from the portfolio allocation process for the four ministerial roles and one under-secretary.

There will have been many in New Zealand First who needed convincing about this deal – something Mr Peters hinted at last night – and the Greens’ three ministerial posts and an under-secretary role (albeit outside Cabinet) would have been a bitter pill.

Ironically, the Greens who almost failed to make it back to Parliament could arguably have more influence than Mr Peters in this government.

While New Zealand First’s coalition agreement will bind them to support Labour, the Greens are free to vote as they like on all matters other than supply and confidence. While this will complicate policy development, it gives the Greens leverage to extract concessions on every piece of legislation and Parliamentary vote.

What this outcome does show is that MMP works.  The majority has prevailed with moderation both ways – New Zealand First has put a hold on the proposed water tax, and Labour has ruled out a referendum on the Māori seats.

Also, MMP has for the first time delivered a government that doesn’t include the party with the biggest share of the vote as well as creating the largest ever single opposition party with 56 seats, plus ACT’s singleton.

National will get busy very quickly and, with a lot of experience in its ranks, it will be a more effective opposition than Labour was over the last two terms.

By its very nature, the new Government will be less stable which the Opposition will try to exploit over the next three years – or possibly less if you share the view of some black hatters.

* Save me and I will save you

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