Winston Peters meets Pike River families ahead of preliminary coalition talks

by RNZ / 05 October, 2017

Winston Peters at Parliament before starting his day of meetings. Photo / Jane Patterson

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters met Pike River families before preliminary discussions with National this morning.

Mr Peters reiterated that the meeting with National - and this afternoon's scheduled discussion with Labour - to kick off talks on forming a government were preliminary, and that his party wouldn't make any firm decisions until after the result of special votes were announced on Saturday.

Speaking briefly at Parliament this morning, he said the meetings were to set out protocols and arrangements.

"We can't proceed until we know what the 380,000-plus special voters think. Any idea that we shouldn't have to regard them is just preposterous in a democracy."

Mr Peters said it would be "wise" to find out what the public said and until that happens everything else was "pie in the sky, dreaming and speculation".

He said New Zealand First's policy comparison with the other parties would be completed tomorrow and, apart from the meetings, that would be its main focus for today. Consultation with party members was ongoing, he said.

The discussions with National lasted about half an hour.

Earlier, Mr Peters met families of some of the men who died at the Pike River coal mine in 2010.

Last year Mr Peters said re-entering the mine would be a bottom line in any negotiations, going as far as pledging to go into the mine himself.

Anna Osborne, whose husband died in the disaster, said she had faith Mr Peters would deliver on his promise.

"It was one of his bottom lines and it still is - and to have that reaffirmed has just been amazing.

"It certainly put a smile on the Pike River families' faces, that's for sure."

Mr Peters said major parties would have to keep an open mind about Pike River as part of negotiations.

"This is a serious matter, 29 people lost their lives.

"They've been denied justice, it's just been contaminated with a whole lot of appalling political behaviour so we intend to sort it out."

This article was originally published by RNZ.

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