Winston Peters says first negotiations 'very constructive'

by Jane Patterson / 09 October, 2017

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Winston Peters (front) emerging from his meeting with National. Photo: RNZ / Jane Patterson

The first day of formal coalition talks ended with the New Zealand First leader describing the meetings with National and Labour as 'very constructive'.

Mr Peters said the parties had not discussed possible ministerial positions, but were concentrating on policy.

Initial discussions to lay the ground rules for this week's talks were held last week, but Mr Peters had made it clear he would not start any serious negotiations until the final election result was known.

There were two meetings at Parliament yesterday afternoon, each lasting just over two hours.

Mr Peters said 'policy is everything' and that had very much been the focus of the day.

When asked about Saturday's result, in which National lost two seats and Labour and the Greens each picked up one, Mr Peters told reporters: "It did pay to wait, didn't it?".

A short time later, on his way to this afternoon's meeting with Labour, he was asked to expand upon that comment.

"Well I notice that most of you didn't wait, you gave all your views, made absolute fools of yourselves day in, day out but we thought it was rather important to wait and that's a fact."

National Party leader Bill English leaving Parliament after discussions with New Zealand First. Photo / Craig McCulloch

After the meeting with National, Mr Peters said "it went fine, thank-you very much", but would not elaborate further.

"We have precisely nothing to say about these meeting at all until they're completed."

He walked away after being asked whether the Labour Greens bloc had become more credible after picking up more seats, and dismissed a question about whether National has a moral authority to govern as "idiotic".

National's leader, Bill English, would only say the negotiations had had been "fine".

New Zealand First's meeting with Labour, which began at 3pm, also wrapped after just over two hours.

Leaving the meeting, Labour leader Jacinda Ardern told waiting reporters the talks were "excellent" and "productive".

"Negotiations will continue for Labour with the parties that we are looking to form a stable, durable coalition government with."

She said she had nothing further to add as the party pressed ahead with the "important and sensitive" negotiations.

Jacinda Ardern speaking to the media after negotiations with New Zealand First. Photo / Craig McCulloch

The talks resume at Parliament this morning.

Meanwhile, the Press Gallery is seeking clarification from the Speaker's Office after media were blocked from filming in areas they have previously had access to, and security was tightened generally around the precinct.

The Press Gallery chairperson, Katie Bradford, said she had also been concerned about the actions of parliamentary security, believing they had "over-reached" yesterday, including one guard trying to physically move journalists when Mr Peters and his negotiating team came back through Bowen House.

The Speaker's Office said it did not sanction the changes made to security around the precinct.

This article was originally published by RNZ.

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