Register for the View from Westminster email newsletter to receive insightful analysis directly to your email inbox.
Receive our free email newsletter from Westminster.
Sign up for our complimentary Westminster View email.
The three leaders who signed a new government agreement on Friday promise New Zealanders tax reductions, increased police presence, and reduced government bureaucracy.
After a general election on October 14th, New Zealand’s coalition deal marked the end of almost six weeks of intense negotiations.
Christopher Luxon will become the prime minister under the agreement, following his conservative National Party’s victory with 38% of the vote, the highest percentage among all parties.
Luxon showed appreciation for the patience of New Zealand citizens throughout the negotiation process and stated that both parties had made concessions in their policies to reach an agreement.
Luxon stated that the government’s goal is to improve the economy and reduce the financial burden on citizens, as well as provide tax breaks to promote the well-being of all New Zealanders. Additionally, the government aims to establish stricter laws and promote personal accountability in order to create safer communities for Kiwis.
The authorities have reached a consensus to reduce the size of the public sector and educate an additional 500 police officers within a span of two years. They have also decided to alter the role of the country’s Reserve Bank, making its primary objective to control inflation instead of balancing both low inflation and high employment.
The position of deputy prime minister will be divided between the two remaining leaders. Initially, it will be filled by Winston Peters, a 78-year-old lawmaker and leader of the New Zealand First party, for the first 18 months of the election cycle. After that, David Seymour, leader of the ACT Party, will take over for the remaining 18 months.
Peters, who has had a contentious history with the press, criticized certain journalists.
“Please refrain from beginning this administration with a confrontational approach,” he stated with a smile in response to a reporter’s inquiry. “You have been defeated. You lost, correct?”
Peters, who will also serve as foreign minister, stated that he does not anticipate any revisions to New Zealand’s existing foreign policy towards China. New Zealand relies on China as a major purchaser of its agricultural products, but has also expressed unease over China’s heightened assertiveness in the Pacific region.
Seymour has been appointed as the new regulation minister and believes that the country was headed in the wrong direction under the previous liberal government. He points to rising prices and crime rates, as well as increasing societal division as evidence of this.
Seymour stated that it is time to move forward and focus on providing New Zealanders with the belief that a government is capable of improving public services and giving them value for their taxes.
In New Zealand’s proportional voting system, it is common for parties to join forces in order to secure a majority in government.
On the night of the election, the National and ACT parties, who were closely aligned, had a sufficient number of votes to govern. However, after the final count, which included special votes, the situation changed and resulted in more challenging three-way negotiations.
The former Prime Minister Chris Hipkins, who had chosen not to collaborate with Peters, had already accepted Luxon’s victory on election night.
Hipkins, the leader of the progressive Labour Party, served as the top official for a brief period of nine months. He assumed the role after Jacinda Ardern surprisingly resigned in January, stating that she did not have the energy to fulfill the responsibilities of the job.
Ardern’s victory in the previous election was overwhelming, but her approval decreased as the public grew weary of COVID-19 regulations and the economy faced inflation concerns.