UPDATE: Winston Peters has set another deadline, of sorts, for wrapping up MMP negotiations. Asked this evening (Thursday) if there would be a new government by the end of next week, he replied: "Yes. Now would you write that on the wall please."
The NZ First leader said he would meet with his MPs tomorrow. The Friday caucus would probably take most of the day, he said.
Mr Peters confirmed that face-to-face negotiations with National and Labour had concluded. Discussions about portfolios could take place by phone call or text he said – providing a hint that his party is angling for positions in cabinet as part of a formal coalition rather than sitting on the cross-benches as some have speculated.
He also said that a meeting of his party's board had been delayed because one member had to attend a tangi (a traditional Maori funeral that takes three days or longer).
Mr Peters has refused to name the members of his party's board, who will be part of the final decision process, but Newshub has published a list of their names.
EARLIER: New Zealand has to wait a bit longer to find out the formation of the next government after NZ First leader Winston Peters revealed it’s not likely his board will meet tomorrow.
Mr Peters had previously said an announcement on the governing arrangement he has selected will come after his board meets and comes to an almost unanimous decision.
It had previously been thought the board would meet tomorrow.
But Mr Peters torpedoed that suggestion today, after his meeting with National this morning, saying it’s unlikely the board will meet on Friday.
Asked if that means a decision will come next week, he said: “That’s not what I said.”
“I said it depends on the logistical availability of the board – that could be Saturday, Sunday or Monday.”
He says he will “know that before too long” but stressed the meeting is contingent on the availability of the board.
“People do have to come from all over the country.”
He ruled out a meeting when members of the board were linked in via Skype saying it “wouldn’t be satisfactory.”
But he did say it was something he had thought about – “but that would not be the kind of serious discussion we need to have.”
Asked if he was disappointed he was missing his deadline of having a decision by October 12, he said that deadline was never set by him and blamed the media for misinterpreting it.
Asked if the board should have been organised to have talks as soon as possible before the election results came in, Mr Peters says no one could have predicted the outcome of the election without waiting for the special votes.
“We waited until we knew what the circumstances were.”
Mr Peters says NZ First has not been secretive about who is on its board, saying the whole board was at the party’s annual meeting earlier this year.
In a statement shortly after the NZ First leader spoke to media, he called for the media to respect the board’s privacy.
“By putting their name forward to serve on the board they do not expect to have their privacy invaded and to become public figures. This privacy extends to all party members.
“NZ First values transparency but we also value an individual’s privacy especially when they volunteer their services,” Mr Peters says.
Despite the delay, Mr Peters says he is “pretty confident” he and his team will conclude all negotiation talks with National and Labour by tonight.
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