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Election 2014: Three deals and no more, says Key

Rob Hosking
Sat, 14 Jun 2014

Prime Minister John Key will not yet say whether any electorate deals have been made with smaller parties but also says no more than three will be made.

Mr Key also indicated yesterday that all three deals – the ones which have not been made, or if they have, not quite, anyway – will probably be announced together.

Those arrangements would be with Ohariu MP and United Future leader Peter Dunne, along with Epsom Act Party candidate David Seymour and Conservative Party leader Colin Craig.

If that were to happen, which, Mr Key says, is not definite yet. Or if it is definite, he is not going to say so.

But National would provide an indication “soonish ... some time in the next 25 or 16 weeks would clearly be useful for the voters of those electorates, but not this week. Or next week.

“We would like to deal with them all at one time.  I would like to  be a bit more transparent about that.”

While Mr Key all but confirmed – without actually saying so – a deal is happening where such arrangements have happened before, in the Ohariu and Epsom electorates, he was more distant about prospects of any similar leg up for Conservative leader Colin Craig.

“My understanding is a couple of weeks ago he put out a statement, or made a statement, to the effect he wasn’t terribly interested in an accommodation ... that’s what I heard. It was a second hand report.”

This morning Mr Craig told Radio New Zealand’s Morning Report his party wants to stand on its own two feet - “We are not asking National for a deal”, he says.

He is, though, sitting in front of Mr Key’s armchair, head on one side, with a pleading look and the foodbowl in his mouth.

Mr Craig indicated he expects a deal in one of National's safe seats on Auckland’s North Shore – the most commonly mentioned is Murray McCully’s East Coast Bays seat, but others being discussed are the new seat of Upper Harbour or North Shore.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has laid a loud public claim for the Upper Harbour seat – which would give her a safe berth – and Ms Barry, while not a government minister, is a popular MP.

The difficulty for National internally is its party organisation is strong in East Coast Bays and it will be a difficult “dead rat” for party members to swallow.

The North Shore seat electorate is less strong but Ms Barry has strong appeal among non-traditional National voters and any perception of her being shoved aside would be damaging.

But National’s strategy is leaning increasingly heavily on cultivating morally conservative voters who have previously voted Labour – especially, but not solely, Pasifika voters in South Auckland.

Mr Craig’s party has already announced candidates in Mangere and Manurewa.

The strategy appears to be the obverse of the one run by the Maori Party in the Maori seats – in this case, tell Pasifika voters they can still vote for the local Labour electorate candidate, but vote for the Conservatives on the list.

But this is highly unlikely to get the Conservatives over the 5% threshold.

If it is to work, a deal to provide Mr Craig with an electorate seat is crucial – more crucial, for all the fuss and bother over the issue – than any cup of tea on the Remuera Road tearooms in the Epsom electorate.

What do you think? Is Act's David Seymour now a shoe-in for the Epsom seat?  Click here to vote in our subscriber-only business pulse poll.

Rob Hosking
Sat, 14 Jun 2014
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Election 2014: Three deals and no more, says Key