Winston's choice: Jacinda Ardern poised to become prime minister

Ardern says no policy details until early next week but some cabinet details emerge. 

Key points

• Winston Peters announces NZ First will support a Labour-led government
• Greens 8 MPs will support the Lab-NZF coalition on confidence and supply
• Jacinda Ardern says no policy deals will be revealed until early next week
• Portfolios won't be finalised until early next week, Ms Ardern
• NZF (9 MPs) will get four positions inside cabinet plus one undersecretary
• Greens (8 MPs) will get three ministerial positions outside cabinet plus one under-secretary
• Mr Peters says he has been offered deputy prime ministership but has made no decision
• Mr Peters says finance minister is off the table
• Ms Ardern and Mr Peters indicate change on way for immigration, foreign investment, regional development, Reserve Bank Act
• Dollar falls to five-month low

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern is prime minister-elect, poised to become New Zealand's youngest prime minister in 160 years. Winston Peters has thrown his support to a Labour/ NZ First coalition, saying "capitalism must regain its human face."

The New Zealand dollar fell near a five-month low as Mr Peters made his announcement.

The kiwi dropped as low as 70.37USc, the lowest since May 30, and was trading at 70.45USc  as at 8.30pm from 70.94USc  before Mr Peters started his briefing. The local currency started declining amid earlier reports National had baulked at NZ First's demands for ministerial posts. 

The NZ First leader was light on policy detail in a Beehive press conference but indicated changes were on the way for immigration and the Reserve Bank Act (although some other bottom lines seemed to have bottomed out during MMP negotiations; Mr Peters indicated the Maori seats are safe).

There was no immediate detail on cabinet portfolios, beyond that NZ First had not been offered finance. Mr Peters says he had been offered the deputy prime ministership but has not decided whether to take it.

Mr Peters says he did not tell Labour before making the announcement, so Ms Ardern would have found out at the same time as the New Zealand public.

There were signs late this afternoon that National had pushed back against NZ First demands for up to five cabinet seats, which may have influenced Mr Peters' decision.

He says the election showed  Kiwis did want change.

Ardern takes the stage
Prime Minister-elect Jacinda Ardern spoke just after 8pm saying Bill English called her to concede. She thanked him for his role in the election campaign and as his role as PM.

She also thanked NZ First and Mr Peters.

NZ First will hold four cabinet positions and one cabinet undersecretary, she said.

Mr Peters was offered the deputy prime ministership and is still thinking over that decision.

“The discussions were dominated around policy and issues are greatest to us.”

Ms Ardern also thanked the Greens, saying they engaged with Labour “on areas of consensus and areas where we have different views.”

Over the next 24 hours, she says Labour will finalise remaining details and next week will be in a position to release a full agreement with NZ First and the Greens.

She confirmed the Greens will have ministerial positions but wouldn’t say how many.

She says making an “economy that delivers for all New Zealanders” will be a focus for her coalition government.

She said every party in the negotiations was worried about the housing crisis and the environment.

“We all agreed that our rivers are dying and we all agreed that we need to take action.” 

Asked if she was willing to walk away from TPP negotiations, she says it won’t come to that as there is still time to renegotiate the agreement before November.

On monetary policy, Labour’s finance minister-elect Grant Robertson said he’s looking into the changes and will have an update in the next couple of days.

Mr Peters says National’s 45% is “not a majority” under MMP, adding that the majority view in this country was for change.

He says his party came to the decision just 15 minutes before holding the press conference.

On the differences between the two deals, he says people around New Zealand thought " we should be doing far, far better and too many people in government are out of touch."

Mr Peters says he expects that the government he is part of will start building 10,000 new homes a year.

He says Ms Ardern agreed with NZ First’s position on immigration and housing.

“This decision represents the majority in an MMP parliament.”

“On the agreement we reached, it’s a summation of the policies that survived the negotiations.”

“We believe an economic slowdown is coming,” he says, citing the housing market, retail confidence and the make-up of the RBNZ.

He says NZ First’s choice relates to how the government will mitigate those issues.

Attack on capitalism
“We believe capitalism must regain its human face – that has influenced NZ First’s discussion," Mr Peters says.

He thanked reporters for being patient and said he was grateful reporters turned up.

He said the special votes would have had a profound impact on the final number and that’s why the party waited to begin negotiations.

He says 11 days was not too long to wait to know the election, citing the German election (where negotiations have just begun) as an example of a long wait for a government under MMP.

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