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After six-week limbo, Luxon to lead Kiwis, deputies to job share

Politics

Incoming New Zealand prime minister Chris Luxon has unveiled the coalition set to govern the country, with the role of deputy to be job-shared.

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New Zealand First leader Winston Peters will be deputy prime minister for the first half of the term, with ACT leader David Seymour taking the job for the second half.

Mr Peters will reprise his position as foreign minister, a job he has held twice before, while former leader Judith Collins will become defence minister and attorney-general.

On Friday, the National party leader signed coalition deals with Mr Seymour and Mr Peters to formalise their governing arrangement for the next three years.

The three parties of the right won a mandate from voters at last month’s election to end six years of Labour-led governments.

In the six weeks since, party leaders have shuttled between Auckland hotel conference rooms, their private homes and the halls of Wellington’s Parliament House negotiating on policies and positions in the government.

Mr Luxon beamed as he arrived in the Banquet Hall of Wellington’s Beehive building on Friday to announce the two deals: one between National and ACT, and the other between National and NZ First.

“It’s exciting to be on the cusp of delivering a big policy programme with two coalition partners who, alongside National, are determined to make New Zealanders’ lives better,” he said.

He said the deals would “support the major elements of National’s policy programme including our 100-day plan, our 100-point economic plan, and our tax and fiscal plans, with some adjustments”.

One of those tweaks is the axing of National’s proposed foreign homebuyers tax, a core plank of its alternative budget which was pilloried during the campaign.

The appointments will be made official on Monday, when cabinet ministers visit Government House in Wellington to receive their commissions from Governor-General Dame Cindy Kiro.

The announcement concludes a 41-day wait from the October 14 election, which was beginning to tire Kiwis.

Such negotiations are common in New Zealand, but the talks were the longest post-election negotiations in 27 years.

A Talbot Mills poll out this week showed 66 per cent of Kiwis believed it had taken the three parties too long to negotiate the coalition deal.

“To New Zealand, thank you for your patience,” Mr Luxon said on Thursday, calling the first three-party coalition historic.

Following Friday’s announcements, the incoming ministers will spend the weekend moving into the Beehive executive building which sits next to parliament.

Saturday is also the Port Waikato by-election, expected to be won by National MP Andrew Bayly.

On Monday, Mr Luxon hopes to visit the governor-general with his ministerial lineup to receive their commissions.

Then on December 5, parliament will resume with Mr Luxon promising a short holiday break before starting up early in the new year.

The coalition negotiations have given Kiwis their first taste of Mr Luxon’s corporate and relentless leadership style.

The former Air New Zealand chief executive followed a meticulous process for the talks, going through each party’s election promises and policy manifestos as a basis to form a shared policy platform for the next three years.

“I’ve been really disciplined about following that process,” he said, outlining the four steps he followed.

“Establish relationships first. Agree a policy program. Agree a process mechanism for any disputes or any tensions that may arise, and make sure we get the right people in the right place.

“It’s been a very disciplined way of going through and locking each of those component parts in place.”

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