By Alex Tarrant
The New Zealand First board might not meet until Saturday, Sunday or even as late as Monday, depending on members’ availability, Winston Peters says.
Peters is looking to secure a large majority of both his caucus and board for whichever arrangement with National or Labour New Zealand First eventually decides to go with.
He told media in Wellington Thursday lunchtime that negotiations were set to end Thursday night, and that the caucus should be in a position to present the options on Friday. But that didn’t mean the board would meet then.
Peters said they board wanted to meet face-to-face, and the logistics of bringing them in from all over the country meant it could be the weekend before they met. A Skype call was considered, but decided against, he said.
Peters initially tried to skip around questions of the process for the board to meet: “I can’t talk about the board because we’re trying to find out whether or not they’re available – all of them – and we’re working round that. So that’s not a matter I can answer now.”
He was asked whether it looked likely that the board would meet on Friday. “Ah, no,” Peters said. On when it would meet then meet: “It depends upon the logistical availability of the board, which could be Saturday, Sunday or Monday. I’ll know that before too long.”
“People do have to come from all over the country.” Peters said a Skype meeting “wouldn’t be satisfactory.” He added: “We thought of that, we thought we could circumvent all that by doing it by Skype, but that would not be the kind of serious discussion we need to have.”
“I’ll let you know when I do know. Can’t tell you now.”
Peters was asked whether the party caucus would consider the deals alongside the board, or in a separate meeting. “Same meeting,” he said.
He also denied that the party had been secretive about who sits on its board. A number of news outlets Thursday morning printed the list of names, which is not available on the party’s website. Peters soon after issued a press release (see below) saying board members had rights to privacy.
Speaking to media earlier, he said: “We had an AGM, you’ll recall, in Auckland this year with a massive turnout. The board all turned up, and if you didn’t bother to turn up and take any attention, sad for you.”
Food prices – consideration in talks
Meanwhile, I tried to throw in another policy question – this time on news Thursday morning that food prices were up 3% over the year – above CPI inflation. Could food prices be a target of the next government, given New Zealand First’s policy platform on the issue which envisages taking GST off basic food items?
“We campaigned on the regret that we’ve become a high-price, high cost-of-food economy. We…regret that. That’s a consideration in our talks,” he said.
Read Peters’ press release on NZF board members below:
New Zealand First values our board members’ privacy, says New Zealand First Leader Rt Hon Winston Peters.
“They are not politicians but New Zealanders who believe in the party and wish to make a contribution to the decision-making process.
“They give up their valuable spare time to take part in board meetings and attend to other matters, and we are grateful for that.
“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.
“New Zealand First values transparency but we also value an individual’s privacy especially when they volunteer their services,” says Mr Peters.