National signs confidence and supply agreements with United Future and ACT
By Suze Metherell
Sept. 29 (BusinessDesk) - The National party has signed two confidence and supply agreements with the United Future party's Peter Dunne, and the ACT party's David Seymour, in the first steps towards establishing its third term as government of New Zealand.
Prime Minister John Key has appointed Dunne, the sole MP for the United Future party, as a minister outside cabinet, with the internal affairs ministry and associate ministerial responsibilities in the health and conversation portfolios. He will also be a member of cabinet honours and appointments committee, cabinet social policy committee, the cabinet committee on state sector reform and expenditure control.
Seymour, the newly-elected member for Epsom and like Dunne, his party's only MP, will become a parliamentary under-secretary to the minister of education and the minister for regulatory reform, and National will nominate him to join the finance and expenditure select committee. The appointments put paid to widely reported commentary expecting Seymour, a first-term MP effectively gifted his seat by National, to be appointed as a minister.
Although special votes are still being counted after the Sept. 20 general election, the incumbent National party looks to have won with a one-seat majority in what looks likely to be a 121 seat Parliament, giving it the power to govern alone, which has never previously occurred under New Zealand's mixed member proportional electoral system, in place since 1996. Although not a formal coalition, the party does have shared political and policy interests with the right-wing ACT party and the center-right United Future, and has made ministerial positions outside of its party before.
National is still negotiating an agreement with the Maori Party and its two members of parliament, Te Ururoa Flavell and Marama Fox, but it is expected to announce a deal tomorrow.
Under the arrangements announced today, policy areas National and United Future will push together are the next stage in the national medicine strategy, to boost the role of pharmacists in patient medicine management, improving water quality for recreational fishers and re-affirming the use of public private partnerships for major roading projects.
United Future had wanted to introduce a policy allowing earlier access to superannuation, which didn't feature in the deal announced today.
The ACT-National agreement will see a continued commitment to charter, or partnership, schools, which has seen public money fund privately run schools. The two parties will push regulatory reform and continue with further reforms to the Resource Management Act, which the government failed to get through in its second term.
The government will announce its full cabinet line up next week.