Ardern recommits to budget responsibility rules in any NZ First deal
Sept. 26 (BusinessDesk) - Labour leader Jacinda Ardern recommitted her party to the budget responsibility rules that it signed up to pre-election with the Green Party, vowing that they would apply to any deal to form a government with the New Zealand First party.
Labour needs both the Greens and NZ First to agree to support it either in a coalition or in a looser arrangement that would secure it a majority in the 120-seat Parliament. Based on election night results, a Labour-Greens-NZ First tie-up could muster 61 votes, just enough to govern.
However, negotiations to form the next government have yet to begin in earnest, with the National and Labour party leaders seemingly waiting for NZ First leader Winston Peters to make the first move.
Some delay is inevitable as some 15 percent of votes cast in last Saturday's election were cast as "special" votes, which have yet to be counted, with a final tally due on Oct. 7.
Asked about the importance of personal relationships between Peters and Labour negotiators versus policy differences, Ardern said: "Relationships of trust matter and of course we will be looking at policy, but there will also be expectations around roles that some individuals may have and we'll also do some preparation around that as well."
Ardern said she had "no concerns for the negotiation".
"It is a negotiation after all. Each of us will come to the table with our expectations."
On NZ First's opposition to Labour's proposal to tax water used for commercial purposes, she said: "I think we'll have a conversation about our goals in that area and I think there will be a shared goal around water quality."
On policy costings for a government formation agreement, Ardern said Labour may call on the Treasury to help ensure any agreement fell within the terms of the budget responsibility rules, "which we will continue to hold ourselves to and any negotiations outcome to as well".
The rules include requiring a Labour-led government to continue running budget surpluses over the course of an economic cycle and reducing net government debt.