Andrew Little not ruling out making Winston Peters his deputy
Labour leader Andrew Little has refused to rule out making New Zealand First's Winston Peters Deputy Prime Minister if they form a Government - despite yesterday labelling him "a blowhard".
When asked the question by Duncan Garner on The AM Show, Mr Little said he would not be having "coalition discussions 10 weeks before an election".
While refusing to rule Mr Peters out as Deputy Prime Minister, he won't be budging to some of his bottom lines.
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Mr Peters announced yesterday he wants a binding referendum on whether to abolish the Maori seats - something Mr Little says he and his party aren't interested in.
"We don't want to go anywhere near that. Maori have had good representation through those Maori seats for many, many generations - and long may that continue," he told The AM Show on Tuesday morning.
But Mr Little says that doesn't necessarily mean that they'll fail to form a Government with New Zealand First.
"Winston is an accomplished politician [and] I have immense respect for him, but this election is not going to be fought and won on Maori seats.
"Having had 20 years of negotiations with some of the biggest bears in the woods around here, seven bottom lines in a set of negotiations? Let's work this through. I am very confident."
Mr Little says the New Zealand First leader's insistence on politicians bending to his bottom lines are nothing new - nor his stances on a number of issues.
"The sort of issues he was talking about over the weekend, he's talked about in each of the last three Cabinets he's been in, each of the last Governments he's been a part of it - none of this is new stuff," he said.
"We're up to seven bottom lines already. This is just talk."
However Mr Little was full of praise for Mr Peters, and said his skillset and values are "a good thing to have in a Government".
"He's a man of great principle and a great constitutionalist. He's very firm and very strict about that," he said.
"But in the end, this is not be about Maori seats and all the rest of it, it's going to be about who's going to build houses, who's going to sort out schools, who's going to put more resources into police."