'Limited relationship' behind Paula Bennett's absence from Peters meeting

  • 06/10/2017

Paula Bennett says nothing should be read into her absence from National's initial coalition talks with NZ First.

Both of the major parties met Winston Peters' crew on Thursday for the first time since the election. The Deputy Prime Minister says she's never worked closely with Mr Peters, so it was better to let Gerry Brownlee and Todd McClay make up the "limited" numbers in the party's negotiation team.

"I've never sat on any kind of select committee with him, I've never been involved in any particular thing," she told The AM Show on Friday.

"I've had a relationship with [third-ranked NZ First MP] Tracey Martin and others on particular issues, but I've never actually had to work with Winston on any particular project or anything."

She said there's nothing to the rumours Mr Peters personally requested she not take part, and it was better to have a "limited" number of people in the room, rather than serve as "eye candy".

National's meeting with NZ First lasted about five minutes longer than Labour's. Deputy Labour leader Kelvin Davis says nothing should be read into that either.

"They probably had two cups of tea - we had just one. We said what needed to be said, and it was all over. There's really not much to it."

Mr Peters told him he should have a decision on which way he'll go by Thursday. Mr Davis wouldn't reveal anything else that was discussed, except that the subject of Pike River never came up.

"We just went in there, sat down, had a cup of tea and set out the protocols. There wasn't much to it. People are talking a big game, when really it was just setting out the way forward."

A manned re-entry into the Pike River mine is one of Mr Peters' toughest bottom lines.

The final results of the election will be revealed Saturday afternoon by the Electoral Commission. It's widely expected they'll take at least one, possibly two seats off National, with the Greens in line to benefit from the first. The second - if there is one - will likely go to Labour.