Election 2023: Chris Hipkins says smaller political parties should 'be careful' with their demands

The Prime Minister has fired a warning at smaller political parties, telling them to "be careful" with what bottom lines they make ahead of the general election or risk not being part of any governing arrangement at all.

"Ultimately, the larger parties do need to be able to implement the commitments that they campaign on," Chris Hipkins told reporters in Westport on Friday.

Te Pāti Māori president John Tamihere has outlined in The Post several policies the party would fight for if its support was required to prop up the next Government. 

They're described in the article as "demands" and include removing GST from food, a wealth tax and pulling out of the Five Eyes intelligence pact.

Asked about the policies, the Prime Minister said Labour would outline its tax policy prior to the election and that would include its own "bottom lines" for tax. 

The Government's confirmed there won't be any major tax changes in the Budget in keeping with Labour's 2020 promise of no new taxes this term outside of the new 39 percent tax rate.

Hipkins specifically addressed Te Pāti Māori's desire for New Zealand to not be part of the Five Eyes group.

"I don't think it would be in New Zealand's best interests to withdraw from the Five Eyes relationship," he said. 

"It is pretty critical to the security of many of the things that New Zealanders rely on on a day-to-day basis, when we use our phones, when we log on to our computers, when we switch on the lights, a lot of the infrastructure that supports those things is secure and supported through those international arrangements that we have."

He said withdrawing from that arrangement would not make New Zealand safer and could "have potential consequences for Kiwis on daily basis". 

The Prime Minister said MMP does typically require parties to negotiate following an election to form a Government. Labour currently has a majority - something Hipkins said the party has "quite enjoyed" and would love again - but it's the only example of a majority since MMP was introduced in 1996.

"That does mean that parties negotiate after the election, but it also has to recognise the proportionate size of the parties as well," he said.

"Smaller parties I think need to be careful in whatever they issue in terms of bottom lines or they could find themselves simply not able to be part of any governing arrangement at all because, ultimately, the larger parties do need to be able to implement the commitments that they campaign on."

Hipkins said Labour's election manifesto would include "bottoms lines that will be non-negotiable in any governing arrangement that we would be part of".

Newshub revealed earlier this year a bottom line for Te Pāti Māori in any potential coalition negotiations would be the Crown accepting recommendations of a milestone Waitangi Tribunal report. That includes returning all Crown-owned land in the north to local Māori.

The National Party this week ruled out working with Te Pāti Māori after the election, saying the bridge between the two parties "is too wide to close". 

Leader Christopher Luxon labelled a potential Labour-Greens-Te Pāti Māori grouping as a "coalition of chaos" and pointed to recent events, such as Meka Whaitiri's defection from Labour to Te Pāti Māori and Dr Elizabeth Kerekere's resignation from the Greens, as evidence.

But Hipkins said that was "hollow" given that National is unlikely to be able to form a Government on its own and would likely require support from ACT and potentially others to take power.

"Frankly, when it comes to chaos, I think the National Party have shone the light in terms of how to do that comprehensively."

Luxon said Whaitiri's defection and Te Pāti Māori's attempt at a powhiri in the House this week had contributed to his decision to rule out Te Pāti Māori.

He wouldn't, however, rule out New Zealand First, saying whether he would do so was a question "for another day".