Election 2023: Nicola Willis' 'wish': Get deal done sooner rather than later

National's deputy leader says the party is working hard to reach not just a deal - but a lasting agreement with ACT and New Zealand First.

Speaking to First Up, Nicola Willis said National had reached policy agreements with both parties in its talks to form a coalition government but there was still work to do in getting a final deal. 

ACT and New Zealand First still needed to reach policy agreements with each other, for example.

Other work to be done included cross-checking agreements, a discussion on ministerial roles and finalisation of documents. 

"So there's still work to do to finalise a deal but we did reach an important milestone."

Willis said she was joined by the majority of New Zealanders in the "wish" that the deal would be done sooner rather than later

Willis rejected the idea that leader Christopher Luxon was inexperienced in such political discussions.

"I think, in fact, what we have had is three men with different experiences, different viewpoints with different party interests to represent. 

"What we've had across many of those meetings are deeper understanding of each other, each other's policies, of motivations to make sure we can reach not just an agreement, but a lasting agreement that will provide a foundation for good government."

Willis said there had been "getting to know each other exercises" as well as learning how to iron out any issues and get things done quickly for the country. 

"It's been a very positive process."

She said she did not believe Kiwis were going to judge the party based on its negotiations - but by its results. 

"They want a stronger economy, they want us to be addressing the cost of living, to be dealing with crime, to be delivering better public services."

When asked about the cost of travel and room hire associated with the negotiations, Willis said it was normal for members of Parliament to travel as part of their job. 

It was a "practical decision" to host talks in Auckland where possible given all three leaders of the parties live there.

"There have been attempts made to ensure the costs are represented value for money for the taxpayer." 

Despite how long the negotiation has taken, Willis said the party would be working right up until Christmas given the amount of work to do.

A 'significant change' for MMP 

Political commentator Bryce Edwards said it was clear from negotiation leaks that New Zealand First leader Winston Peters wanted to be appointed attorney-general.

Edwards told Morning Report it would be a "big headache" for National and "constitutionally difficult" for it to give him the role. 

"It means that Peters would have a lot of control over judicial appointments and the understanding is that Peters wants that influence.

"Especially in terms of treaty issues, in terms of the court's role in interpreting the principles of the treaty, but also because attorney-general essentially has control over the Serious Fraud Office and of course, Winston Peters has a long running beef with the Serious Fraud Office due to, I guess, cases they've taken against New Zealand First." 

Another big appointment would be deciding who gets the role of deputy prime minister.

Edwards said there were three likely options. 

They included giving National's Nicola Willis the role and giving other ministerial porfolios to New Zealand First and ACT to make up for it.

Other options were splitting the role between Peters and ACT's David Seymour - or giving the role to one of them for half the time and the role to the other for the remaining time. 

As a whole, the liklihood of all three parties going into Cabinet together was a "new innovation" and "quite a significant change for MMP", Edwards said.