Election 2023: No coalition document near agreement, final deal still a way away, Newshub understands

Twenty-three days on from polling day, we still have no clue when we'll have a Government.  

The three parties who need to form a Government are yet to get in the same room with each other - and New Zealand First is still giving ACT the cold shoulder.  

Winston Peters was also still giving silent treatment to the media when he arrived at Wellington Airport on Monday.

He hustled his way through the airport like he had another plane to catch, refusing to answer questions about coalition negotiations. He was saving that information for his inner circle.

Asked how coalition talks were going, New Zealand First soon-to-be MP Mark Patterson said: "Find out this morning, I guess."

Another successful NZ First candidate, Jamie Arbuckle, wouldn't comment, while Jenny Marcroft said: "Well, we're about to meet."

Now the final votes have been counted it's crunch time. Everything everyone campaigned on becomes a negotiating chip. 

National's tax cut plan was ridiculed by both NZ First and ACT during the campaign.

National leader Christopher Luxon faltered on Monday on whether they might have to tweak it.  

"We're going to deliver tax relief for low and middle-income New Zealanders," he said on AM.

AM host Ryan Bridge asked if that would be in the form proposed prior to the election.

"I pretty much think so yeah," Luxon replied. "We're very clear that we can deliver it."  

ACT's bottom line is a referendum on the Treaty of Waitangi.  

"The bottom line is we want to make this country more unified, not less unified," said Luxon. "It's not something we support".

Asked if it was something he would do, however, Luxon said: "It's not something we support… It's not National Party policy. We think it would be divisive and unhelpful."

Seymour said sitting on the crossbenches is still an option for him.  

"All of those options are possible. We're not going to start ruling things out through media but we'll see where we get to with that debate."

There are whispers of a draft agreement between National and ACT being drawn up.

"I'm not going to get into any of it. What we've got is some good conversations happening with both parties," Luxon said.  

One of New Zealand First's MPs filled the silence on that one. Asked if drawing up such a deal would be premature, Patterson said: "Well it would be for us because we haven't seen anything."

Newshub understands there's no document near agreement stage, but a document put together by ACT has been shared with National. We're told it's more of a progress report and a final deal is still a way away.

Until they get anywhere near reaching agreements, plans for a three-way meeting of minds are on ice.

"At this stage, we've just got to accelerate and crack on with the arrangements and the conversations that we need to have this week. But yes that's the intention for all of us to come together at some point," Luxon said. 

Seymour said he hoped they would be sitting down this week.  

But until then the phone tag continues, despite attempts to tee up a time to meet.

"I also called first before texting, so pretty standard stuff," Seymour said.

He said his message to Peters was along the lines of: "'Hi, congratulations on your election result. We should get together. David Seymour'."

Asked if anything had been planned between himself and Peters, Seymour said: "Look the answer to that is no but we don't want to go too far into meeting admin. I'm sure we will meet many times over the next three years and I suspect that might begin this week." 

The silent treatment extending to everyone Peters sees fit.

Jenna Lynch Analysis

Speculation is always rife in a vacuum of information. It's a bit like throwing darts in the dark. 

While all parties seem genuinely keen to get this done quickly, sources tell Newshub that while there have been many productive meetings, reports of a coalition agreement being close to done have been exaggerated. There is still a lot to thrash out including some of the more contentious policy bits.

On the other side of the fence, Labour is set to make a massive decision of its own on Tuesday. Newshub understands the caucus will meet and a vote will be held on the leadership.

It's just a vote on whether Chris Hipkins gets to keep the job - there isn't room for a challenger to come forward in the room with the numbers.

It doesn't sound like anyone has them at this point. But the process is Hipkins needs to get 21 of the 34 MPs to back him and the leadership question is answered. If not, that's trouble time.

If 14 MPs decide he's not the one they want, a leadership contest begins before Hipkins has even officially handed over the Prime Ministerial reins.