Election 2023: Winston Peters returns to power, here's what New Zealand First got

The Provincial Growth Fund has risen from the ashes, albeit with a new name.   

New Zealand First's flagship policy is now called the Regional Infrastructure Fund and it has $1.2 billion in it. It's one of many policy concessions Winston Peters has secured in coalition negotiations.   

"We're back," the New Zealand First leader said on Friday.   

Back in Parliament, back at the podium, back in power.   

"I'm personally grateful to have the chance to do it again," said Peters.  

Doing the Provincial Growth Fund again. It was the cornerstone of their coalition agreement with Labour in 2017 and it's been renamed the Regional Infrastructure Fund, filled with $1.2b and given the same minister - Shane Jones.

"There's a host of new projects that have already been thrown in my direction," Jones said.  

National and ACT throwing shade at the fund during its first incarnation.    

"That is a giant waste of money," National's Chris Bishop said in December 2019.  

"It's time to start calling the Provincial Growth Fund what it is and that is the Shane Jones re-election fund and to call it pork barrel politics would be offensive to pigs," ACT leader David Seymour said in September 2018.  

But on Friday, Seymour changed his tune.  

"We've got a coalition Government that's going to be very focussed on making the best possible use of every taxpayer dollar and I'm sure that together, we can make good investments that benefit regional New Zealand and I'm sure that New Zealand First with Shane Jones and Winston Peters will have a good insight into how to do that."   

The regional slush fund was one of many policy wins for New Zealand First.  

Prisoners will be put to work building new prisons, the live animal exports ban will be scrapped, they'll investigate reopening Marsden Point Oil Refinery, and they'll restart offshore oil and gas exploration.   

Asked if that last one matched with climate change goals, Jones said: "Well obviously those matters have to be teased through our Cabinet process."  

But outgoing Climate Change Minister James Shaw said: "You cannot stop climate change by using more fossil fuels."   

Jones said: "In discharging that role, I will not be dissuaded or distracted by emerald dragonflies."  

What else has New Zealand First got?  

Fees Free stays but the final year will be free, not the first. The pension age remains at 65. Government departments must have English names and communications, apart from ethnic-specific ministries. And they'll repeal the smokefree generation law which outlaws cigarettes over time.  

"We think there's issues around a 36-year-old can smoke but a 35-year-old can't. We just think some of that doesn't work," said National leader Christopher Luxon.   

Labour leader Chris Hipkins said: "They've decided to prioritise the tobacco lobby over the health of all New Zealanders." 

New Zealand First has also got a commitment not to change the name of New Zealand unless there's a referendum, they also got a commitment to legislate to make English an official language, and the Government will look at implementing degrees of murder like they do in the United States.   

The party gets three Cabinet positions. Peters will be Deputy Prime Minister until May 31, 2025, and again picks up Foreign Affairs and Racing.   

Shane Jones gets Oceans and Fisheries, Regional Development, Resources and the associate Finance and Energy roles.    

Newcomer Casey Costello picks up Customs and Seniors as well as Associate Health, Immigration and Police portfolios.  

"Casey Costello is a seriously experienced police person, investigator and with a serious record of respect out in the community," said Peters.  

National's held on to the Agriculture ministerial portfolio, but Todd McClay has an astonishing three associate ministers beneath him. Mark Patterson from New Zealand First, Andrew Hoggard from ACT - they're both farmers - and Nicola Grigg from National.  

Asked if there was any squabbling over the agriculture role, McClay said: "No, I don't think I'd call it squabbling but there's a lot of interest if you have a look at the three parties, there a lot of policy pulled out and campaigning in this area."  

Sharing roles, the common theme in these coalition agreements - some might even call it co-governance.