Election 2023: Winston Peters will be the likely choice for deputy Prime Minister - The Hui host Julian Wilcox

  • 21/11/2023

The Hui host Julian Wilcox predicts NZ First's Winston Peters will be frontrunner for the role of New Zealand's deputy Prime Minister.  

Incoming Prime Minister Christopher Luxon announced on Monday there was a major development in coalition talks, saying he had policy deals with partnership parties NZ First and ACT.  

The trio now has to ascertain who will take what ministerial roles, with some big jobs and portfolios on the line.  

Deputy Prime Minister was one of the roles up in the air.  

Speaking to AM, Wilcox said it would be hard for ACT Party leader David Seymour to take the role over Peters.  

"Let's face it, when Jacinda Ardern had that break and had her leave, he was an effective acting Prime Minister," Wilcox said of Peters' stint in the role during the 2017-elected Labour-NZ First coalition's tenure.   

"Is he willing to give it up to give it to someone like Nicola Willis? Maybe, and I think that's something they've been negotiating and discussing all throughout these last few weeks.  

"However, I think it'd be a hard gig to try and say to Winston, "We're not giving you deputy Prime Minister.'"  

But the choice for deputy Prime Minister was "a real toughy", right-leaning political commentator and former ACT Party staffer Trish Sherson believed.  

"When there was only Labour and New Zealand First, you could have Winston as deputy Prime Minister and, when the Prime Minister's away, he could speak on behalf of the Government," she told AM, appearing alongside Wilcox. "How can you have Winston Peters as deputy Prime Minister, speaking on behalf of ACT and National in a Coalition Government? That's... much more complex."  

Meanwhile, Wilcox said Peters' reported bid for the Attorney General role would be "right up his alley".  

"I think... given his legal background, he'll argue, 'Well, given my expertise and experience, this is right up my alley and I'm the right minister for that,'" Wilcox said.  

Depending on whether Luxon allowed Peters to have that role, Wilcox said it would "make life interesting" for the Cabinet.  

"I think New Zealand First, aside from the Attorney General, will want a policy programme and ministerial positions in places like infrastructure or regional development or energy.  

"Why? Well, because those are big issues in the north - that's where Shane's from, that's where Winston's from," Wilcox said of senior NZ First MP Shane Jones and Peters.  

Coalition negotiations were now on day 18.