Jenna Lynch election 2023 analysis: ACT, New Zealand First blindsided by Christopher Luxon's 'milestone' announcement

Six weeks after the country voted, incoming Prime Minister Christopher Luxon has announced a major development in coalition talks: he's got the policy deals across the line with his two coalition partners.  

While it's not the end of the road - they still need to sort ministerial spots - the parties are on the home stretch.   

The breakthrough was announced by Luxon on Monday afternoon.  

"We have achieved a significant milestone overnight. We have closed out and agreed our policy programmes with ACT and also New Zealand First," Luxon said.  

Sound the coalition kluxon: Luxon heralding a deal is nigh.    

"Won't give you a timeframe but I can just tell you it just got a lot simpler," he said.   

Not that a grinning Winston Peters would verify that as he arrived for talks with National.  

Asked about a deal with National, he said: "You're making an assumption."  

He was clearly surprised by Luxon's declaration, unwilling to confirm it until he'd met the man himself.    

"I should talk to somebody else before I talk to you guys so everybody is on the same page."    

Newshub understands a final policy sticking point was that ACT and New Zealand First want to narrow the scope of the Treaty's interpretation in legislation and the courts. They had faced a brick wall from National on the matter but it's understood last night it was sorted.  

Luxon wouldn't detail who conceded on it.  

"Everyone has to make tradeoffs along the way because that is the nature of MMP, that is the nature of coalition Government," he said.   

New Zealand First and ACT negotiated with National separately, but David Seymour has revealed they're working toward a three-way coalition deal.  

"There's been attempts to negotiate a three-way coalition and they may well come to fruition," he said.  

That means everyone needs to be on the same page. New Zealand First and ACT need to sign off on each others deals, so up rolled Peters to the ACT offices on Monday.   

An hour later, he came out.  

Asked what he was working on with ACT, he said: "We are working on getting a coalition together."  

The pair are keeping their promise to keep it tight. Seymour wouldn't say what he had seen or not seen from other parties.   

But Luxon says he's sent them the docs.  

"We shared that last night and they have also been, in fairness, talking throughout the course of the last week one on one."  

It's now up to them to sort out any concerns.  

"Whatever concerns you've got, you've got to compromise. You have got to get a Government formed to get on the way and we are not too far from being there," said Peters.   

Now the talks move to the ultimate game of musical chairs - ministerial roles.  

Seymour said: "I've always said that policies for people are more important than positions for politicians."  

Luxon said: "We're now in that phase which is agreeing positions and when you're in that phase, you know, we're on the home stretch."  

Crawling to the home stretch - but hoping to sprint across the finish line.    

Jenna Lynch Analysis  

Christopher Luxon's milestone was indeed a milestone worth celebrating even if New Zealand First and ACT were blindsided by him making that public statement.  

But yes, we are now at a point where, as Winston Peters put it, there are a few cross checks to go - make sure the letters and words are right.  

ACT and New Zealand First have been sitting on each other's policy deals for just under 24 hours.  

They'll be going through with a fine tooth comb to make sure there's nothing there that could trip either of them up in future, putting a timeframe on that is difficult but they all seem optimistic they'll have a Government this week. People seem to be pointing to Wednesday.  

The contest for positions should not be understated. 

Winston Peters has served as Deputy Prime minister in both coalition Governments he has formed. David Seymour has talked a big game about not wanting baubles, but his party is bigger than New Zealand First so could lay legitimate claim to it.  

Winston Peters is perhaps a nose in front having met in person with Luxon on Monday while I'm told conversations with ACT were just over the phone.  

 Let the race for Deputy Prime Minister begin. Let's hope it doesn't take another three weeks.

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