Christopher Luxon fires back after David Seymour's comments on controversial Treaty of Waitangi Principles Bill

Christopher Luxon says he "can't be any clearer" about his stance on the controversial Treaty of Waitangi Principles Bill, despite ACT Party leader David Seymour being seemingly convinced he will change the Prime Minister's mind.  

A back-and-forth has emerged between the two Coalition leaders, with both being steadfast in their positions over ACT's Bill.   

On Wednesday, Luxon at his post-Cabinet press conference doubled down on his party's stance of not supporting the Bill beyond first reading.  

The Prime Minister also said Coalition leaders National wouldn't support the Bill beyond the first reading - even if there is a massive groundswell of support for it.     

But not even 24 hours later, Seymour told AM he didn't believe Luxon "won't change his mind if the public really wants it".   

The ACT leader also said Luxon made the comments because he was "nervous" after Waitangi.   

Luxon was grilled about Seymour's comments at a press conference in Auckland on Thursday. The Prime Minister was questioned about how much taxpayer money is being wasted on the Bill if it's just going to get knocked down at the first reading. 

"Look, I'm not sure," Luxon said of the potential cost. "But, as you know, we've made a commitment that we will pursue it through to the first reading, there is no commitment, no intention and no support beyond that."  

When asked about Seymour calling him "nervous", Luxon didn't agree with the ACT leader's comments.    

"I wouldn't say that but, what I will say very clearly, is that it's very important to the ACT Party and the ACT supporters that they want to have a referendum on the Treaty Principles, that's strongly held by the ACT Party," Luxon said.  

"Equally strongly held by the National Party is that we do not want to do a referendum on the Treaty Principles Bill - a long-standing position of the National Party. The reality of the Coalition agreement is we have come to a compromise.  

"We will do a Bill through to first reading but there will be no further support, commitment beyond that."   

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon speaking to media in Auckland on Thursday.
Prime Minister Christopher Luxon speaking to media in Auckland on Thursday. Photo credit: Newshub

Luxon was asked if there was overwhelming support from the public for the Bill once it made it to first reading would his position change.  

"I think that's highly unlikely," he replied. "What I would just say to you is I can't be any clearer; myself, the National Party, my National Party caucus do not want to support it and will not support it.  

"We have positions on things and policies on things that... on a range of topics that the public may have a different view from, but that's what we believe."  

The Prime Minister was also asked about Seymour calling into question his judgement when he said he got "nervous". 

He was asked if the working relationship between the pair would be affected by Seymour's comments.     

"We have a good working relationship. David and I have a good relationship," Luxon responded. "We have known each other for a while. We have differences on this... topic. 

"This was a major conversation in our negotiations... as I said yesterday. He didn't get what he wanted, which was a referendum.  

"That's not what we were up for supporting. We didn't get what we wanted, which was nothing - and what we ended up doing was a compromise in the middle."