Sitting minor party leaders David Seymour, Rawiri Waititi and James Shaw reveal negotiation priorities - what happens if Government can't be formed?

This year's general election is set to be close and with a tight race comes the likelihood of high-pressure coalition negotiations. 

With ACT, the Greens, and Te Pāti Māori each potentially holding a lot of sway, Newshub Nation's Simon Shepherd asked their leaders what their bottom line for coalition negotiations would be. 

ACT Leader David Seymour said some of his party's top priorities would be "the rights of victims of crime, stern measurement of kids showing up to school, the size of government, and a stern reevaluation of what the treaty means".

Greens Co-Leader James Shaw said, "Climate action is certainly one of the top three, along with ending poverty and inequality and protecting and restoring our native wildernesses and wildlife".

Te Pāti Māori Co-Leader Rawiri Waititi said his party's tax policy, which he described as "one of the most radical tax reforms and transformations this government has ever seen" will certainly be taken into the negotiations. 

Figuring out all the details of a coalition negotiation can take serious time. 

In 2017, negotiations between NZ First and Labour took four weeks

In 1996, MMP's debut, Winston Peter's took eight weeks to negotiate a coalition with the National Party. 

The minor parties will be doing their best to get as much over the line as possible, but what if National or Labour won't agree with the above bottom lines? 

That could lead to a minority government rule, with minor parties supporting from what's called the cross benches with a confidence and supply agreement. 

Otago University's Andrew Geddis said, "Minor parties may say, 'Look, we're going to allow governments to form and give those votes to allow them to run the country, but not actually join the government and not give them the votes on anything beyond that', which would mean that government wouldn't have the votes in the House to pass their ordinary legislation".

Essentials like the annual budget would be supported, but everything else would be up for debate. 

"At the end of the day, we're quite happy to continue from the cross benches," Waititi said. 

Shaw was less keen on the idea, "It's certainly the last option".

"Your ability to effect change without being in government is dramatically reduced," he said. 

Meanwhile, Seymour said if National doesn't want "to play ball, we're not going to sell out for the baubles and make bad policy".

"Life's too short for that."

Former United Future leader Peter Dunne is better placed to talk about confidence and supply agreements than most, negotiating five of them himself. 

His advice: stay off the cross benches. 

"It sounds all good and noble, but in reality, they will have little influence," he said.  

"Their only influence will be to say yes or no, they won't be able to advance too many of their own policy initiatives."

But the minor parties still have one major play; blocking any vote on confidence and supply, like the budget. 

"If a government cannot win one of the confidence and supply votes, that they absolutely have to win in order to prove their right to govern, then they must resign straight away," Geddis said.

Asked whether he would block a budget, Seymour said "all options are on the table".

However, Seymour did emphasise that the snap election this would force is "an absolute last resort".

Such snap elections have happened twice in New Zealand's history

In 1951 Sydney Holland went to the polls over the dockworkers' strike, and then in 1984 Robert Muldoon called a snap election. 

"You'd have to be pretty toxic in order to actually collapse the government, and I cannot foresee that," Shaw said.

Waititi said, "In terms of the budget, I don't think we would be reckless in the way we do things.

"But there must be conditions as according to our movement to ensure that it isn't jeopardised."

With a snap election unlikely, there is one last scenario that may force Kiwis back to the voting booth after the general election on October 14 - a hung parliament. 

Geddis said this would happen if  Labour, the Greens and Te Pāti Māori get 60 votes and National and Act also get 60. 

"If you have a 60-60 split in that way, no one has a majority," he said. 

One poll in April earlier this year predicted just that.

The Talbot Mills' poll put both blocs evenly split, and with waka-jumping legislation preventing even one MP from defecting, that could mean Parliament would have to be dissolved.

"The only option is to have a new election and see if it produces a different arrangement in the House," Geddis said. 

Watch the full video for more. 

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