NZ foes join forces in new coalition

Maverick New Zealand politician Winston Peters, who vowed to oust the conservative National Party government in October's general election, yesterday led his New Zealand First party into a coalition with it.

Mr Peters will be deputy to Prime Minister Jim Bolger, who threw him out of his cabinet five years ago, precipitating his expulsion from the National Party. He will also hold the new cabinet portfolio of Treasurer, giving him immense economic power, including the right to write budgets.

The decision marked an about-face by Mr Peters, who bitterly attacked Mr Bolger - Prime Minister for the last six years - during the recent election campaign, saying he was not fit to govern. The 50-year-old Maori courted controversy by criticising immigrants who he claimed had no commitment to New Zealand. He denied that he was racist.

NZ First's 17 MPs, who hold the balance of power following the inconclusive election, took nine hours yesterday to decide to join the 44 National MPs in the centre-right government rather than form a centre-left administration with the main opposition Labour Party.

Mr Peters and senior advisers had spent almost eight weeks negotiating detailed coalition agreements with the Nationals and Labour before putting them before his MPs. The length of yesterday's meeting indicated a vigorous debate, though Mr Peters said the final decision was by consensus. He said the decision was made in the interest of "the welfare and well-being of all New Zealanders".

The coalition will have an overall majority of only one in the 12-seat House of Representatives, but are likely to be supported on most issues by eight MPs of the right-wing ACT NZ party and the single United NZ member.

The National Party has made big concessions on economic policy, including deferring NZ$1.1bn (pounds 400,000) tax cuts scheduled for next July. The cuts were a major plank of National's campaign policy, but NZ First wanted them delayed to fund increased spending on social policies.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £45,000

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a solutions / s...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific