Deputy PM position a sticking point as leaders gather in Wellington
An exodus from Auckland to the capital last night signalled that a deal is nigh. But it's still not clear whether Luxon will be flanked by Seymour or Peters as his deputy PM.
Mōrena, and welcome to The Bulletin for Thursday, November 23, by Catherine McGregor. Presented in partnership with Z Energy.
In today’s edition: Cheaper eggs here as hen shortages ease; rents on the rise as investors anticipate growing yields; supermarkets forced to drop deep alcohol discounts following judicial order. But first, we’ve said it before and we may well say it again…. but is today, finally, the day?
Government announcement looking likelier than ever
Another day, another huge workout for politicians’ Airpoints accounts. Last night party leaders and senior MPs joined an exodus from Auckland to Wellington, signalling that a coalition deal was, in National leader Chris Luxon’s words, “really close”. He and Act leader David Seymour are now in the capital, while Winston Peters is expected to arrive later today. Luxon has previously indicated he wants to be in Wellington to announce the deal, so all the air travel last night suggests it could be finally happening today. On the other hand, it could be more a case of logistics. Flight disruptions in Wellington have forced politicians to take any flight they can into the city, notes Newshub’s Jenna Lynch, and it might not mean a deal has been reached.
Deputy PM role still a sticking point
If no announcement comes today, continued wrangling over the role of deputy prime minister is almost certainly to blame. While Luxon said the negotiations were "largely" finalised, he also admitted it was "fair to say" the deputy prime ministership remained a sticking point. While Seymour has been open about wanting it, Peters has held the role multiple times before. The Herald’s Claire Trevett and Michael Neilson report that “signs point to” the position being offered to Peters, who is understood to have included it in his list of requests at the outset of negotiations. Notwithstanding all the challenges detailed by constitutional law guru Andrew Geddis to RNZ, a job-share set-up isn’t out of the question, either. “Luxon didn't rule out co-deputies,” reports Newshub’s Jenna Lynch. “It may turn out that a three-way coalition is not the only first we see under this Government.”
It won’t be Nicola Willis
One person who definitely won’t be deputy PM is Nicola Willis, who yesterday ruled herself out of the running – or rather, reiterated that she has never been interested in the role. That’s unfortunate, writes 1 News’ Jessica Mutch McKay, given that Willis is clearly Luxon’s best choice. “She’d toe the party line and it would be drama-free option for being in charge while Luxon is overseas.” Talking to Tova O’Brien, former deputy PM Grant Robertson says that “without a doubt” a deputy from the same party as the PM makes life easier. With that path closed off, Luxon has a tough choice to make, with either Seymour or Peters set for disappointment and at risk of acting out as a result. Cue Succession theme music.
Peters most to blame for hold-ups, poll finds
If an announcement is made today – and the chances are “over 50%”, according to Tova O’Brien’s sources – the official swearing in at Government House won’t take place until Monday at the earliest. “At least two days will be needed to get that ceremony arranged, guests approved and invited, ministerial warrants drawn up and all the other security checks needed ahead of such a significant event,” explains Newsroom’s Jo Moir. Today is the 20th day since official election results were released. A Talbot Mills poll finds that 66% of respondents think negotiations are taking too long, up 6 points since the last poll on November 17th. As for whose to blame, 33% point the finger at Peters, 24% say it's Christopher Luxon’s fault, and just 4% think David Seymour is holding things up most.
Join The Spinoff Members
“Love your work. It’s made engaging with the news a much more rewarding experience.” Martin, Spinoff member since 2022
If, like Martin, you love what we do and want to support us, please consider becoming a member today. Already a member? Thank you, your support means the world to us.
Cheaper eggs on the horizon
The Great Egg Shortage of 2023 may finally be over, with layer hen numbers on the rise and prices dropping in response. The layers hen population has grown from 3.4 million in February to 3.8 million, RNZ’s Monique Steele reports, with another 100,000 more hens expected by January. MichaelBrooks of the Egg Producers' Federation says it’s been a “fairly brutal” year as producers dealt with the double whammy of rising grain costs and supermarkets’ decision to ban colony-caged eggs by 2025, but the pain is almost over. The latest Stats NZ figures show egg prices have fallen for a third month running after peaking in July.
Rents on the rise as investors anticipate growing yields
Rents rose 6.1% in the year to October, nearly double the long-term average growth rate of 3.2%, according to new figures from CoreLogic. Auckland, Christchurch, Hamilton, and Tauranga were among the centres where growth accelerated, while Wellington and Dunedin experienced a drop in rents, The Press (paywalled) reports. Average rental yields were at their highest level since late 2020, edging back up to 3.2% after languishing at 2.6% for much of 2022, reports 1 News. Auckland rental yields remain the lowest, while yields in Wellington are also sitting below 3%. Along with the prospect of lower mortgage rates and more investor-friendly tax policies, rising yields may lure investors back into the market, but don’t expect a mad rush, says CoreLogic’s Kelvin Davidson. Meanwhile the company found that national property values saw their first rise in 19 months, signalling the market downturn is "officially over”.
Click and Collect
Foodstuffs and Woolworths will no longer be able to use an online loophole to sell alcohol at discounts of 25%-plus following a Newsroom investigation (paywalled).
Fascinating interview with the Otago “caveman” known as Little John, following his release from a six month prison sentence.
New Zealand's most annoying streets, according to Stuff.
Sam Altman has been reinstated as CEO of OpenAI, capping one of the most bewildering weeks in Silicon Valley history.
As she prepares to hang up her headphones this weekend, Kim Hill talks to Toby Manhire about saying farewell to Saturday mornings. Joel MacManus finds out how Wellington is delivering a citywide cycle network ahead of schedule and under budget. Tara Ward has good news: the ThreeNow app isn’t munted anymore. Tommy de Silva admits he’s not sure how to feel about the new Māori court exhibit at Auckland Museum. And Sam Brooks says the new season of The Crown can’t handle a problem like Diana.
SailGP has cancelled its Auckland event in March next year, with “the unavailability of Wynyard Point land as a spectator facility” the apparent deciding factor. Christchurch is in the running to take over the event, The Press reports (paywalled).
Violent clashes marred the World Cup qualifier soccer match between Brazil and Argentina in Rio de Janiero, with Argentina captain Lionel Messi accusing Brazilian police of brutality after they charged at fans with night sticks drawn. Argentina won the match 1-0.
Got some feedback about The Bulletin, or anything in the news? Get in touch with me at email@example.com.
If you liked what you read today, share The Bulletin with friends, family and colleagues.