As National, ACT and New Zealand First continue to tackle some “very difficult and complex” questions around their coalition agreement, New Zealanders have started to ask a few questions of their own — namely, how long have these parties got to form a government?
More than five weeks on from the October 14 election, the country is still waiting for its new government.
The delay in proceedings initially wasn’t helped by special votes having a significant impact on the final election results.
Now, several issues are holding up a finalised coalition deal — issues that Prime Minister-elect Christopher Luxon described on Friday as “complex”.
If various speculation is to be believed, those issues include ACT’s proposed referendum on co-governance, National’s plans for a foreign buyer’s tax, and NZ First leader Winston Peters reportedly wanting the role of Attorney-General.
So, how long does National have to negotiate these thorny issues?
A December 21 deadline
The Governor-General issues a proclamation summoning Parliament to meet within six weeks of the last day of the return of the writ.
November 9 was the last day of the return of the writ for the 2023 general election, which means the last day for Parliament to meet is December 21.
If coalition negotiations haven’t been successful by that date, a confidence vote can be called during what’s known as the Address in Reply debate, which is part of the ceremonies involved in opening the new parliament.
According to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC) website, a new election could be called if a confidence vote does not resolve the situation.
In short, National, ACT and New Zealand First still have a few weeks yet before they need to confirm their coalition arrangements.
Meanwhile, the existing caretaker government remains in place.