Newsroom Pro's 8 things at 8: Winston says NZ$ too high and volatile; No decision on Thursday; Greens on the outer

Winston Peter has delayed any public announcement on a coalition deal until Friday. Photo: Lynn Grieveson

In today's email, Winston Peters signals the first slippage in the deadline for a new Government, while appearing to confirm that monetary policy and housing affordability were part of the ongoing discussions.

1. No Government on Thursday

Winston Peters pledged back in late July in this Newsroom report that New Zealand First would make its decision on who would be in Government public on the day the writs were returned -- this Thursday October 12.

But last night he signalled the first slippage in that deadline.

He told reporters he still expected the New Zealand First board to make its decision on Thursday, but that it would not be made public that day.

"Not on Thursday night, no," he said when asked if the decision would be announced on Thursday.

"We have got a few logistical things to work out but as soon as possible after (Thursday night)," he said.

"It depends on other parties as well. But I can't answer for them," he said.

Earlier in the day he said New Zealand First still had a "fair way to go" on policy discussions.

2. Greens cut out, and may cause delay

One thing that became clearer yesterday was that Peters has not and will not talk directly to the Greens.

Any deal with Labour would have to be rubber-stamped by the Greens through its need for a 75 percent agreement by its party delegates, which could take some time and introduce doubt into the process.

Green Co Leader James Shaw said his party had reached out to Peters without asking formally for discussions.

"We just made some contact to say, if they wanted to, we’re available, but…" Shaw told reporters.

"We’ve made ourselves available, for anybody, but like I said last week, the Labour Party will be taking the lead in negotiations, and so that’s what they’re doing here," he said.

"At some point, I assume you’ve got to get in a room together with the people that you’re going to go into coalition with."

Earlier, Shaw said a reference group of MPs and members of the Green Party were working with the party and would eventually help draft any agreement to be presented to members. They would then call a special general meeting, which would be attended from delegates representing electorates. It could be held online to speed things up, he said.

If anyone opposed the deal, it would have to be put to a vote and have 75 percent support to proceed. Any deal could not be renegotiated and delegates would either have to accept or reject it, he said.

Shaw said he hoped a deal could be achieved by Thursday.

"But I've said before the process takes as long as it takes, a day here or there is no big deal," he was quoted as saying, adding party ratification could be done "pretty quickly."

3. 'I won't be talking to them'

Peters was asked about the Green attempt at contact and said he was unaware of it. He made clear that he had no intention of having discussions with the Greens and treated the Greens and Labour as a single bloc.

"I made it very clear at the start, and everybody’s aware of it, that we were to speak to the National Party and the Labour Party, not necessarily in that order, but each day we’ve been doing that," Peters told reporters.

He said Labour and the Greens had a memorandum of understanding to work together and he was treating them as one.

"For months, and months, in fact for years, they all campaigned together, hugging each other, embracing each other, and loving each other. We didn’t," he said.

"We were never part of any pre-arranged structure, so why are you trying to force it upon us now?," he said.

Asked if he was treating Labour and the Greens as one bloc, he said: "Well take a wild guess. That’s what they campaigned on. Have you forgotten?"

He was then asked if he could end up sitting around a cabinet table with Green colleagues without having had a discussion with them before any decision.

"This is an extraordinary question. That has no relativity to these discussions whatsoever."

4. Monetary policy and housing affordability

Peters also appeared to confirm that monetary policy and housing affordability were part of the discussions.

Asked about the New Zealand dollar's fall to a four month low yesterday, he said: "We have the most volatile currency in the whole wide world."

Asked if the next Government would look to make it less volatile, he said:

"I think exporters will be pleased. And we are an export-dependent nation. If you’re an export-dependent nation, why would you go ahead and persist with an inflated dollar, which even the IMF says is over-valued? Why would you just ignore all the best advice in the world? But then again, this is not an academic matter."

Peters has pushed for a Singaporean style system for managing monetary policy whereby the central bank targeted a currency level rather than an interest rate level. That is seen off the table with Labour and National, but Labour has pushed for tweaks to how the Reserve Bank makes decisions and changes to the Reserve Bank Act to target full employment.

New Zealand First also wants more emphasis on full employment and a more fairly valued currency (ie lower.)

He was also asked about yesterday's RNZ report that only 98 of the more than 3,000 houses built in Special Housing Areas in Auckland were classed as affordable.

Peters was asked if any new Government would address this. "Precisely, yes," he said.

Asked if housing affordability was part of the talks, he said: "I’m so delighted you’ve finally cottoned on to it, two weeks after the election."

New Zealand First's Housing Policy included an unspecified "Housing Plan" that included a new state agency to buy and develop land for housing and providing first home buyers with long term low interest loans to buy sections.

5. NZ in the space race

There's foreign and then there's really foreign.

Newsroom's Foreign Affairs Editor Sam Sachdeva has spoken to NZ Space Agency head Peter Crabtree about the challenges of entering orbit and where the industry is headed next.

Sam reports that MBIE managed to pull together a space agency and a set of laws that allowed Rocket Lab to get going in record time.

The agency was launched in April 2016, but Crabtree says the work began in late 2015, when US-NZ aerospace company Rocket Lab approached MBIE with a plan to carry out rocket launches in New Zealand.

"Their launches were going to be out of the US but they very quickly realised that they couldn’t get what we call the tempo of launches out of the US, 50 to 100 a year, it was never going to be feasible," Crabtree told Sam.

"The request came and we thought sure, it will be quite simple, but it wasn’t - it became very clear there were loads of either obstacles or preconditions that we didn’t have here."

The United States needed "bolted-down assurances" that its missile control technologies would be protected - provided in a Technology Safeguards Agreement - while New Zealand itself had to develop a policy and legal framework to govern what took place here.

"Little pockets of government had been focused on things like remote sensing and earth observation, but we had no national space policy at all," he said.

Within four months, the basic template had been set up with a speed Crabtree is still proud of.

See Sam's full report here on Newsroom Pro, where it was published first yesterday.

6. While you were sleeping

Catalonia's leader, Carles Puigdemont, suspended moves to secede from Spain and called for mediation with Spain, which lowered the temperature of the dispute with Madrid. (BBC)

Australia's education minister, Simon Birmingham, has backed up calls by Australia's top diplomat for Australian universities to resist a push by China to shut down debate about Chinese issues inside Australian universities. (BBC)

The IMF upgraded its outlook for global growth to 3.6 percent this year from 3.5 percent previously. It also upgraded its 2018 forecast to 3.7 percent from 3.5 percent. "We see an accelerating cyclical upswing boosting Europe, China, Japan, and the United States, as well as emerging Asia," the IMF said in its latest World Economic Outlook overnight.

The Chinese Communist Party's ruling Central Committee is expected to expel eight full members and three alternate members on corruption charges at its last meeting this week of the current five year cycle before a key Party Congress next week. (SCMP)

7. Some fun things

It could be said Donald Trump's antics are now beyond funny, but it is certainly a strange world we live in now.

Donald Trump went on a tweet storm this morning, attacking Bob Corker over his interview with the New York Times in which the Republican Senator said Trump's recklessness threatened World War III. Trump also threatened the NFL with new tax rules if the football league continued to allow players who 'take the knee' during the national anthem.

Here's his Corker Tweet:

"The Failing @nytimes set Liddle' Bob Corker up by recording his conversation. Was made to sound a fool, and that's what I am dealing with!"

The New York Times reported Corker had asked to be recorded.

8. I'm with Ruru

And finally, some Bird of the Year related humour (I'm with Team Morepork (Ruru) this year:

Jeremy: "Latest polls indicate that neither the Kea or the Tui have the numbers so the #Birdoftheyear result may be decided by the Grey Warbler (Riroriro)."