John Key must be getting a bit nervous about his falling polls and lack of viable coalition partners. He started preparing the ground to work with NZF:
Key not ruling out deal with NZ First
Prime Minister John Key is not ruling out working with New Zealand First in the future, saying he will spell out potential partners ahead of the next election. National banned post-election deals with New Zealand First in 2008 and 2011 but Mr Key did not rule out working with the party after the 2014 election in an interview on The Nation this morning.
Kind of makes a mockery of Key and the rabid right’s previous character assassination of Peters doesn’t it – the Nats are quite happy to work with Peters if he can get them back in to power. The strategy was clear – use both parties’ intransigence on Superannuation as common ground. Go for the ageing vote to try and get them over the line, “the coalition that will protect your Super!” and so on. So Key tried to box Peters in:
Peters challenged over ‘bottom line’
Prime Minister John Key has thrown down the gauntlet to NZ First leader Winston Peters to clarify his “bottom line” over the pension age. …
“This is my challenge to Winston Peters – I dare him to go out there and say he will not under any conditions form a government with Labour even if Labour’s policy is to raise the super age from 2020, not in the 3 year period from 2014 to 2017. I dare him to say that. He will not. He will not because he’s tricky. He’ll find a way around all of that stuff.”
I thought that Peters might go for it. National / NZF might just have won it on a Save Super ticket. But for whatever strange reasons that motivate Winston Peters (I’ve long ago given up trying to guess), Peters instead smacked down Key good and hard:
Peters fires back at PM about pension
Winston Peters has called Prime Minister John Key’s bluff by refusing to rule out going with Labour because of its plans to raise the pension age, saying changes wouldn’t kick in during the next term. “Realistically, it’s not an issue,” the New Zealand First leader said. …
Key, who last week said he was “holding hands with Winston” over the issue, yesterday laid down the gauntlet to Peters. “I dare him to go out there and say he will not under any conditions form a government with Labour, even if Labour’s policy is to raise the super age from 2020, not in the three-year period from 2014 to 2017. “I dare him to say he will not, because he’s tricky and he’ll find a way all around all of that stuff.”
But Peters took exception. “Tricky am I? I never worked for a company that took the American people to the cleaners and then went broke and got the American people to bail them out,” he said, referring to Key’s time with investment company Merrill Lynch.
He said NZ First would not do a deal with another party 2 1/2 years out from the next election, and the challenge showed National was in trouble. Key was “running out of friends, support and excuses”, Peters said.
Peters also hit back at Key’s comments on the infamous teapot tape – that NZ First’s supporters were dying off – saying they knew they couldn’t trust Key any more than previous National leaders who had lifted the age of entitlement and raised the surcharge rate. “This is about people’s lives, not some sort of tawdry deal in the dealers’ room.”
I get the impression that Peters enjoyed that more than was entirely decent. Ouch! So Johnny still has no mates for 2014…