Analysis: Once National, New Zealand First and Act all have agreement on a coalition and final sign-off from their boards and caucus there’s a lot of work that will immediately need to get underway.
First steps will be flying to Wellington where incoming Prime Minister Christopher Luxon is expected to announce the new government, followed by a signing ceremony with his two coalition partners, Act’s David Seymour and New Zealand First’s Winston Peters.
Luxon will set out who his new executive and Cabinet will be – it will be a mixture of National, Act and New Zealand First MPs who will all have family they’ll want to be able to attend their swearing-in ceremony at Government House.
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.
For that reason it’s most likely the ceremony wouldn’t happen until Monday, even if Luxon announces his new government by Thursday or Friday this week.
If an announcement is made on Wednesday that could accelerate the swearing-in ceremony forward to Friday, but even then the new executive might choose to wait until Monday and instead concentrate on getting moved into their new offices in the Beehive over the weekend.
Once the formalities are out of the way Luxon will want to get his Cabinet around the table as quickly as possible.
That could happen as soon as Monday, or alternatively, each of the three leaders could gather with their caucus on Tuesday morning and then Cabinet could meet that afternoon.
The rest of the week will then be needed to get a legislative programme sorted ahead of the House sitting on Tuesday December 5, which will double as the Commission Opening.
The speech from the throne, which is written by the Prime Minister’s office and sets out the Government’s work programme ahead, takes place on the second sitting day of the new Parliamentary term.
The King’s representative, the Governor-General, reads the speech and that’s expected to be on December 6.
The Government will then require urgency almost immediately to start getting through the first 100 days of work, most likely beginning with repealing legislation such as the Resource Management Act and Auckland’s Regional Fuel Tax and restoring 90-day employment trial periods for businesses.
Treasury will be working overtime, as will Finance Minister Nicola Willis, to get things sorted ahead of the half-year economic fiscal update, expected to be on December 13 or 14.
Willis has also indicated a mini-budget will take place around then, with the emphasis being on the “mini” with so little time left on her side ahead of Christmas.
The House is expected to sit through until the evening of Wednesday December 20, the final sitting day already in the calendar as set by the Labour government at the start of the year.
Luxon has indicated he wants Parliament to return earlier in the new year.
“Let’s be clear we’re in a turnaround job, we have to start getting things done for New Zealanders, and so I’m sorry if that means if MPs come off their holidays, which seem to be very long from my observation coming from outside anyway, we can get started earlier,” he told media during the election campaign.
Traditionally Parliament returns on the first Tuesday after Waitangi Day on February 6.
That would mean Parliament wouldn’t sit before February 13.
Luxon will need to decide if he is going to head to the Far North for Waitangi commemorations, or choose to spend the day differently.
Given Luxon’s desire to get back to work faster than previous Parliaments, the House could be back on January 23, or if Luxon really wanted to appear to be doing things differently, as early as Tuesday January 16.
But before any of those balls get rolling a government needs to be formed.
With all three parties now agreed on policy and discussing ministerial portfolios, including the role of deputy prime minister, it at least appears negotiations are finally in the final stages.