Prime Minister elect John Key is wasting no time in getting his team together to run the country for the next three years.
The National Party won the election with an overwhelming result at the polls last night, but Key will need the support of coalition partners to have a majority in Parliament.
"We've currently got 60. We need one further vote to be able to have a majority in the Parliament," National MP Steven Joyce said on TVNZ's Q+A programme this morning.
Key has been in a meeting today with senior ministers at his Auckland home, and will hold coalition talks tomorrow.
And the message is: "We want them all [United Future, Act and Maori Party] involved," Key told ONE News.
Key was guaranteed a second three-year term with the return of current coalition partners, Act and United Future each winning one electorate seat.
"It's a small majority when you think about it in the context of the Parliament, but it's a very rock solid majority," Key said.
Key also expressed interest in including the Maori Party to ensure National has left and the right support.
"We'd like to keep working with them (Maori Party). We think they got real gains being in government, we believe it did advance the causes of their people and we think it gave a balance."
And there are two cases where the Maori Party could be crucial - the sale of a 49% stake in five state owned companies and also the policy of welfare reform - both cases were very controversial in the election campaign.
Joyce said on Q+A this morning that the Maori Party "will be an additional buffer" but Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia said she was not prepared to show her support for National just yet.
However, she did hint that they were in favour of becoming a partner with National.
"You can't make gains unless you're sitting at the table of the Government," she said on TVNZ's Q+A.
Michelle Boag, former National Party president, told TVNZ's Q+A it was clear Key wanted to have the Maori Party involved and it is going to be a "critical negotiation".
"The Maori Party also has to think about its transition to a new generation."
Joyce said it depends on numbers in terms of whether they can credibly lead a Government without the Maori Party being involved as ministers on confidence and supply.
"I think the Maori Party, United Future and Act are all crucial... and in that respect, it's not that much different to last time," Joyce told TVNZ's Q+A.
"With a 48% party vote, it's a pretty strong endorsement of where the Government sits, and we're confident we'll be able to build the relationships needed to go ahead with the programme."
At the 2008 election the Maori Party sat down with National and came up with a confidence and supply agreement.
"They didn't agree with everything that we proposed to do, and they didn't vote for some of it, but they voted for confidence and supply. So that's the sort of relationship we'd be looking to form, but those discussions have to take place," said Key.
Where the numbers do fall nicely for National is that it has the ability to pass legislation by teaming up with just ACT and United Future or by just adding National and the Maori Party votes together - so Key has some flexibility there.
He also said he would "sit down and have a talk" with the Green Party, who have won 13 seats, about signing a memorandum of understanding - similar to 2008. It is a less formal deal but will allow them to work on particular projects like home insulation.
Key has not ruled out ministerial positions for Act's John Banks, United Future leader Peter Dunne and members of the Maori Party.
The other thing to watch out for is more cuts in government spending as they are pushing hard to get the books back into surplus and that will mean money will be very, very tight.
Key made a late arrival to National's celebratory party in Auckland last night, saying he was "delighted".
"What a fabulous night to be supporting the New Zealand National Party," he told the National faithful.
"New Zealand has voted for a brighter future, and there will be a brighter future," Key, draped in blue and white streamers, told ecstatic supporters.
National campaigned on promises to build on policies of the past three years with an emphasis on sparking economic growth by cutting debt, curbing spending, selling state assets and returning to a budget surplus by 2014/15.
"The government will be focused on building a more competitive economy, with less debt, more jobs, and higher incomes," added Key, 52, flanked by his wife and son.
He said he expected the election would be tight and that he was proud to be Prime Minister.
"More people voted National today than three years ago and I want to thank each and every one of you," he said.
He said he was not "entirely surprised" that Winston Peters had been returned to Parliament.
The final tally of seats may change when tens of thousands of absentee votes are counted over the next two weeks.
Christchurch Central has ended in a dead heat with Labour's Brendan Burns and National's Nicky Wagner ending the night with exactly the same number of votes, 10,493.
Labour's poor result
Labour suffered a dismal election, and will have just 34 MPs in Parliament on preliminary results compared with National's 60.
The nine Labour seats have been lost, though leader Phil Goff batted off questions about resigning .
National took 48% of the party vote, compared with Labour's lowly 27.1%. The voter turnout was low with just under 74%.
Goff has vowed Labour will continue to fight and he celebrated the few wins Labour managed - Te Tai Tonga, West Coast-Tasman and some new MPs.
"It wasn't our time, but we are members of a great political party ... our time will come again, and we will be ready to take New Zealand forward at that time. We are a bit bloodied, but we're not defeated."
Goff would not discuss his future as leader.
Winston Peters will have cause to claim the success story of the election with New Zealand First being returned to Parliament with eight MPs.
He made the first victory speech of the night.
"For much of this campaign we have been marginalised, stygmatised, even demonised," Peters told a crowd of about 100 people.
"We told people to hang on because help is on its way and tonight it's arrived," Peters said, adding the party would be independent and look to keep the government honest.
He was ousted from Parliament in 2008 but has returned on a wave of party support for NZ First, who took 6.8% of the vote.
In the critical seat of Epsom, much publicised due to the 'tea-tape' saga, Act candidate John Banks romped home ahead of National's Paul Goldsmith.
However, Act's party vote was so low that Banks will be alone in Parliament.
After congratulating Banks, Act leader Don Brash stepped down saying his time in politics was over.
Elsewhere, United Future Peter Dunne kept hold of his Ohariu majority, but like Banks will not have any MPs from his own party to support him.
The Maori Party will have three seats and the Mana Party one after Hone Harawira claimed Te Tai Tokerau.
The Green Party was also celebratig after gaining an extra four MPs.
Co-leader Russel Norman told his supporters he was pleased their party had become the third to get to the 10% mark under MMP.
- With Reuters
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