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NZ First dampens coalition talk

Published: 3:30PM Sunday July 31, 2005 Source: RNZ/One News

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has ruled out any pre-election deal on a coalition.

He made that commitment during a scathing attack on the two major parties at New Zealand First's campaign launch in Auckland.

Peters says National and Labour are becoming more and more indistinguishable.

"We have news for them and it's all bad for the two tired old parties like National and Labour - maybe four weeks is all they can manage," Peters says.

As for what happens after election night, Peters is denying any secret coalition deals have already been stitched up.

"So can we dispel the myth once and for all there is no secret deal with Labour or National," Peters says.

At the launch Peters outlined the party's five main election policy planks: senior citizens; immigration; law and order; the Treaty of Waitangi and the economy.

Political experts say the policies include some big spending promises, such as the commitment to raise superannuation payments to 68% of the average wage, then to 72.5%.

In law and order, the party is pledging to double the numbers in the police force within five years.

Peters says the party has costed its policies and will release that information before the election.

Recent polls have support for New Zealand First softening - putting Peters' status as king or queen maker in doubt.

But he could do without those tags.

"King or queen maker.. turgid unoriginal and inaccurate we are going to banish these terms from our political vocabulary," he says.

In any case Peters suggests it is an academic argument as both parities are practically identical

"This election for New Zealand First is not about propping up the two old dinosaurs.

"The benefit of a long campaign is more and more New Zealanders will come to see how alike on the big issues National and Labour are," says Peters.

Labour leader Helen Clark and National leader Don Brash were happy to leave the talking to Peters on Sunday.