12 Oct 2017

Coalition talks to be done by tonight

6:18 am on 12 October 2017

It's crunch time for Winston Peters as he pushes into the final day of talks over forming a new government, and he says today will be the most substantive yet.

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New Zealand First's Winston Peters and Ron Mark speaking to media at the conclusion of coalition talks on Monday. Photo: RNZ / Craig McCulloch

The New Zealand First leader has been in back-to-back meetings for four straight days now as both National and Labour try to win his party's support to form a government.

But today there is a real sense of urgency, with Mr Peters saying it would be the most substantive day yet.

"Well we're probably going to be more focused on the subjects that we're going to deal with than at any time before that, that's just the nature of this negotiation," he said.

At least another four meetings are planned - New Zealand First wants all discussions done by Thursday evening - but Mr Peters said that while today would be the last day of coalition talks, it was doubtful a decision would be made by the end of the day.

He said two options would be taken back to the board for a final call, but that might not be until Friday.

"You want a serious consensus. If you haven't got a serious consensus stay there until you get one, but who wants a 50-50 vote."

Mr Peters said he expected the agreement to be far more than 75 percent.

Meanwhile, both National and the Labour-Green bloc were expected to get their respective offers signed off by their parties.

It was not clear when they would find out if their bid was successful.

The Greens' co-leader James Shaw has not met directly with Mr Peters at all - he was talking separately with Labour and trusted its team to get a good deal.

"It's got to be a stable and responsible government that's going to go the full distance and Labour is working very hard to make sure that happens."

It still was not clear exactly what policies are on the table. The few snippets that have been prised out have been either obvious - such as foreign ownership - or generic.

Every day reporters get a brief update from the Labour side - but Ms Ardern is giving nothing away, repeating the lines that the meetings are positive and productive.

If Labour has been something of an echo chamber, National has been radio silence: Reporters haven't heard a thing from Bill English since these enlightening words Monday night:

"Oh you'll have to ask Mr Peters about that, we'll keep talking though."

Thursday's meetings start at 9.30am and are expected to go all day.

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