Maori Party tries to seal coalition deal

KATE CHAPMAN AND ANDREA VANCE
Last updated 05:00 03/12/2011

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Internal power struggles are plaguing the Maori Party as it tries to finalise a coalition deal with National.

Party whip Te Ururoa Flavell is likely to take over the co-leadership from Pita Sharples in a special meeting in two weeks.

That could affect the timing of any confidence and supply deal with National, which is poised to sign off agreements with ACT and UnitedFuture on Monday or Tuesday.

While their support gives Prime Minister John Key a working majority, he would not be able to go to the governor-general until either the Maori Party signs up as well, or special votes are counted next Saturday. That is because National could theoretically lose up to two seats on special votes and its majority could be affected.

However, if it has the Maori Party on board, with its three extra votes, that would not matter.

Typically, ministerial portfolios given to government support parties go to the leaders.

Mr Key indicated the party would keep the Maori affairs, whanau ora and community and voluntary-sector portfolios and said he would deal with whoever the co-leaders were.

Co-leader Tariana Turia seems set to keep her position as the constitution requires a male and female leader. Dr Sharples and Mrs Turia have both indicated they will not stand in the 2014 election. Mrs Turia said it was better for Mr Flavell to have experience before the 2014 campaign.

The three Maori Party MPs will spend next week travelling the country holding several hui a day with supporters to discuss a future relationship with National.

The party executive is due to meet Mr Key again on Monday, but a final deal is unlikely before the end of the week.

ACT MP John Banks said he would meet his party's board today to discuss the finer points of a deal with National.

Mr Banks said it was for Mr Key to announce the details.

UnitedFuture leader Peter Dunne said its deal with National was a few days away.

Mr Banks is expected to be given small business and regulatory reforms ministerial portfolios, while Mr Dunne is likely to continue as revenue and associate health minister.

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- The Dominion Post

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