Talk of a teal deal is speculation, nothing more, says James Shaw
The Green Party has ruled out talking to National until all other coalition options are exhausted.
During the past week, there has been suggestion a so-called "teal deal" could be considered between National and the Greens.
Former National Prime Minister Jim Bolger weighed in at the weekend, saying the Greens had a responsibility to pick up the phone to National.
However, Greens leader James Shaw said all the talk of a "teal deal" was "noise".
He said those suggestions had not come directly from the leaders of the two parties, and were just speculation.
National leader Bill English and Shaw maintained if the other rang, they had a responsibility to listen, but the obligation didn't go further than that.
On Tuesday morning, Shaw said he was working on preparing to form a government that included Labour, the Greens, and presumably NZ First.
"I said on election night that I think the numbers are there for a new government, and that's what we're working on.
"So everything else, frankly, is noise and no signal."
Meanwhile Labour leader Jacinda Ardern has stopped short of guaranteeing ministerial posts for the Greens if NZ First tries to cut them out, but has signalled their voting strength should be respected and they should be treated on a roughly equal footing with NZ First, given their similar voting blocks.
"We do need to respect the votes that the Greens bring to the table. Which just means plainly on the numbers we have a situation where both NZ First and Greens are bringing a fairly similar block of votes and we should treat both parties with respect in these negotiations," Ardern said on Newshub's AM show.
"Just because the Greens have indicated where their support would go doesn't mean we should disrespect the voter support that they bring."
Before more than 380,000 specials are declared on Saturday NZ First has nine seats to the Greens seven. But in past elections specials have favoured the Greens and another seat for the party is seen as likely.
She said there were a range of different arrangements that could be struck with the Greens including ministers inside Cabinet, ministers outside Cabinet and a confidence and supply deal.
"I have had it suggested to me that they can simply sit on the cross benches because they are easier to deal with. I've said that I don't think that's a fair way to treat their support. ...Leaving them on the outer is not fair in my view."
Shaw said all the talk of a teal deal had been fed through proxies. "It's all just PR and fluff, there's no substance to it".
National Environment spokesman Nick Smith also threw a bit of cold water on the talk when he was asked whether the Greens would want to take over his portfolio in a coalition deal.
"The Greens have failed to recognise some of the progress that we've made on important issues," Smith said.
Any decisions about a possible coalition was "well above [his] pay grade", however.
"I think the Greens have made a bit of a strategic mistake by linking their wagon so close to Labour," Smith said.
Ardern said Labour had started "pre-negotiations" with the Greens but there were things to square with both the Greens and NZ First. The real work would start after the specials were counted.
Preparatory discussions have focused on how negotiations would work and the parties had been reviewing what policy areas they had in common, and what topics would need to be worked through.
Shaw said he didn't expect those negotiations to begin until after the special vote results — which accounted for about 15 per cent of the vote — were returned.
"I know that's created a real void because everyone's had to wait for the specials to be counted, and in the meantime it's created a vacuum into which all sorts of things are getting projected."
Even without extra seats delivered by the specials, Labour, the Greens and NZ First had the numbers to form a majority government, and that's what the Greens leader expected to happen.
Labour, as the larger party, would take the lead in coalition negotiations, and meet with NZ First ahead of bringing in the Greens.
The timeline NZ First leader Winston Peters had laid down left less than five days, after the special votes were returned, to form a new government.
English said the pressure of that timeframe was "massive", while Ardern said "it is tight but it is doable".
There was an obligation to form a strong, stable government. And if that meant coming back with an answer a couple of days before, or a couple of days after the October 12 deadline, that was fine, Shaw said.
When asked about policy priorities, Shaw stated general policy areas rather than specific policies.
He said the Greens wanted to become a world leader in the fight against climate change, ending poverty, and cleaning up rivers.
"No-one should be surprised about what we'll be negotiating on, when it comes to it."
The Greens had been clear about the party's priorities, he said.
Labour held a caucus phone conference on Tuesday in which Ardern updated her MPs on the talks, but there were no formal caucus meetings of either the Labour or National MPs.