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Maori Party Heading For A Deal With National

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, Nov 14 NZPA - The Maori Party is heading for an agreement with National which Labour is doing its best to upset.

Maori Party MPs had last night completed 18 of 40 hui to seek approval from party members and supporters for a draft agreement that will exchange ministerial positions outside cabinet for five confidence votes.

The incoming government is also agreeing to policy concessions on the future of the Maori seats and the Foreshore and Seabed legislation.

Te Tai Tokerau MP Hone Harawira told NZPA after attending hui at Waipu and Wellesford yesterday that the consultation process was "bloody fabulous".

He rated support for the agreement at about 98 percent.

"People are wanting us to have a shot, they're cautious but they are saying go for it anyway."

The Maori Party has until Sunday or Monday to tell incoming prime minister John Key it is ready to sign the deal.

Mr Key has already secured 65 votes through agreements with ACT and United Future leader Peter Dunne, and with the Maori Party he will have 70 in the 122-member Parliament.

The agreements are all basically the same. Ministerial positions will be outside cabinet and the minor parties will be free to criticise the Government in areas outside the portfolios their MPs will be given.

Labour leader Phil Goff said yesterday Maori Party supporters were taking a big risk by endorsing the agreement.

The party was binding itself to National for three years without knowing what its policies would be, he said.

Maori Affairs Minister Parekura Horomia said the Maori Party should remember that six times more Maori gave their party votes to Labour than to National.

A spokesman for Mr Key said Labour's comments were patronising and National was clear about what its policies would be.

There is speculation that ACT leader Rodney Hide will be given a portfolio in the economic area and his deputy Heather Roy will be given consumer affairs.

Maori Party MPs are likely to be given portfolios in education or health, with limited financial responsibilities.

The details of the agreements will be finalised by the weekend and Mr Key will announce his cabinet, and ministers outside it, on Sunday or Monday.

The ministers are expected to be sworn in on Wednesday.

NZPA PAR pw mt mgr

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