Media attention since the general election has focused largely on the shape of any formal relationship between Labour and the Greens in the formation of the next government.
But the need for party leaders to negotiate, talk or whatever with other party leaders to forge a government partnership is very different from three years ago.
The 2017 election on September 23 was followed by a prolonged bout of negotiations which ultimately resulted in the announcement on October 19 that New Zealand First leader Winston Peters and his party had chosen to put Labour into power.
Peters landed the jobs of deputy prime minister and foreign affairs minister in the new government.
At this year’s election Labour won an outright majority on election night and does not need a coalition partner to form a government.
Green Party co-leaders James Shaw and Marama Davidson nevertheless have formally met with Labour leader Jacinda Ardern three times to discuss potential areas of cooperation.
A final deal has not been reached, but RNZ understands Shaw has been offered the climate change portfolio, as a minister outside of Cabinet.
RNZ also understands Marama Davidson will likely be offered a ministerial portfolio, but which one is yet to be decided.
It sounds like two Labour MPs might not get the ministerial jobs they feel they deserve.
Shaw said forming a government was a “complicated business”.
It didn’t have to be.
But once we have learned the nature of the arrangement that will bond Labour and the Greens, we will await the naming of the new Cabinet and ministers outside of the Cabinet.
One of the most senior portfolios is foreign affairs, the job Peters secured in 2017.
Logic does not always apply in the selection of ministers by the prime minister. So, while David Parker holds the trade portfolio, he might not necessarily take on the foreign affairs job. But our sources say he is “more than interested” despite earlier rebuffs.
We have regarded Andrew Little as the clear favourite. However, he already has a major load with Justice, Treaty Settlements and the intelligence agencies and PM Jacinda Adern would be loath to have him give up any of these – which he would have to do, given the travel required by the foreign affairs portfolio.
Some Machiavellian types believe Kelvin Davis could be in line for Peters’ job. He could retain his deputy Labour leadership role, but again, because of travel demands, he would have to be absent from Wellington – hence Parliament – for much of the year. This suggests Grant Robertson could adopt the deputy PM task.
Another possibility is Stuart Nash, holding in the last government the portfolios of Police, Fisheries, Revenue and Small Business. He is a great grandson of Sir Walter Nash, former Labour prime minister and inveterate traveller so the portfolio might be in his blood.
One of the minor mysteries is why some of the Speaker’s mates in the Labour caucus have begun calling him “Trevor O’Mallard”. An Irish link perhaps? What about ambassador to Ireland? Think how important Dublin will become with Britain outside the European Union – and all that rugby.