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Labour leader David Cunliffe is sticking by his decision to rule out the Maori Party in a Labour government, but will not go so far as to say Labour would rather go back into Opposition than back down if the Maori Party was kingmaker.
Mr Cunliffe said he had ruled out the Maori Party in his executive to give the public an assurance that any Labour government would have a maximum of three parties.
Asked whether he would change his mind if NZ First opted to go on the cross benches and Labour needed the Maori Party to secure a majority on confidence and supply, Mr Cunliffe said his stance did not preclude seeking support from Internet Mana or Maori Party "but they absolutely won't be ministers."
Asked if he would stick with that even if it meant the difference between Government and Opposition, he replied "I'm pretty sure it won't."
"We are going to provide certainty to New Zealanders about a Government they can rely on. There will be a maximum of three parties." That would be Labour, the Greens and NZ First.
"I keep saying that because those parties have a track record and can give the public certainty and assurance that they are established, well managed parties. These other small parties, who would know? But that's a matter for them not us." He also believed the Maori Party would go with National, despite Maori Party coleader Te Ururoa Flavell's statement he was open to both major parties.
Voters would determine the make up of Parliament "and then we will sit down and work with who we need to work with to get New Zealanders the future they want and deserve." In 2008 and 2011 Prime Minister John Key had unequivocally ruled out NZ First, even if it meant National had to go into Opposition.
Asked about apparent differences of opinion within Internet Mana over the cannabis policy, Mr Cunliffe said he did not want to talk about other parties' internal issues.
"All I can say is this is part of the feed"-- an apparent reference to Hone Harawira's criticism of his party putting "the weed"above "the feed." "This is part of feeding our families. We think families should be fed, our children should be fed." He has previously said he would not include Internet or Mana Party MPs in his government, because they did not have a track record and there was no risk they would support National instead. However, policy concessions were possible.
By Claire Trevett of the New Zealand Herald