What’s a week to agree government and shape legacy?

EDITORIAL

Winston Peters could have said coalition negotiations would be completed by October 12, to then be deliberated on. But he didn’t — he said the public would have a decision by yesterday.

Nearing the end of a final marathon day of talks with the teams from Labour and National, he denied that, suggesting media made an incorrect assumption.

You could forgive him the mistake, it has been a huge week for the 72-year-old New Zealand First leader and his team.

It is typical Peters, though, having fun knocking journalists while he goes about his business. The seriousness of determining the country’s government for the next three years — and his legacy and the future of his party — shouldn’t get in the way of that.

He now says the public will know what the government will be by the end of next week, and it seems likely an announcement will come early in the week.

It doesn’t really matter. Public patience might wear thin if the week progresses without a decision, but that is due to expectations Peters himself set.

This has been a lightning-fast twin negotiation round, considering the complexity of the policy issues and horse-trading required on all sides, for two separate deals that would be the basis of two very different governments. And it sounds from the major parties that NZ First has run a good process this week . . . although they would say that now.

Peters’ deadline gave National and Labour a clear directive to get their ducks in a row by the time special votes were announced last Saturday, and to make sure their best policy offers for NZ First were quickly on the table.

The results of the negotiations will be fascinating to see, and hopefully that includes at least the outline of the deal reached by the eventual losing party. What was traded this week by Labour and National (and the Greens in their parallel talks with Labour), as they wooed Winston Peters and his party, will be highly instructive for voters three years from now.

One could gripe that a largely unknown NZ First board is deciding the next government, but it is Peters who will really decide. That’s a whole ’nother issue, but voters did put him in this position.

Winston Peters could have said coalition negotiations would be completed by October 12, to then be deliberated on. But he didn’t — he said the public would have a decision by yesterday.

Nearing the end of a final marathon day of talks with the teams from Labour and National, he denied that, suggesting media made an incorrect assumption.

You could forgive him the mistake, it has been a huge week for the 72-year-old New Zealand First leader and his team.

It is typical Peters, though, having fun knocking journalists while he goes about his business. The seriousness of determining the country’s government for the next three years — and his legacy and the future of his party — shouldn’t get in the way of that.

He now says the public will know what the government will be by the end of next week, and it seems likely an announcement will come early in the week.

It doesn’t really matter. Public patience might wear thin if the week progresses without a decision, but that is due to expectations Peters himself set.

This has been a lightning-fast twin negotiation round, considering the complexity of the policy issues and horse-trading required on all sides, for two separate deals that would be the basis of two very different governments. And it sounds from the major parties that NZ First has run a good process this week . . . although they would say that now.

Peters’ deadline gave National and Labour a clear directive to get their ducks in a row by the time special votes were announced last Saturday, and to make sure their best policy offers for NZ First were quickly on the table.

The results of the negotiations will be fascinating to see, and hopefully that includes at least the outline of the deal reached by the eventual losing party. What was traded this week by Labour and National (and the Greens in their parallel talks with Labour), as they wooed Winston Peters and his party, will be highly instructive for voters three years from now.

One could gripe that a largely unknown NZ First board is deciding the next government, but it is Peters who will really decide. That’s a whole ’nother issue, but voters did put him in this position.

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