NZ Farce Party and the moving deadline

I doubt that many people will be surprised that assurances by Winston Peters have turn an announcement on the make-up of the new government into a NZ farce.

The only thing we know for certain about our government is that we don’t know what it will look like yet, and we are now past the Thursday deadline Peters had assured us he would meet.

On 25 July Winston reveals deadline day for coalition announcement:

“I make this guarantee that whatever decision New Zealand First arrives at post-election, it will be made public by the day the writs are returned, which is within three weeks from polling day.”

3 October Winston Peters adamant he can secure a coalition deal by deadline

Do you think you can get this done in the timeframe?

Peters: “Yeah I do”.

10 October: Peters pushes out talks deadline

But after completing another round of talks on Tuesday night, he told reporters the target was to complete the negotiations by Thursday night.

He said he would not be making the announcement on Thursday night.

It would be made “as soon as possible after Thursday night” but he wouldn’t go as far as to confirm the public would know his decision by Friday.

11 October: It won’t be known on Thursday who the new government is

Peters said back in July that a decision would be made public on October 12 but on Tuesday night he said there were “other arrangements” to be made first.

“Our target is to complete all these discussions by Thursday night – nothing’s changed. “We’ve got a few logistical things to work out but as soon as possible after that.”

12 October (W Day): Prime Minister will be known by end of next week – Winston Peters

12:15 pm: “It depends on the logistical availability of the board, which could be Saturday, Sunday or Monday,” he told reporters. He has not said when the public will be told of a decision.

1.12pm – ‘We’re doing this in breathtaking time’ – “The board needed to know at a certain time when they could possibly meet, and we’re working on their agendas, their timetables, where they live, the bookings and those sorts of things. With the greatest respect it is a silly question, and I wish you’d desist from it, because frankly, you’re not helping the process at all. We’re doing this in the breathtaking time that we possibly can do it. That’s all I can possibly say.”

2.10pm – Could be as late as Monday – NZ First board president Brent Catchpole said the board are ready to meet at “a moment’s notice” to discuss coalition agreements but there are logistics to organise. It could be as late as Monday before the board is able to meet. “That’s a possibility, some are going to have to take a day off work and notify their bosses so as soon as we get the word that’ll be put into motion,” Mr Catchpole said.

6:30pm – 10 days not unreasonable – Peters denies delay is a long wait, says it’s not unreasonable to take 10 days to complete the negotiation process. Ten days from October 7, when the Electoral Commission finalised the vote count, will be next Tuesday.

8:10pm – PM will be known by the end of next week – Peters says he’s committed to ensuring the public will know who the Prime Minister is by the end of next week. “Write that on the wall”.

So we may have a decision made and announced by some time next week, by Friday or by Sunday, or whenever it gets decided and announced.

Negotiations with the National and Labour party leaders have now wrapped up.

“We’re finished,” Mr Peters says. “All the policy stuff is finished.”

“I’m very, very pleased that we’ve actually got it finished. We’ve got a seriously comprehensive dossier for both sides and there’s some fiscals to be shared to make sure that we do agree. But the substantive part of the discussion… has been done.”

However, no discussions on portfolio positions have yet taken place.

“The issue of portfolios does not take long at all in these sorts of talks. It’s the substance that takes time,” he says.

So negotiations are complete, except for negotiations that will still be required. Numbers of ministers and portfolios will be important decisions to make.

The other parties involved will need to do their own consulting and deciding.

There may be details to clarify or issues to renegotiate.

The country has been left hanging, possibly for another week or more.

It doesn’t bode well for government over the next term that we have been strung along so much by Peters and the NZ Farce Party.

Will Peters meet his 12 October deadline?

Winston Peters has made it clear he won’t start negotiating and governing arrangements with National or Labour until the final results are published on 7 October. Fair enough, the number of seats and the balance of power could change.

In July Peters made a commitment to make a decision on what he and NZ First will do by writ day, which is 12 October.

RNZ:  Peters lays out post-election coalition timeframe

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters says if his party is in a position to negotiate with both major parties after the 23 September election, he’d be aiming to tell the country which party they would work with by 12 October.

That is the same date as the return of writs for the election, marking the delivery of the final results to the Governor-General.

Mr Peters made the same promise to communicate a decision by writ day on 2005, and said he would do the same this election.

“If you’re going on precedent, yeah, 2005 we had a decision by writ day and we expect the same would be the case if those circumstances arise in 2017.”

The belief he held the country up for weeks after the 1996 election while negotiating a deal was exaggerated, Mr Peters said.

“1996 was totally different, it was our first MMP election, the first time we were dealing with circumstances never dealt with before in this country’s history.

“Seven weeks in my view was the kind of period we needed to, when you’re negotiating earnestly and sincerely with both sides it seemed to be an exercise we had no precedent for, and no record for.”

Since then, he said, parties had become much more familiar with MMP and the way it works.

“So I fully expect, post the election, that every party would look at resolving this matter as fast as possible – that’s all I can say.”

Saturday 7 October to Thursday 12 October doesn’t leave NZ First, National, Labour (and Greens if they get included) long to work out and governing deals and then for NZ First to decide.

Peters has said the party will be consulted with beforehand but not on the actual decision.

I wouldn’t hold Peters to his 12 October deadline. He doesn’t always hold himself to apparent commitments.

If negotiations need longer then that date will be passed.

And it isn’t just Peters involved. He may decide what way he wants to go by the 12th, but either one or two other parties will be involved, and they may want to consult with party members before making their final decisions.

If Peters chooses to go with Labour-Greens I can imagine Jacinda Ardern making another ‘captain’s call’ fairly quickly, but I think that the Greens are committed to consulting with party members before making their decision.

So I won’t be surpised if we don’t know a decision until 12 October.