No pres­sure Win­ston but the clock is tick­ing

The New Zealand Herald - - NEWS - Au­drey Young com­ment

With Win­ston Peters there’s usu­ally a bit of method and a bit of mad­ness.

And that has proved to be the case in this con­cen­trated week of coali­tion talks, which ended last night at Par­lia­ment.

It was al­ways mad­ness for him to set such a tight dead­line (Oc­to­ber 12) by which a de­ci­sion on the next gov­ern­ment would be made by New Zealand First.

It is cer­tainly mad­ness for him to deny he set a dead­line in the first place — as he did yes­ter­day — when there is plenty of ev­i­dence that he did.

But de­spite hav­ing set an im­pos­si­ble dead­line, it wasn’t such a bad thing to have.

It brought a fo­cus and a dis­ci­pline to a process that would oth­er­wise have op­er­ated un­der Parkin­son’s law — “work ex­pands to fill the time avail­able for its com­ple­tion”.

Hav­ing con­ducted talks with Na­tional and Labour un­der five days of pres­sure, the New Zealand First cau­cus and board should not make their de­ci­sion un­der pres­sure.

That is likely to be the real rea­son for Peters with­hold­ing the names of New Zealand First board mem­bers — not to pro­tect the pri­vacy of a group that has been pre­vi­ously widely pub­li­cised — but to min­imise the pres­sure on them.

Peters hinted that a de­ci­sion might not be known un­til Mon­day.

It would not be un­rea­son­able for the board and cau­cus to take two or three days to as­sess and de­bate the two agree­ments from Na­tional and Labour un­less one is over­whelm­ingly bet­ter than the other.

If that means a Sun­day or Mon­day de­ci­sion, so be it — so long as the party is start­ing its de­lib­er­a­tions on Fri­day and is not tak­ing two days to get to Welling­ton.

Peters gave an as­sur­ance this week that the board was on standby to come to Welling­ton to join the cau­cus for a dis­cus­sion. The mes­sage may not have been passed on to the board.

They have an ex­cuse to take some time. But they have no ex­cuse not to be ready.

Peters has been rel­a­tively good­na­tured over the week, but he needs to take care about the ex­pec­ta­tions he set in­clud­ing for him­self. If he keeps the me­dia in the dark, he is keep­ing the pub­lic in the dark.

If he sets him­self up for fail­ure, he is not help­ing his col­leagues or party.

If the de­ci­sion stretches be­yond Mon­day, peo­ple will lose pa­tience.

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