I'm joining the "forces of treachery" and arguing it is time Bill English stepped up and said he is willing to open negotiations with any of the other political parties to form a Government.

This is a challenge to the accepted order. The country is supposed to stand by and twiddle its collective thumbs while Winston Peters plays the major parties off against each other. Meanwhile, the politician whose party won the most seats in the election stays mute, for fear of upsetting the NZ First leader whom reborn MP Shane Jones this week obliquely dubbed "Caesar".

Journalists who question this state of affairs are being painted as paid pimps for dark forces - especially if they dare suggest that the Greens and National at least have a chat.

Meanwhile, businesses ponder whether they are going to be hit with new taxes, be forced to pay staff more, allowed to sponsor immigrants to work on their farms or in their firms, face personal attacks if they are highly paid chief executives, and more attacks if they are foreign investors (particularly Chinese) - the list goes on. There is anecdotal evidence that firms are sitting on their investment intentions until the shape of the new Government is determined.


Much of this angst is over-blown. But Peters' television appearances are not engendering confidence. How hard is it for English to say he would like to meet with James Shaw, to see if the Greens - not just NZ First - can be included in an electoral accommodation?

Sure, it would be a risky move. Shaw could spurn English's overture. Peters could get in a huff and march straight into Labour's arms.

But there is probably more than a 50 per cent chance of that happening anyway.

The point is, if MMP is to work in the way that Peters has promoted this week, all the parties should be talking with each other now and making best endeavours to see if a governing arrangement can be put together in the best interests of the nation.

The putative leader on the night should take the initiative and lead - not sit around waiting for more than a fortnight for Mr 7.5 per cent to decide when he is ready to play ball.

English could talk with Labour's Jacinda Ardern about some cross-party initiatives that the two main parties could develop (irrespective of which of them ends up as Prime Minister) to tackle some major social issues. Parliament has done this before with superannuation, for instance. But such attempts have often failed due to narrow party interests over-riding the country's interests.

And of course, Ardern could do the same: openly move to establish some common ground again with the Greens instead of waiting for Labour to be invited to the dance.

In truth, Peters is accumulating leverage as he sweats English and Ardern. The special votes - which accounted for 15 per cent of the total vote at this election - will make a difference only at the margin.


But it is a credit to his undoubted political skills that the two main parties are dancing to his tune rather than calling him on it.

Meanwhile, an MYOB Business Monitor Snapshot survey of 400 small and medium enterprises revealed 39 per cent say uncertainty around the outcome of the election is having a negative impact on business.

Most affected are those in the primary sector, with 50 per cent reporting a negative impact, no doubt influenced by talk of potential water charges and other new taxes. The property and professional sector was close behind, with 47 per cent reporting a negative impact, put down to the possible introduction of capital gains and land taxes.

In this environment, nor is it treachery to hanker for the certainty of first past the post (FPP).

Before MMP, majority governments resulted from every FPP election in New Zealand from 1935 to 1993.

The system came under fire in the early 1990s. First, because voters lost faith in the two main parties - National and Labour - when they executed some elements of wide-ranging economic reforms for which they had not first sought a mandate.


Second, because considerable numbers of voters felt disenfranchised through wasting their votes on unsuccessful electorate candidates.

But now we have a situation where the vast majority of voters are being tyrannised by a minority.