Winston Peters' self-imposed deadline to decide the next Government within one week is quite unnecessary and adds needless pressure to the process.

One explanation is that Peters feels so bad about having kept the country waiting for two months in 1996 he is determined to correct the ledger, or over-correct.

He may take also some perverse pleasure in having the same people who condemned him for going too slow in 1996 telling him he is going too quickly this time.

It could also point to a very thin deal, no matter where New Zealand First ends up sitting, in cabinet, outside cabinet or on the cross benches.

The pace in 1996 was forgivably slow given it was the first MMP election, the detailed nature of the final agreement and the fact that there twin talks going on with National and Labour.

The haste in 2017 is absurd.

Peters and his caucus of eight other MPs have committed to making a decision by next Thursday, October 12, just five days from when the final results are posted on Saturday.

Next Thursday would be realistic if more work had been done between NZ First and the National and Labour parties.


But only one meeting aside has been held, today, and it was merely aimed at establishing rules of engagement, namely getting all participants to commit to a pledge of confidentiality.

None of the agreements under MMP since 1996 have involved parallel negotiations as these very well could, if Labour and the Greens pick up an extra seat.

It has taken 12 days since the election to hold one meeting. Nobody has suggested that any deal should be concluded by the final vote but to have barely started is inexplicable.

Before knowing the election result, Peters set the deadline some months ago, October 12, which is also "writ day".

It is the day that the "writ" is returned to the Clerk of the House from the Electoral Commission with the names of the successful electorate candidates - the writ being the old-fashioned term given to the instruction from the Governor-General to the Electoral Commission to conduct an election.

But there is no obligation to have Government arrangements in place by writ day.

There are people who resent the fact that Peters and his party hold the balance of power.

There are people who think that he has been dragging his heels to hold the first meeting with political parties.

But there can been very few people, and certainly no reasonable ones, who would criticise him for not sealing a deal within five days of the result.