Winston Peters says Cabinet 'signed off' 1055 items - but did it?

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters.
Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters. Photo credit: Mitchell Alexander/Newshub.

On Tuesday, the Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters issued a rare message via social media site Twitter.

In it, Mr Peters claimed Cabinet and Cabinet Committees have "considered and signed off" 1055 items.

"Since coalition Govt formation there have been 1055 items considered and signed off by Cabinet and Cabinet Committees. There have been four issues, endlessly recycled amongst the commentariat, that are being resolved as we speak  . #Trysomeperspective," the entire tweet reads.

On Wednesday, Mr Peters repeated his '1055 items' claim in the House.

Everyone likes a list, and with such a precise number, this one sounds ready to go. Surely we could be sent this list. All of New Zealand would probably quite like to see this list.

But when Newshub asked for it, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC) did not provide.

"Thank you for your request under the Official Information Act [OIA] 1982 which was received on 19th September 2018, copied below. A response will be provided in accordance with the Act," came the words no journalist loves to read.

Disappointing, but not entirely unexpected.

In the meantime, let's call on some close reading skills to better understand Mr Peters' tweet.

Four issues 'being resolved'

"There have been four issues, endlessly recycled amongst the commentariat, that are being resolved as we speak," he said.

"Being resolved". The use of that phrase would strongly suggest there have, indeed, been four unresolved issues. The refugee quota, employment relations, Maori-Crown relations and the repeal of three strikes, perhaps?

Of those four issues, there is something close to resolution on three of them.

Wednesday saw the sign off on an increase to refugee numbers - though not until 2020 - and the Maori-Crown relations portfolio was announced on Tuesday.

The employment relations amendment has appeared on the Order Paper, with supplementary amendments tabled by National MPs - sign of an NZ First attempt to exclude the regions from collective agreements.

That leaves three strikes, as part of justice reforms. New Zealand First has 'three strikes remain' listed under 'important issues' on its party website.

"We need to protect our community from these recidivist, highly dangerous offenders," spokesperson for Law and Order, Darroch Ball, is quoted saying.

Status: considered and signed off by Cabinet? Lingering in considered-but-not-signed-off-land? Wouldn't we like to know.