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PICTURE: Tim Murphy
Tim Murphy read 24 of Winston Peters’s speeches, beyond those given in Parliament.
TIM MURPHY of Newsroom ploughs through all Winston Peters’s public speeches since June to find out what he
really thinks of his potential governing partners.
inston Peters’s head
must be spinning with
all the consultation
he is doing, via Skype
and face-to-face, with
his party executive
and caucus on how to handle coalition
His fishing plans up north were foiled
by the tides, so he has had all of Sunday,
Monday and Tuesday to hear the views
of his closest acolytes. Mr Peters will be
wanting to avoid decision by committee, but
that is the process that he has promised.
Today he heads to Wellington where he
will find himself back “between the Red
Devil and the Deep Blue Sea”, as he so
lyrically described it in a speech exactly a
week ago in Ashburton.
Labour’s Jacinda Ardern on line one and
National’s Bill English on line two in the
New Zealand First leader’s office.
Mr Peters has stayed characteristically
quiet on his preferences — perhaps out of
deference to his party officials and MPs who
have been giving their views on what NZ
First should do with its preliminary vote of
But in the absence of live comments, the
speeches of Leader Winston — a kind-
of Little Black Book of quotations and
positions — can help to discern the personal
and political thoughts of Mr Peters.
In July, on the first morning of his party
convention in Manukau, Mr Peters told
TVNZ’s Corin Dann to “report what I say,
not what you think I say”. For Mr Peters’s
watchers, it is always good advice. For Mr
Peters himself, the record of what he has
said will be of help, too, if he is weary and
forgetful, as suggested by his departing MP
colleague Richard Prosser.
So, in the past three months, the NZ First
website has catalogued 24 speeches beyond
those given in Parliament.
What do they tell us about his views on
National, Labour, Mr English, Ms Ardern
and the many personalities and policies that
he will encounter over the next two to three
weeks of coalition talks and possibly beyond
In summary, the Government naturally
copped much more criticism than
Labour; Mr Peters’s strongest themes
were on economic mismanagement, the
economic plight of the regions, separatist
deals with iwi over water in Lake Taupo
and the Waikato River and the risk to
superannuitants if the economy turns sour.
On leading National Party figures
“The National Party cabinet are into spin,
downright deceit and fibs. As Mr English
displayed alongside Paula Bennett and
others, they simply can’t tell the truth. So, as
part of our health policy this election we’re
going to order up a lot of defibulators and
send them to their offices. Every time they
tell a lie this machine will give them a shock.
It might be painful but that ’s what it will
— Launch of campaign for the regions,
Palmerston North, June 25.
“ National have been a major
disappointment, not just to the wider public
of New Zealand but to their own faithful
followers. Arrogant National MPs — Alfred
Ngaro acting like a Mafiosi (sic) heavy
telling the Salvation Army to shut up or
else. Nicky Wagner tweeting frivolously and
insulting the disabled community. Simon
Bridges blocking information being released
on Kiwi Rail in reply to an OIA (request).
And now hush money and a Prime Minister
donkey-deep in a cover-up (over the Todd
Barclay affair).” — June 25.
“ Hundreds of doctors wrote to Minister
Jonathan Coleman warning of a looming
crisis due to funding issues and a GP
shortage. Did he listen? No, because he lives
in a fantasy world.”
— Taumar unui Cosmopolitan Club,
“ Behind closed doors the National
Government has been heavied by giant
multi-national bully boys over a proposed
tax clampdown and our Government
buckled like wimps . . . A shady outfit from
the United States no one has heard of, the
Digital Economy Group, pressured the
New Zealand Government and won. The
so-called crusher Revenue Minister Judith
Collins was crushed. Finance Minister
Steven Joyce huddled behind his desk and
waved a white flag. ”
— Tauranga public meeting, August 18.
“ New Zealand has been left exposed to
being a pawn of the Communists in China.
The influence of the government of China
is real within the New Zealand government.
New Zealand became vulnerable the
moment National recruited list MP Jian
Yang. His decade of work with Chinese
military intelligence has only now been
opened up, but not yet laid bare . . . Our
allies have reason to be alarmed at National’s
appalling naivety. National must act now
and a full inquiry is required. There must be
proof Dr Yang is not a risk. Meanwhile, Dr
Yang must step aside. ”
— Dunedin Public Meeting, September 14.
“National is the Robin Hood party in
reverse. They are taking off the poor to give
to the rich, many of whom are foreigners,”
— NZ First party convention, July 17.
“ We have a Government that works only
for the elite few — not for you. We have
a Government that always puts the short-
term profits and greed of its cronies ahead
of the interests of New Zealanders as a
whole. We have a Government that ser ves
the globalisation agenda of its mates in
big corporates and international business.
Some of us can remember when we had
governments that took their role as stewards
and guardians of New Zealand’s collective
interests seriously. Unlike Bill English and
his mates.” — July 17.
“National is the born to rule party. And
they have grown in arrogance each year
they have held power . . . National has all
the bearing of being in power too long
and treating the New Zealand public with
disdain.” — Grey Power, Dargaville, July 21.
“Is it under National that Chinese
chequebooks represent 21st century taonga?”
— Local Government conference, Auckland,
“On the foreshore and seabed, the
National Party opened a nightmare of over
500 claims. That nightmare is about to
be repeated with water. One party stands
against this separatism by stealth, as it does
against the two-speed economy and the
ever-increasing incursion of the nanny state
into the affairs of ordinary New Zealanders.
It is NZ First.”
— Waikato campaign launch, Morrinsville,
“In their desperation to hold on to power,
Bill English and National are now making
promises. Remarkably, with the whirl of
a wand and some sprinkling of stardust,
‘S kinflint Bill’ has found some money we
didn’t think existed just to pay for these
promises. But why wasn’t that happening
years ago? Why didn’t National commit to a
poverty target three years ago? National has
forgotten about ordinary hardworking New
— Gisborne public meeting, September 12.
“For a party that claims to be for the
farmers, National is doing an uncanny
impersonation of Judas offering iwi 30
pieces of silver (over river and lake water
rights). Of course the ordinary Maori, in
town or in the countryside will get nothing,
as the Iwi Browntable elite sucks it up in a
— W hitianga public meeting, September 13.
“Mr English says he wants you to cut
out the middle-man; for you to choose
only National or Labour, Pepsi or Coke,
this Saturday. That ’s so he can get on with
introducing (water) resource rentals and
forcing yet more bureaucratic ‘fixers’ down
your collective throats. In this, Pepsi and
Coke are one. Farmers need to remember
that Mr English was elected 27 years
ago. He is steeped in the ‘Ruthenomics’
neoliberal tradition of the modern, urban
— Ashburton public meeting, September 20.
“Some old party supporters are in panic.
You can tell that when their supporters start
lying, such as Labour supporters saying New
Zealand First is going with National, and
National supporters saying New Zealand
First is going with Labour and the Greens .
. . None of these people are telling the truth
. . . Many of them pose as friends, while
surreptitiously sticking the boot in every
chance they get. ”
— Grey Power, Dargaville, July 21.
“National’s economic credentials are 90%
spin and 10% substance. Does anyone here
really think any of this is economically or
politically sustainable. But let ’s be fair, these
policies are largely what National inherited.
So red or blue, you have got nothing new.”
— Business NZ election conference,
Wellington, August 23.
“New Zealand First stands ready to keep
the excesses at bay. Be it an economy-
destroying water tax and ETS on one side,
to the people in blue backing racially divisive
koha for consents and a ‘ Waterlords deal’ for
the big iwi to control water.”
— Wellington, August 23.
“National has ‘fourthtermitis’ which sees it
writing post-dated cheques totalling $13.2
billion, none of which was in the recent pre-
budget economic and fiscal update. Labour
wants to tax New Zealand to nirvana, which
of course will not work but leaves huge
questions over its $20.7 billion worth of
— Speech to Economic Development Agencies
Conference, Wellington, August 31.
“Neither the National government nor
the Labour government paid adequate
attention to immigration to realise there was
a huge bungle in counting the number of
people coming in. There are thousands more
immigrants here than we thought.”
— B lenheim public meeting, September 6.
“Unlike responsible governments, National
has simply used record immigration to
hyper ventilate the New Zealand economy,
as Labour did. And let me warn you. If there
is a crisis, the government will be quick to
attack superannuation. They’ll be coming for
you first.” — Takapuna rally, September 10.
“The Coromandel and all of regional New
Zealand are not a high priority for National
and Labour. They are big city parties with
big city views.”
— W hangamata public meeting,
On the Greens
“Let me remind you, we agree with
Labour’s policy on royalties on export
bottled water being paid back to the regions
from whence it came. How could we not
agree? After all, it was our policy long before
Labour swiped it. But Labour water policy
is two-fold and it is the second part of
their policy which causes stress and alarm.
Their planned tax on those engaged in
fruit and vegetable growing, vineyard and
other primary producers will have major
implications around regional New Zealand.”
— Hastings Grey Power, September 1.
“The Labour Party’s policy is to build
10,000 houses a year. They claim that is
better than National. Well, work it out.
If 73,000 people are coming net to New
Zealand every year, how far will 10,000
houses a year go? At four people per house,
Labour doesn’t even get within cooee of
building houses for those people getting off
the plane, let alone that massive number of
people in New Zealand already waiting for
— Speech at rally, Takapuna, September 10.
On both National and Labour
“It has emerged that the Greens’ attack
on me (as a racist) was not a surprise to the
memorandum of understanding partner
(Labour). What the Greens’ co-leader’s
outburst confirms is that there are Greens
and Labour members who want to curb,
curtail and silence views they don’t agree
with. ” — July 17 convention speech.
“It should not come as a surprise, but many
have forgotten, that in 2008 the Greens
entered a memorandum of understanding
with the National Party. In 2015, they called
for another similar understanding with
National. They sit next to the National Party
in Parliament, by choice, having argued in
2011 that they were closest to the National
Party, an argument put up by Metiria Turei.
Confused? Well you’ve got a reason to be.”
— Grey Power, Dargaville, July 21.
On the economy
“ We are on shaky ground. When things
break, you know who they will come for:
Seniors. If they think they ’ll be safe, they’re
wrong.” — Christchurch, August 16.
“ We have little financial freeboard for the
next shock and that shock is imminent.”
— Wellington, August 23.
“New Zealand First does not buy the
fiction that the economy is in great
shape thanks to the Government ’s skilful
management. The ‘strong economy’ line
is flim-flam. ” — Economic Development
Agencies Conference, Wellington, August 31.
On criticism of New Zealand First ’s
proposal to hold a referendum on the
“New Zealand First will be attacked on
this but the attack will be from hypocrites.
If it’s from National, that will be because
hypocrisy is their middle name. If it ’s from
Labour, it will be because they don’t have a
single Maori in their top 15. If it’s from the
Greens it is because, as political scientists
are pointing out, they are largely white and
don’t have a Pacific person until you get to
19. In other words, the ‘do as I say, not as I
do, crowd.’ They are all tip and no iceberg.”
— July 17 convention.
On personal criticism
“ We live in an age of hypersensitive
political correctness and we constantly see
quotes of people saying ‘I am offended’ and
playing the ‘hurt feelings card’. Whatever
happened to sticks and stones can break my
bones but words can never hurt me?”
— July 17 convention.
“And sometime cricket player Mark
Richardson launched a vicious attack on
TV3 yesterday morning. He used derogatory
and defamatory statements after my going
to a meeting on the Manawatu Gorge Road
closure two nights ago . . . yet this man,
using a medium that gets significant money
from the New Zealand taxpayer, TV3,
launched this vicious, disgraceful attack. Not
to my face, of course, when I was in front of
him on Monday, no, three days later when I
wasn’t there.” — Dargaville, July 21.
“Countless unethical, unprofessional and
dishonest commentators have claimed to
know what I want. It matters not to them
that they have not one shred of evidence
to base their opinions on, but they are
so odious as to carry on regardless and
misrepresent me. I did what had to be done,
not what was good for my promotion. And I
despise those who don’t remember it. ”
— Dargaville, July 21.
Winston’s Little Black Book
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