All three major daily editorials today are on Peters, and none of them believe him.
The NZ Herald::
The silly thing throughout has been that had Mr Peters told the truth at the outset, no harm would have been done. Nobody could have really believed his career survived on his small party’s membership fees. Had he admitted, when asked, that he had needed help with a legal bill, who could have blamed him?
But Mr Peters’ instinct was never to be candid. He seemed to have a congenital aversion to the straight answer. Invariably he treated questions from the press as a personal affront, to be met with verbal jousts, semantic denials and obfuscation. His “testimony” on Wednesday night confirmed one other peculiarity about this former lawyer – he is remarkably inarticulate. Swallowing words, blurring the point and scrambling sense. This, wilfully or involuntarily, contributes to the fog of evasion. His appearance failed to rebut a single piece of Mr Glenn’s evidence.
Telling the truth would have been much wiser in hindsight for Peters.
Enough of him. New Zealanders should consider today what a debt we owe Owen Glenn. He cared enough for his good name in this country to come here and clear it. In doing so he will surely rid us of a politician who misused his considerable talent and charm to mislead the public on important policies, sow fear and suspicion of change and survive on a populism that has turned out to be not only destructive but dishonest.
Destructive and dishonest. Not a bad summary.
The Dominion Post has had enough of what it calls this nonsense:
Mr Henry insists that Mr Peters was not the “client” referred to in the e-mail and, therefore, Mr Peters should be taken at his word when he says he did not ask Mr Glenn for money.
Before Mr Glenn produced his phone records, that was an improbable, but conceivable, explanation of events.
It is no longer, unless Mr Henry expects the committee to believe that while talking to Mr Peters, Mr Glenn was also conducting another conversation with someone else who just happened to be making representations on Mr Peters’ behalf without the MP’s knowledge.
Yes, he was on two phone calls at the same time. Well this is what Helen Clark seems to believe.
For too long, he has trifled with the truth and danced on the heads of legal pins. By doing so, he would like his supporters to believe he has simply been refusing to dance to the tune of petty bureaucrats and the news media.
But what he has, in fact, been doing is showing contempt for Parliament, the law and the public. Remember, it was an audience member who asked Mr Peters at a Grey Power meeting in July to explain why NZ First had not declared money received from the Spencer Trust, a shadowy legal entity administered by his brother Wayne.
Mr Peters replied that: “Everything that [NZ First] was required to do within the law has been done,” has now been shown, by the party’s own admission that it broke electoral law, to be false.
Indeed. And there may well be others laws broken with their false returns.
And the Press calls the PM an obfuscator and ditherer:
The Prime Minister, Helen Clark, continues to obfuscate and dither over whether to sack the suspended Minister of Foreign Affairs, Winston Peters, says The Press in an editorial.
Again the key issue is not whether she will sack him. It is whether she will rule him out post-election.
Now, despite the compelling evidence presented by Glenn which Peters abysmally failed to rebut, Clark continues to suggest there is enough there to cause her to have doubts. This is nonsense. Clark is failing to act not because there is any real doubt any more, but out of political calculation, because she may need Peters in future. In doing so, she badly compromises her own reputation for political integrity.
A less charitable person might say it confirms her own political integrity reputation!
Having worked hard before his appearance to confuse the issue by suggesting that Glenn might somehow have misremembered events or got muddled, Labour continues, by pointing to minor discrepancies or errors, to try to generate a smokescreen around his evidence and cast doubt on it. But unless there is some dramatic new evidence that has not yet been revealed, no honest, objective observer who saw and heard Glenn this week, and watched Peters’ reply, can any longer doubt the matter.
It is ironic that Helen Clark whines and whines that National should not be on the Privileges Committee. Because if any group of MPs could be seen to be acting as advocates for one side, it is the Labour MPs who seem to be unpaid Counsels for Winston Peters.
The New Zealand First party itself has shown, by the evidence that has now emerged of inaccurate election donation returns not just once but in election after election, that it too apparently believes it does not have to play by the same rules as everyone else. This has happened so often that it is hard escape the belief that it is a deliberate tactic designed, for electoral advantage, to bamboozle the party’s supporters about the source of its income.
The rhetoric of parts of Peters’ privileges committee evidence, suggesting a malign conspiracy against him, was clearly a warm-up for what is likely to be the theme of his election campaign. It must be hoped that voters have the sense to see through it and ensure that we have had the last of him in government and of New Zealand First in Parliament.
That would indeed be a good thing.