It is of huge significance that the Maori, Greens and United Future parties all voted not just to recommend Peters be censured, but to state they believe he lied to the Privileges Committee. This leaves Labour isolated with NZ First, and puts paid to Winston’s hysterical cries about “echoes of Zimbabwe” as if he is some sort of victim.
There is an echo of Zimbabwe all right – a politican who thinks he is above the law, who is unaccountable and untouchable, and is protected by the ruling party.
All five parties in the majority deserve congratulation for not shying away from their duty, each for a somewhat different reason.
- ACT for having the guts to pursue Peters in the face of explicit threats from Peters, and laying the complaint with the Speaker.
- National for putting aside potential Government by ruling out Peters and NZ First, and saying that even if doing a deal with Peters could put them into Government, they would rather stay in Opposition.
- Peter Dunne and United Future for being willing to condemn the behaviour of a fellow Minister of the Crown.
- Russel Norman and the Greens for putting what’s right ahead of what is best for the centre-left. If only Labour could ever do the same.
- Te Ururoa Flavell for also doing what’s right, despite potential solidarity with Peters personally as Peters is of Ngati Wai descent. It would have been very easy to use this as an excuse to abstain.
Now assuming their recommendations are accepted by the House 63-58, then the question arises as to whether those minor parties could support a Government that includes Peters in it. I mean, if you have just voted to (politely) condemn the man as a cheat and a liar, then how credible would it be to support a Government which has him as a Minister?
So it would be interesting to ask Jeanette or Russel if there are any circumstances now in which they would support a Government that had Peters in it. Likewise for United Future and the Maori Party.
It is obvious that Labour can not be easily shaken from their position that they will keep Peters on, no matter what. But the minor parties can remove that choice from them by maing it an either/or (which is what Peters did to the Greens last election ironically).
Politically it would be better for National if Labour were not forced to rule Peters out. Winston as a Minister will be a good tool to bash them with. And imagine the fun we can have at Meet the Candidates meetings asking Labour candidates to defend Peters.
To quote Idiot/Savant at No Right Turn:
Typically, Winston is unrepentant to the end. And sadly, Labour is backing him all the way. Which is a good reason to be contemptuous of them as well. Some things are more important than politics, and political transparency is one of them. Sadly, Labour seems to have forgotten that. And they deserve everything they get from the public as a result.
But there is a greater good here. Keeping Peters out of power is more important than getting a National-led Government. One just can not have a Minister of the Crown who gives false evidence to the Privileges Committee, let alone one who receives personal $40,000 gifts from people in an indsutry he uses his portfolio to pour money into.
So even though it will remove a stick that one can bash Labour with, it is important for the integrity of our democracry that Labour rules Peters out. And if they won’t do it willingly, then let us hope the honest minor parties will force them to do it.