Meet your future NZ First Minister!

July 22nd, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

I really don’t know what is more terrifying. A New Zealand Member of Parliament who thinks the Reserve Bank of New Zealand is foreign owned, or the fact she still insists it is after being corrected.

I look forward to seeing the NZ First list rankings next month.

The comments on Twitter are gold.

Tags: ,

A question.

July 21st, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

He [Peters] also announced a new policy to tackle binge drinking and drug taking.

“We propose, to the degree that it could cause serious harm to themselves, or someone else, it will be an offence to be drunk or seriously drug affected in a public place, or while trespassing on private property,” with offenders paying fines of up to $2000 or three months in prison.

Would this policy apply to someone who say drank wine for six hours at GPK Bar in Takapuna, and then on the way home pulled down his trousers and pissed on a tree?

Is Winston saying that someone in such a situation should be eligible to go into prison for three months?

Tags:

A stupid and unaffordable policy

July 21st, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

NZ First has announced a plan to remove GST from food, as part of several policies announced at its party conference.

This is incredibly stupid. Our GST is the envy of much of the world for its lack of exemptions. When you start doing exemptions, then you get gaming of the system. Does food include fast food? does it include pre-packaged meals? Does it include caviar? Does it include dining at top restaurants? Does it include drinks?

Peters said the policy was estimated to cost $3 billion a year, and would be funded by a clamp down on “tax evasion and the black economy”, which it estimated to cost $7 billion a year, and what Peters said was “drawing on the projected surplus of billions in the years ahead that result from running a sound economy”.

This is just intellectually dishonest. Basically this policy would blow the deficit out by $3 billion a year. There is no magic wand you can wave to locate and tax the black economy. The reality is that if you want a $3 billion a year tax cut, then you need a $3 billion a year spending cut.

 

Tags: ,

A potentially cunning move by Peters

July 20th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

NZ First Leader Winston Peters is taking the fight to Colin Craig by refusing to rule out standing against the Conservative Party Leader in East Coast Bays.

Mr Peters said many people had suggested he stand in East Coast Bays given the “outrage” of a potential deal between Mr Craig and National.

“I think it’s an exciting thought… we’ll wait around and think about it.

“I’m not ruling that out.”

That’s quite cunning. If National didn’t stand, who would win the seat? It would also give NZ First a lot of publicity.

Tags: ,

Conservative and NZ First policies

July 19th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Some of the Conservative Party’s key policies are so similar to New Zealand First that leader Colin Craig has been accused of plagiarism.

The two parties will outline their vision for New Zealand and their election plans this weekend at their annual meetings in Auckland.

The Conservatives have begun laying their election platform in a series of billboards and leaflet drops over the past month.

The four key planks of their campaign will be tougher penalties for criminals, a tax-free band below $20,000 of income, making referendums binding and scrapping Maori entitlements.

A few of their priorities so closely resembled New Zealand First’s manifesto that leader Winston Peters said they appeared to be stolen.

It is true that the Conservatives and NZ First have many similar policies – they are both competing for socially conservative and economically conservative voters. That’s not plagiarism, just a reality of where they are on the political spectrum.

Both parties want to end asset sales, stop the sale of farmland to foreigners, scrap the Emissions Trading Scheme and introduce tougher sentences for criminals.

Mr Craig told the Weekend Herald it was inevitable some of their policies would be similar because they were both competing for a similar pool of centrist voters. But he emphasised key points of difference.

Conservative is more radical on Maori issues, saying it will scrap the Maori parliamentary seats, repeal the foreshore and seabed legislation, and wind down the Waitangi Tribunal while not allowing any new claims.

New Zealand First says it is up to Maori to decide whether Maori seats remain.

Which is my policy also. Gulp.

Conservative is also more sceptical about climate change. Mr Craig has not prioritised reducing carbon emissions, while New Zealand First says it is important to switch to cleaner fuel and introduce environmental “bottom lines”

So some differences, but a lot in common. I suspect most voters will decide between them on the basis of what they think of their leaders.

Both parties are hardline on law and order issues. New Zealand First would introduce a 40-year minimum non-parole period for murder, and a “castle doctrine” law which allowed deadly use of firearms by homeowners against burglars.

40 years non parole is too much, even for me.

Tags: ,

NZ First self-defence policy

July 18th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A hardline law and order policy by NZ First would offer greater protection to homeowners, farmers and shop keepers who shoot to kill intruders during home invasions or burglaries.

Along with a 40-year mandatory non-parole sentence for premeditated murder, NZ First wants the Crimes Act amended to give certainty over the use of “reasonable force” for self-defence.

Ahead of the party’s annual convention this weekend, law and order spokesman Richard Prosser said the policy was a response to a string of incidents that had seen farmers and shopkeepers in court over their use of firearms or even hockey sticks against would-be robbers.

Mr Prosser said so-called “castle doctrine” laws in some US states, which saw Texan Joe Horn acquitted after his 2007 fatal shooting of two men who had burgled his neighbour’s home, were “so over the top that it wouldn’t be something that I think anyone in New Zealand would give consideration to”.

“But what I do think people have a desire for is the ability to actually defend themselves and their families in their own homes.”

Mr Prosser wants a regime based on that introduced in Ireland in 2011 following controversy over the 2004 shooting of an Irish traveller by a farmer.

NZ First’s proposal would allow for homeowners to use “any firearm that is lawfully available to that person” to defend themselves.

It is unclear exactly what NZ First are proposing.

If they are proposing that you can legally shoot anyone illegally on your property, then I can not support that. The penalty for tresspassing and/or burglary should not be death.

If they are proposing that when a homeowner has a genuine fear for their safety, or their families, then they can use firearms for self-defence – I can back that. But shooting someone in the back, as they are leaving, is not self-defence (for example).

Tags: , ,

Labour loses the vote of a former Minister

July 18th, 2014 at 10:17 am by David Farrar

Former Labour Minister Dover Samuels just said on Radio Live that he would not be giving his party vote to Labour this year, because it is no longer in touch with or representing the regions. He is party voting NZ First.

Samuels was a Labour MP for 12 years, and a Minister for almost six years.

Tags: , ,

NZ First promises trains almost no one uses

July 14th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A $300 million cash swap from roads to railways is at the heart of New Zealand First’s transport policy for the election, including restoring the Gisborne-Napier line, and looking at extending the Wellington line to Levin and into Wairarapa.

The Gisborne to Napier line had basically no passengers and freight volumes dropped 75% in the few years before it closed. This would be akin to puring money down the drain.

Tags: ,

Winston forgets his own scheme?

June 17th, 2014 at 6:47 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Winston Peters has called out Dame Jenny Shipley over the superannuation debate but said she’ll never do it because he will make a mockery of her.

The veteran New Zealand First leader had immigration and the super scheme high on his agenda at a Grey Power meeting in Hamilton, where he promised members free GP visits and discounted power bills for SuperGold card holders.

More than 100 over-50s packed the Age Concern headquarters in Hamilton yesterday to hear Peters go on the attack against “so-called retirement experts” who wanted to lift the age of entitlement, reduce pensions and cut back health and home help.

He said Dame Jenny, chair of the Financial Services Council, wanted to privatise the retirement system and issued her with the challenge.

This is one of his bigger hypocrisies.

It was Peters who in 1997 proposed a scheme to effectively privatise the retirement system and have compulsory individual finds for everyone. It was Shipley who campaigned against the scheme – and won.

He told Grey Power members more than $22 billion in fees would be siphoned off Kiwisaver over the next 30 years to many offshore accounts and said he would start a “Kiwifund” after the election.

“It will be a state-owned and run alternative but run by you and owned by you because those people in your age will be saving in that plan.”

KiwiBank already has a fund, so Peters is promising something that already exists.

Tags: ,

Winston’s $158,000 and the Susan Couch trust

June 15th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Readers will recall that after the illegal spending by most parliamentary parties in 2005, all parties repaid the taxpayer except NZ First who did not repay the $158,000 identified by the Auditor-General as illegal.

NZ First said they would donate the $158,000 to charity, but almost every charity turned their donations down on the grounds it was money owed to the taxpayers.

Finally Winston said most of it had been donated to the Susan Couch Trust.  Couch was the poor woman almost killed at the Mt Wellington-Panmure RSA by William Bell.

The curious thing with the trust is that two of the four trustees were Winston’s lawyers, and the trust deed didn’t say it was specifically for Susan Couch – it was just named after her.

So what has happened to the trust. Well the charity register gives us some details.

The transactions have been:

  1. $86,593 donated in 2009
  2. $53 donated in 2010
  3. $1,151 given to Susan Couch in 2010
  4. $2,859 donated in 2011
  5. $907 given to Susan Couch in 2011 and $710 to a L Stephenson
  6. $600 donated in 2012
  7. $968 donated to Susan Couch in 2012

So good to see some money is going to Susan Couch, but still several questions.

  1. Where did NZ First donate the other $72,000 – if anywhere
  2. Why does the Trust not earn any interest on the principal?
  3. Why is it paying out only 1% or so of capital?
  4. Why have the accounts for 31 March 2013 not been filed, as required to by law
Tags: ,

Horan’s side

June 14th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The mother of MP Brendan Horan protested against changes to her will in a recorded statement in which she questioned what had happened.

Olwen Horan’s lawyer also raised concerns about the changes by a new law firm which happened two months before she died.

The Weekend Herald has found the changes were instigated by the MP’s half-brother, recently discharged bankrupt Peter Horan.

He and another half-brother, sickness beneficiary Mana Ormsby, discovered before Mrs Horan’s death that she had no money left from a decade-old lottery win they believed they had a claim to.

The changes included a $150,000 payment to Peter Horan which had not appeared in her earlier wills.

It also included the clause seeking an investigation into spending from Olwen Horan’s account by two other siblings, Brendan Horan and Marilyn Bleackley.

The revelation ended Brendan Horan’s political career with NZ First. A police investigation is currently under way into the spending although the trust executor’s inquiry found “no evidence which would enable me to found a claim against Brendan”.

This is highly relevant information.

I was one of those who said that the original allegations did not cast Horan in a favourable light. But this further information casts it in a very different light.

Peters booted Horan from the NZ First caucus without a semblance of natural justice. There was no vote or even discussion in caucus. Peters just announced it by fiat. Horan was never allowed a hearing where he could put his side of the story.

It is no wonder he is so aggrieved by Peters. The hypocrisy is great as Peters once took National to court alleging a lack of natural justice in the decision to now allow him to stand for Tauranga again. Consistency is not his strong point.

Tags: ,

Winston denies paying Hone’s fine

June 3rd, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Current and former MPs and “ordinary people” banded together to pay the $632 fine Hone Harawira received last year for defying police at a 2012 Auckland housing protest.

But while one of his Mana Party contenders claims Winston Peters was among the donors, Mr Harawira will not name them, even though it appears he is required to do so under parliamentary rules. …

But last week at a public meeting of Housing NZ tenants in Grey Lynn, the sole nominee for Mana Party candidate for Tamaki Makaurau, Kereama Pene, said: “Our Mana leader was dragged out of his car in GI.

He got done for it. Do you know who paid his $500 fine?”

Someone called out “Kim Dotcom!”.

But Mr Pene said: “No, it was worse than that, much worse than that, it was Winston Peters.”

I have to say that it seems unlikely.

However, the fine, including costs, is large enough to require disclosure under the rules for Parliament’s Register of Pecuniary Interests because it was paid by someone other than Mr Harawira.

The rules also require the identity of those paying off MPs’ debts to be declared.

Mr Harawira last night refused to comment on what he said was a “petty” matter.

Following the petty rules is only for white MOFOs!

Tags: ,

From No to No comment

May 29th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

NZ First Leader Winston Peters refused to answer questions about his ugly parliamentary put-down of his rogue former MP Brendan Horan in his first day back after making the comment a week ago.

Reacting to a series of interruptions from Mr Horan, who is running a campaign against his former political mentor, Mr Peters had referred to him in the House as “the Jimmy Savile of New Zealand politics”. British broadcaster Savile was accused after his death of child sex abuse.

Mr Peters avoided reporters on the way from the House after offering the insult but was back yesterday. Asked what he meant by the comment his response was “next question” which he gave 10 more times to follow up questions.

So he cowers behind parliamentary privilege. Such a nasty piece of work. If he said outside the House, what he said inside, he would be facing the largest defamation suit in New Zealand’s history I’d say.

Tags: ,

Is NZ First being run out of their parliamentary office?

May 28th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Hamish Rutherford at Stuff reports:

Brendan Horan claims he has been inundated by people wanting to share information about NZ First as he makes new allegations that his former party had breached Parliament’s rules.

Horan’s office today released a memo written by Apirana Dawson, NZ First’s director of operations, to party leader Winston Peters addressing “poor party financial structure and inadequate funds to support the party and to run a campaign”.

Horan alleged last week that Dawson and other NZ First staff were engaged in party work when they were meant to be focused on parliamentary activities. Speaker David Carter has confirmed he is investigating.

In today’s document, from July 2012, Dawson called for the establishment of a system where party members had their fees increased to at least $3 a month, to be paid by direct debit.

Parliamentary staff should not be working on membership issues for the party. That is a bright red line.

Peters has not fronted in Parliament for almost a week. No doubt when he does he’ll huff and puff and bluster.

Tags:

Garner on Peters

May 26th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Duncan Garner writes:

Poor Winston, what’s going on? It looks like you’re really struggling to land any decent hits in Parliament these days. It all looks a bit limp and sad.

You’ve been there since 1978, save for three years in the wilderness before this term. If you ever had the answers then you’ve had ample time to share them.

Instead, what did we see this week? You abusing your privilege of free speech by spewing vicious bile at an MP who is in Parliament only because you wanted him there. Brendan Horan is hardly the first NZ First MP selected for loyalty rather than ability.

Calling Horan the “Jimmy Savile of New Zealand politics” was evil and cowardly – and you know it. If anyone makes any sort of claim against you, you’re quick to threaten legal action and demand retractions and apologies. But when you’re the one dishing it out those rules don’t apply: you can waltz into Parliament and get all the protection you need.

It is the double standard. Winston threatens Radio NZ with defamation for merely reporting an allegation that he has hired a certain campaign manager, and then a couple of days later he cowers behind parliamentary privilege to effectively slander his former colleague as a paedophile.

I can’t help but point out the irony of it all to you. I remember covering a speech you made in Kawerau in 2008 and you had Horan along as your little sycophantic sidekick.

Horan was in awe of you, banging on to the journos about how you were an honest and loyal man who only wanted what was right for New Zealand. He told us you never took money from Owen Glenn and everyone was wrong to be questioning your integrity and honesty. Horan was really fired up that afternoon.

Brendan was a true believer.

David Cunliffe has flung the door open to you by shunning the Greens’ offer to campaign as a Labour-Greens government.

That suits you – we know you don’t like the Greens. It’s why you couldn’t go with Labour in 1996 – you didn’t want to share power with the Alliance in a three-party coalition.

This is why I think Peters will go with Labour. He’ll block the Greens from ministerial roles and claim he saved the Government from the Greens.

Tags: ,

Can NZ First survive without Winston

May 24th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Tracy Watkins at Stuff reports:

Anyone who kids themselves that there is life after Winston Peters for NZ First only had to watch the party floundering in the absence of its leader this week.

Frantically trying to head off an attack by their former colleague, expunged NZ Firster Brendan Horan, Peters’ front bench achieved the seemingly impossible feat of making Horan look good by comparison.

They were clueless in the face of Horan’s determination to extract utu from his former party by tabling documents he claimed showed improper use of the taxpayer funded leader’s fund. …

With its leader knocking 70, NZ First is a clock that has been slowly winding down since the 1996 election delivered Peters the balance of power.

The core team around Peters back then was a new generation of swaggering and smart young Maori MPs who might have ensured the party’s survival. Peters’ greatest flaw as a politician has been his inability to hold on to any of them or, for that matter, the MPs who followed.

Since the original caucus bustup back in 1997, he has surrounded himself with increasingly eccentric and obscure MPs to fill the seats vacated by the older and wiser heads he managed to burn off over the years. Of his current caucus, only one – the nanna-like Barbara Stewart – is carried over from the 2005-2008 parliamentary term (NZ First spent a term out of Parliament).

Since the party’s return in 2011, Parliament has been collectively holding its breath waiting for the current team to implode given some of the more eccentric selections – like former North Shore mayor Andrew Williams, notorious for urinating in a public place.

The implosion hasn’t happened yet but there have been plenty of flaky moments. Richard Prosser launched a diatribe against Muslims that prompted hundreds of complaints to the NZ First board. The party’s Pasifika MP, Asenati Lole-Taylor, famously asked questions of the police minister in Parliament about blow jobs and has carved out a cult following on Twitter for her bizarre outbursts. Her most recent was to accuse a press gallery journalist of cyber bullying after he referred to her “shooting the messenger”. Lole-Taylor thought he was alleging she had shot an actual parliamentary messenger.

That is so so funny.

The reason the politicians are rubbing their hands in glee, however, is that nastiness on the campaign trail inevitably boomerangs on the politician pushing the button, which is why parties are tripping over themselves to accuse each other of playing in the dirtiest pool.

When Labour leader David Cunliffe told a Rotorua audience that John Key was a liar, for instance, the prime minister’s office was delighted. After the story was moved from the Stuff.co.nz home page because of concerns about a lack of balance, Key’s office complained to Fairfax.

It would have preferred the headline labelling Key a liar to remain online all day if possible. In its view, it did far more damage to Cunliffe than it did to Key.

I agree, it did.

Tags:

Horan vs Peters continued

May 23rd, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Hostilities between independent MP Brendan Horan and his former NZ First colleagues have taken up yet more of Parliament’s time as Mr Horan made allegations of bullying behaviour under protection of Parliamentary privilege this afternoon.

Mr Horan today welcomed news Speaker David Carter was following up his allegations of misuse of Parliamentary funds by NZ First, but continued his attack during Parliament’s Question Time with a series of questions directed to Labour Minister Simon Bridges about bullying which appeared to thinly veiled references to MPs from his former party.

He asked Mr Bridges whether anti-bullying guidelines for the workplace would “provide protections to ensure that a member of Parliament or Party Leader cannot bully or intimidate a Parliamentary Service employee into conducting unlawful activities, for example accessing the emails of another member without that member’s permission?”.

With NZ First Leader Winston Peters still in Auckland this afternoon, it was up to his MP Richard Prosser to run interference on Mr Horan.

However his attempts to have Mr Horan’s questions ruled out of order were knocked back by Mr Carter.

While Mr Bridges said it was difficult to answer abstract questions, “I suspect that the matter the member refers to, if it was made out, is one for Parliamentary Services”.

Mr Horan followed up by asking whether the anti-bullying guidelines “mean that an employee who made a complaint to her employee who made a complaint to her employer about abusive emails and text messages from her boss should be able to respond to that person’s public denials without fear of legal action? If not why not?”.

It will be interesting to see what further information emerges.

Tags: ,

Transtasman on Winston

May 22nd, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Transtasman notes in their latest newsletter:

NZ First leader Winston Peters is known for his expensive suits but he triggered a Savile row of a different nature when he turned on ex-NZ First MP Brendan Horan this week. To say there is bad blood between the two is an insult to leukemia. The loathing runs deeper than the Marianas Trench, as wide as the mouth of the Amazon.

But to do as Peters did, and to describe Horan as “the Jimmy Savile of NZ politics” – and to do so not once but twice in what was clearly a calculated insult – takes it to a whole new level. Savile, the deceased British “celebrity” who sexually preyed on young, often handicapped, girls, is the nuclear option of insults. It all looked a bit desperate. You cannot make such a comment without backing it up with some evidence.

I really hope the media don’t let this drop and they ask Peters when is next turns up to Parliament what he meant by his comments. Was he alleging Horan is a paedophile, and if so what is his proof. If he wasn’t implying that about Horan, then why did he twice refer to him as a Jimmy Saville.

Yet Peters not only failed to front in Parliament the following day, when Horan signalled he would reveal his own deep scandal about NZ First.

It left the rest of the NZ First MPs – who tend to resemble a bunch of ageing Social Creditors with anger management issues at the best of times – making a shambles of trying to use Parliament’s standing orders to block their former colleague.

That bit in bold is gold.

In the end Horan’s revelations Peters was using the leader’s budget for electioneering and campaigning expenses, namely software and staff, proved something of a damp squib. It is still far from clear NZ First is doing anything wrong with its parliamentary funding, although no doubt the party does – like all the others – push it right up to the edge of the rules.

I have to say I don’t see any proof of wrongdoing either, at this stage.

Tags: ,

Peters smears Horan

May 20th, 2014 at 4:56 pm by David Farrar

Tracy Watkins at Stuff reports:

Open hostilities have erupted between independent MP Brendan Horan and his former boss after NZ First leader Winston Peters today referred to Horan as “Jimmy Saville”. 

Peters twice made reference to Horan as Saville, the late BBC presenter accused of sex crimes against children.

The first reference followed Horan attempting to table NZ First board meeting minutes which he told Parliament “point to improper use of taxpayer money”.

Peters responded: “This House should not be used in that way particularly by the Jimmy Saville of New Zealand politics.”

His second reference followed Horan attempting to table a document in Parliament linking Peters to a racehorse.

Horan was denied permission to table the document, prompting Peters to say “Jimmy Saville needs to know better than that”.

Calling your former MP a paedophile is a new low, even for Peters. His current colleagues might want to think about what he’ll call them, should he ever decide to sack them from the party also?

Any other MP who called another MP something like this, would be crucified by the media.I hope media ask Peters why he called Horan this, and does he think it is an appropriate remark to make in Parliament?

Tags: ,

Winston’s horse

May 15th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters is rejecting allegations from a former colleague that he misused party money and failed to declare interests in a successful racehorse.

Independent MP Brendan Horan, who was elected to Parliament as a New Zealand First member, said Mr Peters should reveal his own spending and interests instead of making “spurious allegations” against Justice Minister Judith Collins.

Mr Peters has been attacking Ms Collins in the House for not fully declaring the details of her trip to Beijing in October, but has failed to land the killer blow.

Yesterday, Mr Horan claimed that his former leader should have declared his part-ownership of a 5-year-old mare named Bellazeel in Parliament’s register of pecuniary interests.

The horse was sired by famous racehorse Zabeel and has itself claimed more than $20,000 in prizemoney in the past year. …

He believed there was no requirement to declare ownership in a horse, let alone a 10 per cent stake in a syndicate lease of a horse.

The lease, which was bought in a charity auction in 2008, has now expired.

MPs must declare all property, directorships, gifts, shares and other interests in the register each year.

Registrar Sir Maarten Wevers said he had not received complaints on the issue, and it was up to each MP to decide whether or not something fell within the terms of the register.

He said the ownership of racehorses by MPs had been raised with his office previously.

Sir Maarten said racehorses that were held by syndicates needed to be declared, but he did not know the full details of the ownership structure of Bellazeel.

“I would think it would certainly be … a business entity undertaking … something for a pecuniary profit. That’s what you race a horse for, I presume.”

Mr Horan and National MP Chris Tremain have previously disclosed part-ownership of a racehorse in the register.

Frankly I don’t care if Winston owns a horse or not. In fact I think the Register of Pecuniary Interests is sometimes too intrusive. What we should know about is if an MP is receiving large gifts from people or companies, and any significant investments they have which could influence their vote. I don’t think we need to know the names of their family trusts, the property they own or if they own a racehorse.

But it is amusing to see Winston hoist on his own petard. I don’t think he has done anything wrong (in this case) but it is a reminder of the old adage about throwing stones in glasshouses. Winston is the last one to lecture on proper disclosures.

Tags: , ,

Winston fires – and shoots his own foot off

May 14th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

NZ First MP Winston Peters was booted out of Parliament after claiming Justice Minister Judith Collins failed to declare travel costs paid for by the Chinese government.

For days, Peters has been claiming he has a smoking gun that would see Prime Minister John Key sack Collins.

But in farcical scenes during Question Time, it took several attempts for him to make the allegations, as he was blocked by Speaker David Carter.

His stumbling caused Key to remark: ”I don’t understand the information that the member has got or the allegation… if the member could just speak a bit more clearly it might help everyone including the media.”

Stumbling is a polite term for it.

Eventually Peters tabled a cabinet report which he says show Collins failed to list ”substantial” travel, accommodation and other costs met by China in the MPs register of pecuniary interests. He said Key knew about the contributions. 

This is hilarious. The revelation that the host Government picks up internal travel costs of visiting Ministers, is about as much as a surprise that you get wet if it is raining.

It isn’t entirely clear if Ministers need to declare every overseas trip they undertake. Standing Orders say:

the information referred to in subclause (1)(a) does not have to be included in the return if the travel costs or accommodation costs (as the case may be) were paid by … any government, parliament, or international parliamentary organisation, if the primary purpose of the travel was in connection with an official parliamentary visit.

It is best to err on the side of caution and include all trips, but any omission is a minor issue. The trips are announced publicly when undertaken. Absolutely no one is surprised that the host Government picks up internal travel costs.

Several articles on Winston’s misfire.

Jane Clifton writes:

It was less the promised “smoking gun” than a dribbling water pistol, but Winston Peters made sure to get himself turfed out of Parliament yesterday to ensure his allegations about Judith Collins made the news one way or another. …

John Armstrong writes:

‘And pick up your smoking gun on the way out.” It was quite simply the killer interjection; one containing just the right amount of sarcasm to really get under the skin of its target. Or – more accurately in this case – loser.

You do not usually associate that word with Winston Peters. But his promise to dish more dirt – sorry, fresh information – on Judith Collins, such that she would be “gone by Monday”, was a dismal failure in Parliament yesterday.

It must have been especially galling for Peters that the paralysing interjection came from his one-time New Zealand First colleague, Tau Henare. The pair fell out when the National-New Zealand First coalition government fell apart in 1998.

Best quip of the month.

Andrea Vance reports on why Winston was slurring so much. he had the flu!

NZ First leader Winston Peters has blamed the flu, after he turned in a shambling performance in Parliament yesterday and MPs questioned his health.

The veteran politician, 69, displayed shaking hands and slurred speech as he attempted to catch out Prime Minister John Key with new allegations about Justice Minister Judith Collins.

And at a media conference after he was ejected from the House, Peters was sweating profusely, wiping his face with a handkerchief.

A spokeswoman later said that he was suffering from the flu.

The flu can be very nasty and take weeks to recover from. It’s not something that disappears in 24 hours. So it will be interesting to see if Winston has recovered today.

Tags: ,

Peters v Geddis

May 9th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters is disputing leading lawyers’ views that his party’s rule to fine MP’s who jump ship up to $300,000 is unenforceable.

The rule was was inserted into NZ First’s constitution after Brendan Horan was ejected from the party in late 2012 but refused to resign from Parliament. However it is yet to be ratified.

Constitutional law expert Andrew Geddis of Otago University has said the rule has no legal foundation while public law expert Matthew Palmer pointed out that once an MP left a party they were no longer bound by its constitution.

“With the greatest respect to Mr Geddis, he doesn’t know anything about this stuff”, Mr Peters said this morning.

Yeah, Andrew knows nothing at all on electoral law – apart from writing the textbook used in pretty much every university in New Zealand.

Andrew blogs on why Winston is wrong, and he is right here.

No doubt if NZ First ever tries to enforce their clause and lose in court, Winston will claim the Judges all got it wrong also.

Tags: , ,

Taxpayers’ Union welcomes $158,000 paid back

April 1st, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Taxpayers’ Union has welcomed the very overdue news:

The Taxpayers’ Union has warmly welcomed the decision of Winston Peters and the New Zealand First Party to pay back the $158,000 the party owes the taxpayer.

Executive Director Jordan Williams has said “On behalf of our members and supporters, we congratulate Winston Peters for his show of leadership in deciding to pay back the $158,000. It’s a principled decision that reflects well on New Zealand First”

“While some commentators may be churlish at the length of time it has taken to arrange repayment, we believe the maxim ‘better late than never’ definitely applies in this case.”

The $158,000 debt relates to parliamentary spending by the New Zealand First Party in 2005, that the Auditor-General found to be unauthorised and illegal. All other parties repaid their unauthorised spending prior to the 2008 election.

With NZ First rising in the polls, this news will push them up even further.

Tags: ,

Winston wanting to steal the cathedral off the Anglican Church

March 15th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Press reports:

Restoration of the Christ Church Cathedral could be a condition of any post-election coalition deal, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters says.

The potential power is going to his head. This is like saying a condition of any coalition deal could be the confiscation of the building owned by Mrs Smith-Jones of Lower Hutt.

The cathedral is owned by the Anglican Church. Politicians vowing to force them to restore it, rather than replace it, are effectively saying we wish to steal it from the Church and make ourselves the owners so we can decide what is done with it.

He told The Press restoration of the cathedral would “certainly” be part of coalition talks with the Government if he secured enough votes in the September election.

“I’ve already given a written commitment that I would raise this in any negotiations,” he said.

“I am seriously committed to this project. It means much more than just the cathedral.”

Peters was “very, very confident” a deal could be reached.

I’m very confident it can’t be, unless Peters think parties will agree to a law change stealing the cathedral off the church. The church has already made a decision.

Peters said he did not understand why Bishop Victoria Matthews did not want to restore the building.

“I don’t understand how the specialness of this building is not grasped. I don’t want to open a personal feud with the bishop, but on this matter she is seriously wrong. I’m not Anglican and I’m from the North Island, but that’s my view.”

So maybe you should shut the fuck up on it then? Only Anglicans living in Christchurch get to decide.

Anglican church spokesman Jayson Rhodes said Peters’ comments suggested “the cathedral be taken off the Anglican church”.

He said it was surprising that Peters had not spoken to the church trustees who had made a decision based on “issues including building resilience and cost”.

Peters’ suggestion that the land was gifted to the church by European settlers was wrong.

“It was Anglicans giving to Anglicans.”

Just bullshit grandstanding.

Tags: ,

It’s like a teen drama!

March 12th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stacey Kirk at Stuff reports:

Labour leader David Cunliffe has dismissed suggestions of a cooling in relations between his party and the Greens, saying the Greens would be the obvious first choice for Labour to strike a coalition with.

Yesterday, Cunliffe refused to say whether he would negotiate with the Greens before NZ First.

But today he appeared to back down from those statements, dismissing speculation that tension had arisen between the two allies.

Well Cunliffe not only distanced himself from the Greens, but described Winston as a good guy. That’s a great deal of enthusiasm for him. I guess he regards lying to the media, public and Parliament over his knowledge of the Owen Glenn donation doesn’t stop him being a good guy.

The backdown comes after the Greens lodged an official complaint with Labour over outspoken MP Shane Jones’ attacks on the party.

Yesterday, Cunliffe said he would work with whatever cards the voters delivered after the September 20 election.

“That may indeed quite likely be with the Greens, it may well be with Winston first … NZ First.”

But he would not say the Greens would be his first choice, saying there was “no preordained order”.

This morning, he told Firstline talking with the Greens first was the logical step, if in a position to form a Government.

The Greens are somewhat terrified that Labour will lock them out of Government if Winston demands it as the price of his support. And what could they do about it? Vote for a National-led Government? Of course not. They’d have to just swallow the butter medicine.

The reality is that it looks incredibly improbable that Labour and Greens will have enough seats by themselves to form a Government after the election. Even a bauble to Hone won’t get them over the line. They’ll need Winston and as he has the option of going with National (which the Greens do not), he has all the power.

UPDATE: And looking even worse for the Greens, as Peters says they can’t win without him and his policy is to rule them out:

Winston Peters doesn’t think a Labour/Greens coalition can win the September 20 election.

Chris Trotter thinks they can’t win also. Back to Peters:

Mr Peters says Labour’s strategists must be worried because they must know they can’t win with the Greens.

“They know full well that those two parties can’t get up in this election,” he said on Radio New Zealand.

“Some people should get their hard hats on, because together they won’t make it.”

Before the 2005 election Mr Peters ruled out working with the Greens in a coalition government, and says his position hasn’t changed since then.

But he didn’t rule it out.

“We are six months out from an election and from what we have heard thus far our position has not changed from 2005 on the Greens,” he said.

“However, they’ve got six months in which they might make changes, so you can’t rule that out.”

The Greens are not going to change their policies in the next six months to appease Peters. So if he holds the balance of power, he will block the Greens from Government as a price of support for Labour.

Tags: , ,