Nats eyeing up Northland

April 16th, 2016 at 2:19 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

National is preparing to try to wrestle the Northland seat back from New Zealand First leader Winston Peters and at least five potential candidates are already in line to take on the challenge.

National lost the seat to Mr Peters in a byelection last year after the resignation of MP Mike Sabin.

The date for selecting the 2017 candidate is yet to be decided, but electorate chairwoman Rose May said Northland would be among the first on National’s list.

Ms May said it would be a challenge to unseat Mr Peters, but emphasised the need for the right candidate to be selected.

“We need to have somebody who is well known in their own right and has that x-factor. If we can find that person, we will have no problem winning the seat back, but if we don’t, then it’s going to be a struggle.”

Mr Peters was “the perfect politician”, Ms May said. “He’s so well known, he’s so well liked. He doesn’t actually do anything.”

Oh he does put out press releases.

Five people are understood to be interested, including Mark Osborne, who was soundly defeated by Mr Peters last year.

Mr Osborne confirmed he was considering a second tilt, but had not made a final decision. He was “not at all” put off by his bruising first encounter with Mr Peters: “It’s not going to be an easy challenge by any stretch of the imagination.”

Others understood to be keen include Kerikeri doctor Chris Reid, former police officers Matt King and Darren Edwards, who now works for the Far North District Council, and businessman Ken Rintoul.

Dr Reid moved to Northland from Britain about 10 years ago after serving as a GP and a decade in the Royal Marines, including time with the Royal Navy’s special forces. A keen photographer, he published a book last year of photos of his patients.

I just hope the voters of Northland ask themselves in 2017, what has Winston actually done for us!

Winston and Don in a tree …

April 11th, 2016 at 2:15 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Don Brash and Winston Peters formed an unlikely alliance today in protest against what they believe is “preferential treatment” for Maori in new planning laws.

The two men, once sworn enemies, united in criticism of proposals to change the way iwi are consulted in the resource consent process.

Dr Brash, the former National Party leader, was making a submission on Resource Management Act (RMA) reforms on behalf of Auckland-based lobby group Democracy Action.

He said radical reforms of the RMA would do more than any other single measure to improve New Zealanders’ standard of living.

However, the National-led Government’s proposals were “pitifully limited” and “barely scratched the surface of what was needed”.

The “cost” of progressing these “modest changes” was a significant expansion of iwi rights, he claimed. The bill would “vastly extend” Maori involvement in the planning process by requiring councils to invite Maori to enter into what are known as “iwi participation agreements”.

“This is surely a recipe for further delay, for corruption and for anger on the part of the rest of the community,” Dr Brash said.

His old party had persisted with the changes despite being offered a “vastly better alternative” by Mr Peters.

The New Zealand First leader has offered to support broader RMA reforms in exchange for removing any iwi-specific provisions. It was “incomprehensible” that Mr Peters’ offer was not taken up, Dr Brash said.

Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox was one of several committee members to challenge Dr Brash.

She asked what he thought of the Waitangi Tribunal’s recent ruling that Maori did not cede sovereignty when they signed the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840.

“Very briefly, bollocks,” Dr Brash said, prompting a chuckle from Mr Peters.

The New Zealand First leader then sought permission for Dr Brash to have his time limit extended, saying the iwi rights debate was “the biggest issue the Government will face this term”.

The motion was denied, but the two men later continued their conversation in a pub on Lambton Quay.

Strange bedfellows in politics.

I share the concern that the proposed law changes will have unfortunate consequences. If National can get NZ First to agree to broader reforms that would be a good thing.

brash

Photo (and caption) sent in by a reader.

Winston rebuffs Labour

April 6th, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

NZ First leader Winston Peters doubts it was “deliberate” but says Labour leader Andrew Little is wrong to say there are plans for the two parties to jointly campaign on policy.

Earlier on Sunday Little said he was talking with both the Greens and NZ First, separately, about issues where there is common ground that they could campaign on ahead of next year’s general election.

He said the public would know “well in time for next year’s election” where all three parties line-up and where there are differences.

“In terms of specific joint policy announcements, we’re certainly not there yet, but between now and the next election I certainly wouldn’t rule out (joint policy) with either of those parties.” 

But Peters says his position not to discuss potential coalition governments, or joint policy, hasn’t changed in 23 years and he “won’t depart from that now”.

“We row our own boat and we formulate our own policy.”

Labour are desperate to get Peters on board. Little claimed he wanted to get Labour to 40% so there could be a Labour-Green Government. Now as they are polling below 30%, they are aiming for 35% on a good day, which means they could only govern with both Greens and NZ First.

But will Peters want to go into a three way coalition where the Greens can veto all his policies? In a two way coalition you have a lot more leverage.

Hosking on Labour copying Winston

March 23rd, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Rob Hosking writes at NBR:

Andrew Little and Grant Robertson’s embrace of the very Winston-esque policy of what amounts to political control of retail interest rates was stupid opportunism. …

Parties in opposition often say irresponsible and silly things, and pander to what they think is popular sentiment.

This is particularly the case when those parties cannot see any improvement in their fortunes, and desperation kicks in.

Jim Bolger, leading National, toyed with the death penalty in the run up to the 1987 election and even in 1990, when the outgoing Labour government was about as popular as a banker with paedophiliac tendencies and swine flu, made some desperately foolish policy pledges. But Mr Little’s Labour is making so many of these and so many that are completely at odds with the Labour Party’s supposed values and principles.

Maybe Andrew and Grant subscribe to the Groucho Marx view of principles:

Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them… well, I have others.

Some examples:

Last year’s  “Chinese Sounding Names” database for foreign investors was one.

The abandonment of free-trade principles was another, which was accompanied by the call from Labour grandee Bryan Gould for the governor-general to refuse to sign into any Trans Pacific Partnership laws passed by Parliament.

Mr Gould is a senior member of Labour’s brains trust, yet here he was calling for the governor general to behave as if the Divine Right of Kings is still part of the New Zealand constitution.

It was the sort of stuff you expect from screaming protesters, not a senior Labour Party stalwart.

Mr Little’s more recent foray into anti-immigration sentiment this week confirmed what has happened: Labour has been intellectually colonised by Mr Peters.

It only remains for the New Zealand First leader to take his natural place as finance minister in a Labour-led government.

Winston may be aiming higher than that?

Why doesn’t Labour go the whole hog and make Winston leader? They seem to be adopting all his policies.

A bad court decision for free speech

March 10th, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

Winston Peters has won a case that resets the Electoral Commission’s clock on the publication of false election advertising on the internet.

The NZ First leader complained about two false statements published in the two days leading up to, and the day of, the September 2014 general election.

One complaint was against an ACT party candidate’s Chinese language television advertisement misquoting Peters on comments he made about Hong Kong-born businessmen John and Michael Chow’s plans for a 15-storey adult entertainment centre in Auckland.

The other was the Conservatives making misleading statements about NZ First’s alcohol reform policy and not correcting the statements even after the Advertising Standards Authority said they were wrong.

It is an offence to publish a statement known to be false, with the intention of influencing voters, on polling day or on the two days before polling day.

The Electoral Commission refused to act on Peters’ complaint about the two advertisements because it said they were not first published on the banned days.

Peters asked the High Court to clarify the point and has won his case.

In her decision issued on Wednesday Justice Jill Mallon​ said the issue was whether “publish” meant “first published” or first published earlier and continued to be available on the internet on the banned days. 

The judge said the law did not require the statements to be first published on the banned days. The law covered the situation of statements being published earlier and not having been removed.

I rarely criticise a judicial decision interpreting electoral law, but in this case I will.

I think the decision is a significant blow to free speech in election campaigns, and also places little credence on the intent and legislative history of the law.

Most issues of speech in NZ do not involve criminal penalties. We have civil remedies such as defamation, and also institutions such as the ASA, Press Council and BSA who can rule of whether some statements are misleading.

It should be very very rare that you face going to jail for what you say, unless it is of the level such as threatening to kill.

The Electoral Act has one of those rare exemptions, S199A which says:

Every person is guilty of a corrupt practice who, with the intention of influencing the vote of any elector, at any time on polling day before the close of the poll, or at any time on any of the 2 days immediately preceding polling day, publishes, distributes, broadcasts, or exhibits, or causes to be published, distributed, broadcast, or exhibited, in or in view of any public place a statement of fact that the person knows is false in a material particular.

The maximum penalty for being found guilty of a corrupt practice is two years in jail and losing the right to vote for three years.

The intent behind this section is to cover a situation where say the day before the election a pamphlet is delivered to every household saying “A is a child abuser”. There is no time for the person named to refute it, the media to report it, and it has a significant impact on the election. If you are the rival of Candidate A, you might be willing to risk defamation (if you are wealthy) if it will throw the election your way. Hence the reason the section was placed in the Act – to provide a greater deterrent.

The court has ruled that this section can now cover any statement made at any time, so long as it is still publicly available in the two days before the election. This is a significant “change”.  You may now see politicians threatening people with criminal prosecutions for things said months before an election, unless they refuse to take them off the Internet. As a criminal issue, you would need it proven what you said is false, and you knew it was false, and you refused to withdraw it. But in an election campaign it is very common for people to claim that what someone else has said is false. The chilling effect of then threatening you with criminal prosecution is significant.

Peters is someone who does. He threatened me under this very clause when in 2008 I (correctly) pointed out that NZ First had not filed new party rules allowing a candidate (Peters) to be one the list without standing as a electorate candidate (which he was not), and that this raised issues of whether his nomination was valid.

Having S199A applying to statements made before the last 48 hours goes against the idea that this is for stuff where it is too late to respond. If a week before the election you think someone has said something false, you can rebut them and publish why they are wrong. The day before an election you might not be able to.

In view of this court ruling, I think Parliament should look at whether S199A should be amended or repealed. It was written in the days before the Internet and news cycles that are instant, not once a day at 6 pm. If someone says something false 48 hours before the election, you can have a rebuttal published within an hour, and through social media generate a backlash against the person making the false claim that will reach most voters (as media will pick it up also).

There should be consequences for people who make knowingly false claims to influence an election, But those consequences should be electoral, civil or reputational – not criminal.

If this law is left unchanged, then powerful politicians will use to to bully critics to remove criticism of them, with the threat of going to jail if they don’t. Sure many will be defiant, but many will think it is not worth the risk.

So as I said I think the ruling is a very bad one for political speech.

 

NZ First in breach of Parliamentary Service Act

March 10th, 2016 at 8:30 am by David Farrar

The Parliamentary Service Act specifies what taxpayer funded parliamentary budgets can and can not be spent on.

Section 3B((2)(a)(vi) states:

However, funding entitlements for parliamentary purposes does not include funding for any communication that explicitly seeks support for casting a vote for one of the responses to a proposal to be put to electors in a government initiated referendum

But go to this website promoted by NZ First – www.keepourflag.nz and read:

Keep Our Flag

“Don’t be fooled. Every other party, including Labour and the Greens, support changing the flag.”

Now this would be fine if NZ First were paying for this out of their own pocket. But they are not. They are using taxpayer money to run this site – in clear breach of The Parliamentary Service Act.

The domain is registered to:

Registrant Contact Name: New Zealand First
Registrant Contact Address Freepost Parliament Private Bag 18888
Registrant Contact City Wellington
Registrant Contact Province Wellington
Registrant Contact Postal Code 6160
Registrant Contact Country NZ (NEW ZEALAND)
Registrant Contact Phone +64 48178xxx (changed by DPF)
Registrant Contact Email david.xxxxxx@parliament.govt.nz (changed by DPF)

The contact address, phone number and e-mail are all Parliament.

I hope The Parliamentary Service and/or the Auditor-General investigate.

Peters say permanent residents are outsiders

February 29th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Newshub reports:

Immigrants should get to have their say when it comes to choosing New Zealand’s flag in the upcoming referendum, according to the Change the NZ Flag chairman.

Immigrants with New Zealand residency are presently allowed to vote in the referendum, but NZ First leader Winston Peters has argued that “outsiders” such as immigrants shouldn’t be heard.

“Why should thousands of immigrants who have come here in recent years be involved in making a decision that goes, in the words of the flag committee, to the very heart of who we are and what we are as a nation?” he said.

“You will not find any other country that would allow outsiders to make a decision about their national identity and it certainly should not happen here.”

But Change the NZ Flag chairman Lewis Holden rebuked the NZ First leader and said the alternate fern and stars flag will unite all New Zealanders under a new, fresh banner.

“I had hoped Mr Peters would have grown tired of playing the immigrant card,” he said today.

“Some people who have residency may have lived in New Zealand for very long periods of time and have legitimate reasons to keep the passport of another country.”

Peters trying to compete with Donald Trump.

A permanent resident in not an outsider and it is insulting to label them so.

Anyone on the electoral roll should be allowed to vote in the referendum.

There is a wider issue of whether overall voting rights should be restricted to citizens. I think there are some benefits to this (to encourage citizenship), but if you ever changed you’d grandfather in existing residents. No one should ever lose the right to vote, unless they go to prison etc.

Horan cleared

February 20th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Former NZ First MP Brendan Horan has been told by police there is no evidence to support charges he used money from his dying mother’s bank account in an inappropriate way.

Mr Horan learned the two-year police investigation into the claims was over in a meeting with Detective Senior Sergeant Greg Turner at the Tauranga police station yesterday.

“He told me it was a comprehensive investigation,” Mr Horan said. “They went through my bank records, interviewed many people. After the investigation that has taken around two years, there’s no evidence to support any charges being laid against me.”

The allegations stemmed from a family disagreement over the will of Olwen Horan and effectively ended Mr Horan’s brief parliamentary career. He was a first term Member of Parliament for NZ First in December 2012 when the claims were made, with party leader Winston Peters passed information from those who had themselves changed her will to access a greater share of inheritance.

In Parliament, Mr Peters said he had on the “initial complainant and those associated with him, evidence to support their allegations”.

In the wake of his call, “substantive material” was provided which left him with “no confidence in Mr Horan’s ability to continue as a Member of Parliament”.

What Peters did was a disgrace. Horan didn’t even get a hearing or a chance to answer the accusations. Peters unilaterally declared himself persona non grata.

Winston wants to nationalise EFTPOS!!!

February 8th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Winston rants:

Following the latest EFTPOS outage, New Zealand First is calling on the Reserve Bank to purchase EFTPOS processor, Paymark, which is reportedly on the market.

“Most people don’t realise that the clearing houses behind New Zealand’s electronic banking system are both overseas owned,” says New Zealand First Leader and Member of Parliament for Northland Rt Hon Winston Peters.

“In 2013, ANZ sold EFTPOS New Zealand to American giant Verifone for $70m, while overseas owned ANZ, ASB, BNZ and Westpac want to sell off Paymark.

“If the Reserve Bank is to meet a key purpose of its own Act, ‘promoting the maintenance of a sound and efficient financial system’, then Paymark must come into its ownership.

Winston wants the Government to nationalise the EFTPOS system!

One day he may understand the difference between ownership and ability to regulate. But I doubt it.

Winston Peters and Selwyn Clarke

January 30th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Veteran writes at No Minister:

The story so far … Selwyn Clarke, 88 yo ratbag Maori activist and ‘war’ veteran had his War Disability Pension cut off after a warrant was issued for his arrest following his failure to attend Court on charges relating to the illegal occupation by Ngati Kahu of the Kaitaia Airport in September last year.   The occupation saw the abandonment of scheduled passenger service flights as well as medical flights into and out of the Far North.

Clarke claimed his ‘kaupapa’ did not allow him to recognise the authority of the Courts.     He received backing from Winston Peters who called for the reinstatement of his pension saying that the law under which he was arrested was highly questionable.

Let’s deal with that claim first of all.   Peters is supposed to be a lawyer.   He should know the place to test the law is in the Courts and just why he would choose to go into bat for a serial protester who by his own admission has no respect for the law quite beggars belief.

But, as they say, there’s more.   Clarke claims to have served with 28 Maori Battalion.   There are five Clarke’s listed on the Battalion nominal roll … none of them Selwyn Clarke and all dead.    Further, there are seven Karaka’s (Maori for Clarke) listed … none of them with the forenames Haki Herewini (Clarke’s Maori forenames) and again, all dead.  

There is however evidence that he enlisted late in the war sailing to the Middle-East with the 15th Reinforcements.    That would have seen him on-board a ship when VE Day was announced.  The 15th Reinforcements landed in Egypt, were processed through to Italy to join the Division in time for them to be sent home. The only ‘action’ they saw would have been in Cairo or in some Italian Taverna.

The water gets muddier.   Clarke also claims he served as a Military Policeman and that would have seen him a member of the Divisional Provost Company and not 28 Battalion. I am inclined to believe this as my sources from within Maoridom tell me that Clarke was shunned by members of 28 Battalion when he tried to gatecrash on their gatherings.

But it gets better.   Clarke would have it that he first enlisted (at age 13 or 15 … changing story) under an assumed name (not revealed) where he served with 28 Battalion in the western desert in the 1941-43 campaign.  He claims one of his tasks was to escort prisoners through minefields and further, that his platoon commander (unnamed) shot prisoners and that this continually haunts him.   Now clearly Clarke is not the sharpest knife in the drawer or else he would have realized that he was admitting to being an accessory to a war crime as defined in the London Charter (the Nuremburg Laws) of 1945.

If the story is correct then Clarke may get to know more about arrest warrants.   There is no statute of limitations for war crimes.

If the story is incorrect then Clarke has bought dishonor to 28 Battalion and to an unnamed officer, now dead, with false allegations of war crimes.

I don’t think Mr Clarke has a lot of credibility.

So, there it is, Selwyn Clarke, either and by his own admission an accessory to a war crime (the murder of POWs) or a liar about his service with 28 Battalion.

Whatever, he has no credibility at all and Winston Peters has made a huge mistake in aligning himself with him.

More may come out on this.

Hehir on Seymour and Peters

December 10th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Liam Hehir writes:

Elite political newsletter Trans-Tasman has named David Seymour its “Politician of the Year”. Seymour, who is the leader of the ACT Party and its sole MP, is said to have played a blinder and to have proved his doubters wrong. In giving him the title, the newsletter editors said they were surprised at “the degree to which he seems to have made ACT a potential vote winner again”.

It’s hard to think of a better example of the disconnect that exists between New Zealand’s political commentators and the voters.

It’s certainly true that, in many ways, Seymour has done very well. As the champion of our right to gather in pubs to watch Rugby World Cup matches, he managed to strike a pose that was both popular and libertarian. His earnest manner, together with his support for bien-pensant causes like the Red Peak flag and assisted suicide, has largely defused the hostility he could ordinarily expect from the liberal punditry, whose default setting would be to tar him as a Right-wing fiend.

He has also proven a stable and reliable support partner for the Government and, by all accounts, has worked well as parliamentary under-secretary to the Minister of Education and Minister of Regulatory Reform.

But while all of this might have been terribly impressive, one thing David Seymour has singularly failed to achieve is improving the standing of his party with the people who really count – ordinary voters. In the 2014 general election in which he limped in to Parliament, ACT received just 0.69 per cent of the vote. And yet despite Seymour’s supposedly outstanding year, the last five public polls (as recorded by Curia Market Research) have shown ACT registering just 0.5 per cent, 0.2 per cent, 0.5 per cent, 0.5 per cent and 0.6 per cent support in the party vote stakes.

Hehir is right that ultimately performance is judged by voters at elections, and prior to that in the polls.

But I think it is all about timing and foundations. I don’t expect ACT to poll above 1% until an election campaign. That is when people will really focus on whether to change their vote.

What Seymour is doing is changing ACT’s brand from negative to positive, so that potential voters may choose them again. That won’t show up for some time. They’re still at the foundation building stage.

It gives me no pleasure to write this. On an intellectual level I am probably closer to David Seymour than John Key when it comes to the economy and the importance of private property. But while he may have done a good job impressing some journalists in the past year, the people he really needs to make a mark on are actual voters. There is no sign of his having done that yet.

Favourable impressions with journalists and pundits can help with the voters eventually.

To me, there can really be only one contender for the title of Politician of the Year: Winston Raymond Peters. Again, this gives me no pleasure. In my opinion, he is an economic xenophobe who would make the country poorer. Time and time again, he has shown himself to be an untrustworthy cynic.

So I was feeling a bit hopeful when he started to look like he had lost his mojo in 2014. That was the year in which he turned in a parliamentary confrontation with the prime minister over the Oravida issue that was so befuddled and confused that it virtually allowed the Government to draw a line under the scandal and move on.  More than a few people asked if we were seeing the beginning of the end for one of New Zealand’s most outspoken politicians.

They’re not asking that any more.

Ever since Peters stole the Northland seat in a by-election this year, he has all but guaranteed himself a starring role in the next election. Assuming he can hold on to the electorate, he has essentially managed to take out an insurance policy against the tyranny of the party vote threshold. In the event that an improving Labour starts eating into the NZ First party vote (which I consider likely), he will still be around to play the kingmaker.

 

He thought he would be kingmaker in 2014, and he wasn’t. If National can get 45% or better in 2017 and ACT get over 2% (three MPs) then he probably won’t be Kingmaker in 2017. If he is Kingmaker, I hope he chooses Labour, so they can be a one term Government.

Vance on Mark

November 8th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Andrea Vance writes:

Later, Mark – and some of his colleagues – were befuddled by the outrage.  “It’s not racist – grow up,” he blustered.

Yes, Ron Mark, it is. It’s deplorable that as a Member of Parliament you need this explained to you.  Every other party in Parliament – bar your own – understands this and have condemned your behaviour.

It is racist, because Lee was offended. It is racist because it implies that you are more “Kiwi” than Lee, who has made New Zealand her home for 30 years. …

It’s racist enough to get you arrested. In April, an Upper Hutt man was arrested for ordering tourists on a bus to “go back to your own country”. The ugly scene was filmed and uploaded to You Tube. 

Dozens of similar racist rants – usually on public transport – have been shared across the world. Usually they end in a court appearance.

Mark’s words are even more shocking than those viral videos because they came not from an ignorant lout on a bus, but from the mouth of an MP – to another MP – during a parliamentary debate.

Ron Mark would do well to apologise, rather than insist he said nothing wrong.

The most charitable we can be about Mark is to liken him to the embarrassing docile old uncle who knows no better.  But that excuses him.  And it’s more likely Mark’s behaviour was calculated.

He was working from the Winston Peters’ playbook, and is now revelling in the attention he’s receiving from the redneck constituency.

Peters was duly out, belligerently defending his MP this morning.  But the politics are indefensible precisely because they aren’t politics. 

Politics is raising general concerns about immigration. NZ First has gone well beyond that to targeting and stigmatising individuals and national (usually Asian) groups.

It’s time to be honest about that strategy and call out NZ First for exactly what it is: a racist party.

Sadly true – but not all of them. Tracey Martin had the guts to say it was wrong.

Will NZ First outpoll the Greens?

October 29th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Vernon Small writes:

The recent One News poll put National on 47 per cent but all its formal support parties were on life support.

On the other side of the fence Labour and the Greens combined got over 40 per cent but NZ First, with its 9 per cent backing, sat firmly on the fulcrum of power.

It also puts Peters within cooee of his long nurtured aim of out-polling the Greens. It is a possibility that understandably makes the Greens nervous.

That would, the theory goes, make it easier for him to insist on a Labour-NZ First Government forcing the Greens to support it from the cross benches.

I think Peters will insist the Greens are left out of Cabinet (at least), even if they poll more than NZ First. If he polls higher than them, then it is probably a certainty. As the Greens have effectively ruled out ever doing a deal with National, then they have no bargaining power with Labour, while Peters has it all.

Many expect Peters to opt for the simplicity of a two-way deal with National if he does hold the balance of power. But if he can out-poll the Greens in 2017 it arguably makes a centre-Left Government more likely. It would stick in Peters’ craw to play third fiddle in any political orchestra.

Yep. He doesn’t want the Greens (or before that the Alliance in 1996) being able to veto stuff he agrees with the major party in Government.

The wild card is the succession – and whether former Labour MP Shane Jones will be in the mix come 2017. 

There have been repeated suggestions Jones could take the reins from Peters after his term as the Government’s economic ambassador ends in May 2017.

He would also be a natural successor to Peters in the Northland seat, which is Jones’ power base too. 

But Peters is now expected to stay on and contest the 2017 election – and even the next in 2020.

So Peters in 2023 when he may retire will be 78. I think it is fair to say he aims to emulate his mentor Muldoon and stay in Parliament until he physically can’t cope.

Shane Jones is 56. Will he want to re-enter Parliament when he is 58 just as deputy leader with a possibility of becoming leader around the time he is 63 or 64?

Peters wants free trade with Putin!

October 16th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Now I’ve seen everything.

Winston Peters wants talks for a free trade agreement with Russia urgently kick-started, warning that we need to be on both sides of any new cold war that starts in Syria and not just cuddling  up to “Uncle Sam”.

Surely this is tongue in cheek. But no. The former Foreign Minister seriously suggests New Zealand should replace European food in Russian markets, following a Russian ban on imports from the European Union.

The EU’s sanctions date back to March last year and Russian president Vladimir Putin’s adventure in Crimea and Ukraine. Russia responded by refusing to buy EU imports. That’s one reason for global dairy market over-supply and the collapse in dairy prices.   

Technically, there’s nothing to stop New Zealand selling to Russia, but simple trade and diplomatic calculus suggests it would be an own-goal. That’s why Trade Minister Tim Groser cut short Russian free trade talks in March last year at the time of Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula. It’s why Fonterra hasn’t embraced Russia as a golden opportunity. Doing so would have almost certain trade and diplomatic consequences among traditional friends, Europe and the US.

We’d become an international pariah.

To think Peters was once Foreign Minister.

Rodney’s 10 reasons on why Winston should be PM

September 29th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

An amusing sarcastic column from Rodney Hide on why Winston should be PM.

  1. It’s his turn
  2. Experience
  3. Entertainment
  4. Good for journalists
  5. His integrity is not in question – we know he lies
  6. Partnership
  7. Historical prophecy – hailed by Muldoon
  8. A Kingmaker can make himself King
  9. What else can he do?
  10. We deserve him, as people keep voting for him

An unhappy NZ First MP

September 28th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

It seems rather obvious all is not well in Winston First, as Tracy Martin speaks out:

In July Martin was rolled from the deputy leadership by “assertive and aggressive” Ron Mark and while she says he has the credentials for the job she also believes her gender played a part in her fall.

“I was asked by a reporter in Warkworth that said, why aren’t you deputy leader anymore, what did you do wrong? I’m not aware I did anything wrong so my flippant answer was, I was probably born the wrong gender. It’s an answer but it’s an unprovable answer,” says Martin.

Not good for an MP to be saying she got sacked as Deputy as she is female.

Martin says while Peters has a “1950s respect for women” he also sees the politics in everything, which is why he has previously sided with women on issues including underage forced marriage and paid parental leave.

That sounds like a back handed compliment, at best. So basically he sees women in the home, but as they have the vote will side on some issues for them! And this is from his own former deputy!

Peters says he was not sure what Martin meant by his “1950s respect”, but said that NZ First had more women on the board at a high level than any other party.

Do they make the tea also? And do they have more women on their board than Labour and Greens?

Martin’s time in Parliament could be tied to Peters – she says that if she was still there when he retired she would question whether she could stay on with another leader.

Translation is she won’t work for Ron Mark, or I suspect Shane Jones.

Key rules Peters out as co-PM

September 23rd, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The suggestion that Winston Peters could be prime minister in a job-share agreement if NZ First holds the balance of power is a joke, John Key says.

“[That has the same] chance as me holidaying on the lunar space station, I would have thought – just no chance,” Mr Key said.

National would never ever agree to Peters as a co-PM or sole PM for a short while.

Labour leader Andrew Little has also said any place for Mr Peters in a future Labour-led Government would depend on his support levels, but would not include the position of Prime Minister.

Ms Martin said she disagreed with Mr Little making that call now.

“He doesn’t know who he has got to deal with [after the 2017 election]. It is a silly thing to do, in my view, it is silly to rule things in and out before the vote has taken place. You don’t know what your position is.”

Key would clearly rather leave Parliament than have Peters as Prime Minister. But what will Little do if his only chance of being PM is to allow Peters say a year in the top spot?

Will Peters demand co-PM?

September 23rd, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Labour leader Andrew Little is only just in front of NZ First leader Winston Peters in the preferred Prime Minister stakes but says he will not entertain the suggestion of sharing the top job if Mr Peters holds the balance of power.

In the latest 3 News Reid Research poll, NZ First would have the balance of power and on The Nation this weekend, Mr Peters would not rule out seeking a power-sharing role as Prime Minister if NZ First was strong enough.

He refused to answer a direct question, saying “it’s immaterial unless we get the kind of sign-up and support that we are seeking in 2017”. However, he pointed out there was precedent of the leader of the second biggest party in a coalition becoming Prime Minister – George Forbes in 1932.

Yesterday Mr Little said any place for Mr Peters in a future Labour-led government would depend on his support levels but the Prime Minister’s role was not up for grabs. “I don’t think New Zealand is ready to accept a state of musical chairs in the role of Prime Minister.”

But if it is a choice between that and a fourth term in opposition, would Labour buckle?

 

Winston says men should be forced to fight in Syria

September 9th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

From the crackpot file:

New Zealand should take only women and children refugees from Syria and tell the men to return home and fight, NZ First leader Winston Peters says.

His brain seems even more disengaged than normal.

And who should they fight for – ISIL or Assad?

And as he seems to be stuck in a 1970s time warp, if he thinks only men can be soldiers. He should visit Israel at some stage.

Six months for Winston to open an office

September 4th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Northern Advocate reports:

The 2017 election campaign appears to be off to an early start in Kerikeri with the National Party opening an out-of-Parliament office today – one day before Northland MP Winston Peters opens his first electorate office since winning the March byelection.

So Northland residents have not had an office for their local MP for six months. That’s show how committed Winston is to the seat.

Winston receives $350,000 a year of taxpayer money to be the MP for Northland. That is meant to be used for electorate offices, staff etc. But in six months he’s had no office or staff in Northland electorate.

Why? I doubt there is a lack of office space to be found.

Mr Peters had originally planned to open four offices around the electorate. A Dargaville office is planned and possibly also one in Wellsford.

So he promised four offices, and after six months has delivered one.

Mr Peters’ office hours have yet to be decided.

Will it be open at all, or just be an expensive billboard to promote Winston?

Well done Denis O’Rourke

August 3rd, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

NZ First MP Denis O’Rourke has vowed to resign if the party adopted a policy that would see “new settlers” forced to take out medical insurance for a decade.

The idea was proposed at the party’s annual conference in Rotorua on Sunday and a heated debate followed.

O’Rourke immediately stood up to declare the policy was discriminatory, illegal under the Bill of Rights and would open up NZ First to ridicule.

If the “disgraceful” remit was adopted, the list MP said he would considered withdrawing his membership.

His colleague Mahesh Bindra, who was born in India, also argued against the idea.

After arguments over the wording and the difference between citizens and permanent residents, the policy was rejected.

On Saturday, leader Winston Peters appeared to back the idea.

“Other countries have that. You can climb off a plane in New Zealand and be in our hospitals the next day … we’ve got to stop having a soft heart and a head to match,” Peters said.

Congratulations Denis O’Rourke. Great to see an MP take a principled stance.

Oh dear Winston

August 3rd, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

NZ First leader Winston Peters says Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga is best placed to be in charge of the prison population because he is Polynesian.

He really said that?

It followed an attack on Cabinet Minister Anne Tolley who he said was unqualified to be education minister, a role she held until last year. He said he blamed Tolley and former justice minister Judith Collins for presiding over the privatisation of two of New Zealand’s prisons.

When it was pointed out that Lotu-Iiga had no experience with the prison system, he said: “I think Sam has a greater understanding of some of the psychology of some of the prisoners in New Zealand who happen to be Polynesian and Maori. I think he’s got a slightly better understanding than many people think.”

Asked to clarify is this was because he is a Pacific Islander, Peters said: “Look, if you come from the biggest population group in the prisons you might have a rough idea what some of their concerns and aspirations are better than some other country.

Except Polynesians are not the largest population group in prisons.

Maori are. They are 51% of the prison population, followed by Europeans on 33% and Pacific people on 11%.

If you adjust for population size, then you still have Maori way ahead of Pacific people.

Maybe Peters thinks there is no difference between Maori and Pasifika?

Winston vows 10,000 new members or he’ll resign

August 2nd, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Winston Peters has said NZ First will grow its membership by tens of thousands of people by the next election or he will resign.

But as with all Winston promises, it never lasts long.

After his opening address he told media that he wanted a war chest “way beyond” $1 million to fight the next election, and said he would resign if membership didn’t grow to support that.

NZ First spent $268,530 on last year’s election campaign.

Asked if he would he resign if membership did not grow by tens of thousands of people, he said he would, before later backing away from that and saying he misheard the question.

If Winston did get 10,000 members, then Labour would have fewer members than both the Greens and NZ First.

An Orwellian statement from NZ First

July 8th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

3 News reports:

The former president of New Zealand First’s youth wing has been charged with possession of cannabis for supply.

Curwen Rolinson’s always been a troublemaker for New Zealand First and now it seems he’s a law-breaker as well.

Police arrested the aspiring politician on April 15, and he since appeared in court charged with possession of cannabis for supply.

 

Winston Peters in a huge show of loyalty to one of his most dedicated followers put out this statement:

A remit proposing to formalise a youth wing is coming before the New Zealand First Convention in August.

Mr Curwen Rolinson was told countless times never to call himself the president or leader of a youth wing. New Zealand First does not have a youth wing in its Constitution, and therefore does not have a former or present president of such an organisation.

This is such a rewriting of history, it ranks up there “We’ve always been at war with Eastasia” from George Orwell’s 1984 novel.

Here’s a few of the numerous mentions in the media over the years of Curwen as leader of the NZ First Youth. He’s also been on Backbenches many times representing the party.

Most delegates were aged over 60 but the party known for attracting the older voter could also be fielding one of this year’s youngest candidates if 21-year-old Curwen Rolinson, leader of the party’s youth section, gets the nod.

Herald on Sunday July 2011

NZ First President Kevin Gardener has confirmed the party has shut down its social media pages but is downplaying reports the move is linked to the leader of the party’s youth wing, Curwen Rolinson.

NZ Herald October 2013

The president of NZ First’s youth wing has signed a pledge in favour of same-sex marriage.

It is a move that goes against the party’s opposition to the marriage equality bill, which is due for its second reading in Parliament on Thursday.

NZ First Youth president Curwen Rolinson was one of eight youth party representatives who signed a marriage equality certificate outside Parliament this morning.

 

3 News March 2013

They’re young and politically minded, with plenty to say on the issues that affect New Zealanders. Karyn & Andrew talk to Curwen Rolinson of NZ first youth and Taylor Warwood of Act on Campus./

Radio Live March 2013

The Facebook page Letcher was referring to belongs to NZ First Youth leader Curwen Rolinson, who posted

Waikato Times December 2014

Everyone in politics knows that Curwen was the leader of their youth wing for several years. For Peters to claim he never was, is just appalling.

Hosking on NZ First

July 7th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Rob Hosking writes:

It appears Mr Mark’s move is aimed at forestalling any bid to recruit former Labour MP Shane Jones in to the party and to be installed as Mr Peters’ successor.

This has long been rumoured and on the surface it makes sense. Mr Jones and Mr Peters are known to be close: both are Northlanders by origin, and now Mr Peters holds the Northland seat Mr Jones is in a good position to take it if and when Mr Peters stands down.

Mr Peters himself is 70 and visibly flags at times in Parliament. The blokey, big personality of Mr Jones fits the New Zealand First brand rather well, and having left Labour because he no longer fitted within that rather shrunken, politically correct organisation, will be looking for a new vehicle.

So the received wisdom goes.

The trouble is, this could only work if New Zealand First MPs were prepared to behave like dumb cattle.

They might be known as “hillbillies” around Parliament but New Zealand First MPs are not beasts of burden at the beck and call of Winston Peters. They are, after all, politicians. They have politicians’ egos.

The ‘received wisdom’ that the whole thing would be neatly done by shipping Mr Jones in over the heads of the caucus always looked like the kind of idea cooked up in some room in Wellington and which involved the human beings involved behaving, well, not like human beings.

It was never going to work – at least, not without a major and highly destructive fight.

All this assumes, of course, Mr Jones actually wants the job.

But does he? 

Leading a small political party is a huge job. Taking over someone else’s small political party, when most of the caucus members of that party do not want you there?

It doesn’t sounds like a job with a future. 

Rob is right, and wrong.

He is right that Shane Jones can not just be foisted on a caucus that doesn’t want him.

He is also right that Jones may not want the job – especially if pushed onto colleagues who don’t want him. He had enough of that in Labour!

But where Rob may be wrong is the assumption that the caucus would not want him. Sure half of them probably think they could be leader, but deep down they will be worried that without Winston they won’t make 5% or hold Northland, and then all of them are unemployed.

I also understand that Mark and Jones get on quite well.

So I wouldn’t write off yet the possibility of Jones.