The interview with Winston Peters on Agenda was quite fascinating, and worth going through in detail. He seemed to be at great pains to get across the message that his criticisms of National in no way mean he can’t support them forming a Government after the election.
Of course my view on having a Government reliant on Winston is akin to receiving chemotherapy. It’s damn painful and nasty, but slightly preferable to dying 🙂
Now let us look at the interview:
Well Winston Peters let’s cut to the chase on that question will you be contesting the Tauranga seat?
WINSTON PETERS – Leader, New Zealand First
Look the New Zealand First Party’s about to announce a tranch of candidates right around the country that’s part of our public relations strategy and we’ll have to wait until then.
This makes it quite clear that the decisions have been made, and it is just a matter of PR that it is not yet announced. With this in mind I have now listed Peters as a candidate for Tauranga in my 2008 Candidates list.
GUYON Okay will the public get to know who those charities are?
WINSTON Look I wrote to the Speaker with the full list and the letters of introduction to those charities, if the Speaker wants you to find out that’s fine but I do not think that they should become the victims of snooping prying media interest.
The Speaker has stated she wants Parliament more open and parts of it come under the Official Information Act. So in good faith I expect her to make the list available.
GUYON Are you perhaps hinting that you’ve done your work in that portfolio and maybe want to move on to something else?
WINSTON No I’m merely hinting that I found it an exciting challenge and an enormously difficult complex job both in getting the resources for this country to have for the first time for a long time the capacity to properly image sell itself and help our exporters, has been a great victory and I’m pleased about that, but I wouldn’t want to see it challenged because we’ve barely got back to where we were when Tallboys had the job. What’s sad is what happened in between in terms of lack of resourcing.
The reference to Talboys is interesting. Peters at his heart is a Muldoonist – authoritarian on both economic and social issues. He sees the late 70s as a golden era and rejects most things post-Muldoon such as Asian immigration, asset sales, free trade, monetary policy etc. This is why he attracts older voters – they like him hark back to the 70s. Winston’s aim is to turn the clock back. And like his mentor, Muldoon, he makes expensive promises to retried persons regardless of whether the country can afford them.
GUYON In 2005 it was the same in that you went with the largest party and formed a government which had the fewest number of parties within it, now is that your stance going into this election again?
WINSTON Well I think that the more parties you have the more problems you’re going to have and the real difficulty in New Zealand politics today is that not enough people have learnt that as much as this glamorous romantic talk about doing your own thing and going your own way, the people of this country want a government, they might criticise the government all the time but what distinguishes New Zealand as a first world country is that it has a stability about it, even in this present circumstance and fewer parties makes that easier to happen.
I have always said this was a major factor for his 1996 decision. He preferred a two party arrangement to a three party arrangement with the Alliance also. On current polls Labour could only possibly form a Government with the Greens, Maori Party and NZ First. That means Winston would be just one of four significant parties in Government.
GUYON I want to get this very clear because there are people, journalists, members of the public, who listen to you in parliament, they listen to you criticise the National Party and think oh he couldn’t work with them, but I just want to get it very clear that your position is based not on personalities but that you again on what you call the constitutional convention with the largest party has the first right to form a government. …
WINSTON Just because you’re reminding people of who did what where and when and making sure the voters don’t forget what might happen in the future because of things in the past doesn’t mean that you are necessarily not going to go into some sort of a governing arrangement with people.
I took that to be unusually clear, and significant.
RAWDON We’re now here with the panel to continue the question line. I just want to start off Minister and ask you that hypothetically come coalition talks what sort of concessions will you be asking for National and will they include the team who’s there, you were just talking about the 90s team?
WINSTON Well look you can’t start telling some other party how to organise its internal operations that’s not what the discussion’s about, in fact it’s an unacceptable way of approaching negotiations, so most certainly I’m not, I’m just making the comment that that is what the difficulty John Key faces as at the moment.
Again, pretty clear. He does not like the MPs from the last Government, but in no way if he saying he won’t work with them.
JOHN ROUGHAN – New Zealand Herald
You were asked I think about whether you would still talk first to the party that wins the most votes at the election.
WINSTON I wasn’t but the answer’s yes I will.
JOHN` You would. Talk first but not necessarily go into coalition with that winning party if you like?
WINSTON Well no party says that or we have said any party that is in our position has – and that goes for the other parties as well – has had more than one proviso.
Now Peters is correct one can not give a guarantee that one will support the largest party, because you then destroy all your negotiating ability. So what does talk to first mean?
The cynical say it means you start negotiations with the largest party 30 minutes before you start negotiations with the second largest. I don’t think that will happen though. People will expect to see a serious attempt at forming a Government with the largest party. But it may of course just not be possible. The economy may be so weak that an incoming Government can’t meet the spending promises that Winston will want.
COLIN ESPINER – Christchurch Press
But they have Mr Peters just listened to you say some fairly negative things about National and it’s well known that you have some problems with people on their front bench. Now let’s look at the polls…
WINSTON No no I don’t have problems with people on their front bench, I have problems with their past record and what they believe, I’ve given you examples.
Again, he goes out of his way to make the difference clear.
JOHN How much change would you make to the Act then, would you completely widen the criteria for the Reserve Bank or would you take the Reserve Bank’s authority away altogether.?
WINSTON I’d change the export, I’d change his criteria to ensure that unlike the policy ties agreement that Dr Cullen and I tried to write for him which in my view ignored, he must have regard to economic growth, he must have regard to exports, he must have regard to employment and the general health of the economy as much as inflation …
That’s also pretty significant. He has just accused Dr Bollard of being in breach of the Policy Target Agreement.
Ironically I think Dr Bollard is in breach also – for not keeping inflation low enough, while Winston thinks he is in breach for not keeping inflation high enough!
RAWDON Do you think an embassy in Stockholm’s a good investment?
WINSTON Of course it’s a great investment it’ll pay off hugely in time, and very quickly, here are from Iceland all the way to Finland five of the world’s most successful economies in one place, why would we not be part of that market when we’ve got so many similar values to them. We have not made the investment in the past, I can remember Tallboys trying to advocate to the National Party way back in 1971 that they must do this, I’ve picked up the message I hope they have.
Note the harking back to the 70s again.