Editorials on Peters

The NZ Herald calls on Peters to resign:

Whom to believe? Faced with one person’s uncorroborated word against another’s, there are some tests we might reasonably apply. First, could one of them be honestly mistaken? Mr Glenn’s letter to the committee has been made public at his request. It seems to have been written in a spirit of co-operation and careful recall. It does not claim precision on dates and details where precision could not be expected. But it is definite that it was Mr Peters who sought his help some time after their first meeting. …

Mr Peters says this donation was solicited by Mr Henry. Mr Glenn says he does not know Mr Henry and does not believe they have met.

If neither is honestly mistaken in his recall, then one of them is not telling the truth. On a matter of public interest such as this it seems reasonable to ask what motive either may have for deception. It is hard to imagine a motive for Mr Glenn. He is primarily a Labour supporter, the largest donor to that party’s expenses at the 2005 election. He says he agreed to help Mr Peters in the belief this would aid the Labour Party, which of course has governed with NZ First support since the election. …

The questions raised by Mr Glenn’s testimony to the committee could not be more serious in their implications. Mr Peters should resign as Foreign Minister forthwith. If he were also to withdraw his party’s support for the Government, it is probably too late to force an election slightly earlier than may have in mind. But ultimately it is the public who will pass judgment on him and any party that seems likely to deal with him if he survives the election. Even National, ever tentative, has now cast him aside.

The Dom Post says much the same:

The noose would seem to be tightening around the political neck of NZ First leader Winston Peters. Given recent events, it is not before time, The writes.

This is a politician who has held himself out to be purer than pure, a man whose party – unlike National and Labour – would never deign to take donations from big business, a man who has criticised the secret trusts that fund the major parties’ election campaigns, the existence of which they acknowledge and declare.

Recent revelations suggest he is at best a hypocrite, at worst, a liar.

Actually at worst, much worse than just a liar.

At the very least in this unsavoury business, the foreign affairs minister – what a travesty that is – is guilty of rank hypocrisy over party funding. At worst, he is guilty of lying to the public and maybe more. To its eternal credit, the National Party has decided the smell can no longer be ignored and has ruled out a NZ First coalition unless Mr Peters can provide a credible explanation. Only a Serious Fraud Office inquiry appears likely to get to the bottom of other allegations that keep swirling around him.

It is unthinkable that the SFO would not investigate now, in light of what Rodney Hide revealed in the House yesterday.

And that, of course, is if the office is not disbanded first by this Labour-led Government, supported by the very man who is is now in its sights. The SFO inquiry into NZ First is still only in its embryonic stages, but investigators have now been in contact with two millionaires – the second is Sir Robert Jones – puzzled about where their financial contributions have gone.

Mr Peters has twisted, blustered and denigrated other politicians, corporate New Zealand and the mainstream media for long enough, all the while pretending to have never dirtied his hands with filthy lucre. For once his paranoia – that the media and his opponents are out to get him – is justified. They are – and for good reason.

Heh nicely put.

Finally the ODT also opines on Peters:

The essential question now with regard to Winston Peters is not whether his recollection of events is correct or incorrect, but whether he has been so damaged by the political donations disclosures as to be too much of a liability for the Government. …

The Prime Minister may well be waiting for what she has called the “court of public opinion” to guide her response, but if she means the forthcoming election then she is arguing an irrelevancy.

The election, which may be some months away, will not be about Mr Peters’ credibility as a minister, but a whole range of issues and policies.

The matter of Mr Peters’ credibility is singular and current.

He has spent many months now giving various responses to published reports and journalists’ questions regarding donations said to have been made, but not declared under relevant legislation, to him personally or to his party, New Zealand First.

That in itself has been damaging in the mind of the public; his explanation to Parliament’s privileges committee has now been shown to be contradictory to the recollection of two donors, Mr Owen Glenn and Sir Robert Jones, neither of whom have any known reason for their memories to be inaccurate. …

Over the past nine years Miss Clark has on occasion suspended ministers who, for a variety of reasons, were judged to be either temporary or permanent liabilities.

In the interests of consistency she should exercise that option again – if, in fact, it is available to her under Labour’s agreement with NZ First – until the privileges committee’s report has been tabled.

So that’s three out of three supporting Peters going.

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