Winston fires – and shoots his own foot off

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.

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