Winston’s Little Black Book
This article was first published September 27, 2017.
Tim Murphy ploughs through all Winston Peters' public speeches since June to find out what he really thinks of his potential governing partners.
Winston Peters' head must be spinning with all the consultation he is doing, via Skype and face-to-face, with his party executive and caucus on how to handle coalition negotiations.
His fishing plans up north were foiled by the tides, so he has had all of Sunday, Monday and Tuesday to hear the views of his closest acolytes. Peters will be wanting to avoid decision-by-committee, but that's the process that he has promised.
Today he heads to Wellington where he will find himself back "Between the Red Devil and the Deep Blue Sea", as he so lyrically described it in a speech exactly a week ago in Ashburton.
Labour's Jacinda Ardern on Line 1 and National's Bill English on Line 2 in the New Zealand First leader's office.
Peters has stayed characteristically quiet on his preferences - perhaps out of deference to his party officials and MPs who have been giving their views on what NZ First should do with its preliminary vote of 7.5 percent.
But in the absence of live comments, the Speeches of Leader Winston - a kind-of Little Black Book of quotations and positions - can help to discern the personal and political thoughts of Peters.
In July, on the first morning of his party convention in Manukau, Peters told TVNZ's Corin Dann to "report what I say, not what you think I say". For Peters watchers, it is always good advice. For Peters himself, the record of what he has said will be of help, too, if he is weary and forgetful, as suggested by his departing MP colleague Richard Prosser.
So, in the past three months, the NZ First website has catalogued 24 speeches beyond those given in Parliament.
What do they tell us about his views on National, Labour, English, Ardern and the many personalities and policies that he will encounter over the next two to three weeks of coalition talks and possibly beyond into government?
In summary, the government naturally copped much more criticism than Labour; Peters' strongest themes were on economic mismanagement, the economic plight of the regions, separatist deals with iwi over water in Lake Taupo and the Waikato River and the risk to superannuitants if the economy turns sour.
On leading National Party figures:
"National have been a major disappointment, not just to the wider public of New Zealand but to their own faithful followers."
"The National Party cabinet are into spin, downright deceit and fibs. As Mr English displayed alongside Paula Bennett and others, they simply can't tell the truth. So, as part of our health policy this election we're going to order up a lot of defibulators and send them to their offices. Every time they tell a lie this machine will give them a shock. It might be painful but that's what it will take." - Launch of Campaign for the Regions, Palmerston North, June 25.
"National have been a major disappointment, not just to the wider public of New Zealand but to their own faithful followers. Arrogant National MPs - Alfred Ngaro acting like a Mafiosi (sic) heavy telling the Salvation Army to shut up or else. Nicky Wagner tweeting frivolously and insulting the disabled community. Simon Bridges blocking information being released on KiwiRail in reply to an OIA [request]. And now hush money and a Prime Minister donkey-deep in a cover-up [over the Todd Barclay affair]." - June 25
"Hundreds of doctors wrote to Minister Jonathan Coleman warning of a looming crisis due to funding issues and a GP shortage. Did he listen? No, because he lives in a fantasy world." -Taumarunui Cosmopolitan Club, August 2.
"Behind closed doors the National government has been heavied by giant multinational bully boys over a proposed tax clampdown and our government buckled like wimps ... A shady outfit from the United States no one has heard of, the Digital Economy Group, pressured the New Zealand government and won. The so-called crusher Revenue Minister Judith Collins was crushed. Finance Minister Steven Joyce huddled behind his desk and waved a white flag." Tauranga public meeting, August 18.
"New Zealand has been left exposed to being a pawn of the Communists in China. The influence of the government of China is real within the New Zealand government. New Zealand became vulnerable the moment National recruited list MP Jian Yang. His decade of work with Chinese military intelligence has only now been opened up, but not yet laid bare ... Our allies have reason to be alarmed at National's appalling naivety. National must act now and a full inquiry is required. There must be proof Dr Yang is not a risk. Meanwhile, Dr Yang must step aside." - Dunedin Public Meeting, September 14.
"National is doing an uncanny impersonation of Judas offering iwi 30 pieces of silver."
"National is the Robin Hood party in reverse. They are taking off the poor to give to the rich, many of whom are foreigners," - NZ First Party Convention, July 17
"We have a government that works only for the elite few - not for you!. We have a government that always puts the short-term profits and greed of its cronies ahead of the interests of New Zealanders as a whole. We have a government that serves the globalisation agenda of its mates in big corporates and international business. Some of us can remember when we had governments that took their role as stewards and guardians of New Zealand's collective interests seriously. Unlike Bill English and his mates." - July 17
"National is the born to rule party. And they have grown in arrogance each year they have held power ... National has all the bearing of being in power too long and treating the New Zealand public with disdain." -Grey Power, Dargaville, July 21
"Is it under National that Chinese chequebooks represent 21st Century taonga?" - Local Government conference, Auckland, July 24
"On the foreshore and seabed, the National Party opened a nightmare of over 500 claims. That nightmare is about to be repeated with water. One party stands against this separatism by stealth, as it does against the two-speed economy and the ever-increasing incursion of the nanny state into the affairs of ordinary New Zealanders. It is NZ First." - Waikato campaign launch, Morrinsville, July 26.
"In their desperation to hold onto power, Bill English and National are now making promises. Remarkably, with the whirl of a wand and some sprinkling of stardust, "Skinflint Bill" has found some money we didn't think existed just to pay for these promises. But why wasn't that happening years ago. Why didn't National commit to a poverty target three years ago? National has forgotten about ordinary hardworking New Zealanders." - Gisborne Public Meeting, September 12.
"For a party that claims to be for the farmers, National is doing an uncanny impersonation of Judas offering iwi 30 pieces of silver [over river and lake water rights]. Of course the ordinary Māori, in town or in the countryside will get nothing, as the Iwi Browntable elite sucks it up in a new Bro-ocracy," - Whitianga public meeting, September 13.
"Mr English says he wants you to cut out the middle-man; for you to choose only National or Labour, Pepsi or Coke, this Saturday. That's so he can get on with introducing [water] resource rentals and forcing yet more bureaucratic 'fixers' down your collective throats. In this, Pepsi and Coke are one. Farmers need to remember that Mr English was elected 27 years ago. He is steeped in the 'Ruthenomics' neoliberal tradition of the modern, urban National Party." - Ashburton Public Meeting, September 20.
"If 73,000 people are coming net to New Zealand every year, how far will 10,000 houses a year go?"
"Let me remind you, we agree with Labour's policy on royalties on export bottled water being paid back to the regions from whence it came. How could we not agree. After all, it was our policy long before Labour swiped it. But Labour water policy is two-fold and it is the second part of their policy which causes stress and alarm. Their planned tax on those engaged in fruit and vegetable growing, vineyard and other primary producers will have major implications ... around regional New Zealand." - Hastings Grey Power, September 1
"The Labour Party's policy is to build 10,000 houses a year. They claim that is better than National. Well, work it out. If 73,000 people are coming net to New Zealand every year, how far will 10,000 houses a year go? At four people per house, Labour doesn't even get within coo-ee of building houses for those people getting off the plane, let alone that massive number of people in New Zealand already waiting for a house. - Speech at rally, Takapuna, September 10.
On both National and Labour
"They are big city parties with big city views."
"Some old party supporters are in panic. You can tell that when their supporters start lying, such as Labour supporters saying New Zealand First is going with National, and national supporters saying New Zealand First is going with Labour and the Greens ... None of these people are telling the truth ... Many of them pose as friends, while surreptitiously sticking the boot in every chance they get." - Grey Power, Dargaville, July 21
"National's economic credentials are 90 percent spin and 10 percent substance. Does anyone here really think any of this is economically or politically sustainable. But let's be fair, these policies are largely what National inherited. So Red or Blue, you have got nothing new." - Business NZ election conference, Wellington August 23.
"New Zealand First stands ready to keep the excesses at bay. Be it an economy-destroying water tax and ETS on one side, to the people in Blue backing racially divisive Koha for Consents and a 'Waterlords deal' for the Big Iwi to control water." - Wellington August 23
"National has 'fourthtermitis' which sees it writing post-dated cheques totalling $13.2 billion, none of which was in the recent Pre Budget Economic and Fiscal Update. Labour wants to tax New Zealand to nirvana, which of course will not work but leaves huge questions over its $20.7 billion worth of promises." - Speech to Economic Development Agencies Conference, Wellington, August 31.
"Neither the National government nor the Labour government paid adequate attention to immigration to realise there was a huge bungle in counting the number of people coming in. There are thousands more immigrants here than we thought." - Blenheim Public Meeting, September 6
"Unlike responsible governments, National has simply used record immigration to hyperventilate the NZ economy, as Labour did. And let me warn you. If there is a crisis, the government will be quick to attack superannuation. They'll be coming for you first." - Takapuna rally, September 10.
"The Coromandel and all of regional New Zealand are not a high priority for National and Labour. They are big city parties with big city views," - Whangamata public meeting, September 13
On the Greens
"They sit next to National in Parliament ... having argued they were closest to the National Party. Confused? Well you've got a reason to be."
"It has emerged that the Greens' attack on me [as a racist] was not a surprise to the Memorandum of Understanding partner [Labour]. What the Greens co-leader's outburst confirms is that there are Greens and Labour members who want to curb, curtail and silence views they don't agree with." - July 17 convention speech
"It should not come as a surprise, but many have forgotten, that in 2008 the Greens entered a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Party. In 2015, they called for another similar understanding with National. They sit next to the National Party in Parliament, by choice, having argued in 2011 that they were closest to the National Party, an argument put up by Metiria Turei. Confused? Well you've got a reason to be." - Grey Power, Dargaville, July 21.
On the economy
"We are on shaky ground. When things break - you know who they will come for: seniors. If they think they'll be safe, they're wrong." - Christchurch August 16
"We have little financial freeboard for the next shock and that shock is imminent." - Wellington August 23
"New Zealand First does not buy the fiction that the economy is in great shape thanks to the government's skillful management. The 'strong economy' line is flim-flam." - Economic Development Agencies Conference, Wellington, August 31.
On criticism of New Zealand First's proposal to hold a referendum on the Māori seats
"NZ First will be attacked on this but the attack will be from hypocrites. If it's from National, that will be because hypocrisy is their middle name. If it's from Labour, it will be because they don't have a single Māori in their top 15. If it's from the Greens it is because, as political scientists are pointing out, they are largely white and don't have a Pacific person until you get to 19. In other words, the 'do as I say, not as I do, crowd.'. They are all tip and no iceberg." - July 17 convention
On personal criticism
"We live in an age of hypersensitive political correctness and we constantly see quotes of people saying 'I am offended' and playing the 'hurt feelings card'. Whatever happened to sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me?" - July 17 convention
"And sometime cricket player Mark Richardson launched a vicious attack on TV3 yesterday morning. He used derogatory and defamatory statements after my going to a meeting on the Manawatu Gorge Rd closure two nights ago ... yet this man, using a medium that gets significant money from the New Zealand taxpayer, TV3, launched this vicious, disgraceful attack. Not to my face, of course, when I was in front of him on Monday, no, three days later when I wasn't there." - Dargaville, July 21
Countless unethical, unprofessional and dishonest commentators have claimed to know what I want. It matters not to them that they have not one shred of evidence to base their opinions on, but they are so odious as to carry on regardless and misrepresent me ... I did what had to be done not what was good for my promotion. And I despise those who don't remember it." - Dargaville, July 21.