Is Peters up to holding the balance of power?

Performances of Winston Peters have been raising eyebrows and provoking much comment. He is a master of attracting attention, but recent attention is painting a worrying picture.

Peters in ParliamentNot just Peters looking pained.

Peters is obviously past his best. One of the big questions this election will be whether Peters is too far past it to be trusted with potentially deciding the next Government, and dictating to it.

The reaction on Twitter to Peter’s question to John Key in Parliament yesterday was unflattering, to put it mildly.

Peters talked up a smoking gun and after dithering and stumbling he eventually delivered a damp squib.

He has scored some big hits over the course of his career but he has often missed his mark after failing to produce sufficient or any evidence to back up his many accusations.

He claimed yesterday he would damn Judith Collins and end her career – Collins will be ‘gone by Monday’ - Peters

Instead his on career spluttered embarrassingly. He was thrown out of Parliament, possibly a deliberate ploy to feed the media but he only offered stale crumbs. The Winston gloss has worn off, even for entertainment hungry journalists.

3 News: Winston Peters‘ attack on Judith Collins fizzles

Mr Peters claimed he had the knock-out blow which would force Ms Collins to resign.

But it ended with Mr Peters and National MP Tau Henare being kicked out of the House.

Sunday Star Times: Peters kicked out of Parliament

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.”

NZ Herald: Knockout blow dimissed as “pop gun”

Asked whether Ms Collins should have declared the support from the Chinese government, Registrar of Pecuniary Interests Sir Maarten Wevers said he didn’t know.

“All I have is what has been stated in the House. I’m in no position to judge the veracity of that. It’s for the member. Should she wish to make a change to the declaration, she can do that. If in her view the declaration is correct as it stands then she doesn’t have to. It’s entirely in her hands.”

However he said any other Member of Parliament “can at any stage ask me to undertake an inquiry into another member’s return”.

Mr Peters has chosen not do that, instead he has referred the matter to Speaker of the House David Carter as a potential breach of Parliamentary Privilege. The last MP who was the subject of a Privileges Committee hearing related to a failure to make pecuniary interest disclosures was Mr Peters himself in 2007 for his failure to declare a donation from businessman Owen Glenn.

Patrick Gower: Peters‘ ‘smoking gun’ on Collins backfires

New Zealand First Party leader Winston Peters signalled to Parliament he had come gunning for Justice Minister Judith Collins this afternoon.
He promised more revelations about her China trip which would see her sacked. But when he pulled the trigger, he appeared to inflict a wound to his own foot.

This isn’t an isolated example. Winston Peters has never taken a balanced approach to political jousting but looks like he is struggling to hold his own balance let alone the balance of power.

In The House: Question 2, Winston Peters to John Key:

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