Tau Henare, following Winston Peters in the Marriage Equality Bill third reading, and Peters’s diatribe “the biggest shyster speech I’ve ever heard”.
Winston called a point of order, but David Carter put him down with a firm “… That’s not a point of order.” Peters slunk back into his seat.
It was a cranky, shitty speech from Peters that put a dampener on a historic occasion in Parliament.
Here is the video: Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill – Third Reading – Part 5
Ex NZ First colleague Henare gave Peters a deserved blast before closing with his own words:
A shyster is a slang word for someone who acts in a disreputable, unethical, or unscrupulous way, especially in the practice of law, politics or business.
Shyster is derived from the German term scheisser, meaning literally “one who defecates”.
Sad for the occasion, sad for NZ First supporters who were embarrassed.
MARRIAGE (DEFINITION OF MARRIAGE) AMENDMENT BILL
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First):
New Zealand First believes in the use of public referendum, and we have for a long time.
In 1997 some will recall that we put a referendum to New Zealand voters on a savings regime similar to Australia or Singapore. Sadly, it was voted down, and 60 years later we are broke and in the clutches of foreign banks and foreign money.
We could have just rammed a bill through Parliament, but we went and took it to the people, and those are our bona fides on the issue of a referendum. We have spent the better part of the year debating Ms Wall’s bill, and, sadly, the public are not much the wiser for it. In fact, there has hardly been a debate.
What we have had is a small yet vocal minority telling the rest of New Zealanders that there is a law change that everyone wants, and anyone who disagrees has got to be a bigot.
Then on the other side of the so-called debate we have got those who would like to see the State police themselves police morality in the bedroom.
The truth is that most New Zealanders sit somewhere in the middle. That might be tawdry and uncomfortable, but it is the way a society works.
Some support the change; others do not. But their reasons for supporting or opposing it are never as sensationalist or extreme as some on either side would have us believe. No one really knows what side the majority of the public opinion sits on.
Some claim, as Ms Wall and her supporters have, that there is a huge groundswell for change. Well, is that true, and if so, how do we know?
As far as we are aware, the issue never came up at any of the meetings that we held in the 3 years out from the last election. Nobody lobbied us and no journalists called to ask where we sat on the issue. There was no words spoken on the campaign trail about same-sex marriage whatsoever.
That is not the issue, and Ms Wall has every right to draft a bill and present it to this House, but a lot of the bile in this issue would not be present had the process been different.
It came upon us, this bill, out of the blue. The manner of this bill’s emergence, the process by which it got before Parliament, needs to be publicised.
It is why many fair-minded Kiwis feel confused. They are confused because Ms Wall and her supporters have not told them how it happened.
Why did they not, upfront, go to the last election, in the campaign, and say “We will introduce same-sex marriage.”, instead of using some woolly language like “We will review relationship and property law.”? Who up in the gallery thinks that that is what they wanted?
The only explanation has to be that they were afraid. They were afraid that their party supporters might not like it. We can make all the pretentious and glorious statements tonight, but, in the end, it is what the people think. In fact, Ms Wall, sad to say, was not even upfront with her own party.
The normal process of the Labour Party—
Hon Member: Come on.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: —I am coming on with the facts here—is for members’ bills to be taken to the Labour whip’s office for the Labour whip to lodge after the bill is approved by the Labour caucus.
That is the process every party follows, and it has to be followed because the system will not operate without it. But Ms Wall did not. It is a fact. Make all the statements they like now, but the first the Labour leader’s office knew was seeing it on the list of bills lodged. That is a fact. So tell us why the Labour whip’s office was not told at caucus first, before the bill was lodged—
Hon Lianne Dalziel: It did go to caucus.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: I am getting it from the best of authority that that is what happened—
Hon Members: Ha, ha!
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Yeah, after the event. That is true—after the event.
Moana Mackey: We were there.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: So you were in the whip’s office? No, you were not, and that is a fact. My evidence is of somebody who was, and it suggests that the Labour Party was hijacked on this issue.
Ms Wall, what do the people of Manurewa think? What do the people out there in South Auckland, in Manurewa, think?
Well, utter silence now, but this is about democracy and representation.
That is why so many Labour supporters are telling us that they support our referendum stance, because they feel they have never been asked, that somehow they have been left out; even more think that somehow they have been cheated.
This is supposed to be a democracy. This is supposed to be a place where the people’s voice matters. This is supposed to be a Parliament where one would be proud to face up to their caucus and say “I think this bill should come before Parliament.”
Oh no, no, I am sorry; that is what they are saying now, because they could not say anything else, in the same way that many National members over there who are going to vote this bill know full well that the so-called protection for religious dissidents, whether they are celebrants or otherwise, is not in this legislation.
If a church so deems someone’s objection to be wrong, then that person could be punished. That is all they asked for. Is it too much for that to happen?
That is why we call this House the House of Representatives, representing not ourselves, but the people.
Here we are as a Parliament about to circumvent any expression of public opinion yet again. Why? Do they think that if the public is asked, they might lose?
I do not know, but I am prepared to trust the public. I do not wish to hear from polls; I want to know what the public exactly thinks. On Campbell Live tonight, I think the poll that it had, strange as it was—and I do not think it is remotely scientific—had 78 percent no and 22 percent yes. What say it is wrong by 20 percent?
The question is: what to the public think? And why are there so many people in this Parliament prepared, when it suits them, to circumvent the public’s will, when all the bile and venom of this issue could not have been in Parliament had we asked New Zealanders “Well, what do you think?”.
Shortly we go to Anzac Day. It is about democracy, and it is an inclusive democracy that they were fighting for, not just one vote every 3 years, and that is my point.
We are prepared to respect as a party, in New Zealand First, that we have many divergent party views within the party. We respect that. That is why we are prepared to all compromise and say as one group “Well, let’s ask New Zealanders, for after all, they should be the final arbiter.”
This is a rule not for us; it is a law for them.
We object to the people being taken for granted. We object to the view that we are here and we have temporary hold of the reins, and what Joe Public thinks is of no importance whatsoever.
For those who wish to ignore this message, then let me give this clear warning: there is a day of reckoning coming, electorally.
The manner of this vote tonight—[Interruption] Laugh now and cry later. The manner of this vote tonight is a game shifter, and it will be reflected in the next election results.
There are some issues that dissipate and there are some issues that stay around a long time.
All around New Zealand tonight and in the next few days, people will be saying “Well, if that’s the way they think, then our view does not matter, then I will never ever for them again.”
If one looks at the huge social and economic issues this country presently faces, and the desperate need for better solutions to them, then some in this House would have seriously sacrificed their colleagues and their party for a narrow, undemocratic—worthy or unworthy, I do not know—expression.
When the political wilderness years come, do not say you were not warned.
Tau Henare’s response:
Hon TAU HENARE (National): I will be splitting my call with the Hon Nikki Kaye. I did have a speech prepared, but that speech shot it to bits. Here is the bona fides on the New Zealand First referendum of the 1990s. The National Party said no to a bill.
That is why we went to a referendum, and when we went to a referendum, 82 percent of the country said: “No, Winston. We don’t believe in you any more.” That is what it said. It never went through caucus. It never went through caucus.
And that speech that I heard tonight was the biggest shyster speech I have ever heard—the biggest shyster speech I have ever heard.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. You heard what the member said. He must be looking in the mirror. But he must apologise.
Mr SPEAKER: That is not a point of order.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Are you saying such an expression is parliamentary?
Mr SPEAKER: Sorry?
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Are you saying that the expression he used is parliamentary?
Mr SPEAKER: I am certainly not ruling it out as unparliamentary.
Hon TAU HENARE: So it is OK for New Zealand First to have bills in the ballot. That is the democracy. But when Louisa Wall puts one in the ballot, that has to go to a referendum? How the hell is any country in the world supposed to operate on a system like that?
Who decides whether there should be a referendum or not? Him? I hope not. I hope not, because we would still be in the 1880s.
I feel sad that I was a member and even a deputy leader under that man. I used to look up to him. But I tell you what: that speech tonight is nothing more than pandering to the 10 percent on either side of this argument.
It is nothing more than pandering to those racist, redneck people who just love to get on the email. I want to say that I have been appalled with some of the behaviour of those for the bill and against the bill, because I for one do not think that those who are against the bill are homophobic just because they are voting against it.
It is their right to vote against it, and I will back my colleagues who vote against it all the way. I just do not agree with them. And they are going to lose tonight. But, however, to quickly run through what I was going to say, it is time.
The sky did not and will not fall in.
How does it affect me or anyone else in this House in this country? It does not. It just does not. Think about it for a minute.
If the institution of marriage was so sacrosanct, then why the hell are so many people getting a divorce? I do not say that in a facetious manner.
If it does belong to the Church, as I have been told by so many people on the email, then why do we have legislation outlining who can and who cannot?
If there was no legislation, I would back the Church 100 percent. But it is not theirs. It actually belongs to the Government. It actually belongs to this Parliament. It is a creature now of Parliament.
It is not a creature any more of either the Bible or the Church. Lastly, I want to say that it is actually about the equality of opportunity.
All we are doing—we are not forcing anybody to do anything in any way, shape, or form. But what we are doing is offering people the opportunity of equality, and they either take it or they do not. It is not up to me. It is not up to any one of us in this House.
I want to thank my cousin Cath, who unfortunately died some months ago. She would have been here yelling from the rooftops, and I seriously mean that she would have been yelling from the rooftops, because that is what she was like. I hope she is finally proud of her cousin, and I am sure she was in other ways.
Finally, a message to all LGBTI—and I finally got that out. My message to you all is welcome to the mainstream. Do well. Kia ora.