Maybe he was suffering from jet lag. Winston Peters arrived late into the Red Peak debate, having just got back from the UK where he had travelled as ‘media liaison’ with the parliamentary rugby team. And he was cranky.
He got into the house during the third reading, and immediately tried to jump the speaking queue, citing his seniority.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I just want to follow the speaking order here, because you have had a couple of backbenchers from the National Party, and I thought in this game, after many, many decades, that a certain seniority—
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): No. Well, that is not right. [Interruption] The member will sit. [Interruption] Order! The National Party’s third call was given to the Greens. That was a swap, and the Green Party, which would have been speaking now in slot six, has had that slot taken by National. New Zealand First gets the next one, which is number seven, and that is the procedure we are following. It has been for the previous readings and is again for the third reading. I am calling Jono Naylor.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Can I just ask you a simple question, which I am sure will interest a lot of people in other Commonwealth parliaments and debating chambers as well. Usually the argument goes for and against, for and against.
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): No, no. [Interruption] The member will sit. Parties have the opportunity to trade their calls. In this case—[Interruption] Order when I am on my feet. In this case the Greens and National have changed their third spot, so the Green Party took the third call, which was a National call, and National is taking the Green call, which is call six. That is why I have given the call to a National member. New Zealand First on the schedule is call seven, and it will get call seven.
So he had to wait until call seven. Which he began by dissing the previous speaker, who has hardly been an MP for five minutes.
It is hard to imagine any justifiable reason for that member, Jono Naylor, getting to his feet.
Next he took a swipe at that terribly inexperienced John Key.
The Prime Minister has been utterly consistent, though—and I will be reasonable to him—in his inconsistency. He has been like the Skycity deal, like the South Canterbury Finance deal, like the Hollywood deal, like the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, and like the deal or the argument about not making New Zealanders serfs in their own country.
About separatist legislation based purely on race or about the State-asset sales referenda that we have had, he has been utterly consistent. He has done a backflip on the whole lot including this legislation. So why are none of us surprised? You see, he was on a hiding to nothing and we knew from day one that he could not be trusted to give the public a fair choice.
Soon after that he put down an interjector:
Brett Hudson: What about baubles and titles? Ministerial limos?
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: No, no—do not come here like a young pup about the baubles of power. He is there because he got offered a list seat, not because he is good, not because he bright. He will be one of the first to go, and he will go on issues like this. We do not care about those whose experience is so little and who are so green in this Parliament.
Yes, Peters is a lot more experienced than Hudson (and just about everyone else). So he should know he got back into Parliament for the last two terms via his own party list – and I think he is on the panel that appoints him top of the list. Four NZ First MPs became rookies in the 2014 election and an even less experienced MP has been added this year, all via the list that Peters helps compile.
Back to dissing:
Here is the PM, instead of saying “I want to leave the country in greater economic and social wealth and do great things in areas of reform,” no, he wants to have of all things at the end of his time a flag. And when he is asked what flag he says he does not know. He does not know. So he wants a legacy that he does not know about. How pathetic and shallow and egotistical is that.
What would Peters know about pathetic and ego?
So, like the cavalry over the hills, at the last moment comes in the most unlikely form—the most unusual salvation—from of all parties the Greens. This is pixie dust, Mr Hughes. It is naivety in the extreme.
Does naivety mean doing something that actually gets a positive result in Parliament? Peters might forget what it’s like to do that.
The rest of you are gutless.
Yeah, in the face of brave Winston.
Now the Greens are”—and I cannot possibly pronounce this word—“going to help National.” It goes on and on: “I can’t believe how you’ve done this. I voted for you at the last election. Now I’m going to vote New Zealand First next time.”
This move by the Greens is a potential threat to NZ First. If they show more willingness to work with National to advance their policies that’s a potential threat to Winston’s ‘kingmaker’ dream.
And so will the Labour Party members, who need to wake up on this issue. They cannot be trusted on our left for 5 minutes when you have got somebody who thinks that their political genius understanding of our country people measures up to a change like this.
After a closing rant and a National MP speech (that ignored Winston) Kennedy Graham of the Greens stood up.
Dr KENNEDY GRAHAM (Green): I just begin by acknowledging once more my colleague Jonathan Young for his contribution to this whole process, including chairing the cross-party working group. He did a very good job. Just to agree with the Rt Hon Winston Peters in his contribution, politics is all about leadership. That is true. I am a little less inclined to agree with his characterisation that the Greens are naïve or, for that matter, that Labour cannot be trusted. In our view, Labour can indeed be trusted.
Yes, Labour needs to be trusted by the Greens – and by NZ First – if they want to work together to form the next government.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I didn’t say that. No I didn’t. You’ve got it wrong.
Dr KENNEDY GRAHAM: I think, Mr Peters, you did. The transcript will clarify that one way or the other.
The transcript quotes Peters describing the Gareth Hughes and Green move to introduce the bill – “It is naivety in the extreme.”
The transcript quotes Peters: “And so will the Labour Party members, who need to wake up on this issue. They cannot be trusted on our left for 5 minutes…”
I think that clarifies things – Mr Graham is right and Mr Peters is wrong.
But Peters wasn’t finished. When it came time for the final vote on the bill:
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): The question is that the motion be agreed to. Those of that opinion will say Aye, to the contrary, No.
Clauses 1 and 2
Speech – JOANNE HAYES (National)
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): Is it a point of order?
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: It is a point of order, that is why I put “point of order” in front of my request. I called for a personal vote at the beginning of my speech because, as I say—
Clauses 1 and 2
Speech – JOANNE HAYES (National)
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): No, no. This is the process. Let me explain the process. I told your whip this. The member will sit. [Interruption] The member will sit. [Interruption] The member will sit. The whip came and asked me the process. I told the whip what the process was, and the process is that if a party wishes to call for a personal vote, I put the vote, as I am doing now, and when I get to the stage of asking for those contrary to the vote, a party has the right to say they call for a personal vote. At that stage, the party calls for a personal vote and I will adjudicate on it at that stage. That is the process. I will start the vote again. The question is that the motion be agreed to. Those of that opinion will say Aye, to the contrary, No. The Ayes have it.
Tracey Martin: No. Noes have it.
An odd claim. Martin will have been aware that all the prior votes only had 12 Noes – the NZ First MPs are the only ones who voted against in the first and second readings.
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): Noes? All right—a personal vote has been called for by the New Zealand First Party. This bill has not been subject to personal votes during the course of the first or second reading or the Committee stages. I see no need to have a personal vote on this matter. The votes have been quite conclusive over the period of this urgency debate and, on that basis—and I refer the party to the Standing Order 144. That is the Standing Order that is the relevant one in this case. I am not prepared to accept a personal vote.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am well aware of the Standing Orders and past procedures, but there has rarely been, in my experience in debate on this matter, when so many members have openly and on the Hansard record stated their personal—hang on, can I just finish it off?
He should be as aware of Standing Orders and past procedures as any MP – and as familiar with futile grandstanding.
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): No, no—I have already ruled. The member will sit. [Interruption] The member will sit. [Interruption] The member will sit. It is the Speaker who decides whether there will be a personal vote, and let me read it out. I quoted the number, Standing Order 144: “A personal vote may be held following a party vote”—and that is the process we are at now—“if the Speaker considers that the decision on the party vote is so close that a personal vote may make a material difference to the result.” As I mentioned earlier—and I have presided over much of this debate in the readings and the Committee stages—there has not been close votes. It has been very, very clear. On that basis, I am not prepared to accept a personal vote. That is the end of the matter, and I am now proceeding with the vote.
[PV on third reading—Ayes 109, Noes 12]
So that was Winston’s contribution to the red Peak debate. Late and cranky. It may have been jet lag but it wasn’t much different to usual behaviour for him. Cranky has been normal for a long time.
What seems to be newer is his attempts to pull rank in Parliament and his open disdain of what he sees as inexperienced MPs (except NZ First rookies).
How Peters will manage to negotiate with wet behind the ears party leaders like Andrew Little and James Shaw will be interesting, if it ever comes to that. He may not get the opportunity.
Greens might decide it’s easier to deal with National than be looked down on and marginalised by Peters – and by Labour, who have always treated Greens as second rate.
Peters’ third reading flag speech: