Peters a million dollar muck raker?

After acting indignant about a minor dig from John Key in Parliament that he either took major exception to or saw it as an excuse for getting some media attention – see Peters back to barrel scraping  – Winston Peters has proven he is as adept as any politician in making up allegations.

In Question Time on Wednesday Key suggested that Peters spent time in his Northland electorate on his boat fishing – “Not if you count time in your electorate being on a boat, fishing”.

Just prior to that Peters had himself made a claim without proof (and unprovable) – “is it not a fact that I have spent more time in my electorate in the space of just 9 months than he has for the whole time he has been an MP in his electorate?”

Peters followed this up with a $100k challenge to Key to prove his jibe. Key declined.

Then yesterday Peters made the headlines again.

Winston Peters demands explanation after being barred from school bus

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters is demanding an explanation from the Education Minister — after being barred from travelling on a school bus.

In a press release titled, “Minister throws Peters off bus”, the MP for Northland said he was today scheduled to visit the Mangakahia Area School, which is at Titoki about 23km northwest of Whangarei.

The community there has been campaigning against the amount of dust thrown up from unsealed roads.

However, Ministry of Education officials informed organisers that the NZ First leader would not be able to join the children on their school bus, as planned.

He suspected that directive came from the National Party, that “will stop at nothing to thwart the Northland MP from doing his job”.

“Minister of Education Hekia Parata must provide answers as to today’s appalling and disgraceful decision-making.”

So Peters has accused the National Party of interfering. This is from his press release:

Northland Bus Ban Just Petty Bullying

Banning Northland MP Rt Hon Winston Peters from a bus was an act of petty bullying by the government, the MP says.

“For Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye and ministry officials to claim my presence would breach a certificate of loading is bizarre.

“This is a government pushing their officials to tell porkies, to cover up a nightmare of political decision making that went so horribly wrong. They bullied the bus company.

“For the Associate Minister to say, as the media reported, that there were safety concerns if a bunch of politicians went on board with the schoolchildren is absurd.

“This was about one MP, who is a former teacher, has a police clearance, and was invited by parents and a school principal, being banned for political reasons.

“Now we have the government resorting to a cover-up described appropriately by broadcaster Willie Jackson and his commentator today as Busgate – that’s when those in power lie to cover up wrongdoings.

There’s serious repeated accusations of lying to cover to cover something up.

Radio NZ reported:  The wheels on the bus grind to a halt for Peters

Mr Peters was going to take a trip on a school bus in his Northland electorate today but was stopped from doing so after the Education Ministry alerted Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye’s office.

Ms Kay said it was an operational decision based on safety concerns, not a political one.

The Herald explained:

Kim Shannon, the Ministry of Education’s head of the education infrastructure service, said its transport agent had been advised by Ritchies that Mr Peters wanted to travel on the bus.

“Ritchies had health and safety concerns about this. Under the terms of Ritchie’s contract, they are not able to carry adults or any other ineligible passengers without our permission.”

The bus is a 20-seater vehicle and Ritchies advised that it carried 20 primary and secondary aged students on it.

“Our transport agent advised us that carrying Mr Peters and other adults in his party would placed the company at risk of exceeding the limits of the Certificate of Loading and could mean not all children would get seats,” Ms Shannon said.

“As this request was made at such short notice, it wasn’t possible to ensure that we could ensure the health and safety of the children on the bus under these circumstances. We informed our agent to turn down the request.”

If more notice had been given Mr Peters may have been allowed on the bus, Ms Shannon said.

In John Key turns down Winston Peters’ challenge to find a photo of him fishing in Northland Stuff reported:

Peters says Key should apologise, “pay $100,000 to a Northland charity of my choosing, and stop wasting Parliament’s Question Time with such blatant untruths.”

If Peters thinks a jibe in Question Time is worth $100k how much should he have to pay if his accusations of lying are blatant untruths?

Peters is well known for making things up to attack MPs and not substantiating his accusations.

Does this make him a million dollar muck raker? Or can he back up his claims of Ministers lying with some substance?

Another point – I can’t see any indication when this bus saga happened. Monday was a public holiday and Peters was in Parliament at least on Tuesday and Wednesday, so when was he denied a school bus ride, and why was the story put out yesterday?

Peters back to barrel scraping

Winston Peters came across as the most sensible MP when speaking on the Te Tii Marae issues last week. But back in Parliament he has quickly returned to scraping the bottom of an attention seeking barrel.

He has just issued a challenge to John Key:

Challenge To PM – Prove Your Fishing Story Or Pay Up

Author: Rt Hon Winston Peters
Date: Wednesday, February 10, 2016 – 17:45

The Prime Minister today introduced a new element of misinformation when he claimed I spent all my time up in Northland on my fishing boat, fishing, says New Zealand First Leader and Member of Parliament for Northland Rt Hon Winston Peters.

“I challenge the Prime Minister and I will pay to his favourite charity, not himself, $100,000, if he can find one witness that has seen me out on my fishing boat, fishing, since the Northland byelection.

“He won’t, of course, which is why he should apologise, pay $100,000 to a Northland charity of my choosing, and stop wasting Parliament’s Question Time with such blatant untruths.”

I presume that relates to their first clash of the year exchange in Question Time today.

9.Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Prime Minister: Does he have confidence in the Hon Steven Joyce; if so, why?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes, I do have confidence in Minister Joyce, who is both hard-working and effective. I would say, after he released the Northland report last week and went up to Northland to do that—not only did it have 58 initiatives in it, but I dare say that Minister Joyce now knows more about Northland than the member does. In actually having been there once this year, he has probably been there more than the member has—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! This is the very last warning to Dr Megan Woods. If I hear her interject again, I will be asking her to leave.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Seeing as the Prime Minister put it at issue, is it not a fact that I have spent more time in my electorate in the space of just 9 months than he has for the whole time he has been an MP in his electorate?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Not if you count time in your electorate being on a boat, fishing.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: How—

Hon Member: Well, that didn’t go anywhere.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Of course it did not go anywhere, because it is not true.

The rest of the exchange only mentions fishing once more:

…the “member for fishing” has come up with zero.

So it seems like a bit of an over-reaction from Peters.

This would probably have passed by virtually unnoticed, but Peters is drawing attention to it which is unlikely to do himself any favours.

The rest of the Q&A transcript:

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Less interjection from my right-hand side, and when the member—I call him for a supplementary question. Could we have the supplementary question?

Rt Hon Winston Peters: How can he have confidence in a Minister who launched the Northland economic plan and is so proud of it, when it catalogues National’s record: the unemployment rate there is 3 percent above the national average, nominal GDP—all in this book—per capita is 32 percent below the national average, and 20 percent of the population is living in deprived areas. Why is that a cause for pride?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Just to give a flavour of the facts that the member has quoted, which are not factually correct: the unemployment rate in Northland fell, actually, in the December quarter from 8.2 percent to 6.2 percent. It is certainly not new that Northland is a deprived part of New Zealand, but this is a Government that has actually been looking to do a number of things to change that position, and if the member wants to support them, including potentially more mining in Northland, reform of the Resource Management Act in Northland, more tourism activity, a whole bunch of other initiatives that were included in the document—58 in total—we look forward to his support. But as per normal, he will—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order! The answer is long enough.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: How can this 58-point plan even touch the surface of Northland’s needs, when Mr Joyce confirmed that there are no monetary or fiscal changes to give it effect, or any plans for seven of the 10 two-laned bridges that he talked about or the enhanced taxpayer-funded cellphone tower coverage or the ultra-fast broadband or, for that matter, the Wellsford to Pūhoi motorway? Where is that in his—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The question has been asked.

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: It is good to see the member is now supporting the Wellsford to Pūhoi part of the motorway. We look forward to that. The member should know, actually, that the Minister is not responsible for monetary policy in New Zealand, but when it comes to so many other initiatives like ultra-fast broadband and rural broadband and the likes, the Government is involved in that, and in terms of upgrading the infrastructure of roading and bridges. But I would just make this simple point: if we just want to have a point-for-point comparison, it is 58 to zip, because this Minister has come up with 58 initiatives for Northland and the “member for fishing” has come up with zero.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: When he and his colleague Mr Joyce were in Northland, albeit briefly, and promised 10 two-laned bridges, taxpayer-funded ultra-fast broadband, and extra cellphone coverage paid for by the taxpayer, and the Pūhoi to Wellsford highway, did they not plan to give it any funding to make it happen? Because if it was the plan, where is it in his master 58-point plan?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: We are good as a Government—I am prepared to accept that—but even we do not think we can build roads, bridges, and ultra-fast broadband without putting in money. So, yes, there will be money following those initiatives, as there already has been. And, actually, that report indicates that we decided to put $4 million into the Hundertwasser project in Whangarei. There are 58 very bold and good initiatives in this plan, and the member should either come up with his own 58 or get on the bus and support it.

 

Leader’s opening speeches

I’ve posted John Key’s and Andrew Little’s opening speeches in Parliament separately:

Here are the rest of the party leaders’ speeches with opening and closing lines from the draft transcript:

James Shaw (Greens)

JAMES SHAW (Co-Leader—Green): I would like to agree on behalf of the Green Party to the amendment placed by the Leader of the Opposition , Mr Andrew Little . The Prime Minister’s statement was notable only for its lack of notability. At least Auckland ratepayers do not have to fork out $4,500 to listen to that one! Today I would like to talk about leadership, and I would like to start by talking about a subject that many National MPs are going to become very familiar with next year. I would like to talk about retirement.

I think that that is the mistake that this Government has made. It is lost in a desert of the real. It is leading us in circles and telling us how far we have come. When I do retire and I look back on my time here, serving as a Green MP, I know that we will not have achieved everything that I want us to achieve because politics is hard and change is hard. But I do want to be able to say that we tried—that we took on and confronted the greatest challenges of our time and we tried to solve them; that we were brave enough to lead and not just follow the focus groups—because it is better to try and, if we fail, to learn from our mistakes and to try again than to do nothing. Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa.

Winston Peters (NZ First)

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First): It is always wonderful to have applause before you start your speech. This is the Prime Minister’s statement put out today and it reads nothing like the pathetic speech that he made as the Prime Minister—very embarrassing in the extreme. In this document he says this, that the Government is “taking the public with us by clearly outlining our actions and policy priorities.” Is there any New Zealander, including the backbench of the National Party, who remotely thinks that that is true? There is not a Marama murmur, no confirmation at all, because they know it is false, demonstrably false. Look, he is taking us down the road to low wages against leading economies.

Oh, what about Treaty settlements? I tell you what we will do for the Māori people—I tell you what we will do for the Māori people—we will stay with housing, with health, with education, and First World wages, and we will leave Treaty settlements to the Māori Party and those academics who are having a most rich, wealthy, affluent life on the back of their own people’s numbers, and who have forgotten about their people. Go to Moerewa and ask any Māori up there: “What have you got out of the Treaty?” Go down to Ngāti Porou and ask the average Māori: “What have you got out of the Treaty?” And so here we are in a most un-Māori way seeing Māori members of Parliament screaming out when they hear common sense. It will not save them. Our message, as we close with this speech today, and as it was in the Northland by-election, and as it will be as soon as the flag option choice goes down in March, is for the New Zealand people to hang on a little bit longer. Do not give up, because help is on its way.

Te Ururoa Flavell (Maori Party)

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL (Co-Leader—Māori Party): Tēnā koe, Mr Speaker. Kia ora tātou katoa e te Whare. The last speaker talked about something like: “Help is on its way.” The Māori Party says: “Do not wait! Help is here. Right now! Help is here right now. The Māori Party is in the House.” Just yesterday many of us enjoyed some time to commemorate and think about Waitangi Day and the change to the legislation allowing for public holidays—awesome. In fact, those workers at the AFFCO meatworks in Rangiuru managed to get over the line to have a holiday despite having to challenge legally that issue, so I want to give a big ups to them for taking that take on. Waitangi is a day when you see the good, not-so-good, the confused, the theatrical. Everybody gets a chance to express their views. I suppose get an understanding of our country’s founding document, our history, and the challenges that face us. The conversations about te Tiriti o Waitangi means to us an ongoing dialogue.

I want to close by simply saying that as we commemorate that Treaty partnership, it is timely to remind my ministerial colleagues that I am but one cog in the machinery of the State. As part of the broader response of fulfilling our Treaty obligations, I will be encouraging my ministerial colleagues to embrace Māori development and Māori approaches as a core object of their portfolios. I am looking forward to the great amount of work that we are going to carry out this year, and to the outcomes that may come to Māori communities. Transformative gains require alignment of policy and services with Māori needs and aspirations. We are definitely heading in that direction. It is going to be a great year and I am looking forward to the work.

Peter Dunne (UnitedFuture)

Hon PETER DUNNE (Leader—United Future): I want to begin by paying a tribute to the late Rt Hon Bob Tizard, who died just a few weeks ago. I am one of the very few members in the House today who had the privilege of being here when he was a member. I see the Hon Annette King, and I acknowledge her. And I am sure she will agree with me that Bob gave the appearance of being permanently irascible. As someone once said, he was the most balanced man in the House; he had chips on both shoulders. But that actually belied a considerable intellect, terrific ability, and a form of warmth that meant that he did have a very strong sense of compassion for the underdog. I think he was a parliamentarian of an era that we no longer have, and I think it is important to pay tribute to people like that—to span in Parliament from Walter Nash through to Mike Moore as Prime Minister. As a parliamentary candidate, he first stood in the 1951 waterfront election, so I pay my tribute to him and express my sympathy to his family on their sad loss, and my appreciation, for one, at his tremendous contribution to our country. The debate on the Prime Minister’s statement is a chance to talk about the direction that the country is heading in over the coming 12 months, and it is very difficult to do that without reflecting upon the immediate past, the last few days—the events at Waitangi. The debate on the Prime Minister’s statement is a chance to talk about the direction that the country is heading in over the coming 12 months, and it is very difficult to do that without reflecting upon the immediate past, the last few days—the events at Waitangi. I want to say this: I believe that commemorating the events that happened on 6 February 1840 is extremely important and is foundational to understanding this country’s past and contributing to its future, but I am also minded of the words that Norman Kirk uttered at a time when the Waitangi commemoration first became a national holiday, in 1973. He said: “This is a day for all New Zealanders, not just the people of Northland, to celebrate the unique gifts we possess by virtue of the fact that we are New Zealanders.”

I simply conclude by welcoming all members back to the House. I welcome Maureen Pugh to the House, and I am sure we will all have many robust debates over the next 12 months.

David Seymour (ACT Party)

DAVID SEYMOUR (Leader—ACT): It is great to be back, and in the spirit of the beginning of the year, I would like to begin with some agreement. I agree with Andrew Little that the National Party is, by and large, managing the policies that Labour put in place, but I want to agree with the Prime Minister that the National Party is managing those policies so much better. Such is the history of these two parties over the time that they have governed our country. I want to pay tribute to the outgoing member, Tim Groser, and the fantastic job that he has done with the Trans-Pacific Partnership. It is extraordinary that a small economy of $240 billion at the bottom of the world has managed, over the period of a decade, to draw in 11 other economies with a collective GDP of $27 trillion and create a free-trade zone and an agreement that will have inestimable benefits for New Zealanders and New Zealand exporters. I say “inestimable” because the argument for free trade is often very much like the argument for freedom generally. The reason that we want freedom is that we do not know exactly how people will use it, and how big the advantages of having freedom, including freedom to trade, will be.

This will be an important year for New Zealand. They all are, but this is an important one. In this year this Government, the John Key Government, will focus on building the opportunities for New Zealand, growing the skills, growing the innovation, building our infrastructure, improving our natural resources allocation, attracting investment in this country, and, most important , providing export access to our farmers and to our businesses to be able to sell overseas. That is crucially important, so for any naysayer on the other side who has a speech-writer trying to write up stories about this Government having a vision, I say: look in the mirror, it is you who are playing politics and have no vision for this country. Thank you.

Straddling the political divide

Some see politics as a big division between one thing or another but in reality there’s far more fairly common ground than there are extreme differences.

But today the ODT chose to call their editorial Straddling the political divide, looking ahead to the year in Parliament kicking off. However i think what they are referring to is more of a divide between what the public would like to see of their Members of Parliament and how those MPs present themselves in Parliament.

Parliament resumes tomorrow with the Prime Minister’s statement taking precedence over other business.

While official business takes centre stage tomorrow, the political year started earlier with the State of the Nation speeches by political leaders.

Mr Key can take all the time he needs as his statement has no limit in length. The debate in reply has a limit of 14 hours but the Government can, if it chooses, and it probably will, adjourn the debate and get on with other business. The year needs to start strongly.

The debate in reply begins with the Leader of the Opposition moving a no-confidence vote in the Government and moves on from there into the Opposition parties trying to score some political points against the Government in general and Mr Key in particular.

Mr Key has been untouchable for seven years and will point to the achievements of his Government as he outlines parliamentary priorities for the year ahead. In the past, Mr Key has deviated from his set speech to get a march on the Opposition, which has an advance copy of his address.

Tomorrow can really be the time for Mr Key to put aside the political agenda of trying to make his opponents look silly and provide some uplifting goals to which he aspires.

The Opposition can use their time to avoid making personal attacks and focus on providing some alternatives to what it sees as damaging policies.

All of this seems sadly unlikely and New Zealanders will again be left frustrated on the sides of the political divide.

As I said at the start, I think one of biggest divides in New Zealand politics is  not left versus right (the main parties are often called National Lite and Labour Lite) but a divide between how our Members of Parliament behave in Parliament and how the public would like them to behave.

Robust debate with opponents and challenging policies are very important aspects of a democracy.

But far too often our politicians resort to petty attacking and opposing for the sake of opposing rather than based on common sense.

The tone of our politics and of Parliament must be set from the top, by the party leaders. When did we last have a leader who led by example?

John Key has been a very successful leader but I don’t think he has yet been a great leader. He often tries to be a person of the people, quite successfully going by the polls but that’s probably as much to do with a lack of strong opponents.

Andrew Little is yet to step up as a credible leader.

The party leader I’ve been most impressed with over the annual Waitangi debacle is Winston Peters, who spoke honestly about the core of the problems. Perhaps the wily old campaigner can rise above his usually futile game playing and end his career on a respectable high.

Is Key capable of providing ‘some uplifting goals”?

Or will he continue to massage the masses with meanderings, policy-wise?

Likeable (to half the population) but with modest achievements who eventual fades away? Or can he become a leader of our times? If he aspires to the latter he will need to do more than just wave a flag.

Can Key find a way of straddling the divide between successful politician and aspirational leader? Does he want to?

Wise words from Winston 0n Waitangi

Some wise words from Winston Peters on the Waitangi mess:

Winston Peters: The reality is that it’s very sad that regardless of who the Prime Minister is we are not as a country treating them with the dignity of their office on a national occasion like this, and it’s seriously disappointing from both a Maori perspective and also a New Zealand wide perspective.

Guyon Espiner: You think it has been handled in a way that’s disrespectful already?

Winston Peters: Well the reality is that Ngāpuhi is there as hosts on behalf of the whole nation in a sense that this is where the setting is established.

And you know you’ve got three hundred sixty four other days a year to argue these things on your national day to turn it into a major complaint, maybe rightfully so but not on that occasion, with the Government, is disappointing in terms of our international perspective, our image internationally, and also the growing of a culture where we actually treat similar things that have resulted from the unity of people over a long period of time.

Guyon Espiner: What’s the solution because you’ll remember well Helen Clark as Prime Minister, she stayed away didn’t she from Te Tii Marae for exactly this reason. I guess she was concerned that the Ngāpuhi elders who were organising it couldn’t get their act together was her view on it so she stayed away. Do you think that is the approach that should be taken?

Winston Peters: Well it’s actually worse than that. Before she became the Prime Minister there was the disgraceful incidence inside the meeting house at the lower marae where Titiwhai Harawira attacked her right to speak on behalf of the Labour Party. And you know things just descended from there.

So frankly, how shall I put it, I would have thought that this from a Ngāpuhi point of view is most unacceptable.

You will not see this happening down in Ngai Tahu in the South Island.  You will not see it happening in Ngāti Porou in Gisborne. You won’t see it happening in Rotorua.

So why on earth is Ngāpuhi putting up with this in Northland?

That’s the real issue and sooner or later they are going to have to address that question.

Guyon Espiner: It’s a little confusing isn’t it because they’re saying “look we’re inviting the Prime Minister to Te Tii Marae but we’ll try to block him from getting there and we’re in doubt about whether to let him speak and if he does speak we don’t want him to speak about politics”. It’s a bit of a mess.

Winston Peters: Well I don’t know how I could add anything more to it. It is a total utter mess and it’s been a mess for a long time. Sometimes it’s gone more smoothly than others but for over thirty five years that’s what we’ve put up with up north

And one of these days Ngāpuhi leaders are going to have to come to their senses and say this is not the image we want, we’re the biggest iwi in the country, this is not good for either Maoridom or any economic or social advancements or opportunities we might have, and it’s not good for our country.

But that day sadly in 2016 may not have arrived.

I, and I think a lot of Maori and Pakeha, will agree with Peters what Peters says here, and are as saddened as he sounds about the mess that Waitangi too often becomes.

And today it got even messier with John Key eventually pulling out of any visit to Waitangi this year.

Transcript from Radio NZ Winston Peters backs Key’s decision to attend Waitangi.

I wonder if Peters now backs Key’s decision to withdraw from a Waitangi visit.

Long, rambling and late: Winston

Winston Peters eventually arrived to deliver a “a long, rambling, and late State of the Nation address” at Orewa last night.

Barry Soper reports Long, rambling and late: Winston attacks regular foes in speech.

Peters was more than an hour late, leading others to fill the gap. Certainly one of the event organisers, former National and ACT leader Don Brash was looking a little impatient waiting for the arrival of the guest speaker.

When he finally got to the podium Peters delivered what has become hardy annuals for him, attacking immigration, “Maori privilege”, and both National and the Labour parties.

He predicted the National led government’s downfall before the next election in a speech that was long on rhetoric but short on specifics.

Sounds like same old from Winston (and rambling from Soper isn’t unusual either).

But Stuff has more detail in Winston Peters uses Orewa speech to claim RMA changes on separatist track:

NZ First leader Winston Peters has launched a far-reaching attack on the Government and its economic management, accusing it of being “contemptuous of New Zealanders’ real concerns and problems”.

But in his state of the nation speech to Orewa Rotary…Peters also warned the current draft changes to Resource Management Act, with its concessions to the Maori Party, were leading down the path of separatism.

He told the audience of about 100 that National had sold out and virtually none of the reforms they were initially speaking about were in the current bill – yet it had not approached NZ First for support.

“Under the new bill, every council in New Zealand will be required by law, to invite the local iwi to “discuss, agree and record ways in which tangata whenua” through iwi authorities, can participate in the formulation of policy plans, including water management plans,” he said.

“They were bent over a barrel and not surprisingly, didn’t have the back bone to stand up to them.  Nor did they have the common sense to look around to the one party that could help – New Zealand First,” he said.

“The proposed changes to the RMA are a signal flare to the entire country that the two parties are taking us down the track of separatism.  We are no longer one people.  We are moving towards two separate groups with separate rights.”

Peters announced NZ First would move amendments to cut red tape and bring common sense to the RMA.

“We will do so on one condition, that National will drop all provisions in the bill that provide separate rights based on race,” he said.

“We as a principled party could not in good conscience support this legislation in its current separatist form.”

Other than that he covered familiar territory:

“National has an agenda to systematically undermine and weaken New Zealand’s sense of identity and sovereignty. This agenda lurks behind a number of issues – including changing the flag, encouraging foreign ownership and flooding the country with immigrants.”

He seems to be having a bob each way on the flag:

He said there was no problem or serious public concern with the New Zealand flag until Prime Minister John Key “decided to manufacture an issue”.

“That typifies arrogance and contempt for New Zealand’s history and values. It’s hypocritical. Key brought back knighthoods and shamelessly tried to best friend the royal family yet wants the Union Jack gone. Our Prime Minister wants a bob each way.  Scrap our national flag whilst reintroducing Knights and Dames.”

Peters said in about four years Australia would have changed its flag and then the current NZ emblem would be unique as it was early last century.

Complaining about scrapping our national flag and being left with an outdated emblem.

“Diversity, beloved of some apologists, is not an economic or social policy. There is clearly no economic justification for the flood of immigrants. On the contrary mass immigration is directly counter to the interests of most Kiwis in terms of jobs, housing and already overloaded services especially in an age of robotics. This is also an assault on our sovereignty.”

Anti-immigration bollocks, typical Peters playing to a constituency while trashing others. It isn’t “mass imigration”. The ‘flood of immigrants’ is a normal level of immigration plus a lot of New Zealanders returning.

Were his immigrant ancestors an assault on our democracy? Peters is assaulting decency.

And he cherry picks financial figues.

“The Government managed to achieve a token chimeric surplus of $0.4 billion in the 2014/15 financial year. Today financial statements released by Treasury show the budget deficit from July – November 2015 was actually $1.6 billion. That is a staggering $2 billion turn around.”

He’s comparing a financial year with a half year. He’s not that dumb so that seems to be just deliberately misleading. Which isn’t unusual for Peters.

There’s no reference to or transcript of his speech on the NZ First website.

The only reference on their Facebook page is a link to the Stuff article quoted here, headed with:

NZ First leader Winston Peters has launched a far-reaching attack on the Government and its economic management, accusing it of being “contemptuous of New Zealanders’ real concerns and problems”.

Same old Winston.

State of the Nation speeches

Today there will be two State of Nation speeches.

Metiria Turei will give a State of the Nation today, at 12:30 pm today at the National Library in Wellington.

This will be live streamed: http://livestream.com/nzgreens/StateoftheNation

No mention of this on their website but it is on their Facebook page.

Winston Peters will also give NZ First’s State of Nation speech tonight, again not on their website but details are on their Facebook page:

The Rt Hon Winston Peters will be giving his state of the nation speech at the Orewa Rotary Club at 6pm.

Orewa Rotary Club
Rotary House
War Memorial Park
4 Hibiscus Coast Highway
Silverdale

This will compete for media attention with another political event tonight in which another NZ First MP will be speaking:

NZ First Trades Spokesman Fletcher Tabuteau – NZ First MP will be part of a political panel about the TPPA at Auckland Town Hall at 7pm.

Auckland Town Hall
Queen Street
Auckland Central
Auckland

I get the impression that the TPPA event will be in Auckland.

Metiria will also be on the political panel at the TPPA meeting.

 

 

Politics at Ratana

Claire Trevett points out that the rule “to not get too political” at Ratana was well and truly broken yesterday.

What do you expect when you get a parade of party leaders plus media looking for their first big political stories of the year?

Bending rules under the heat

Veterans of the January visit to Ratana know the two key rules: take sunscreen and a hat.

The third rule, to not get too political, was well and truly broken this year, despite being hosted on the Sabbath.

Peters seems to have been the most blatant.

NZ First leader Peters was not going to waste his time with any pretence about leaving politics out of it. He made an unashamed pitch for votes. He told them people could be forgiven for thinking politicians were like used car salesmen, – “Plenty of pre-sales talk. No after sales delivery.”

He said there was a solution to that. “Get on the roll and buy yourselves some insurance. You know which party that is … New Zealand First.”

And despite saying earlier in the day that he didn’t want to be “over religious” about interpreting one of prophet Ratana’s predictions as relating to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, he took a sudden turn to the religious once he was before the faithful. At one point, he assured them if they voted NZ First they would be doing “God’s work”. He finished by getting the crowd to repeatedly chant after him: “Amen to the Ratana Movement.”

Plenty of pre-sales talk. Don’t expect much after sales delivery from Peters.

Labour MPs arrived with stickers boasting of the 80-year alliance between Labour and Ratana.

Little announced Labour was extending its policy of offering to pay the equivalent of the dole to employers who took on apprentices from the ranks of the unemployed.

Policy announcements now at Ratana.

Much of Key’s speech was dedicated to rebutting Labour leader Andrew Little’s speech and defending the Trans-Pacific Partnership – an exercise that prompted a rare bout of booing at the marae.

From the look of news coverage it wasn’t just Little that Key was rebutting, other speakers attacked him and the TPPA.

James Shaw launched a Green Party petition to stop the compulsory acquisition of Maori land under the Public Works Act.

Just Maori land? Or do the Greens not think equality applies with that?

Interesting to see Shaw fronting on that. Metiria Turei has been prominent at Ratana in the past.

Until last year, Government and Opposition MPs have been welcomed on separately.

But now they are taken on to the marae in one big dysfunctional family. It would be paradise for David Attenborough.

Watching the politicians in front of foe and friend was akin to watching peacocks in the mating dance, fluffing their tail feathers and alternating between wooing their audience and attacking their rivals.

Stuff: John Key defends Government support for TPPA deal in speech at Ratana

Prime Minister John Key has defended his Government’s support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement in a fiery speech to Ratana followers.

Key’s speech came after others at the annual Ratana Church celebrations expressed misgivings about the free trade deal and urged the Government to delay its signing, set down for February 4 in Auckland, until it is discussed more thoroughly with Kiwis.

Little:

Little slammed the Government’s record on worker’s rights and social policy, such as its requirement that cancer sufferers be treated as jobseekers.

He announced Labour would extend its dole for apprenticeships scheme, which gives employers willing to train young apprentices the equivalent of the unemployment benefit, beyond 18- and 19-year-olds to cover those aged up to 24.

He reserved special criticism for the TPPA and the Government’s failure to share enough information about the deal with New Zealanders.

Peters:

NZ First leader Winston Peters criticised the secrecy around the deal before it was signed, and questioned the timing of the signing given the United States was unlikely to ratify it until 2017.

“It’s a scam, it’s a sham and the fact is it may well be a total waste of time…they’re doing it more for show than for substance.”

Peters said he was “particularly concerned” about how the TPPA would allow foreign countries and corporations to comment on New Zealand legislation.

“We’re one of the great democracies…and yet we’re going to sign our sovereignty away to some international group of business interests, and that’s fundamentally wrong.”

Shaw:

Green Party co-leader James Shaw said protests against the TPPA were likely to “ramp up” as the signing date approached, and he believed protesters could yet influence the Government’s support for the deal.

“I can only hope they do [listen] but I have to say their track record would imply they’re not going to.”

Maori Party:

Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox said there were still a number of questions which needed to be answered about how the TPPA would affect Maori and other New Zealanders.

“We need to figure out this thing…is it the great big demon or are there benefits in there? Yes there will be benefits there economically, but do they translate to all of our people?”

Politicians + media = a hijacked event.

I guess journalists don’t see many headlines or page clicks in religion reports these days.

Winston damns the opposition

Winston Peters has been given the opportunity to preach politics, according to Claire Trevett to Labour.

Peters’ message to Labour: Fix up, look sharp

NZ First leader Winston Peters has sent a veiled message to Labour to shape up if it hopes to thwart Prime Minister John Key’s ambitions of getting a fourth term in Government.

Mr Key told the Herald last week he did intend to seek a fourth term as Prime Minister.

Asked about that ambition at Ratana, Mr Peters would not rule out Key’s chances and instead sent a subtle jab Labour’s way. “If the Opposition was in any way what it should be, [Key] wouldn’t have a hope in Hades.”

“That’s the real test. Whether the Opposition parties mark up, shape up, keep themselves focused, keep their eyes on what the prize should be rather than their own political and egregious self interest and advantage. If they do that, then the Government wouldn’t have a show in its present construction.”

But doesn’t Peters fancy himself as the real leader of the Opposition?

Whether intentional or not it sounds like Peters is damning his own performance as much as anyone’s.

“Their own political and egregious self interest and advantage” is funny coming from him.

Peters started last year with a hiss and a roar, out manoeuvring Labour in the Northland by-election and then embarrassing National.

But after winning the electorate Peters seemed to fizzle out a bit. The most notable NZ First news through the rest of the year was Ron Mark replacing Tracey Martin as deputy leader – his “own political and egregious self interest and advantage” and it’s very debatable whether that will help NZ First’s chances.

“If the Opposition was in any way what it should be, [Key] wouldn’t have a hope in Hades.”

Is that the Opposition including Peters or excluding him?

NZ First “assault on free speech”

NZ First deputy leader Ron Mark’s remarks in Parliament last week, and the support of those remarks by leader Winston Peters, have been described in a Herald editorial as an assault on free speech.

I agree. Trying to put someone down and telling them they should go back ‘to where they came from” is an insidious attempt to shut them up, an attempt to tell them thay have no right to speak or to be critical. This is especiallyh serious as it happened in Parliament, where it’s important MPs can speak openly for their parties and constituencies.

Editorial: ‘Korea’ slight an assault on free speech

New Zealand First MP Ron Mark’s suggestion in Parliament that National’s Melissa Lee should “go back to Korea” rather than criticise something in New Zealand has been called racist, which it was, but it was also oppressive of free speech, which in Parliament is even worse.

Mr Mark is denying the right of immigrants to criticise their adopted country, which is an attitude heard often enough in general conversation where it is deeply oppressive for immigrants who are sensitive to the fact that they are recent arrivals and would like to join the conversation.

It is an attitude that should never be heard in Parliament, where it is essential to democracy that representatives of all shades of opinion, interest and ethnicity are allowed to speak.

NZ First have attacked Asian immigration and Asian investment and attacked Asians generally for some time. But to attack a New Zealand MP and to try and shut them up because they are of Asian origin, in Parliament, is probably a new low.

On that basis, Mr Mark may say he should be free to express the view that immigrants who do not like something about New Zealand should go back where they came from rather than criticise this country.

But Parliament has numerous rules that restrict its members’ rights to speak in ways that abuse their rights or oppress the rights of others to be heard. This should be one of the them.

It was ethnic bullying.

It is hard enough to encourage immigrants to stand for Parliament, as any political party can attest, for exactly the reason Mr Mark has stated. Naturally they wonder whether they have a right as new citizens to join in our political debates. We need to stress they most certainly do have a right. They have chosen to become citizens of this country, they are a large and growing minority contributing to its economy and we need to hear their views. It is not healthy for any country to suppress the voice of any section of its population.

It is similar to if Mark had told a female MP to shut up and go back to their kitchen or a Maori MP to shut up and go back to their Marae.

For these reasons, Mr Mark ought to have apologised to Ms Lee and to Parliament as soon as he had reflected on what he had said. The fact that he still has not should be treated very seriously in view of its oppressive implications for free speech in the chamber.

It is possible Mr Mark has not reflected on his remark even yet.

Mark should reflect on a number of things he has said in Parliament said and on his behaviour in Parliament. He appears to be too arrogant to do so.

It is not too late for the House to take some sort of action when it resumes next week. The need for a directive on oppressive speech has become stronger now that New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has echoed the offence. When the country’s most experienced parliamentarian says, “If someone is complaining about the country they are in, they … can always go back home,” he is a disgrace to free and fair debate.

It’s not unusual for Peters to be a disgrace to free and fair debate. It’s very sad that NZ First now have a deputy who seems tol be prepared to be more disgraceful.

All of this arose because Ms Lee criticised shop trading hours in New Zealand as they used to be. Any member of Parliament who cannot acknowledge the right of another to be here, and take part in our politics, is not worth his seat.

As far as Peters goes that’s up to the voters in his electorate.

Mark is a list MP, so it is up to NZ First to decide on whether he  deserves his seat. That his leader has endorsed and repeated his insidious remarks means voters should seriously consider whether NZ First is worth having in Parliament. Unfortunately democracy means even racists and bigots and those who verbally assault immigrants and assault free speech can get elected.

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