Winston Peters on NZ First’s 20th anniversary

Winston Peters has written a RadioLive column commemorating the twentieth anniversary of the New Zealand First Party.

Twenty years of New Zealand First.

Twenty years ago, at Alexandra Park in Auckland, the New Zealand First Party was launched.

The party was formed by former members of the then National and Labour parties, after Winston Peters had left National for reneging on its 1990 General Election pledge to end the disastrous social and economic policies of the 1984-90 Labour Government.

It’s a massive effort. Peters has founded the party, steered it through difficult coalitions, survived after losing his Tauranga electorate, and survived and come back strong in 2011 after missing the threshold in 2008. Peters is a wily old campaigner who hasn’t yet given up.

Two months earlier on April 17th 1993 Mr Peters having resigned from Parliament fought and won a by-election in the Tauranga Electorate having resigned from Parliament seven weeks earlier.

That’s a bit confused but probably due to something missed in proofing.

Peters lists achievements of the party. I’ll split them into actual policy achievements

• Free medical care for under sixes
• Abolition of the unfair Superannuation surcharge under which pensioners were heavily taxed on their savings
• Pay parity for primary school teachers
• Removing Superannuation cuts and raising Super to 66 per cent of the net average wage
• 1,000 extra frontline police
• Increased funding for residential care of the elderly
• SuperGold Card with transport concessions and retail discounts
• Revived Maori wardens organisation to help ease social and behavioural problems
• Funding and empowering the Maori Women’s Welfare League to address social and family problems

And more general aims.

• Defence of an economic prescription for responsible capitalism
• Opposition to State Assets Sales
• Advocacy of one law for all New Zealanders
• A sane voice for controlled, focused immigration
• Championing teenage mothers getting second chance education
• And much more

Peters has never shied from confronting policies, parties and politicians he disagrees with or sees as opposition to his goals.

New Zealand First has constantly held Governments to account and provided strong opposition to unacceptable policies.

He’s been a bit like a bamboozled blunderbuss at times, sometimes hitting targets but often missing the mark.

The main focus of the party now is to correct New Zealand’s failed economy which has resulted in so much of New Zealand’s growth and GDP ending up in the hands of so few, and appalling levels of poverty and unfairness in economic and social policies.

If he sorts all that out in the next eighteen months he’ll have done very well.

It’s far too soon to say what his party’s chances are in next year’s election. We may not know until just before or after the election. Peters is not as sharp or as active as he used to be, and it will be hard work sustaining himself through the term. He then has to lift himself to  fight a fresh campaign.

Peters won’t give up easily. We’ll have to see if the electorate gives up on him or not.

But he should at least be able to celebrate NZ First’s twenty first.

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