Peters and a handsome horse called Neoliberalism

This week’s budget highlights a big contrast between what Winston Peters has said and what he does. Talking the bucking the system bronco talk in opposition, but trotting along with the establishment for a dividend of baubles.

In past years Peters speeches has condemned National, capitalism and ‘neoliberalism’, but this week’s budget has been described as business as usual, National-lite and a continuation of neo-liberalism.

Not that this sort of duplicity will bother Peters – he has a history of talking a big change talk, but is walking a same old walk.

Winston promised radical change but is helping to deliver more of the same old. He campaigns as an anti-establishment politician, but props up the establishment given half a chance.

Peters has a history of cosying up to whoever will give him a share of power. He worked a coalition with National from 1996-1999, and did it again with Labour in 2005-2008. Neither of those Governments wavered from the same old capitalist approach alongside some state assistance. All Governments since the 1980s have been bitterly described as ‘neo-liberal’ by some on the left.

Peters in a speech in 2010:

New Zealand First was born from those who rejected the radical reforms of National and Labour and who wanted a party that represented ordinary New Zealanders – not overseas interests or those of a few ever mighty subjects.

So, after the blitzkrieg neo-liberal policy destruction of Labour between 1984 and 1990 – and National until 1996, New Zealanders decided they wanted change.

In less than two years Jim Bolger was rolled by Jenny Shipley whose mission was to smash the centre-right coalition and to continue the neo-liberal experiment supported by the Business Round Table and any other stragglers they could cobble together.

We saw some of this recently in the economic prescription of a failed politician who simply could not see that pure neo-liberal economics is a pathway to economic servitude for all but a small privileged elite.

Or maybe he does know this – which makes he, and his ilk, even more dangerous.

Dripping with irony. Peters enabled both the Bolger government and the Clark government prior to making that speech.

In 2016 Government a ‘bum with five cheeks’ – Peters

“Unless we get a dramatic economic and social change as a result of our efforts at the next election, we would have failed. That’s our objective. We know that unless we’ve got a dramatic change from this neoliberal failure that every other country seems to understand now but us, then we as a party would have failed.”

There is scant sign of anything like a dramatic economic and social change in the current Government or in the budget, apart from vague assurances it will be ‘transformational’ at some time in the future.

Also from 2016 – Winston Peters: ‘Most Kiwis are struggling’

“Everyone in New Zealand First knows that our duty, our responsibility and our mission statement is to get an economic and social change at the next election. Otherwise we will have all failed. It was a challenge to my caucus members, my party delegates and everybody else.”

He said there was no use in pursuing the major parties’ neo-liberal economic policies, which he described as being like “Pepsi and Coca-Cola”.

Peters provided the froth for both, and continues to do so.

Leading in to the 2017 election campaign: Winston Peters dismisses ‘irresponsible capitalism’ of other parties with new economic policy

Winston Peters is positioning NZ First as the party of difference and says his policy announcements today will steer away from the “irresponsible capitalism” that every other political party is selling.

The neo-liberal policy adopted by New Zealand politicians in the 1980s is a “failed economic experiment”.

“We want to confront what’s going on and set it right,” Peters said.

“I look at Parliament today and the National party, the Labour party and now the Greens are all accepting of that with a little bit of tweaking. That is astonishing, particularly in the case of the Greens – they’ve done it to try and look respectable – it’s totally disrespectable economic policy.”

Peters has enabled a Labour led Government whose first budget is little more than a bit of tweaking, with the Greens getting a  modest modest bit money for tweaking environmental policies.

Once negotiating power with Labour and the Greens Peters was already talking less radically.

October 2017: Winston Peters wants ‘today’s capitalism’ to regain its ‘human face’

“Far too many New Zealanders have come to view today’s capitalism, not as their friend, but as their foe. And they are not all wrong.

“That is why we believe that capitalism must regain its responsible – its human face. That perception has influenced our negotiations.”

So he moved from radical change to supporting a tweak to capitalism.

And this weeks budget has been barely a tweak. Guyon Espiner calls it a A ‘triumph of neoliberalism’

It turns out you can’t judge a book by its colour either. Labour’s first Budget in nearly a decade came with a bold red trim, rather than the royal blue Treasury uses to present the documents when National is in power.

But inside this was a blue budget not a red one. It’s a description neither Labour nor National would like bestowed on Budget 2018 but this was a triumph of neoliberalism or at least a continuation of it.

A continuation of neoliberalism enabled by and supported by Peters, with a bit of crony capitalism for him and NZ First.

This looked like National’s tenth Budget rather than Labour’s first.

It is the seventh National/Labour budget that NZ First has played a hand in.

Much more largesse has been lavished on the New Zealand First relationship with $1 billion for foreign aid and diplomats and another $1 billion for the Shane Jones provincial growth fund.

Even Winston Peters’ racing portfolio gets a giddy up. The government will spend nearly $5 million on tax deductions “for the costs of high quality horses acquired with the intention to breed”.

It has to be a handsome horse though. The rules say it will be tax deductible if it is a standout yearling “that commands attention by virtue of its bloodlines, looks and racing potential”.

What next? A handsome horse called Neoliberalism? Peters is probably a bit old to ride it, but he is providing the hay.

NZ First’s colours are black and white, and Peters campaigns with black and white rhetoric, but when he gets the chance to get some power he is a kaleidoscope of collusion, whether it be with National, Labour, capitalists or neoliberalists.

Perhaps like Grant Robertson he has a few transformational tricks up his sleeve, holding them back for next year, or next term.

Or maybe his the same old political charlatan, talking a maverick talk in opposition but given half a chance walking the same old establishment walk.


  1. Blazer

     /  May 19, 2018

    Winston is the consumate politician.Does what politicians do…tell the people what they want to hear.
    Trump another fine example.

    • If by “people” you mean 7% then yes. Subsequent polls have him on or under 3% and he can’t hold a seat. Comparisons to Trump a billionaire known through the world and Peters nothing better than a narcissistic careerist public servant lack rigour.

      • Blazer

         /  May 19, 2018

        ‘ he can’t hold a seat’…Tauranga for 18 years would put him in a small class that CAN HOLD a seat.

        • Traveller

           /  May 19, 2018

          Can we keep it in this century please

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  May 19, 2018

            Or even the last one in Winston Peters’ case 😀 😀 😀

  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  May 19, 2018

    He is the consummate charlatan and his supporters are the ultimate political gullible. I marvel at where he finds them.

    • Griff

       /  May 19, 2018

      Many of us marvel at how gullible Trumps supporters are Alan.
      For many being a Trumpet is about tribal identity rather than rational thought .
      Peters on the other hand only finds support by a few who feel disfranchised by the mainstream.
      There has always been 5% or so willing to get sucked in by Peters latest snake oil spiel.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  May 19, 2018

        Are Trump supporters gullible? Trump has generally delivered on his political promises while Peters almost never does.

        • Corky

           /  May 19, 2018

          The gullible are those still trying to find fault with Trump’s fractured personality. Meanwhile he continues to deliver on the global and domestic scene.

          It’s a strange phenomenon. I marvel at it every day.

        • I think that’s a fair distinction. Trump doesn’t seem to have changed his approach much as president.

          Peters is very different in government to how he is in opposition. He does what it takes to get elected, then does whatever he wants in Government.

          • Blazer

             /  May 19, 2018

            if you call disparaging Wall St big time and then embracing it…not doing a are right.

          • Pete. This is an excellent article in all respects.

        • Griff

           /  May 19, 2018

          The wall? not happening .
          Obamacare repeal? not happening.
          Ban Muslim immigration? not happening.
          Revive the coal industry? not happening.
          Drain the swamp …the only draining going on is cash into his and a few of his mates pockets .

          Art of the deal sell the suckers high once they have signed up who fucken cares.

      • sorethumb

         /  May 19, 2018

        there is a difference between Trump and Winston. Winston lost 10% when a Sihk boy asked him why he was against immigration and he replied “I’m not” (which is half true). Trump would have returned with a shocker: “because it’s our country”. He could have rejected the diversity dogma.

      • David

         /  May 19, 2018

        “Many of us marvel at how gullible Trumps supporters are Alan.”

        Interesting, I marvel at how gullible his opponents are. He has just got Nancy Pelosi to praise members of MS13 as having the spark of divinity, and deserving of respect.

        These are gang members who’s motto is ‘Rape, Murder, Steal’.

    • I met one once. Scarily uniformed and well below the IQ average. Male, elderly, traditionally fairly uneducated but a “university of life” sort.

      • Griff

         /  May 19, 2018

        “Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.”

        ― George Carlin

        • sorethumb

           /  May 19, 2018

          John Carran, 2 April 1996
          “Vehement opposition to immigration, particularly from Asian countries, in New Zealand from an ill-informed and xenophobic rabble persists despite overwhelming evidence that immigration will improve our long term economic prospects.
          In 1988 The Institute of Policy Studies published detailed research by Jacques Poot, Ganesh Nana and Bryan Philpott on the effects of migration on the New Zealand economy. The research, which abstracted from the social and environmental impact of immigration, concluded that “…a significant migration inflow can be beneficial to the performance of the New Zealand economy and subsequent consumption and income levels.” The authors point out that this is in general agreement with Australian research on the economic consequences of immigration.

          Of course there is more to life than attaining economic excellence. The social and environmental impact of immigration also needs to be considered. But here the reasons given for restricting immigration range from pathetic to extremely dodgy. Most of the accusations are barely disguised racist piffle backed by tenuous rumours and cloudy anecdotes. Winston Peters’ stirring of the masses has exposed the ignorance and racial biases of a small and distasteful section of New Zealand society. These people yearn for a cloistered, inhibited, white (with a bit of brown at the edges) dominated utopia fondly envisaged by racists and xenophobes everywhere.

          Savings Working Group
          January 2011
          “The big adverse gap in productivity between New Zealand and other countries opened up from the 1970s to the early 1990s. The policy choice that increased immigration – given the number of employers increasingly unable to pay First-World wages to the existing population and all the capital requirements that increasing populations involve – looks likely to have worked almost directly against the adjustment New Zealand needed to make and it might have been better off with a lower rate of net immigration. This adjustment would have involved a lower real interest rate (and cost of capital) and a lower real exchange rate, meaning a more favourable environment for raising the low level of productive capital per worker and labour productivity. The low level of capital per worker is a striking symptom of New Zealand’s economic challenge.

        • sorethumb

           /  May 19, 2018

          Liberal democracies have a mechanism which makes them immigration expansionist.

          “The most direct barrier to information about immigration is the scarcity and ambiguity of official data. Governments themselves often have only the most speculative information about the immigration intake, legal or illegal, its composition, or its effect on society and economy. Official data, such as it is, is not generally available to the public. There is a more serious problem, however. The dynamics of migration flows foster misperceptions about their characteristics and consequences that amount to a systematic tendency toward ‘temporal illusion.’ The effects of migration tend to be lagged; the short-term benefits oversold and the long-term costs denied or hidden to show up clearly only in the outyears. The same might be said, of course, about many public policies, but there are several characteristics of migration processes that make them especially productive of illusion. Among these are the tendency for migration flows to start small and build up over time, especially as a result of chain migration and family reunion, and the tendency for temporary labor migrations to develop into permanent settlements (Birrell, 1990; Miller and Martin, 1982; Castles, 1984).”

          Interested parties organise.
          Elites don’t share consequences of utopian dream.
          Like local councils media; politicians; academics don’t represent public opinion. Bipartisanship gets them off the hook.
          benefits concentrated; costs dispersed.

      • Blazer

         /  May 19, 2018

        what sort of uniformPolice,military…or…suit?

        • Beer belly window cleaner

          • Gezza

             /  May 19, 2018

            o_O Not this gu,y I hope – 😳

            • Never!!!!

              Our Van can do no wrong Gezz – you know that. 🌻🌞

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  May 19, 2018

              Oh…how can he make a song about something so prosaic so wonderful ?

              For some reason, I remember this being played when I was having a free read in one of the big saggy armchairs in the old Ferret Bookshop. I love it .

      • sorethumb

         /  May 19, 2018

        traveller / May 19, 2018
        I met one once. Scarily uniformed and well below the IQ average. Male, elderly, traditionally fairly uneducated but a “university of life” sort.
        Man delivering gas bottles: “now i’m just a dumb fella. But i can see, that they are coming here because they have filled up their countries”.

        Retired farmer on discussing Savings Working Group Report: “when all those Asians were arriving. I couldn’t see what they were going to do here; how it would help”.

        Distinguished Professor “Political parties need to embrace ‘super-diversity’”

        Dime: Cracks me up how people get so riled up about immigrants. Especially them chinese.

        Dime loves em – i like their food, i like their reasonably priced blow jobs, i like that they only seem to commit crimes against each other, i like that they have made me a fortune in property, i like that they built me a kick ass house.

        CORIN Let’s move on to the issue of immigration. Kerry McDonald, who’s a preeminent New Zealand businessman – for many years Comalco managing director – he wrote in a piece on his website just recently. He said immigration, and I quote, ‘The high rate of immigration is a national disaster.’ He said, ‘It’s lowering the present and future living standards of New Zealanders by serious adverse economic, social and environmental consequences.’ Now, this isn’t Winston Peters saying this; this is a respected economist and businessman who’s worried about immigration not because of who’s coming here but because we aren’t able to cope with the numbers.
        CORIN You don’t want immigration to fall, though, do you? I just want to say something. I saw you in a speech after the Budget, and you were speaking to a big room of businesspeople – some of the biggest business minds in the country – and you stood up and you said, “Don’t worry about Treasury’s figure or estimation that it will go back to the trend of 12,000.” You were confident it was going to be a lot higher than that.

        JOHN I just think it’s unlikely it will go to 12,000.

        CORIN But it was like you wanted immigration to go up, because you were telling them, “Don’t worry. The demand in the economy is going to stay there. That’s what’s keeping New Zealand afloat.”

        • Sore…7/8 month’s in and immigration unchanged, still as high and more workers needed.

          Where’s Winnie?

          At the races or off on his 5 Star jaunts with Lady Jan

      • sorethumb

         /  May 19, 2018

        traveller / May 19, 2018
        I met one once. Scarily uniformed and well below the IQ average. Male, elderly, traditionally fairly uneducated but a “university of life” sort.
        Low income and struggling but “all the evidence is that immigration benefits *the economy*”
        but (even if true in distant NZ’s case)
        the benefits are concentrated and the costs dispersed.

        Crab fisherman blamed for faeces, carcasses on Uretiti Beach

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  May 19, 2018

          It would have been a good idea had Trump done some research before he made these promises, to make sure that there was a possibility of them happening. Unless he thought that there’d be nothing that the mugs could do once he was in, so yah boo sucks to them.

  3. Fight4NZ

     /  May 19, 2018

    So did his minimal influence on the budget reflect his 5% of the vote ( as provided by the gullible)?
    Or where the allocations for foreign affairs and provinces way in excess of his vote?

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  May 19, 2018

      Baubles were always Winnie’s strong point.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  May 19, 2018

        I’m forever wanting baubles,
        Pretty baubles every day,

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