Bridges versus Peters – a surprise conclusion

Simon Bridges kicked off Question Time in Parliament today asking Winston Peters about the alarming turnaround in business confidence.

At a glance Bridges may have seemed to be wimping along getting savaged by Peters, but if you watch through this I think it becomes apparent that Bridges quietly making some serious points, while Peters noisily tried to make a joke of it all.

On that performance thank goodness Peters is soon to retire from his stint as acting Prime Minister, because today he made a disgrace of the responsibility.

There was a very serious twist at the end when Gerry Brownlee made a pointed non-point of order:

Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. If it’s parliamentary to refer to a member as being a joke, would it not equally be parliamentary to refer to a member as being drunk?

Question No. 1—Prime Minister

1. Hon SIMON BRIDGES (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all his Government’s policies and actions?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Acting Prime Minister): The answer to that question is “Most definitely”.

Hon Simon Bridges: Is he aware that New Zealand has fallen from the second-highest level of business confidence in all of the OECD in 2016 to having the second-lowest under his Government?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: What I am aware of, and so are my colleagues, is that there are half a million enterprises in this country, and 490,000 were not asked their opinion; 1,000 were. That’s the quality of that survey.

Hon Simon Bridges: Has he seen the latest ANZ business confidence numbers, released today, which show that business confidence has declined by a further five points?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: It is not surprising that the ANZ, despite having record profits at the moment, has a chairman who’s been talking down the economy nevertheless.

Hon Simon Bridges: Does he accept that at the moment we have the worst business confidence in our country since the global financial crisis a decade ago, and if so, what will he do to revise his Government’s disastrous policies?

Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! Before the member answers, I am going—

Hon Simon Bridges: I’m allowed to have an “if so”.

Mr SPEAKER: Sorry, I will stand up to deal with it if the Leader of the Opposition is going to interject when I’m ruling. I’m going to let the question go, but warn the Leader of the Opposition. I think he knows exactly what for.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: As they say in one of the home countries, those comments are balderdash. And more importantly, the IMF has refuted them in their very confident prediction as to where this Government is taking the growth of our economy.

Hon Simon Bridges: Isn’t the only credible explanation for the worst business confidence numbers since the global financial crisis directly the Government’s policies and actions?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: As much as that member would like to predicate his future on turning down and arguing down the economy, that is most definitely not going to happen—either the economy going down or him having a future.

Hon Simon Bridges: Why, then, is it the case that business confidence in New Zealand is at a 10-year low and business confidence in Australia is at a 30-year high?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: The record of these confidence surveys has this to reflect upon: when the economy was running at 3.2 percent over a period of nine years, the confidence indicators were all down from those elite business people, and when the economy was running under National, at an average of 1.9 percent over nine years, the confidence rate was up. In short, you’ve got 1,000 of half a million enterprises being surveyed, and that is not the kind of elitism we promote in this country.

Hon Simon Bridges: Is the best the Prime Minister can do to explain away the variety of business confidence surveys and give no real answers to this House or New Zealanders about what is happening at the moment in New Zealand?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: I have to be frank to that member and say, no, I can do much better, but I don’t have to get out of first gear facing him.

Hon Simon Bridges: Is he aware that GDP growth per capita has fallen behind Australia for the first time in several years, and what are the Government’s policies and actions in relation to turning that around?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: The Government has a tranche of explosive policies that we intend to put into place, or are already having in place, and we can see a rapid turn-around in our country’s economy because we’re based, in terms of this Government’s plan, on production and exports and real wealth, not mass immigration and consumption.

Hon Simon Bridges: Is he aware that net migration to Australia’s gone from net 32,000 leaving for Australia in 2008 to a net inflow to New Zealand in 2017, and if so, will he consider a failure if net migration to Australia does not continue in this positive direction under his Government’s watch?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Again, those stats are false. The net—[Interruption] Well, they can all laugh, and maybe fly a white flag later, but the reality is the net trend began in mid-2015 and that party over there is responsible for it. We’re going to turn it around.

Hon Simon Bridges: What is his Government doing to keep ambitious young New Zealanders in New Zealand given that yesterday in Australia a new job in the mining sector was advertised every six minutes, while here in New Zealand his Government has banned oil and gas exploration as well as mining on conservation land?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: This Government has not banned oil and gas exploration, and whatever that industry called “moining” is—I’m having difficulty trying to understand it—we’ve not banned that either.

Hon Simon Bridges: Is the reality that when New Zealand has the worst business confidence—which has a flow-on effect to investment and jobs—in a decade since the global financial crisis, all he can do is come down to the House and make jokes about it?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Look, I can’t win the jokes stakes; I’m looking at one, in terms of his ambition. But I want to tell that member that they can be as mealy-mouthed and as doomsday as they like, but they are not going to succeed in getting up the polls or getting back at the next election. If they want to help, we’d be grateful for whatever help they might give, but given their last nine years of abysmal performance, I don’t think so.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. If it’s parliamentary to refer to a member as being a joke, would it not equally be parliamentary to refer to a member as being drunk?

Mr SPEAKER: My view is that one is a matter of fact and the other is a matter of opinion. If the member is seriously suggesting the latter in the House and he is inaccurate, he is making a gross breach of privilege.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Speaking to the point of order—

Mr SPEAKER: No, there is no point of order. The member will resume his seat.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Well, I’m entitled to an explanation, surely.

Mr SPEAKER: The member will resume his seat.


  1. Blazer

     /  July 31, 2018

    Winston nailed it…’Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: What I am aware of, and so are my colleagues, is that there are half a million enterprises in this country, and 490,000 were not asked their opinion; 1,000 were. That’s the quality of that survey.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  July 31, 2018

      The quality of the survey depends on the quality of the sampling. A sample of 1000 is fine if the sampling is representative.

    • PDB

       /  July 31, 2018

      Also as long as the sample size has remained consistent during the lifespan of the survey then any changes in the results are relevant. This is not the normal ‘Labour is in govt business confidence falls’ – this is a major downswing to GFC levels of confidence.

      Also for a second day running Winston’s math is wrong.

      The only thing ‘Winston nailed’ was having no answers & his mind has slowed so much his quick wit has obviously deserted him.

  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  July 31, 2018

    With socialists running economic policy, environmentalists running resource allocation and unionists running labour policy why is it any surprise business confidence is down?

  3. PDB

     /  July 31, 2018

    Bridges finally has his day against Winston there – if Peters wasn’t drunk he was rather befuddled & stumbling with his words. Obviously business confidence being at GFC levels is very funny to him and his govt. Just today I spoke with a number of small contractors that work predominantly in the wider Auckland region and they are starting to fear the worst financially so it’s hardly ‘fake news’ as Peters would want us to believe.

    Was Mallard really saying it’s a fact Bridges is a joke and an opinion that Peters was drunk? Or have I misunderstood?

    • Blazer

       /  July 31, 2018

      well your little anecdote really gives things credence…not.

      International events impact NZ that’s the reality…betold.

      • PDB

         /  July 31, 2018

        Best place to see what really is happening is to talk to those affected at the coalface and international events aren’t their major concern at present. The govt lacking clear direction and making policy up on the fly is.

  4. PDB

     /  July 31, 2018

  5. Blazer

     /  July 31, 2018

    Squeaky Bridges is either naive or just plain stupid.
    Negotiating with Anadarko a royalty of 40% of profits shows him up as a bunny at negotiation.
    Even 3rd world countries woke up to that con…years ago.
    Of course he most probably is just another in Nationals long list of yankey doodle poodles.

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