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Winston’s Worries

Written By: - Date published: 2:14 pm, April 21st, 2020 - 30 comments
Categories: nz first, Politics - Tags: , ,

There are rumours bobbing around the beltway bubbles about the state of NZ First.

The party has been awkward in Government, with bovine blusterer Shane Jones regularly putting his gumboots in his gob. NZ First have regularly stymied good policy, particularly if it affects ‘industry’, their codeword for the Talleys group.

Since the lockdown, NZ First has been able to contribute bugger all, which might explain the bubble breaking fishing photo, where the party leader seemed to be trolling the Government he helps lead.

I can understand Winston Peters feeling left out. But it wasn’t a good look.

Yesterday, Peters failed in the High Court to link various people, including two National Party politicians, to the leak of his personal superannuation details in 2017.

He alleged his privacy was breached when details of his unintentional seven-year national superannuation overpayment were given to the media, just before that year’s election. 

The High Court has ruled that the identity of the leaker cannot be proven and Peters’ claims for damages and declarations have been thrown out.

That’s got to be annoying for Peters, but it’s hardly a body blow. However, there will be questions about whether the taxpayer should be paying his legal bills, given the brutal outcome.

What might be considerably more damaging is the announcement this morning that the SFO will release its findings into the opaque financial arrangements behind NZ First before the September election.

If NZ First already knew that the outcome was going to be made public sooner rather than later, that might explain their calls for a delay in the election. A later polling date would give them more time for damage control, if it were needed.

My read of the use of the New Zealand First Foundation to collate donations is that it is an attempt to mimic the National Party’s dodgy Waitemata Trust.

Like the Tories, NZ First could be about to find out that not maintaining social distance from supposedly independent donation entities wrong is an expensive mistake, both financially and politically.

Finally, I hear gossip that an email from within NZ First’s inner sanctum has unintentionally gone wider than intended and its contents are not helpful to the party. As always, I take such rumours with a liberal pinch of salt.

However, if there is substance to it, then I think we should be told.

You know, apart from that one time in 2008, NZ First has confounded expectations every polling day. My gut feeling is that this election will be the same and the party will make it back into Parliament.

Whether they really deserve to make it back into Government is another matter altogether.

30 comments on “Winston’s Worries ”

  1. Enough is Enough 1

    Who really knows what will happen between now and September after the past 6 weeks.

    Provided we are safely back in level 1 with the borders water tight, I think the election will be fought on one issue – the recovery.

    The Greens have launched policy this week which has the economic recovery front and centre. Constructing a high speed intercity rail network. Big and bold. Expect more of this

    Nats will campaign on their track record through the GFC and earthquakes. I don't know if anyone will care though

    Labour will focus on their management through this crisis and now is not the time to be changing course.

    Winston, however. I am not sure. He has been largely missing for the past month. He won't be able to rely on immigration as we will have none of that for the next couple of years. I don't think he is capable of thinking up a new bold fair way to structure our economy. And he is going to be donkey deep in donation scandals.

    Who knows, but it wouldn't be a bad thing if they got kicked out.

    • Sacha 1.1

      The party might sacrifice Winnie in exchange for staying in power.

      • Wayne 1.1.1

        No they won't. NZF is Winston, in the sense he is the one name the public associate with NZF. As with the captain of the ship, Winston will stay with the ship. It will either float or sink with him.

        Covid will change the electoral calculation. Will the public give two hoots about the court case and the SFO? They might/probably will just see that as politics of the past.

        I reckon NZF's chances will rely entirely on how they preform over the next few months. For instance I was quite impressed with Shane Jones on Q & A. A few more performances like that from NZF and their top team will have quite a few voters saying, "Well, they are talking commonsense".

        Don't interpret that as a changed vote from me, rather it is my analysis of how NZF is going to go over the next few months.

        • te reo putake 1.1.1.1

          Kia ora, Wayne, thanks for the analysis. I think you are right that the SFO outcome might be regarded by some as 'old news', however that depends on the timing of the announcement and also how closely linked Winston Peters is to the result.

          As you note, Winston is NZ First. He calls the shots, approves all big decisions and is actively involved in fundraising. He runs a very tight ship. Readers might be surprised to learn that his staff are required to call him Mr Peters, as if he was a boss in some earlier age.

          You say that you aren't going to change your vote, and fair enough, however you've seen what happens to National's vote when it's obvious they aren't going to win an election. I don't see a collapse like that in 2002, however, I can see National ceding support to both ACT and NZ First.

          In NZ First's case, if they market themselves as the 'opposition within Government', keeping Labour and the Greens from going too far, I'll happily predict they will pick up some support from National's usually faithful grumpy old man voters.

          • Wayne 1.1.1.1.1

            Winston being called "Mr Peters" by his staff is entirely what I would expect. For instance does the Prime Minister's staff call her Jacinda, or do they say "Prime Minister"?

            I reckon the latter. I note the PM just about always refers to Dr Bloomfield as Director General of Health, or Director General. Occasionally as Dr Bloomfield. And she usually refers to other senior officials by title, or by formal address. I reckon she probably learnt that pretty early in life, since her father was a senior police officer. So rank and formal address are part of her upbringing.

            Call me old fashioned, but I think it is reassuring that senior officials are referred to as such. It gives a sense that there is an ordered system of government, with serious resources that can support us at this time.

            However, the PM is also smart enough to know that journalists and the public should be addressed by first name. It is part of her empathy to know these things instinctively.

  2. observer 2

    Political animals are strange creatures. If I was 75 and had a home like Winston's up north, I wouldn't swap that for a return to the Wellington grind.

    There's only one job there that he hasn't held, and he's never going to get it, so why not just relax and enjoy the fishing?

    • AB 2.1

      I know Whananaki and can say with some confidence that there was no way Winston was going to catch anything much in the estuary during the daytime – apart from sprats. Flounder at night – and further down towards the open sea at change of light, maybe kahawai, smallish trevally and undersized snapper. So the photo of him fishing was interesting – he wasn't fishing with the expectation of actually catching anything. More like a sly, election year dog-whistle perhaps?

      • pat 2.1.1

        he may have caught a few votes

        • McFlock 2.1.1.1

          Yup. It wasn't bubble-bursting, either: his property and a calm water. It's not like he was rockfishing with heavy waves crashing over him. If he needed emergency services for that, it would have been because of a medical event or the horse kicked him lol

      • woodart 2.1.2

        he got a lot of bites with that photo, just as he planned. as for nzfirst surviving, I think they will. many pissed off nat voters will finally have enough of bridges, and the provincial growth fund will be even more important now . whether you like jones or not , he will be a lot more popular in the provinces,handing out cash, than some city slicker from tauranga with the whiff of yen trailing him, being negative. but ,more importantly, I wouldnt like to see nzfirst disappear from parliament , same as I wouldnt like to see act go, even though I disagree with most of their philosophies. for democracy to work we need more different points of view representing five million of us, not less.

      • Grafton Gully 2.1.3

        Thanks AB for precious local knowledge passed on. Ruru are calling at night hereabouts, the european leaves are turning and spuds and bulbs are sprouting.

  3. ianmac 4

    The Judge did say that it was very likely that the news was leaked with malice intent but without evidence of who the Leaker was the case had to fail.

    And of course there was no way Paula Bennett would have leaked because she has no record of leaking sensitive information for political gain, has she? She sounded so virtuous on Morning Report.

    • Enough is Enough 4.1

      I want to know what this circus cost the tax payer in legal fees.

      Is there anyway the Crown can seek recovery of costs from Winston personally?

      • McFlock 4.1.1

        Frankly, I think Winston was fully justified in taking the case. Someone did intentionally leak his private information.

        The Talley's link and funding plot definitely need to be answered for, but the privacy breach was a slimy move from a slimy regime.

        • Enough is Enough 4.1.1.1

          When you are spending taxpayers money, you'd hope he would have some sort of evidence.

          Its a disgrace that he turned up in court without anything, other than "well who else could have done it".

          He was justified to be pissed off. He wasn't justified in running a case that cost millions without any chance of success.

          • McFlock 4.1.1.1.1

            It was a fair effort – it only folded because the ministry said it might be the leak.

            And taxpayers should have funded Tolley's contribution, if only via NZonair as an example of classic kiwi comedy.What a moron.

    • woodart 4.2

      dont the scots have a law, something like" guilty, but unproven"

      • Craig H 4.2.1

        "Not proven" (they also have guilty and not guilty). Only available in criminal trials as civil trials are decided on the preponderance of evidence, so not proven would be lost in most cases.

    • Tiger Mountain 4.3

      Thanks ianmac, for adding an important piece of information that TRP managed to omit.

      Winston needs better lawyers it seems–on balance of probability who was likely to have leaked? who had something to gain from Winston’s reputation being smeared? Who technically had access and could have done it? Maybe Peters should not have proceeded if his case was as difficult to prove as the decision portrays.

      Bennett, as well as her famous, drawn out battle over maliciously breaching two beneficiaries privacy–quietly settled a couple of years later with Non Disclosure Agreements, has all sorts of form regarding leaking–or rather–her “office” does. Not to be trusted on anything, apart from the certainty that she will put the slipper into anyone.

      NZ First are pains alright, a handbrake on CGT, Fair Pay Agreements and much more. The Provincial Growth Fund is well received in Northland, but my concern is whether that will actually lead to any more votes that help the Govt. get a second term. In one sense NZ First enabled Jacinda and the current Govt. to happen at all, and does represent a section of older style tories that could never bring themselves to vote Labour or Green. The flip side is NZ First pander to the worst reactionary side of older white folks and indeed give comfort to the most vicious anti union company–Talleys–in this country.

      They probably will scrape back, and fair enough under MMP, the more every citizen feels represented the better in some respects. But c’mon Labour time to wake up–assist the Greens and let Chloe take Auckland Central.

  4. Herodotus 5

    NZ1 saving grace IMO is that Where does someone not bent on voting Greens or Labour go ? Should the current National setup raise some concerns in some central marginally right aligned voters? Sure some to Act but NZ1 does give a voter "some" options on the right that could influence the next govt. 😇

    • JanM 5.1

      I agree with you. I live in an area which I suppose you would call semi-rural and have several friends who vote NZ First because, although having mostly left – wing views they simply can't bring themselves to vote Labour. And what are all those National people going to do who told Simon on Facebook that they wouldn't vote for him again? They don't have anywhere else to go really.

  5. Ad 6

    New Zealand First have achieved a massive amount for a minor party – even just this term. Their budget wins were stupendiously huge: Foreign Affairs budget, Defence budget, Provincial Growth Fund, etc. They have dwarfed the Green's achievements from the 2017 coalition deal to now – and get nothing but contempt from the left for it.

    Winsron is pure political whakapapa. Losing Winston Peters from Parliament also loses the last filament of continuous political memory to a New Zealand before Roger Douglas, monetarism, and the laying waste to the working class with the destruction of our manufacturing base. He's well and truly our last Holyoake liberal.

    Also, no one in Labour represents older people- even though they are the ones that kept the Labour Party alive for 30 years. Winston does.

    He has contempt for the media because they generally deserve it. The reporter who put the NZSuper story out there from the leak is case in point.

    He's played a useful part in the Covid-19 response. Not sure where the rest of Cabinet have been.

    Whether he continues on in the next parliament is immaterial to his contribution to New Zealand.

    • pat 6.1

      Thats an interesting appraisal of Mr Peters….takes all sorts I guess

    • millsy 6.2

      "Winsron is pure political whakapapa. Losing Winston Peters from Parliament also loses the last filament of continuous political memory to a New Zealand before Roger Douglas, monetarism, and the laying waste to the working class with the destruction of our manufacturing base. He's well and truly our last Holyoake liberal."

      Yes, would be the end of an era when he goes. 2023 will be the first election in 50 years in which Winston Peters hasnt taken part. I think that is quite an achievement.

  6. gsays 7

    If they had any clues, the NZ1st Foundation would pick up the legal fees.

    I admire yr penultimate paragraph, TRP.
    There is a long list of folk who have logically, eloquently and incorrectly called his demise.

    They need a circuit breaker eg, promote Tracey Martin to the leadership.

    It's not as if the up north voters aren't going to vote for them after all.

  7. In Vino 8

    Well, since Lange has left this mortal coil in the meantime, I would name Winston as the best-spoken politician since Muldoon (whom I disliked intensely, but had to admire.)

    Similar thing – I dislike so much of what Winston has done, but can see why he is still admired by many, or maybe just some by now…

  8. Adrian 9

    For all the derision heaped on Shane Jones his interview on Jack Tame's show on Monday night was illuminating. His story of his hatred of how his parents and siblings had been affected by Rogernomics, along with the rest of us, and determination that that not happen again to vulnerable NZers for any reason was more of a true measure of him than I have heard before. His family had to move to Australia for work for instance.

    Also his determination to sidestep those interested in personal gain from delaying and thwarting policies and projects that will try to ensure ongoing jobs for the less well off, I thought gave a more enlightened view of the man than those of his political detractors.

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