INDEPENDENT NEWS

Adjournment Debate: NZ First Leader Winston Peters

Published: Fri 7 Aug 2020 11:01 AM
Thank you very much. That was eyebrow-raising stuff—and I don't use Botox! All that criticism, for almost 10 minutes, and not one new idea. Out there in the provinces, in the hamlets of this country, all those people who were expecting something at least now, at the start of this campaign, from the leader of the National Party just got carp, can't, and criticism, but no vision, no plan, no policy. Worse still, after nine years of doing nothing about the Resource Management Act, she says we're at fault. Extraordinary. This is somebody who's a trained lawyer saying that sort of stuff. [Hon Judith Collins stands] Don't go now—this is your best chance to learn something!
Can I say to all the staff here—the cleaners; the caterers; the guards; the drivers; library and Hansard and many office staff; and you, Mr Speaker, and your staff, who have been of great assistance to us, sometimes not as much as usual but usually of great assistance to us—thank you very, very much. And can I say to my colleagues in New Zealand First that our caucus has been united by consensus decision-making—
Hon Member: Goodbye.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: —hard work, and civility. I'll be around long after you're gone, sunshine, and I was here for decades before you arrived. Don't you feel bad?
The quality of our caucus has been very, very good, so thanks to you, as well as to our parliamentary and ministerial staff. And to the seventh floor of the Beehive, thank you for your—in inverted commas—frank advice. It's been an excellent office to work for, the very best, and can I say that coming up to night time, at about five to six when we stop for a quiz, they are absolutely brilliant, as Grant Robertson can attest to.
Can I say, we made the right decision on 19 October 2017.
Hon Member: You don't sound very enthusiastic.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: You know, I cannot believe that you'd be so youthful in shouting out these shibboleths when you know nothing or you're the living proof for what George Bernard Shaw said: "He knows nothing and thinks he knows everything."—which truly points to a career in politics. Good God.
It was a tough choice for caucus—
Hon Member: You've been telling those jokes for 40 years.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: —and for our board colleagues, but three years—well, not as big a joke as you are, my colleague. But three years on and we have no regrets. National had run out of answers. It was making and framing the wrong questions, and only a change of course was going to allow the policy transformation that we sought.
When this term began and through the first months, you can remember the cacophony of sound from some in the media that the Government wouldn't last. Well, last we have. Providing stable and constructive Government again is now an undeniable fact, and we're proud of our record. We recall the media trepidation, Prime Minister, when you said that you were going to have a baby. Well! The sky was going to fall in. "The Government will hit the rocks."—that was the basic refrain of the proletariat. But the ship of state didn't flounder; it kept on sailing calmly throughout until you came back.
We stand on our record in office for what we've achieved, for honouring the commitments, for leaving the country in a better position after inheriting nine years of neo-liberal neglect. What's worse with these neo-liberals is they don't even understand the philosophy. It shows up every day, because so many of them have never been in business, and their chief articulator wouldn't know what a business was or is, and that's the truth. No less than the New Zealand Herald, though, just recently said—and it's not one of our most vocal fans, the New Zealand Herald, but they trumpeted our 80-plus percent success rate in getting our coalition agreement policies delivered. It's because of our steady focus on delivering the coalition agreement, and we've never softened from it. If you doubt that, ask some of my colleagues on this side of the Chamber.
We're here to get by and to work hard with two other parties: the Labour Party, being our coalition partner, and also the support party for the Labour Party in terms of the Greens. We were never forced to agree. If we did, we wouldn't be three separate parties. We wanted the narrative to be more intelligent, more wise, and more factual and actual. The Prime Minister announced that we've got over 190 bills passed. That suggests that we have got by on agreeing on most of the things, or, if we couldn't, that we got to a compromise and got there in the end.
A hundred and ninety is a staggering testimony to progress. History will judge the coalition agreement as one of the most significant agreements in modern political history, and here's why: we signalled a long-term strategic plan to rebuild our country, and we had the audacity to demand it—to demand that we had things like a billion trees, which was unthought of; to demand that we spend $3 billion out in neglected provincial New Zealand, the places we go to and get elbowed aside every day by National Party members, whilst they come down here and use the clown—sorry, I can't say that; use the MP from Epsom—to downgrade with a cacophony of envy every time, as though Epsom and he know anything about the Kaitāias, the Invercargills, the west and east coasts of this country, the very people who drive the economy to pay his salary. He dumps on it.
And the Prime Minister said they're going to go out and two votes for blue. Well, I've just been to Tauranga recently and the Bay of Plenty, and guess what I saw—guess what I saw. I saw the photographs, the posters up there, of three National Party leaders: Mr Bridges, Mr Muller, and Judith Collins. Three, all up in the same province, in the same area in the Western Bay of Plenty. No wonder the people down there are confused—terribly confused.
Chris Bishop: One of them is the one who beat you.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Mr Bishop, leave it alone. I mean, that member's got a long way to go before he's going to be frontbench material. He just hasn't got the learning capacity. He doesn't seem to be able to absorb that the most fundamental thing in this business is to do your homework and get the facts right—be impervious to attack because you got the facts right. Let me say, when the Provincial Growth Fund came under attack, guess what they tried to do about it. They tried to say it was a slush fund.
Hon Gerry Brownlee: It is.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: There is Gerry Brownlee saying it is a slush fund. Well, you know, the people of Christchurch would have wished he'd have done something too, because he was in charge of its rebuild, and I've never seen someone so incompetent. Of course, people don't realise that Gerry Brownlee's experience in business is five weeks running an illegal casino, before Winston Peters outed him and the president of the National Party, one Goodfellow. Five weeks running an illegal casino, and a colleague across the House, namely yours truly, outed him, and that's his total business experience. Those National Party people up in the gallery who were cheering don't know that, do they?
Hon Gerry Brownlee: Yes, they do.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: They're not cheering now. Oh, they do.
Can I say that in this time, we preserved the SuperGold card. We got it improved. We got over 5,000 new business, 130,000 people using the app, and we've got another improvement coming in the future. But on top of that, in the last Budget we secured one eye test for superannuitants a year—that will save 5,000 to 7,000 people from going blind, by early identification—and one free doctor's visit. If only one of those people in the hundred doesn't go to the hospital as a result of that test, it's fiscally neutral. These are the far-sighted plans that New Zealand First has, and we thank the Labour Party and, dare I say it, the Greens for ensuring that this was maintained.
It's critical, but we know for whom the ferry will call if they get into power, because their last outing when it came to super wasn't very good. They promised to get rid of the surtax, and when they got in, they put it up to 92c in the dollar. That fellow in Epsom—that's exactly what he will do, because he's going to save $82 billion of expenditure. I can see why you people aren't smiling any more, because they're seriously shaken. If he's going to save $82 billion of expenditure, guess who's going to feel the pain for that—and it won't be Gerry Brownlee. It won't be their front bench—no, no. It'll be all those people who were fooled to go and vote for them in the first place. Every economist has said that's impossible.
Hon Gerry Brownlee: No, they haven't.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Oh yes they have. Well, if the number one spokesman for the National Party is a woodwork teacher, you can see what their problem is.
Hon Gerry Brownlee: That's right—that's right. Winston hates the workers.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Hear that? He thinks that noise and bluster substitutes for policy. Excuse me. The National Party may be making a comeback sometime, but it's not any time soon. I'm saddened by that, because the people of this country need a sound, strong Opposition. They need people of talent and capability, and they need far better than what they're getting now. So to our people out there, our message is: hang on. The campaign starts on Saturday morning, and help is on its way. Thank you very much.

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