Winston Peters Has A Crack At Stand Up Comedy
Winston Peters Has A Crack At Stand Up Comedy
By Kevin List
Today New Zealand First leader Winston Peters was involved in a spot of showmanship regarding which of the two main parties he favours as a post election coalition partner (providing of course he is in a position to be Kingmaker post- election).
At a press conference called ostensibly to announce NZ First’s election campaign launch Mr Peters delved deep into the traditions of British vaudeville.
After a question, which canvassed who Mr Peter’s preferred coalition partner was, a silver suitcase started ringing. Amazingly the steadfast media contingent held fast and didn’t attempt to seek cover from a potential Iraqi insurgent/Al – Qaeda type attack.
This fortitude and commitment to getting the story led to the assembled masses being treated to a comedy routine that would have kept any fan of the ‘Two Ronnies’ in stitches for at least 5 seconds.
Mr Peters opened the silver suitcase and proceeded to take a call from a man known as ‘Don’. Mr Peters asked this individual who his preference for a coalition partner was. When no definitive answer was forthcoming Mr Peters turned off the phone. As the forced laughter was dying another phone rang. Mr Peters once again answered. This second call was supposedly from someone called ‘Helen’. Again Mr Peters quizzed this mysterious caller as to who their preferred coalition partner was.
“Whaddaya mean you don’t know,” exclaimed Mr Peters before telling the mysterious ‘Helen’ that he had a press conference to get back to.
Criticising National Party leader Don Brash and his proposed tax cuts requires a slightly more serious expression from Mr Peters.
Mr Peters then rounded on his chuckling audience, and told the media that he wished they would pay attention to what were in his opinion fundamentally flawed statements made by Don Brash regarding tax cuts.
“If you look at what is being said by Dr Cullen as to what is available [for tax cuts] he is right – there is about two billion dollars available - not the amount that Don Brash talks about. Don Brash has signed up to the Cullen fund. Straight there is a sizeable chunk that he [Don Brash] is talking about for tax cuts, which he must know surely as the [former] Governor of the Reserve Bank is not available.
"I wish some of you actually examined some of the comments Dr Brash is making. He claims to be an economic expert - that statement is fundamentally flawed when he says that money is available,” explained Mr Peters.
Mr Peters then drew the media's attention to an answer Don Brash had given to a television interviewer regarding whether Don Brash favoured tax cuts across the board. [*]
“There was a long pause when he was asked one night on television: 'Does that mean for everybody?’- a long pause – a glazed eye look, and then he said yes.”
Mr Peters surmised Dr Brash must have been offering the electorate a full packet of chewing gum instead of the half a packet of chewing gum he considered was offered in Dr Cullen’s recent budget.
Mr Peters also spelled out some of the key policy planks of NZ First’s 2005 election campaign which included;
- a focussed immigration policy
- bolstering Police numbers
- ensuring New Zealand assets remain in New Zealand hands
When Mr Peters mentioned ensuring New Zealand assets remain in New Zealander’s hands he intimated he was keen to regain the “ownership of New Zealand”. This particular policy would hint at a slight change of tack for New Zealand First. During the New Zealand First/National coalition the Government’s share of Auckland International Airport was sold.
In Winston Peters' May 14 1998 Budget Speech he outlined his then policy of selling various New Zealand owned assets.
"Key initiatives announced in the 1998 budget include decisions to negotiate with local government shareholders to divest the Crown's ownership interest in Auckland International Airport . . . The government has also started the process of divesting the Crown's ownership interests in the coal mining State Owned Enterprise, Solid Energy."
Auckland International Airport recently paid out a $200 million distribution to its mainly foreign shareholders.
NZ First did however oppose selling Television New Zealand – an idea which many within the 1990s National administration were particularly keen on.
* Mr Peters was probably alluding to a recent Agenda programme where Simon Dallow questioned Dr Brash regarding National’s tax policy.
SIMON: On the 13th of July 2003 you said you would reduce company tax and the top two personal rates to 30%, in a press release on the 17th of March last year you said National's top priorities for tax reductions and tax relief for low to middle income families. What is it? Who's getting it?
DR BRASH: We're committed to have tax relief for all hard working New Zealanders that’s what I've said that’s the latest statement I've made and that’s what we'll stick with.
- SIMON: So by all the hard working New Zealanders you mean across the board?
- DR BRASH: I mean across the board.
- SIMON: Including the lowest tax bracket?
DR BRASH: Let's wait and see the details Simon I don’t want to go further than that.