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Failure To Understand Coalition Politics: Peters

Extract From A Speech By New Zealand First Leader And MP For Tauranga, Winston Peters To Rotary Club Of Mount Maunganui, Mount Maunganui Golf Club In Golf Road, 6.00 Pm

3 April 2002

Failure To Understand Coalition Politics: Peters

“First Person Ever To Lead Two Political Parties At Once!”

Alliance Leader Jim Anderton is in effect asking New Zealanders to believe that while he is in Parliament he will be the leader of one political party, and will pretend that the other party, of which he is also leader, does not exist. Then while he is outside Parliament he will actually campaign against that the other party, of which he is also leader whilst in Parliament. But he is also expecting New Zealanders to believe that this does not contravene the Electoral Integrity Act!

This is something Spike Milligan would have been proud to think up.

Today Jim Anderton said that he is leaving the Alliance—but will still be Leader. He said that he is going to form and lead another party, which he will pretend does not exist in Parliament. He will be the first person in history to lead two separate political parties at the same time!

Sorry Jim—April Fool’s Day was two days ago.

The real reason Jim is engaging in this exercise in deception is to secure the taxpayer-funded party funding of almost $400,000 to which neither he nor his new party is entitled.

In any other democracy it would be seen as an act of corruption: of the spirit of the law, the law in fact, and Parliamentary rules.

Isn’t it a real farce when the only person to lose their job amongst the toing-and-froing or to take a walk is not an MP at all, but the former Race Relations Commissioner Greg Fortuin.

The breakdown of the Alliance is not to do with the MMP system but is a result of a failure to understand the reality of coalition politics.

In 1996 New Zealand First negotiated a comprehensive agreement that provided the nation with a three-year plan of budgeted expenditure. During that first MMP government the major problem that confronted us was the unwillingness of the old parties to recognise that some fundamental changes had taken place.

National, under Jenny Shipley, was unwilling to share power. Worse, it was unable to recognise that there was a need for negotiation and compromise. Worse still, they set out to break the agreement they signed. Eventually that, and the reprehensible actions of some MPs led to the demise of that coalition.

It should be noted, however, that despite this unwillingness to compromise much was achieved. We have free health care for under sixes, more police, pay parity for teachers, no superannuation surtax, additional social spending, and state asset sales off the political agenda because of New Zealand First’s ability to have these things included in a comprehensive coalition agreement.

In its indecent scramble to achieve office in 1999 the Alliance signed a motherhood and apple pie statement that could never serve as the basis for policy delivery that would satisfy its membership. Today’s dissolution was inevitable from that moment. The Alliance’s membership cannot see any policy gains for the time spent in government. All they can see is their representatives enjoying the trappings of office and lining up for more. If the Party and its principles have to be sacrificed then ‘too bad’.

We in New Zealand First have seen the same scramble for position from those MPs who deserted their Party in 1998. None of them survived the test of an election. The result is that we now have a party that better understands the MMP environment and the need for compromise, and the need to lay one’s cards on the table.

Jim Anderton’s former team sold its membership short in signing up to an empty coalition agreement and in doing so signed a death warrant for the Alliance as we knew it. It died today.”


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