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On The Nation: Patrick Gower interviews Winston Peters

On The Nation: Patrick Gower interviews Winston Peters

Patrick Gower interviews New Zealand First leader Winston Peters

Headlines:

Winston Peters opens door to standing in East Coast Bays electorate, says it's an "exciting point" and he's thinking about it

"I’ve had a whole lot of people writing to me and calling up and saying ‘why don’t you have a go in East Coast Bays’."

Is “99.9 percent” sure he knows Kim Dotcom's evidence that John Key lied, but says he'll "leave that for the campaign".

"It’s evidence that points to who the Prime Minister saw and where those people came from that he did see."

Says New Zealand First won't back an extended capital gains tax unless it compensates for capital losses.

Promises a tax "not concerning the New Zealand people" and hints at tax cuts policy

Promises new policies addressing child poverty, IT and R&D in next few days

Peters predicts Internet-Mana ("a shooting star") and Conservatives ("you can't buy love") won't survive this election

Commits to a policy cutting immigration, but won't say by how much.

Patrick Gower: Winston Peters, 21 years old, Happy Birthday.

Winston Peters: Thank you very much.

Looking good I must say for 21.

Well you know it’s been a long hard slog. It’s been wonderful to have many people who started the party still here, many of them and they’re still showing the same hard loyalty and the true grit we always knew that we had.

The political marketplace now getting very crowded out there, a lot of new players; you’re one of the older ones. A lot of new players out there, one of them is the Kim Dotcom-Hone Harawira combo. What do you make of them?

Well you know what a stella nova is? Or a shooting star? It makes a brief flash in the sky and that’s the end of it. And we’re not concerned about that. We’re in for the long haul and always have been.

If it’s a shooting star that’s going to crash would you work with that combo, that Internet-Mana combo, in a government? Could you work with it? Could New Zealand First sit alongside it in a government?

Well that’s a hypothetical question but we don’t see them surviving this campaign and for a number of reasons. We don’t back race-based politics, we’re in this for everybody in this country as equals and the second thing is the idea of somebody coming here with a criminal record and setting up after five months a political party to run New Zealand is simply an outrage.

So that is a no? You would rule out working with Internet-Mana in any kind of government?

We don’t believe it’s material question because they’re not going to make it. I think the New Zealand people have got more sense than that.

But if they are there, you’ve called him a criminal, you’re ruling them out aren’t you?

No I didn’t call him a criminal, the German courts did.

You’re ruling him out?

We’re saying that we don’t see them making it. I don’t believe for a moment that the New Zealand people are going to settle for this and Maori in particular, when they realise what this is all about. And so it’s not even on our radar screen.

So let’s take Kim Dotcom for one moment then, he has said that he has evidence that John Key has lied about him but he’s saving it for five days before the election. What do you make of that?

Well that demonstrates that he’s not here for the country but for himself. If he believed that evidence was true he has a duty to tell you and I, all of us in this country right now, in a country where he is the beneficiary of us having allowed him in where many other countries would not.

You’re the one who went up to his mansion though.

I did because I wanted to find that critical piece of evidence and I think that I know what he’s talking about. But of course he was trying to save it for a court case. My point was that I don’t believe for a moment that the Prime Minister could not have known. If he didn’t know, then he should have been firing a whole lot of people.

So do you know what it is, that critical piece of evidence? Tell us.

It’s evidence that points to who the Prime Minister saw and where those people came from that he did see.

So you know Dotcom’s evidence?

Well I think we’re about 99.9-percent there. It’s required us to do a lot of work because he wouldn’t give it over.

What people did he see then? What people did John Key see?

Ah look, leave that for the campaign, because if I had the 100-percent proof I would have told you a long time ago.

Yeah. You know better than Dotcom then by the sounds of things?

But no as you see as a Former Deputy Prime Minister and Acting Prime Minister and a Minister of Foreign Affairs, it is not possible to have all these department officials and other Ministers all knowing and the man at the top not knowing because if that was true he would have fired a stack of people for that outrage in terms of treating him, the Prime Minister, with contempt. You can’t have it both ways Mr Key.

Ok well let’s turn to one of the other new players out there on the political block at the moment; Colin Craig and the Conservatives. He’s got six thousand members; he’s got many similar policies to you, he’s got the money and he’s got John Key’s help which is something you’re not going to get. He’s even having his conference on the same weekend as your 21st birthday. He’s trying to take you out.

Look you know that money can’t buy you love and it won’t buy you the 2014 election and that’s about the end of it.

What do you make of the guy, Colin Craig?

I have not even considered him or the party he purports to lead of what he stands for other than to know that they’ve plagiarised about three-quarters of our policies but they don’t understand them. And they haven’t got what we’ve got, commitment to make them happen. And if you need a ladder from some other party to climb the MMP 5-percent threshold wall, then how committed will you be after the election, in negotiations when you’re beholden to the party you’re negotiating with? That makes us strong. It means he’s weak. It means he will not survive this campaign.

So he won’t be there either. Do you rule out working with Colin Craig and the Conservatives in government?

Look, I do think that even the North Koreans and the old Soviet Union believe that man did get on the moon and the Americans got them there. And when I hear things like that and I don’t think this is going to be materially important in the closing eight weeks for a very tipping point campaign to waste your and my time and the peoples’ time talking about that.

Well it would be if John Key gives him that seat or gives him a deal in that East Coast Bays seat, then what happens? Winston Peters, will you stand there?

I’ve had a whole lot of people writing to me and calling up and saying ‘why don’t you have a go in East Coast Bays’, it’s an outrage. I don’t think that East Coast Bays is like Epsom. I don’t think they’ll be told what to do in the way that the Epsom people have been told and have, to be honest with you, so contaminated MMP. MMP is better than this. But the electoral machinations of political parties is putting a bad odour on this aspect of MMP and we in New Zealand First, as you know uniquely, don’t want a bar of it. We’re not bound to any grouping.

Ok, well will you stand there and stop it from happening if you’re so against it? If John Key goes ahead with a deal with Colin Craig in East Coast Bays, will you stand there and stop it from happening?

Well that’s an exciting point don’t you and we’ll wait around and think about it.

So you’re saying to John Key ‘you do that deal and I’ll see you out in East Coast Bays’ or you’ll see Colin Craig out in East Coast Bays and go toe-to-toe with him?

You’ll have to wait and see.

Because it would be a stunt wouldn’t it. It would be a publicity stunt.

No it wouldn’t be a stunt. We don’t go out to campaign with a whole lot of money like they do on the basis that it’s a stunt. We are deadly serious and what we stand for and that’s why after 21 years we are still in it, New Zealand First, for the long haul.

But you could stand in East Coast Bays, that’s your message to John Key isn’t it? You do that deal with Colin Craig and you’re there?

I’m not ruling that out, no.

Now Winston I want to turn to something else. That is tax. Lots of parties already promising tax cuts this campaign. What’s New Zealand First’s position on tax cuts? Will you campaign on that?

Well before you go for tax cuts, what you need is a sound economy to pay for it. I know that a lot of people are dishing money around like an eight-armed octopus but what’s the economic strategy to bring this country, to rebuild our manufacturing, to rebuild our provinces and to massively grow our export wealth. We have a strategy to do that and that’s why when we say we’re going to give tax cuts, we’ll be able to back it up with a policy to make it happen.

So you are going to campaign on tax cuts? Who are they going to be for?

Well if you don’t mind, I’ve got 24 hours to announce them.

And how are you going to pay for them? I mean let’s get your business –

That’s why, unlike the rest, we first of all look at that issue because anyone can promise, as they do – most people understand the definition of politicians is they double cross that bridge before they come to it. Well we don’t do that. As a former Treasurer running a serious surplus and paying off debt and during the Asian currency crisis I know how difficult it is. But I do know that we can perform far better than we’re doing. We’re going to announce IT and research and development policy changes tomorrow and other ones to do with taxation as well to do with the ordinary person.

To do with taxation, I want to get your position clear on a capital gains tax. Does New Zealand First support a capital gains tax as a way of raising revenue?

Look we have a capital gains tax now and it’s amazing that we’ve got this huge debate in Parliament for or against capital gains tax. We have a capital gains tax now so the question is: do you want an extension of the capital gains tax and New Zealand First says no, unless you show me what you’re going to do about compensating for capital losses. That’s the fair thing.

Ok so the extent –

However I will give you a signal tomorrow about a capital gains tax that we would support but it will not be concerning the New Zealand people.

So yes well what will that be, on foreign currency for instance, you’re talking a tax on hot money?

Well no, this is an exciting convention and it’s really going to be highly important for the people of this country to know what we’re saying here. I’d rather if you don’t mind, I’m not being coy, but I want to launch that tomorrow.

You’re talking about a tax, are you on the movement of currency for instance by foreign investors?

You don’t let off do you Paddy. The fact is I want to have some special things to tell the people who have bought this party 21 years. I owe it to tell them first because they’re the ones who’re going to be out in the provinces and suburbs and the hamlets of this country selling it.

And one of your big gains has been the Gold Card.

It’s been amazing.

You’re 69. Have you got one?

Yes I have.

When did you last use it?

Um, last time I had a hair cut. The guy took one third off, not bad is it when you think about it, tens of thousands of benefits. But look just to answer your question, is anybody saying Warren Buffett’s not up to it?

I didn’t say anything about your age? I just wanted to know if you used your Gold Card.

No but that’s the insinuation. And you remember what Paula Bennett said and I said to her ‘why don’t you and I have a hundred metre sprint?’ and she backed off.

Yeah but is your health up to it? Is your health up to it?

See I knew you were going to get there so I got there first.

Is your health up to another three years then?

Of course it is.

Hundred percent?

Well a hundred and twenty percent is what you need in politics because we work seven days a week. And look at our campaign schedule. I’m not swanning around having a holiday in Hawaii getting ready. I’m not down in Queenstown getting ready. I’m on the road now and so is my team.

Now lots of new promises on that Gold Card that you’ve been using for your haircuts including free GPs visits, discounts on their power bills during winter, who’s going to pay for it and why is there only stuff for over 65’s, be they millionaires or not? And where’s the stuff for the kids?

Look I’ll be down at Lincoln University on Monday telling the young people down there who are students wanting skills and wanting an open air country what our plan is for them. We’ve got exciting policies for young New Zealanders as well and including those who are much younger at primary school age.

Inequality, what does it do reaching out to the top end, those over 65s, what does it do for inequality because we know that our pensioners are better off than our kids?

I’m so glad you raised it and put it that way. Super is a equality, equity issue. That’s why we are so strong on it. Buttomorrow I’ll announce policies for young people and young families which is serious to do with the inequality which we’re going to deal with and deal to in this campaign. And we’ll take on other parties in this matter. We know it will work.

I want to go quickly to one other point that you bang on about all around the country. I’ve been looking at your speeches, Kaipara, Timaru. You’re always targeting the Chinese, why is this?

That’s not true.

Why is this?

That’s not true. We have got some serious Chinese support for New Zealand First and the longer they’ve been here the stronger supporters they are. I can show you people who came and ran the Chinese organisation for this country for the last 50 years and they back New Zealand First there. You know what I’m talking about, I’m talking about foreign ownership and I don’t care whether it comes out of Luxembourg and is laundering corrupt money out of Luxembourg or anywhere else in the world. I want this country to regain its ownership, whether it be houses or whether it be land after all God’s not making any more of it.

Tell me quickly then, one thing you’re actually going to do to stop immigration if you get near government?

We’re going to cut immigration to those -

How and to what?

Well first of all we’ll get rid of the shambles of policy both from the ministerial and the departmental point of view whether you look at every case -

Give me a number?

We’ll cut immigration to this, no no, this I’ll tell you and this will be the criteria, we’ll cut immigration like we used to do to people we need in our economy not who need us.

No number?

Well if you’re going to make a blunt statement like that then I’ll be falling into the – I’m giving you the criteria where we’ll cut it back seriously to those who we need, not those who need us. Just to remind you, half the people coming and more are not here and some – to make any contribution until 21 years or more or never to make a contribution. That’s bad economics. It’s bad for our society.

Speaking of 21 years, that’s all we’ve got time for today.

ENDS

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