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Q + A: Winston Peters

Q + A
Episode 27
Winston Peters
Interviewed by CORIN DANN

SUSAN Well we heard lots there from Colin Craig, especially on those binding referendum he's proposing. He's taking on Winston Peters for those Conservative voters. Here's Corin with the New Zealand First Leader.

CORIN Good morning Winston Peters. Two weeks out from polling day, Labour in a pretty poor position. Do you think at 25 - 26% they are a credible force to be able to form a government. Would that be stable?

WINSTON That depends upon whether you believe these polls, and I don’t so I'm not the best person to ask.

CORIN Are you comfortable though that if the centre left was able to form a government that a strong element of that would be the Greens, that you would comfortable potentially if that’s the way you decide to go in supporting that?

WINSTON Well let's be honest we've come a long time in the last three years of the media talking about the Labour Green government. That was never a mathematical possibility. So here we are 13 days to go and I hope people don’t misunderstand me, but if you can't stack it up mathematically then you just can't stack it up.

CORIN Colin Craig, is he a threat to you?

WINSTON He's my number one convert.

CORIN The reality is though, he's on 3% now. If he was to get across the line with a bit of help from John Key, a centre right government may be able to form without you.

WINSTON You put it right there, with a bit of help from some other party. So guess what happens after the elections. Those sorts of parties like ACT and United, go into a room with Mr Key and they take what he gives them, not the other way around. In fact they've no chance of negotiating because they’ve got no position of strength to negotiate from. So that’s the reason why posing that sort of question will not work. It is not an option and more importantly Mr Craig as you recall at the last election put out a million pamphlets saying that a vote for New Zealand First is a wasted vote so vote for him.

CORIN What's your problem with him?

WINSTON Well it was a lie for a start. We were never a wasted vote, that’s what he said we all know it. And here we go.

CORIN You didn’t even want to be on the same stage as the guy.

WINSTON Why do you get that idea? We were going to be on the same stage this afternoon at Maungawhai and he pulled out.

CORIN You won’t debate him head to head.

WINSTON I just debunked that, I just told you, we were on the same stage at Maungawhai this afternoon, because they'd been ripped off by the central government, and he's not fronting.

CORIN I don’t want to go down that road. I want to know as a person, as a party, they're not that dissimilar to yourself.

WINSTON No no you couldn’t be further wrong. I understand what conservatism means, I do have a serious understanding of history and I'm a responsible conservative, I'm not a whacko one. I'm a responsible conservative and if you look at the 65s and over, they know what Winston Peters has done. On foreign ownership they know what my stance is against corporate raids. Mr Craig's background has been to act for them. But when you come to immigration we know that we've got to have focussed immigration, he thinks it's fine.

CORIN If he was in a centre right government and you were being asked to potentially prop that up or back it, on the cross benches would you have a problem?

WINSTON Now you're talking hypothetical. A vote for the Conservative Party is a wasted vote, and many people out there know it.

CORIN Talk me through how it works after the election, what you can tell us. Is it the biggest party your first phone call after election night.

WINSTON We don’t make the phone call. We have always said we're happy to talk to the party with the most votes in the first instance.

CORIN So you get the call from John Key what happens then? You go into negotiations then but you're also willing to accept a call from the centre left if David Cunliffe thinks he can form a government?

WINSTON Well that’s the constitutional propriety of this country, it's written into our law, it's written into our precedent, and the fact is, it's not for us to start making all sorts of phone calls. But in the first instance we always have talked to the party with the largest vote.

CORIN Do you plan on giving any more of a sort of a structured steer on how you'll go after the election in this campaign?

WINSTON I don’t know what's coming in the next 13 days and nor do you and there's a lot more going to come in the next 13 days, that every voter out there and every politician should be aware of. This idea you're going to sign up with some party not knowing what's coming and something horrendous could come which would change your mind, but you're already committed. It's not democratic, it's not sane, it's not sound, it's not rational, it's not logical.

CORIN The cross benches, we've talked about the cross benches, we take that to mean basically opposition, right.

WINSTON Well you're sitting on the cross benches voting for what's good and sound and trying to stop what's bad by sound debate.

CORIN So could we have a situation where John Key goes to the Governor General without your supply and confidence support to try and form a minority government, and then he comes back and effectively challenges you to vote for him, or bring the government down and force another election?

WINSTON I've been in politics a long time more than John Key. I've had got serious experience, and that’s important. We don’t hit the ground going in to learn from the next three years trying to find where the parliamentary toilet is. We're ready to go on day one. So our past has been to go for the things that matter to us, the things we campaigned on and to not to sell them down the drain.

CORIN But my point is, is that going to be stable after the election?

WINSTON Well of course it's going to be stable. We've got a record of stability in this country, as much stability under MMP as there ever was under First Past the Post. Do you remember in 1984, do you remember 1951? Well of course you don’t because you weren't born.

CORIN Not 1951.

WINSTON Well there have been long periods of instability in this country under First Past the Post. 29 people left their parties under First Past the Post. See we've got an unfair comparison being made here.

CORIN You're being critical of the centre left around their spending promises, they're throwing money around.

WINSTON No I've been critical of both sides. Look here's what's serious. I think that whatever the next government shape will be they're going to face some really tough economic times. The dairy price and all these things, exports falling…

CORIN Sure, but how are you going to fund a 3 billion dollar hole when you take the GST off fruit and vegies?

WINSTON Well I'll tell you how we're going to do it, we're going to set out to as fast as possible grow our export wealth and that’s the only way, plus savings that we're going to do it.

CORIN The specifics on how you're going to do that?

WINSTON We know how we're going to do it, we're going to change the Reserve Bank Act for a start so it favours exporters and not importers.

CORIN So we have higher inflation?

WINSTON Totally the wrong result. We will not be having high inflation, we have not had high inflation in this country since 2003.

CORIN So what would you do to the Reserve Bank Act then if you're not going to change price stability?

WINSTON Well it's a blunt crude instrument that says inflation's picked up 2% is what we should be concerned about. What about exports? What about employment? What about for example GDP growth, and what about manufacturing? There are four things for a start that every other sound economy looks at, but not this neo liberal right wing experiment we're going through now for 30 long years, and it's failing.

CORIN Mr Peters, thank you very much for your time.

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