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Patrick Gower Interviews NZFirst Leader Winston Peters

Patrick Gower Interviews New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters

Patrick Gower: Good morning, Winston Peters.
Winston Peters: Good morning, Paddy. How are you?

Good. It looks like you’ve got a good crowd there. If we could start, Mr Peters, with Kim Dotcom and Monday night – the big reveal. A personal view from you, do you think that John Key knew about Kim Dotcom in advance of that raid?
Well, yes, as a former acting prime minister, I knew full well back then that these details with respect to the SIS and the GCSB, and every prime minister in the Western world in similar circumstances would have to be told, otherwise serious numbers of people would be sacked from his department. So I’ve never believed Mr Key’s denials, unfortunately, because my experience told me, and the experience of every other deputy prime minister acting as a prime minister would know that.

And do you have any other indication of what this big reveal might be on Monday night? Do you have any other evidence yourself?
Well, not to the extent that I’m prepared to go public. In fact, we’ve put a lot of work into trying to get at the truth, but we never got 99.9% there without getting over the top of the information, so I’ve kept quiet.

But basically, you think you know what Kim Dotcom has had that will prove the Prime Minister as a liar, yet still you are prepared to go into government with a man that you clearly think is not telling the truth.
No, I never said the prime minister was a liar. I said one or two things is the only conclusion you could arrive at – either he is not telling the truth or his management of his department was so lax and so loose that his claim to be a good manager could not be true. One of those statements has to be the result. I’m not making allegations; I’m just coming to conclusions that are unavoidable.

Yes. Now, one thing I want to talk to you about is the cross-benches. You talk often of being on the cross-benches post the election. What does the cross-benches actually mean? Can you please define it for me?
Well, it means you’re not in government. It means that you are there to keep the system honest, that you use all your research and all your resources to ensure that the public get transparency. That’s what it means.

So do you abstain on confidence and supply?
No, it doesn’t necessarily mean that. It means that you’re on the cross-benches, not aligned to the left or not aligned to the right, but doing your job for the—

So how do you vote on confidence and supply? I mean, you’ve got to do something.
No, no, no. If you come along with a Budget that further sends this country into a tailspin – which we’re currently in, and every economist will tell you that now – then of course you wouldn’t vote for it. I mean, you’d have to look at the merit of the proposal and every proposal on that basis.

So you’re talking about the cross-benches meaning voting for supply as the Budget comes along. So say, for instance, John Key and Bill English bringing the Budget to you to vote for it? Is that what the cross-benches means to you?
No, it means that you are there on the cross-benches because that’s your decision. And you would assume that the government has the numbers to do what they should be doing. Now, I don’t want to give, at this late stage, a constitutional lesson, but that’s what it means.

Well, it’s hard to follow, because you’re not saying what you’d do with confidence and supply. You can’t go out to voters and say ‘cross-benches’ and then say, ‘Well, I don’t know whether it means confidence and supply or not.’ There’s a week to go; voters need to know, Mr Peters.
Well, leave it to me to tell the good people of Levin today what I mean and what I’ve tried to get through your heads over the last three years, and in fact 21 years of leading New Zealand First. We’re into a democratic decision in a week’s time. The power lies with these people behind me, not you guys. And the truth is they want to see an honest, transparent government. They don’t like the filth and ugliness of character assassination in politics. They want the system cleaned up. And they want, above all, their country to regain its former economic greatness.

And on that, I mean, you called for a Royal Commission into dirty politics, then you did a u-turn and said the current enquiry’s OK. What does this mean for--?
No. No, no, no, sorry, Paddy. Again, we can’t let you be that loose with the facts. The truth is I fought for a Royal Commission—

I’m giving you the facts. What does it mean for your other bottom lines? Is blocking Lochinver--?
Paddy, you made a statement. Let me answer you. I mean, I’m sure it’ll help you too. The reality is I called for a Royal Commission first, before anybody else. That is still our position, but there is a second type of commission far more encompassing than the one Mr Key has now got, that many constitutional and legal experts say would be able to do the job as well.

One last question, Mr Peters.
Paddy, stop right now. I did not go back on my word, and I won’t have you guys opening your mouth and let the wind blow your tongue around. This is very critical at this point in time that the public get the truth.

Yeah, sure. And on that, we heard the Prime Minister say this morning that he is prepared, if you muck him around—Essentially, he effectively said if you muck him around, he’s prepared to go up to the Governor General, call the Parliament together and see who you would vote for – essentially, call your bluff. What do you make of that, the Prime Minster willing to go up to the Governor General and call your bluff in the Parliament?
Look, Mr Key has a number of skills. Being a constitutional expert and keeping his nerve doesn’t appear to be one of them. There will be no instability in the future of this country. There hasn’t been under MMP since 1996. So why are we having people panicking and trying to scare the public? Look, I trust New Zealanders, and I believe enough trust me.

All right, Mr Peters, thank you very much. That’s a good place to leave it. Thank you for your time.
It’s been a pleasure. Thank you.


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