Winston on shared PM role

NBR reports:

Winston Peters has dodged a question on whether his team would again push for a “shared prime ministership” scenario as part of MMP negotiation.

His non-response (see below) came after the latest installment of RNZ’s The 9th floor, during which Helen Clark said a member of Mr Peters’ team floated the dual PM concept during the extended MMP negotiations of 1996 – during which the NZ First leader played off Labour and National, ultimately opting to go with National as treasurer.

Recent polls have shown NZ First in a possible kingmaker role after September’s election.   

During an interview on The Nation, Mr Peters also said that in government he would fire the board of Solid Energy if it would not agree to send a team into the Pike River Mine to retrieve the bodies of the miners who died there.

Mr Peters says he would pass an exemption in health and safety law that would allow entering the mine, and says Labour and the Greens would agree to that “because they have been embarrassed into taking action.”

I don’t know what is wrong with the media. Well, actually I have a few ideas.

They clearly haven’t learned from history.

Winston Peters was burned in 1999. When Bolger was rolled, who he could work with, and replaced with Shipley, who he couldn’t work with.

Ever since then he has made it his mission in life to never say what he is going to do until he sees how the votes land on election night. The main reason being is that he wants the most stable possible government with a preference of just two partners. He knows some dead heads will come in with both parties and he wants enough numbers so if some go they can still govern.

That is the first thing that should be in the forefront of any decent journalist’s mind.

The next is that he will NEVER work with the Greens. In his book they get nothing. No under-secretary jobs, no associate ministers…NOTHING.

Then look at the numbers again. Let’s face it, Labour will not get over 30% and Winston is currently polling on around 10%. The Greens will barely get 12%. In all likelihood Labour will slump in the final weeks to around 25%…the numbers don’t work and if they do they barely scrape over the bar. Winston will not deal with Labour if that is the case as the risks are great and the margins for error slim.

He will deal with whoever gives him what he wants, but he always asks large and settles smaller. Labour wouldn’t shank Andrew Little to appease Winston. The arrogance won’t allow it. National would shank Bill English in about as much time as it takes to close the door on a ministerial limousine. Many backbenchers and some ministers are experiencing buyer’s remorse…and the longer it goes the worse it will get. They were still happy little sycophants to John Key and tugged their forelocks and did his bidding. He’s gone, left them to it and memories in politics fade fast.

If Winston Peters gets enough to make the demand of National to shank Bill English then it will happen. Personally I’d like very much to see that happen.

Transcript: Lisa Owen does the usual snippy hopeless questioning.

Lisa Owen: Good morning, Mr Peters. There have been big developments in this Pike River story this week. We’re going to get to that in a second. But I’m just curious about one thing – a podcast that was released this week, The 9th Floor. In it, Helen Clark talks about the fact that in 1996, someone from your team floated the idea of a shared prime ministership, and I’m just wondering – was it a serious idea at the time?

Winston Peters: Look, she didn’t say that I did that.

No, she didn’t.

Somebody else who was on my tactical team apparently did that. I think it was because in 1932, the then leader of the second-biggest party in the coalition was, in fact, the prime minister – a guy called Forbes – a man called Forbes. And I suppose he went in there saying, ‘Now, look, if you think this is novel or new, it’s not; it’s already happened.’ And I think it was a tactic to get them in the right mental frame of mind in terms of negotiating.

But in terms of that, do you think now New Zealanders would be ready for an arrangement like that – a shared prime ministership or a prime minister who comes from the smaller coalition partner?

Let me tell you, neither myself or anybody in my organisation and in my caucus is thinking of that sort of talk. We are focused utterly on maximising our vote in a three-way fight on the 23rd of September this year. That’s how serious the economic and social circumstances are, and we’re not thinking about anything else because we want to put all our efforts into that. And speculation and answering hypothetical questions is not what we’re going to be doing in this campaign.

But just as a general principle, do you think it would be workable to have the prime minister come from another party?

I just told you I haven’t thought about it. I’m telling you we are not going into this arrangement to sell the people out and compromise them and all sorts of arrangements which are against the national interest. This country’s economy’s in serious trouble, our social structures are in serious trouble, our infrastructure is desperate. And you can either go with the present and try and defend the indefensible or you can strike out to have the country the way it used to be – a world leader. And we are in the second camp, and that’s all we’re going to be talking about, all we’re going to be focused on, all we’re going to deliver. Every other egotistical, egregious self-interest is not in our book.


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