NBR – Bill needs to embrace Winston

Jason Wells at NBR thinks Bill English needs to be rolling out the red carpet for Winston Peters.

National needs to bite the bullet and ally with New Zealand First if it wants to win a historic fourth term in government, NBR readers say.

The latest Colmar Brunton poll reveals National could not form a government even with the help of its coalition partners, ACT, United Future and the Maori Party, and would need to enlist NZ First to push the bloc over the line.

Mr Peters remains kingmaker in other polls too, with RNZ’s poll of polls – an average of the four major political polls – revealing both sides would need NZ First to form a government.

But the veteran MP is not giving much away over who he would side with after the election.

Winston never outlines who he is going with. But he does leave clues. One of those clues is Winston Peters’ preference for as few parties as possible in a coalition arrangement.

He has laid out numerous new policies, including his plans to hold a nationwide referendum on whether to abolish the seven Maori seats.

“The fact is Maori don’t need to be told they are not good enough to be equal or that somehow they should be handicapped, that somehow they should be pigeonholed,” Mr Peters said at his party’s recent election year conference.

His calls were backed by former National Party leader Don Brash, who told NBR he was “tempted” to vote for NZ First, as a result of the policy.

That policy will preclude him from Labour and the Greens…a clear clue there. This policy used to be National’s.

Mr Peters has set a number of “bottom line” policies, including a manned re-entry into Pike River Mine, changing the Reserve Bank Act, keeping the retirement age at 65 and building a Northland rail link just to name a few.

National has kept the door open for NZ First as a potential coalition partner, as has Labour.

But that has not stopped Prime Minister Bill English putting the boot into the NZ First leader over some of his more controversial policies.

There is nothing wrong with putting the boot in. Many of those policies are giveaways in negotiations. MMP forces you to do that. Amusingly MMP, the system that people said would rein in politicians has actually enabled them to lie shamelessly to the electorate knowing that they can explain it away as a part of coalition arrangements.

After Mr Peters said the government “had turned its back on wool” and his party would swing government procurement in behind wool and natural fibres both as floor coverings and as a material of choice for insulation in Crown offices and Housing NZ properties, Mr English slammed the idea.

“NZ First has no idea whether [the plan] is commercially viable on the government’s terms.”

Mr English says the NZ First party will just “sort of say whatever it wants to say … Now it is going to sponsor a particular industry.”

Yep, and so does National. Politicians promise the earth. Remember when John Key said he wouldn’t increase taxes, then put up GST? Remember when John Key said that Working for Families was “communism by stealth” and then expanded Working for Families and Bill English has expanded it as well?

Readers like to accuse Winston Peters of lying. Show me a politician that they think doesn’t lie and I will prove to you that they do.

But the prime minister needs to suck it up according to NBR poll participants.

Asked if National should ally with NZ First, if that’s what it takes to keep power after September 23, 63% of participants say yes, with the remaining 37% disagreeing.

Yep, Bill needs to suck it up. He won’t though because he is busily using NZ First to scare the backbench.



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