Winston’s carpet bagging idea not that silly

Winston Peters has suggested that the government should be looking at replacing existing synthetic carpets in government building with NZ wool based carpets.

NZ First are calling for wool carpets to be put back on the floors of government departments and state houses.

Party leader Winston Peters believes the move would revitalise New Zealand’s declining wool industry and make for better building.

It’s a clear bid for the rural vote, which NZ First have been chasing ever since Peters’ win in Northland in 2015.

“New Zealand First will swing government procurement in behind natural, renewable and sustainable wool and natural fibres, both as floor coverings and as a material of choice for insulation,” Peters said.

“It is wrong that in the six-years since January 2011, the Ministry for Social Development purchased no woollen carpets but thousands of square metres of synthetics.”

“Wool and other natural fibres are wonder products and government can help take them to the next level by specifying them as products of choice.”

“Unlike National, New Zealand First believes in wool because it is naturally insulating, flame retardant, non-allergenic and it breathes. If that’s not enough, wool can be recycled and unlike the stuff made from oil, it biodegrades when it is no longer needed.”

Peters said even the floors of Parliament had more synthetic carpets than wool.

You’d think that Bill English as the former absentee MP for a wool producing electorate would have thought this a good idea…but no.

Prime Minister Bill English rubbished the idea.

“There’s any number of industries that would want a bit of a boost from some kind of political guarantee that their product would be purchased. New Zealand hasn’t operated that way for a long time and we’re not going to start now,” English said.

“It’s an unrealistic conversation because Mr. Peters has no idea whether it’s commercially viable on the government’s terms.”

Wool was once one of New Zealand’s most important exports.

New Zealand’s sheep herd peaked in 1982 at 70 million.

Bill’s explanations are about as dopey as Jordan Williams’:

Jordan Williams of right-wing think tank the Taxpayers’ Union described the policy as a step back to the 1970s – when Peters first entered Parliament as a National MP under protectionist Prime Minister Rob Muldoon.

“Carpets, as well as all other government supplies, should be selected on value for money alone. This sort of crony favouritism by politicians is exactly the sort of thing which sent New Zealand bust in the early days of Peters’ career,” Williams said.

“Here’s hoping Peters’ release is merely an ill-timed joke and that he hasn’t come full circle”.

Actually, I think there are many good reasons for looking at wool. Wool is a natural insulator and is fire retardant. It is of course a natural product, and is longer wearing than synthetic carpets. People are constantly selling older Axminster carpets on Trademe that are more than 50 years old and good as gold…just a bit out of fashion.

I think in the long run it would be a cheaper solution than synthetic carpets.

I loathe protectionism, but I don’t think this is about protectionism, I think it is far more nuanced than that, but Jordan Williams and David Seymour (who said much the same as Williams) only ever seek the headline.


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