John Roughan? Sure, let’s have your take on Winston then

Winston Peters says terror could come to New Zealand. Bay of Plenty Times Photograph by George Novak

Towards the end of his talks this week Winston Peters looked unlike I’ve ever seen him. Serious. Not the angry serious that has been the trademark of his long, strange career. This time he looked lost in thought as he faced a camera, almost pensive.

I don’t remember him looking like this when he went into coalition with National in 1996 or with Labour in 2005. When he was sworn in with Labour at Government House he looked awkward in his pin stripes, like a guest at the wrong wedding. This time could be different.

He looked like a man who, at 72, suddenly knew this is probably his last shot at doing something worthwhile for all those years in politics.

I don’t know if the media’s consensus on Winston needing a legacy is driving him to the degree people are expecting.  The problem is that NZ First has been a one-term coalition partner each time.  A legacy would be to 1) not kill the host party in one term, and 2) position NZ First for a 2nd term.  That alone would be a legacy.  Not some kind of monument or majestic bribe.  

To read the NZ First manifesto for the recent election was to like wandering into a museum. There were policies to revive manufacturing, restore export tax incentives, change the Reserve Bank to take its focus off inflation and manage the exchange rate, block foreign ownership of land and some assets, direct the NZ Super Fund to buy back privatised assets and issue a great deal of orders about pricing and investment and development to airports and seaports, to KiwiRail and to banks and financial services.

There was also some uncharacteristic environmental and energy planks written for the Greens, and plenty of handouts for horse racing and more benefits on the super gold card. Doubtless I will get free doctor’s visits I don’t need.

It has been galling to watch good people such as English and Ardern pay respects to Peters. “Respect” has been their byword since election night. Truth usually gets distorted when he is on the scene. The truth is, MPs on both sides of the house have always had more respect for the other than for Winston Peters.

Now he gets to choose our government. I’ll be on leave in Australia next week, I hope I’ll want to come back.

People like to be dramatic.  In the end, life goes on.  Bread gets baked.  Cows milked.  Products sold and people get on with life.

One thing that will be an interesting statistic is the number of expats returning to New Zealand 12-24 months into the next coalition government.

 

– John Roughan, NZ Herald

 


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