A wolf howl for attention

NZ Herald

John Amstrong calls out Winston Peters on his fact free cries for help:

So much for the theory that Winston Peters was mellowing into Parliament’s version of everyone’s favourite, if somewhat cranky and irascible, uncle.

It was a more familiar Peters who delivered the leader’s address at New Zealand First’s annual convention last Sunday.

The speech was not so much a dog whistle as a wolf howl for attention. There was certainly no coded language to decipher.

His pinging of Chinese immigrants for allegedly sponging off New Zealanders by picking up state-funded super payments and other entitlements without paying any income tax was unquestionably populist – so much so that he was almost parodying himself.

Peters cited a young couple from China being able to “bring in four elderly parents who don’t have to work here in the 10 years before they turn 65, yet they will all receive full New Zealand Super”.

He was unable to offer any evidence bar hearsay of his claim that 22,000 immigrants nationwide are allegedly collecting super without having paid any direct tax.

He instead rationalised his accusation of freeloading by arguing that New Zealanders needed to know all the facts about superannuation rather than being manipulated by the savings and insurance industry into believing there was a “crisis” which required an end to universality in the payment of the state-funded pension.

It all added up to a lame excuse for an attack on a segment of immigrants who are always an easy target because they are reluctant to fight back.

Worse still the facts didn’t support his dog whistle:

But the actual number was less than 1900. Some will be at the younger end of the age spectrum which means those immigrants can hardly be classified as recent arrivals by the time they reach 65, while those around that age simply will not qualify for super for some time.

Seeking official advice on Peters’ claim, the Prime Minister was told that just under 3500 Chinese immigrants qualify for the pension – less than 0.6 per cent of the total on super and a long way off 22,000.

Journalists should call Winston Peters for what he is…a liar.

Cult of Personality

Like all political parties, New Zealand First conferences are a good opportunity for a party to sell merchandise. But one would think that photos of the dear leader is a bit far!

The corruption of politics in New Zealand

Bryce Edwards has been compiling a daily political collation and aggregation of political and topical news stories in election year.

He adds an editorial component at the beginning and yesterday’s was a real doozy.

As I mentioned yesterday, allegations about political finance, corruption and scandal are now the key electoral weapon of modern New Zealand politics. The political rhetoric about corruption, political funding, misuse of taxpayer funds, and personal political behavior are now one of the most salient forms of electioneering in what is now a permanent campaign. As with rhetoric around more perennial issues such as law and order, parties and politicians now trade heavily on claims, accusations and complaints relating to these issues. Yet New Zealand politics has not traditionally been characterised by political finance, corruption and scandals. So why has this type of negative campaigning suddenly become so central to New Zealand politics? Quite simply, problematic issues of political finance and political corruption have actually existed for a long time in New Zealand politics but have only recently become visible due to a variety of factors relating to the shift to a proportion representation electoral system, the breakdown of the party system and ‘cartel’, and ideological convergence in the party system. Most significantly, the increasing visibility of apparent political finance and political corruption is due to the sudden propensity of political parties to use such allegations as a rhetorical weapon against opponents, creating an escalating battle over political integrity in which words such as ‘corrupt’ and ‘corruption’ are increasingly used. I’ll be explaining all of this in a paper I’m giving at the Political Rhetoric conference being held at Parliament over the next couple of days (and blogging it in the near future).

I wish I had known earlier about the Political Rhetoric conference as I would have loved to have gone to listen to Bryce talk about the growing political corruption we are seeing.

I disagree with Bryce that the allegations are rhetorical weapons. That would only be true of the allegations had no substance. These allegations however now have real substance with the Labour party in particular creating a legacy of regularly and willfully breaking electoral laws. Worse still though is Labour’s propensity to blame others, and when finally caught and embarrassed they resort to retrospective legislation to shamefully right that which was wrong.

No party is squeaky clean, but in the abscence of any action by the Police or the parliament to clean it up it has been left up to bloggers in the main to draw attention to the issues with the few tools available to them, the OIA, complaints to the Speaker and Electoral Commission.

Parliament and the vested interests have shown a distinct unwillingness to address the issues and until they do politicians and parties can suffer the ignominy of constantly being caught, outed and castigated as cheats, liars and corrupt. Labour are yet to show any contrition for their acts of willful disregard of the rules.

If parties and politicians cannot follow the laws that they write and pass then we really can’t trust them to reform anything. We have some serious constitutional issues before us with a referendum on the future of MMP and the politicians that say “trust us” to reform MMP are the very same politicians breaking electoral law.

It is high time for us to mimic Australia and establish a Independent Commission against Corruption so that the politicians, parties and bureaucrats can truly be held to account.

Can Winston win Helensville?

Can Winston win Helensville?

Can Winston Raymond Peters, 65, Pensioner win Helensville?

Especially if the Whaleoil party puts a candidate up demanding honesty and integrity from candidates.

Where’s our $158,000 Winston?