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.