The Soap Box: The limelight is Peter's natural habitat

Author
Barry Soper,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Tuesday, 19 September 2017, 7:04AM
(Photo: NZ Herald)
(Photo: NZ Herald)

He came into Parliament before many of them were born, including the new Labour leader Jacinda Ardern.

Politics comes as naturally to Winston Peters as slipping into his double breasted pinstripe suit. Like or dislike him, Peters knows his business and while others fade into the background, the limelight for him is his natural habitat.

The several hundred 'cow cockies' who turned out in Ardern's home turf of Morrinsville thought the protest at Labour's water tax was all about them. They invited the politicians along, but they weren't given speaking rights which is like denying Peters the air that he breathes.

Using a giant cow statue for shelter, he snaffled the microphone as things were wrapping up, and the sky was opening up, throwing fuel on the fire telling the 'cockies' that National and Labour were as bad as each other when it came to taxing water. Myrtle, the famous Massey Ferguson tractor, spluttered into life, drowning him and the jeering crowd out which seemed to give him the reprieve he needed to avoid the question.

He was bailed up later though and challenged on whether he'd stop the water tax if he gets to walk up the aisle with Ardern after Saturday's vote and did what he does best, avoiding the question and riling the 'cockies' who demanded an answer to a question they were never going to get an answer to - who was he going to coalesce with?

It was only later, after he'd worked the farmers into a lather, did he answer the tax question to journalists. Emphasising each word for effect, he said there would be no new taxes under New Zealand First.

It was a class act, he became the story, even outdoing Myrtle who almost made it herself into Parliament in 2003. Jacinda Ardern's first cousin Shane, the National MP for Jim Bolger's old seat, drove her to Wellington to protest Labour's proposed fart tax, misnamed given that the damaging emission didn't come out of the back end with the blight coming from burps.

Ardern drove her up the front steps before she spluttered to a halt and was forced to make an ungracious retreat back on to the forecourt which is where the then National leader Bill English hopped onto the driver's seat clutching a placard which read 'The Mad Cow Shouldn't Have Signed'.

Now he's saying he didn't call Helen Clark a mad cow, even if his placard's message was pretty clear.

In the end though the fart tax ran out of puff which is probably the same fate that awaits the water royalties.

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