New Zealand First leader Winston Peters kicked off his political year with a long, rambling, and late State of the Nation address to the Orewa Rotary Club last night.
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Peters was more than an hour late, leading others to fill the gap. Certainly one of the event organisers, former National and ACT leader Don Brash was looking a little impatient waiting for the arrival of the guest speaker. Brash famously made Orewa notorious for race-baiting speeches after his appearance there in 2004.
When he finally got to the podium, Peters predicted the National-led government's downfall before the next election in a speech that was long on rhetoric but short on specifics.
"Two-thousand-and-sixteen is going to be a most fascinating and explosive year in New Zealand politics," he said. "We don't believe that the government can hold up to the next election. The reason for that is the seeds of their own destruction are there now."
Peters also delivered what have become hardy annuals for him, attacking immigration and both sides of the political spectrum, but had special consideration for what he called "Maori privilege".
Peters said the Maori Party is "brown-mailing" National over the proposed changes to the Resource Management Act.
"It is obvious that National have been brown-mailed into making policy concessions to the Maori Party that doesn't even get one percent of the vote."
"We say that these changes are a signal flare to the entire country that two parties are taking us down the track of
separatism again. We are no longer one people, we are moving towards two separate groups with separate rights."
Peters also had a number of 'jokes' on the subject of race: "I am half Scots and half Maori," he said. "No one's perfect."
"It just gives you a natural suntan and desire to save money. As Billy T James once said, one half who wants to get drunk, the other half doesn't want to pay for it."