Kate Hawkesby: Is this the beginning of the end for NZ First?

Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Tue, 11 Feb 2020, 9:25AM
Photo / NZ Herald

Kate Hawkesby: Is this the beginning of the end for NZ First?

Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Tue, 11 Feb 2020, 9:25AM

I wondered yesterday after Winston fired that missive to the leaker in his party that he was going to get the Police involved, how it was possible he was back in the news grabbing headlines.

Then I realised, it's because he's Winston Peters.

A seasoned player in the game of getting attention.

A seasoned player in how to grab headlines in an election year.

But the attention he was to garner later that day turned out to be not so beneficial to his profile and reputation.

The electoral commission announcing it was referring NZ First Foundation donations to Police, who in turn referred it to the Serious fraud Office.

Oh dear.

Not ideal.

Tellingly, NZ First quickly said it will be 'reviewing' the way it takes donations.

So amidst this familiar scandal, I say familiar because, let's not forget the SFO investigating NZ First back in 2008 over donations and the 100 thousand dollar cheque from businessman Owen Glenn. The question must be asked, what's the PM doing about it?

Well, nothing.

She won't stand him down while the party is investigated by the SFO, yet Helen Clark did back in 2008.

Not only did Clark stand him down at the time but she also referred to his "belligerent attitude" as perhaps being part of the problem.

Has anything changed?

Well the leader has.

Jacinda Ardern does not stand people down, nor sack or censure people.

She would not however go so far as to profess any trust in him, so why sit on the fence?

"I am awaiting the outcome of the SFO," she said.

The other thing she and NZ First will be eagerly awaiting is the outcome of the next poll.

The most recent one had NZ First down to 3.6 percent, below the critical 5 percent needed to be in government.

So a fresh swirling SFO controversy, a party leak, and poor poll ratings, not a good week so far for NZ First, and it's only Tuesday.

So are we witnessing the death throes of a party on the ropes, flailing below the 5 percent threshold, running out of options, getting gassed by National, being investigated by the SFO?

Well it wouldn't be the first time all those questions have been asked.

Political commentators talk about the campaign bump NZ First will potentially experience.

I’m not so sure.

Despite the party’s phoenix like qualities, they may just be at the end of the road.

We’ll know in a handful of months, if they have indeed finally done their chips.

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