Winston Peters: National 'undermining democracy' with latest Covid claims

Author
Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 13 Aug 2020, 6:00PM
Photo / NZ Herald

Winston Peters: National 'undermining democracy' with latest Covid claims

Author
Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 13 Aug 2020, 6:00PM

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters has joined the Green Party and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in scorning National, accusing the party of "undermining democracy".

He called out Judith Collins for "misrepresenting the constitutional position to the public" when she said yesterday that the Government had broken a well-established pre-election practice of consulting with the Opposition ahead of big decisions.

"New Zealanders are sadly being fed a steady stream of misinformation about the pre-election period from the National Party," Peters said in a Government press release.

"Its effect is to sow doubt about the legitimacy of the current Government as it focuses solely on protecting the health of New Zealanders."

Meanwhile, Collins is still upset at the Government for not providing a briefing to National's health spokesman, Shane Reti.

Speaking to The Country today, Collins said that was "pretty petty" on behalf of the Government – given Reti has been asking consistently for a briefing from officials.

Yesterday, Collins was critical of Ardern, saying she had not properly consulted her ahead of the announcement that Auckland was going back into level 3.

The normal pre-election convention, Collins said, was that the Government of the day does not make major decisions of national significance without proper input from the Opposition.

But, as Ardern pointed out when speaking to media yesterday, this is not quite how the pre-election convention works.

According to the Cabinet manual: "It is for the Prime Minister to make the final decision as to whether or not a decision or action (including a significant appointment) should proceed during the pre-election period."

Peters pointed out today that there is, in fact, no convention for power-sharing, such as what was outlined by Collins.

"She should know better. So who is giving her that advice and why is she taking it?"

He pointed out that the current Government continues to have full powers to govern until the election.

"If it wasn't so malicious and dangerous for our democracy it would merely be sad," he said, of Collins' claims.