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Mike's Minute: Luxon needs to wake up to Winston's hijinks

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Wed, 20 Mar 2024, 10:15am

Mike's Minute: Luxon needs to wake up to Winston's hijinks

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Wed, 20 Mar 2024, 10:15am

I am not sure how it is, well over a quarter of a century into MMP, that we still have this mad idea that just because you are the head of one party, you are the boss of another party. 

Christopher Luxon is somehow supposed to be having a word with Winston Peters over the comments from the weekend, not to mention yesterday. 

Problem number one is the media walked right into the trap and it's not even a new trap. It’s a tired old game Peters has played for years. He says something emotive, cue the outrage and then milk it for as long as you can. 

In many respects it’s the great shame about Peters, because in some areas he is actually a bright, experienced operator. 

It seems from his turn this time around as Foreign Minister, like the last time he played the role, he is actually quite good and quite effectual. 

It's just, given the vagaries of MMP, he has to run the populist lines around race to get the required 5% to keep him and his mates in work. 

So, you have this dichotomous mix of a loudmouth, headline grabber and senior operator in heavyweight areas like foreign relations. 

Anyway, back to the Prime Minister. 

What people clearly forget is this is a deal of convenience. They are not natural bedfellows and Luxon, despite the fact he holds the top office and despite the fact his party has the most members in the deal, is not the boss. 

I am sure he would like to think he is. But here is the MMP reality; can he govern without Peters? 

No. So who really has the power? 

Dare I remind you that I was quite vocal in saying during the campaign that the smartest thing Chris Hipkins did was rule Peters out. Luxon, having been gifted the perfect “out”, failed to follow suit and look what happened. 

A simple truth about our system is you make do with what you’ve got. And what Luxon and Seymour have is a potential problem. 

This is merely months old and if you think there isn't more where this came from you haven't followed the Peters playbook for the past three decades. 

Say whatever you want about the bloke, but what you cannot accuse him of is being inconsistent. 

Race has been his ticket to relevance and will continue to be because there has been, and always will be, enough New Zealanders who swallow the bait hook, line and sinker. 

If Luxon is just waking up to that now it's going to be a very, very long two and a half years. 

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