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Winston Peters doubles down on tractor comments

The Country,
Publish Date
Wed, 26 Aug 2020, 2:35PM
Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Winston Peters doubles down on tractor comments

The Country,
Publish Date
Wed, 26 Aug 2020, 2:35PM

Last time Winston Peters was on The Country he caused a bit of a stir by insinuating that anyone can drive a tractor.

The Deputy Prime Minister was responding to agricultural contractors' concerns that there weren't enough skilled migrant workers to drive machinery, due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Peters also said that New Zealand didn't need to use migrant workers and there were plenty of Kiwis available to take on the jobs.

Although he ruffled a few rural feathers in that interview, Peters stuck to his story on today's show, insisting that modern tractors were easier to drive than in back in his day.

"I don't know why you make out that it's so complicated. Given that machinery these days is far easier to work, it's far more efficient, it's got less chances of going wrong than the old machinery had in the old days," he told The Country's Jamie Mackay.

As a result of this confidence, Mackay challenged the Deputy PM to drive a harvesting machine to prove his point.

Peters initially showed enthusiasm for the challenge and told Mackay he'd "give it a go."

However, the Deputy PM backed down when The Country host attempted to make it official, and once again referred to his experiences driving a tractor in his childhood.

"No, no, no, no. Now Jamie. Some of us were doing it when we shouldn't have been doing it when we were 10 years of age."

Peters also rejected Mackay's suggestion that he was living in the past, accusing The Country host of disregarding New Zealanders as a viable source of workers.

"I'm not living in the past. I'm saying to you stop writing the New Zealand people off.
They've got all the skills that would possibly be required if they were first of all trained, and second – incentivised to get that job."

"Stop writing our people off."

• Not one to be deterred, Mackay has put out the call for agricultural contractors to volunteer their silage harvesting machinery for the driving challenge - despite Peters' reluctance to put his money where his mouth is.

Also in today's interview: Peters discussed the Government's freshwater reforms and the Covid-19 wage subsidy.

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