Barry Soper: Winston Peters comes back with a splash

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Thu, 30 Apr 2020, 10:50AM
Photo / NZ Herald
Photo / NZ Herald

Barry Soper: Winston Peters comes back with a splash

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Thu, 30 Apr 2020, 10:50AM

COMMENT:

He's come back with a splash.

The photo of him fishing from his front lawn at his Northland bach was done with a sense of humour, he tells us.

The reverent profile of him holding a candle before dawn on Anzac Day on his front porch, looking out to the red sky-lit sea, reminded his followers that he might be isolated but he's still in the game.

And it was game on this week with the September election in mind.

Peters let the cat out of the bag over the Covid countdown, telling us the coalition Cabinet rejected outright a call from the Ministry of Health to shut the borders even to returning Kiwis before we went into lockdown five weeks ago.

He wasn't about to leave them stranded overseas, he was telling them to come home while they still could, a week before the shutters came down. That might be true but the revelation also created something of a red-face moment for the Prime Minister.

It became an issue Jacinda Ardern had to address as she stood alongside the man who wanted the early shutdown. Ardern said it would have made Kiwis stateless and no country in the world would be prepared to do that to its citizens. Ashley Bloomfield says he was relaxed with the Cabinet decision even though privately he knew complete closure would have been for the best.

And of course it would have been, given that most of the almost 1500 Covid-19 cases have been linked to travellers coming into the country.

Bloomfield said the border would have been closed only temporarily, until isolation and quarantine procedures were put in place. It took a further fortnight, and a lot of carping from the sidelines, for the Government to put those procedures in place, during which time hundreds of infected people came into the country.

If the borders had been closed when Bloomfield wanted them to be, we might not have had to be in lockdown for so long, and given we are told it cost the economy at least $3.5 billion a week to keep our keys in the lock, quarantining the travellers would have been money well spent.

Now that he's unlocked his door and returned to Wellington, Peters also tackled another part of his portfolio close to his heart, trade.

Before the last election he was advocating New Zealand-made wool carpets in the sprawling public service offices, and he's back on the bandwagon, talking about the new trade order and the pitfalls of globalism.

If Kiwi-manufactured goods can be produced within 15 per cent of what we pay for imports then we should go for it, presumably we should forget about increased cost to the struggling consumer.

With immigration being Covided out of existence – finally fulfilling New Zealand First's traditional election promise - the recovery, says Peters, should now see jobs filled by properly paid Kiwis. Of course, that's assuming there will be enough well-heeled businesses left open to meet the need.

In the past, he reminisces, we've got it right and we can Make New Zealand Great Again.

The politics of nostalgia isn't uncommon and Peters, more than anyone else, knows it appeals to his support base.

We ain't heard the last of him yet.