Barry Soper: Winston Peters' Trumpian moment

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Thu, 13 Feb 2020, 3:45PM
Photo / NZ Herald
Photo / NZ Herald

Barry Soper: Winston Peters' Trumpian moment

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Thu, 13 Feb 2020, 3:45PM

COMMENT:

Winston Peters kept journalists working late last night and away from Premier House where they were invited to have a tipple with the Prime Minister.

This from a man who likes nothing more than a knees up. But he must have derived a macabre pleasure, not necessarily for diminishing the number at Jacinda Ardern's gathering, but for denying his nemesis (the thirsty media) their ability to quench it.

In a Trumpian moment late at night Peters took to Twitter to tell everyone who was interested he'd be telling the "truth about the NZ First Foundation," that mysterious entity that he'd in the past distanced himself and his MPs from. And he promised even more, to tell us what the latest hysterics are all about.

The promise was more alluring than a drink for many of us but what we got left us parched.

Peters, like the media rarely sees him in his composed state, told us in dulcet tones nothing that we didn't already know.

Of his 95,000 followers just 400 at the peak tuned in to the New Zealand First leader sitting demurely behind his well-ordered desk with an oversized SuperGold card as a backdrop.

Unfortunately there wasn't a question about the Electoral Commission's contention this week that the New Zealand First Foundation had received money that should have been treated as donations to the party and were not disclosed as required by the Electoral Act.

The Commission doesn't have the investigative powers so handed the issue on to the police who almost immediately flogged it off to the Serious Fraud Office.

The latest raft of papers, which Peters says were stolen, over donations to the foundation from the racing industry drew probably the most poignant question of the night: How does he respond to donations from the racing industry when he's the Racing Minister?

No problem, he's fought for the survival of the industry for the last 30 years, he told us. Significant changes to it last year came from a review of it by an overseas, independent advisor who said it needed urgent reform and would be irreparably damaged if it wasn't carried out.

His boss Jacinda Ardern earlier in the day gave a spirited defence of her 2IC, saying virtually the same thing.

It'd be difficult for the Prime Minister to take the moral high ground on this though considering the significant support of the trade union movement for Labour. And they don't do that for nothing, neither does the racing industry for Winston Peters or big business for the National Party which gets the lion's share of donations.

Ardern's right about one thing - the donations issue needs review. They should be seen for what they really are, paying for the sympathetic ear of a lawmaker.