Aug 6, 2008

Mike Moore On Winston

From today's NZ Herald

I'm guilty of forgiving, even covering up for, Winston Peters over the years.

Every three years there's an attack on migrants, Asians, Muslims, or ultra-wealthy capitalists from NZ First. The problems of hospitals are caused by migrants, housing problems are, according to them, caused by refugees.
All great lies need a little truth to give them legs. Winston knows better; that's why he lashes out at critics, always claiming to be misreported.
He attacks the Reserve Bank, but as Treasurer, kept its mandate. He sold Auckland Airport without a covenant that the shares could not be on-sold, and then pretended to be angry when private shareholders were courted by overseas investors.
He opposed the China trade deal, as part of his coalition contract to become Foreign Minister. That means, no matter what the deal said, he was opposed, before it was ever concluded.
A foreign minister should stand for his country's vital interests and express our nation's values at home and abroad. His "dodgy" financial dealings and his explanations are just not credible. He always pretended to be the honest little guy fighting the big guys, while getting big donations from them.
It is not believable when, months after he denied getting big money from big donors, holding up a sign saying "NO", that his lawyer didn't tip him off until the media did some forensic work on his funding.

Winston is like one of those high-tech US military aircraft that, when a missile comes its way, shoots out dozens of diversionary responses. A bit like a squid which squirts out black ink to hide its exit. His use of Parliament has created a toxic sewer that denigrates our political process.
Appalling attacks on colleagues from other parties, hinting at paedophilia, or a person's sexuality, and threatening to unmask private lives of journalists and opponents is wrong. If that's not wrong, nothing's wrong.
Unfortunately, this Muldoonist intimidation has worked on politicians and the media in the past.
Under MMP, it doesn't matter if 90 per cent oppose you, if you just seek to break the 5 per cent threshold - and much of this is a function of MMP and coalition government-building, where now anything goes.
Whatever it takes.

Now neither main party dare criticise Winston because they may need him to form a Government. Parliament is not doing its job of scrutinising members. Democracy works because of scrutiny, accountability and people having to convince others and explain their positions.
Winston is not being held accountable or asked to explain by his MPs or party members, because NZ First is not a party - it's a cult.
He's become the Bishop Tamaki of politics. A political pyramid based on faith and charisma. But there's a difference between democracy and demagoguery.
What a waste of a man who could have done so much for New Zealand.
Unfortunately, I now know too much. The money being given by big business to Winston and others is stunning. The Government was right in trying to fix this with its Electoral Finance Act. Pity it will do the reverse and make things worse.
The New Zealand media, for a change, needs to be congratulated for doing some serious research and sticking to the story and not being bluffed or intimidated.