Winnie the poop

Winston Peters has hit back at the Cystic Fibrosis Association of New Zealand for spurning his $10,000 donation. He’s released a letter from the Association’s CEO last year seeking a donation after the Starship Foundation  returned a donation of $157,934 — money that most think NZ First wrongly spent in the 2005 election. He also talks darkly of hidden forces. “The real issue is who got to them.”

According to the Association, it wasn’t National. It’s just that a lot of people think that the money really belonged to the taxpayer, and wasn’t NZ First’s to disburse.

Audrey Young blogs that Peters “dreamed up a stunt that he believed would inoculate himself from criticism” and by which he could avoid paying the money back to the taxpayer. The donations would remain anonymous. Instead, he’s just drawn attention to the failed stunt and brought another charity into the controversy.

The Auditor General’s opinion can’t be easily dismissed. Whatever one thinks of the morality of the original spending — and I know people who are adamant that it was proper and legal at the time — it is clear that there is some substance in the case that the spending was improper, and to that extent the money should be paid back.

How does Winston get away with his ridiculous antics?

When such questions are posed, I am reminded of the response of a friend on election night 1999. We were at Helen Clark’s election headquarters. As Clark entered to thunderous applause the news flashed onto the television screens that Peters had retained his Tauranga seat, keeping NZ First in Parliament and preventing Labour from governing alone. “We’ll never get rid of the bastard until someone drives a stake through his heart”, muttered my friend.

Bill Ralston wrote in last weekend’s HoS that we can write off Peters in the coming election. With no evidence to back him up, Ralston talks of Peters wistfully eyeing retirement. According to Ralston Tauranga’s voters are going to find the boyish charm of someone half Peters’ age irresistable. Somebody should tell Ralston about the age profile of the electorate; roughly 60% of the voters are older than the National candidate.

Amazing what passes for analysis in NZ’s award-winning newspapers.

Nonetheless, it would seem to be beyond even Peters to regain the seat in a year that is increasingly looking National’s. However, he is carefully pitching to his target vote, who seem oblivious to his shameless behaviour and corrosive politics, and starting to track up again in the national polls.

Young concludes her blog, “It is time for someone to do the right thing.”

She doesn’t say what the “right thing” is. Perhaps she means to say that the Labour-Progressive coalition should jettison Peters from the government that he’s not a part of, even though he holds a senior cabinet portfolio. Not practicable.

And put away that stake. That’s not the “right thing” either. The right thing is clearly for the voters to reject him once and for all. Enough is enough.


4 Responses to “Winnie the poop”

  1. truthseekernz Says:

    I’m still the crowd that says the Auditor General got it wrong on those expenses… I have a hard time getting upset about this particular issue.

  2. jafapete Says:

    Thanks Steve.

    I should make it clear that I think the issue of the legality (was it in breach of the Public Finance Act?) of the original spending is complicated and there are strong arguments both ways. Accepted practices had grown up over a long time about such spending and the Auditor General warned everybody beforehand that he wanted these to stop in order to ensure that everything was above board. To ignore this was very foolish. Apart from anything else, the public was always going to see such spending as immoral, if not illegal.

  3. barnsleybill Says:

    His ability to sense the prevailing wind of public opinion has completely left him. Labour (after a late start) realised this was a big issue for the public and ponied up with their own wages to repay the money, good for them. A pity they undid this with the EFA though.

  4. adamsmith1922 Says:

    I agree with you re Ralston’s comments. Tracy Watkins had a different view in her article on Monday discussing both Cullen and Peters.

    In my view Peters has moved into a realm of unreality and is like many politicians suffering from what David Owen in the UK has termed ‘Hubris Syndrome’, in fact the more I think about it, the more I am sure that is the case.

    Frankly, I think for the majority his antics no longer pass muster, but I am afraid there may well be a sufficiency of ‘voters’ who will put the old bully back in Parliament

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