DUNCAN GARNER: Cynical Winnie come-lately, but that's politics

27/02/2015

You gotta love Winston Peters’s sense of theatre.

He’s a classic opportunist right through to the end.

After 31 years in Parliament, he’s finally decided Northland needs a strong voice. Winston, where the bloody hell have ya been mate?

Listen to Winston Peters explain why he's running to Willie and Ali:

 

In fact – Peters first stood in Northern Maori in 1975 and got just 1873 votes.

He never once stood in the north again. It’s taken 40 years for him to return his name to the ballot box in the north.

And now of course he cares. It’s a case of Winnie-come-lately.

This is what he said today: "Standing in a by-election is not an easy decision to make but I have had a long-held concern for Northland’s forgotten people and its overlooked economies. A study of all facets of the electorate suggests that it has been marginalised and cinderallarised, along with many other provinces in New Zealand. Regional development is stagnating there."

A study of all facets of the electorate? What on earth does that mean?

He got his researcher to visit the Parliamentary Library. A quick stroll through Moerewa or Kaikohe will give you all you need to know.

People now sleep on the main street in Kaikohe – that’s how corrosive poverty is in the north.

The roads are dreadful – the jobs are scarce.

I spend a lot of time in the Hokianga.

It has been forgotten. When was the last time any MP went to Mitimiti, Pangaru or Taheke?

People live in sheds and caravans – money and housing developments have never reached this area.

Peters wants more regional development. That’s good.

Does Peters know about the Chinese development and money flooding into Tokerau Beach? There are plans for a mall there.

What’s his position on that? Is that growth and jobs – or unwanted immigration?

Now Peters says he wants Northland to become the ‘Florida of NZ.’ The what? Who writes this stuff?

Florida - where illegal immigrants pour into the state. Florida – where 675,000 illegal immigrants live!

Peters also says Northland has been ignored by successive Governments. Government’s that he has been part of.

What did he do for Northland when he was the country’s Treasurer?

What did he do for Northland as Foreign Minister under Helen Clark?

Perhaps he went to Florida for a case study on how to fix Northland – but I don’t recall that.

I know he went to Malta – I was with him. But it had no relevance to struggling Northland.

And here’s the real rub for me.

Given that Peters is already an MP, if he did win, then NZ First gains an additional MP, who is their candidate for Invercargill. Her name is Ria Bond. A vote for Peters is a vote for Invercargill’s Ria Bond who boasts of proudly campaigning in Bluff last election.

So a vote for Peters is a vote for an extra MP – from the other end of the country – Invercargill.

Also – if NZ First cares so much about the North – why didn’t they stand a candidate up there in the General Elections of 2008, 2011 and 2014. 

Sorry to be so skeptical and cynical, but I won’t be the only one.

At least it’ll be fun with him in the race.

But let’s call it for what it is – a stunt – but not a bad one.

Duncan Garner hosts RadioLIVE Drive - 'where content is still king' - weekdays from 3pm. 

source: data archive