Winston Peters at the 2017 New Zealand First Convention (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Winston Peters’ media rounds this morning were an absolute tour de force

Acting PM Winston Peters did the rounds this morning and nobody was safe. We present a list of Winnie’s sassiest zingers.

AM SHOW

Winston joined Duncan Garner by video link to cover China and guns. Things got off to a cracking start, and went downhill from there. 

Duncan Garner: I tend to disagree with you [on China] Winston.

Winston Peters: Well you might tend to but I’ve heard a litany from the media about this relationship but the prime minister has been, she’s done the business and she’s coming home in very truncated circumstances not of our making, and that’s a fact.

A number of weeks ago she spent an entire weekend in her office with diplomats doing all sorts of things around the China relationship and then made that special statement about China on that Monday press conference after cabinet. Why would she do that if it’s business as usual?

Because she didn’t spend all weekend in the office in the way you said. I mean, who’s your informant here? The whole weekend in the office over one country? The prime minister has a stack of things to do.

So you’re saying that statement didn’t happen? I mean I think it’s fair to say the statement happened Winston.

Well you can have the argument, you’ve got the OIA, you can find out can’t you?

On guns: 

We haven’t been able to get patches off gangs, let alone guns. They’ve said to get stuffed, they’ve got to defend against the other gangs.

With the greatest respect Duncan, wise up. Have you seen anybody shot by a patch? Anybody knifed by a patch? Anybody murdered by a patch? No. So let’s get real here.

So what are you saying?

I’m saying stop putting up ridiculous contrasts. A patch is a patch, it’s a badge, it’s different. Maybe it signifies unlawful behaviour by connection, but it’s nothing like having military style weapons. Be real here.

No. When have any governments been able to get tough on gangs?

That wasn’t your example. You’re trying to equate owning military style weapons with a patch.

Will police storm gang pads if they don’t hand them over?

Look this is the sort of conversation that John Banks was having with you guys back in the 1990s. Do you remember that? It didn’t happen. 

Winston Peters speaking at a post-cabinet press conference. Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

Mike Hosking Breakfast

Mike Hosking came prepared this morning with a transcript of Winston’s Georgetown speech, which was DEFINITELY not about China. What ensued was ten minutes of Mike trying to goad Winston into saying the C-word, with a bit of tax chat for good measure, transcribed below in its entirety. 

Mike Hosking: I read your Georgetown speech out of Washington in December of last year and there’s no question that you’re worried about China and the Pacific – is that fair?

Winston Peters: No, we’re worried about vacuums building in the Pacific where certain interests are coming in and filling those vacuums and not all of those interests are in the Pacific’s interests or our place in the Pacific or our longterm security. That Georgetown speech was a wake-up call.

Yea exactly, you’re warning America about China.

Well no I’m warning the United States about the Pacific which is their backyard. It’s the same warning General Douglas MacArthur gave them before the second world war. I’m warning the Japanese I’m warning the EU I’m warning the French – I’m warning everybody who’s interested in the Pacific about certain developments which we must keep on top of.

Exactly, and those developments are the Chinese.

Well again, you’re wrong about that because certain other interests in the Pacific are not in the Pacific interests as well.

So who are they?

Well we do not advance New Zealand’s foreign policy by talking about very sensitive issues with a megaphone, so to speak. That’s not how we do it.

So you’re telling me – I’m saying it’s China, you’re saying it’s not, when I ask you who it is you won’t tell me.

Well why don’t we just say Mr Hoskings [sic] you’re the expert in all these matters.

Well I’m quoting you.

I read your articles, they’re extraordinary in their levels of arrogance and misinformation, and so if you want to turn this into an interview please do. What you’re saying is what you say. Why don’t we reverse it? Why don’t I become the interviewer and you answer the questions.

I’d be happy to.

Well I bet you wouldn’t last five seconds but never mind.

But I’m quoting you. You’re the expert. I’m giving you the accreditation of the expertise, quoting you in your speech –

No you’re not.

But I am.

No you’re not, Mr Hoskings [sic], you’re not. I did not mention any nation in that speech.

No you didn’t but I’m suggesting to you it’s China. Let me quote you: ‘acutely mindful of and archly concerned by the asymmetry in the region at a time where larger players are renewing their interests in the Pacific. The speed and intensity of those players are of great concern to us. Our eyes are wide open to this trajectory, and we know that yours are too.’ That’s China.     

Well here we go. I’m hearing my speech being read back to me, but when I gave it in Georgetown I never heard it the next morning from you, did I? Or the next week? Or the next month? No. Just when you think you can make some particular point to embarrass me in my country.

I’m not remotely interested –

Mr Hoskings [sic], do the speech when I give it, not years later.

Well when you say years later it was December of last year so it was four months ago, and it’s relevant now because the prime minister is in China and you were bagging China in Washington, and these are your own words.

Well there you go, I did not say anything of the sort, I said there were renewed interests coming to the Pacific with a new focus and we had to be alert to them, and you decided that you would be the interpreter for Winston Peters and the brilliant minds that helped me write that speech, and start naming who it is.

I offered the idea that it was China, if you say it is not, I then asked well who is it, and you won’t tell me.

Well I didn’t say it was or wasn’t, did I?

Oh I thought you did. So is it or isn’t it?

No, no, no, you can’t think these things, words matter. Go back on the transcript and tell me how you jumped to that conclusion, it wasn’t on your mind when you asked the question.

Because I couldn’t possibly work out who else it could be in the Pacific that was so large, so powerful you’d go to Washington and warn them about it.

How extraordinary. What’s your next question?

What’s extraordinary about that? If it’s not China, who is it?

You’re back again, it’s so repetitive, it’s like a stuck record, even though the technology has moved on. What’s your next question?

So you’re not going to tell me who it is?

What a slow learner you’ve become this morning, what’s wrong with you? Had a bad morning? What happened.  

Nothing. *hysterical laughter*

I’ve told you for the fourth time that the speech stands by itself, it’s clear as daylight for all those interested in learning the lesson it was trying to impart.

Alright, let me change subject then: capital gains tax. There’s a poll out the other day that had 90% of people who own farms, businesses and lifestyle blocks are against the capital gains tax. Are you cognisant of that view in the community?

Mike I’ve also read your articles on that. The level of scaremongering that you engage in knows no boundaries. Just relax.

*hysterical laughter*

No, no, don’t laugh.

*more laughter*

On the Provincial Growth Fund:

I’m a supporter of the provincial growth fund.

Oh really?

Yeah, go look up the articles, I can supply them for you if you want.

Well that’s gotta be the world’s best kept secret because the provincial growth fund has been around for three decades, and when we bring it out and announce it, you decide you’re going to support it. What were you doing before that? You were supporting the big city, Steven Joyce, neoliberal experiment which was causing disaster to the provinces and regions of this country. Remember that?

Yes, I remember it Winston, jeez. I don’t want you to pop a blood vessel this morning, all I want –

No look Mike I’m having a lovely time I’m smiling from ear to ear – I love talking to you. I really do.

And me too! And vice versa. There’s a mutual respect and like there, but all I’m concerned about –

There’s a place for guys like you and me, as long as you keep that in mind ok?

That’s good – where is that place?

Well, you do your job better than you are, and I’ll keep doing what I’m doing.  

Winston Peters, acting PM. Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

Morning Report

You don’t have the range, Guyon. Or at least according to Winston, who, remembering a newspaper clipping from 100 years ago, told the veteran journalist to sit down young man. 

Guyon Espiner: Have you reflected on your own comments about Muslim communities in the past in the wake of the Christchurch terror attack?

Winston Peters: What do you mean by that?

Well, for example, your speech ‘The End of Tolerance’ in 2005 where you said –

Guess what was happening in 2005 before that? Guess what was happening with 9/11. And then on to the London bombings. And guess what the Imams of London were saying, and around the Islamic world were saying about those and some of those in their midst: they were saying exactly what I said back then. And I don’t resile from that. And I’ve just come back from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation where number one in their mind was Islamic state terrorism. Erdogan said it and numerous others said it. So you’ve got to understand what you’re talking about. And I was talking about not moderate law-abiding and God-loving, or Allah-loving moderate Islam, I was talking about extremism and I don’t resile from that.

Ok well you said in that speech that moderate Muslims were operating hand-in-glove with extremists. You said, quote, ‘this two-faced approach is how radical Islam works’.

Let me stop you right there, I know what I said, I’m not happy to have you repeat misinformation, I said –

Well it’s your own speech Mr Peters.

Look you just said that, that’s the third time. I’m talking about what Islamic moderate leaders were saying themselves –

No, no, I’m talking about what you said as a leader in New Zealand.

I know that Guyon, I’m repeating what I said when I got it from them. They were the first ones that said that, they were saying ‘we have to, those of us who are moderate, we have to, not let these people abuse us, we’ve got to call them out ourselves.’

You said the New Zealand Muslim community have been quick to show us their moderate face but there is a militant underbelly as well, these groups are like the mythical Hydra you said, a serpent underbelly with multiple heads capable of striking at any time, and in any direction. You don’t resile at all from that speech?

Look, stop trying to be the state prosecutor here alright? You’re just not up to it. Let me tell you, I talked to the foreign minister for Pakistan, he said ‘Mr Peters, I understand what your country is going through, let me tell you: we’ve had 70,000 people die from similar events in recent years ourselves.’ This is a leading Islamic country, they understand what clearly you don’t, trying to make some narrow political point this morning.

In 2013 you defended one of your own MPs Richard Prosser, who said that if you were young and male –

Here we go again –

… You should banned from riding on planes.

No I didn’t defend him, I didn’t defend him, I sent him down to the mosque to get an education. He went down to a mosque and for two weeks he got an education, and resiled to never saying those things again.

You said, quote, in February 2013, ‘there’s an element of truth to what he’s saying’.

Well, the word ‘Wogistan’ came out of the NBR, that’s the National Business Review – you remember that? No you don’t. I do. All I was saying is –

No, he wrote the piece for Investigate magazine Mr Peters.

– it started with the leading business or commercial newspaper in this country.

No, no, he wrote the piece for Investigate magazine. But it’s probably neither here nor there.

No he got the phrase ‘Wogistan’ from the National Business Review from many years before. All I’m trying to tell you because you’ve been pretty brief in this business, is the real history behind what he said. And I sent him down to a mosque to get himself educated, which he did. Remember that?

So you don’t resile from any of your comments about the Muslim community at all? You’ve got no problem with what you’ve said, you’ve thought about it and you think that was fine?

I can listen to people like you Guyon, or I can tell you I’ve been off to see 57 countries, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, who have got a serious round of applause and some people actually crying in the aisles when we told them the truth about New Zealand and showed them a video. We went there to ensure that we were not misunderstood. That’s what I’m more keen to do, rather than have this repetitive, stupid, mindless argument about what you think.

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BONUS Sky News Australia

Winston capped off the day with a couple of one-liners about Australian politician/egg-wearer Fraser Anning. A curated selection is provided below. 

“I could call him a four-flushing, jingoistic moron, but you already know that in Australia.”

“He is a national, absolute, democratic aberration. We all know why he’s there. He’s there by pure accident.”

“It means you have to clean up your political system to avoid that sort of person making it into politics.”


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