Winston Peters’ political career is over, and I am glad.
But even with that final storm of dishonesty and showmanship, and the memories of bigotry and anger, I have tried to hold on to the great things he did.
- He campaigned long and hard for national ownership and against privatisation. He, almost single handedly, stopped the privatisation agenda of the Bolger-Shipley National government.
- He proved this generation of MÄori electors is a force to be reckoned with and can’t be taken for granted.
- Under both National and Labour governments he achieved increases to the minimum wage.
- His ceaseless campaigning for older people prevented or undid some of the worst of the damage done by the ideological zeal of Labour and National governments intent on dismantling the welfare state.
- He fought to keep the big corporates honest and treating New Zealanders fairly.
Winston Peters was from a time when we looked after each other, when we were proud of our country, and when we stood firm in our independence. His concept of “we” and how we should live are not mine, but they are good things to believe. I would like to thank him for his time and his energy, he has made New Zealand a better place.
Say what you like about Winston Peters, but deep down, he was from a National party that actually cared.
millsy – that would be the Muldoon National Party, would it?
By being treasurer and selling Auckland Airport?
Graeme Edgeler writes,
And there I was expecting someone to bring up Paraparaumu Airport :)
I don’t think any of that makes up for being a racist bigot.
Besides, I think Peters approach to corporate regulation misses the point. It’s basically assuming that if the firm is nominally “Kiwi”, then it’ll be well behaved and not rip people off, unlike those evil furriners. That sort of approach is one reason we don’t enjoy much of the consumer protection that Europeans and others do.
Ironically, when the crunch came Peters’ core constituency of affluent old gits was right in the forefront of being ripped off by those good old Kiwi boys with dodgy finance companies.
Probably his notable failure was, along with the Greens, not stopping the speculative binge on property (2002-2007) – which of course was the sector where finance companies got burnt funding developers.
He was of the era of a home owning democracy idealism (thus was concerned about a loss of home affordability for many), but along with Greens failed to make any impact on the sensibilities of either Labour and National who turned a blind eye to the widespread asset bubble greed which their bi-partisan policies enabled.
Far from not stopping the house price boom, I would regard him as one of the main boosters of it (insofar as Labour gave any credence to his economic views). His voters were amongst those who did well out of it (at least while it lasted) at the expense of the younger generation who weren’t fortunate enough to own property at the start.
The Green party did and does have sensible housing policies, including a capital gains tax but was ignored by the last Labour government, who preferred to get their backing from Dunne and Peters.
You seem to assume that because many of those over 65 owned their own homes NZF was for a rising property price. There was no attempt by NZF to boost/support the bi-partisan housing policy of Labour and National – NZF housing policies in 2005 were the closest to that of the Greens of the other parties.
NZF and Greens worked together to get a rising minimum wage – but Labour obviously blocked them on housing policy.
No-one is all dark or all light. I think that the good Peters did is in danger of being obscured by the bad.
There is no sense that on can balance out racism with protecting the elderly (although the framework to do measure the balances would be fascinating). But the reverse is no more true, his bigotry does not undo the good he did.
My memory of the Winebox was that he was attacking NZ companies for avoiding tax obligations. His distrust of big business doesn’t seem to have been coloured by their national origins.
Rich & SPC,
My economic policy understanding is pretty minimal, so both of you might be easily able to answer this.
WP constantly campaigned for major changes to the Reserve Bank Act (to make it care about (un)employment and the exchange rate rather than just inflation). If his changes had been made, would that have made a difference to the housing boom/bust and so on?
It would have made it worse. If the RB had run looser policy through the boom (without any compensating fiscal measures), house prices would have gone up more, as would consumer spending and personal indebtedness.
It would also have had little effect on employment, given that throughout the period in question we had more or less full employment and the only way to decrease it further would have been through non-economic measures, such as training the unemployable to take jobs.
About the only positive effect would be that a lower exchange rate would have kept a few uncompetitive businesses going, only to go down the tubes around now from a collapse in product demand (even with an exchange rate boost).t
In fairness to NZF on this – the RB itself did not want the anti-inflation/house price boom problem left to a higher interest rate policy alone – because of its adverse effect on business investment etc. This is why the RB suggested alternatives from time to time. One was a surcharge on mortgages – which would have allowed a lower OCR (but Bill English dismissed this as something “unpopular” and Labour did not dare do it unless National also supported it).
If fiscal policies to limit house price inflation had been put in place, the RB could have lowered rates without the need to change their focus.
I don’t recall Peters ever advocating for this though. (Actually, apart from ranting about migrants and accusing various rivals of corruption, I don’t recall any positive policies from NZF at all).
Was Peters in favour of a full on reversion to Muldoonism: exchange controls, price and income controls, makework jobs in state industries, import restrictions, bans on margarine, etc?
That’s quite sad, and kinda makes part of the point of my post.
Amongst other recent NZF policies they bound the 2005-2008 Labour led government to increase the minimum wage, maintain superannuation parity with wage growth, work towards free health care to the under 6s and increase resourcing of the Waitangi claims process.
Some of their other policies were â€¦ offensive to me, but there is good in there.
Having read that document, those were pretty much the only good policies (and even then, there wasn’t much for those aged 6-70).
Amongst the others were the ineffectual (was 1997 a “year of exports” and did our exports improve that year?) and the borderline corrupt (giving the Taurangans a free bridge to try to induce them to vote for Peters).
I couldn’t find any economic policy and certainly nothing coherent.