OPINION: In Winston Peters' internal keyboard, there is no such thing as a spacebar.
So when yesterday he launched a furious, high-speed question time campaign to resurrect his recent accusations about freeloading elderly migrants, it was quite hard to follow.
At issue was how many elderly immigrants who have never paid tax here receive superannuation.
Mr Peters asked whether Prime Minister John Key had "misledthepublic" by "selectivelyusinganumberof-fourteenthousandonehundredandthirtyfive", when the real number was "fifteenthousandfourhundredandninetynine".
Mr Key said figures from the Economic Development Ministry showed only 14,135 non-working or little-working over-55s became eligible for super 10 years after arrival, "not the 22,000 as per the Dominion Rd Chinese restaurant".
This was a dig at Mr Peters' source for the allegations, an Auckland restaurateur who Mr Peters said was unhappy other Chinese immigrants got a free pension when he'd had to work hard for years to pay for his.
Mr Key said both figures were "a hell of a lot less than" 22,000 Chinese people.
"Who said the figure was 22,000 Chinese people?" Mr Peters thundered.
"You did!" replied half the Government benches.
"Oh, no-no-no-no. Read my speech. Readmyspeech," Mr Peters insisted. "Where in the speech by the leader of NZ First is there any reference to the 22,000 being Chinese?"
Mr Key struck his most aggravating grin. "I'm prepared to accept that, when the member was talking in hushed tones about a Chinese dude he met once who hung out somewhere, that couldn't back up his numbers but liked chicken chow mein from a Chinese restaurant in Dominion Rd, that I may have got it a little confused."
"P'vah," Mr Peters roared – his refinement of the phrase "point of order". "None of [what was in my question] entitles the prime minister, surely, within standing orders, to ramble on about chicken chow mein."
But Speaker Lockwood Smith said the way Mr Peters had phrased his question gave Mr Key plenty of licence.
Mr Peters' glower intensified. "Supschun!" (Supplementary question).
"The member has already used his entitlement for questions with that last question," Dr Smith said.
"Well, that's because you squashed it," Mr Peters said bitterly, not quite sotto voce.
"Fortunately, I didn't hear that last interjection," Dr Smith said judiciously. The House moved on, leaving Mr Peters haka-ing his brows, doubtless planning his next rapid attack.
- The Dominion Post