Some of the best bits from Winston Peters' Radio New Zealand interview video


New Zealand First leader Winston Peters joins Morning Report for an extended interview as part of its Election 2017 special interview series. As in past elections, Peters could be 'kingmaker' or 'queenmaker' if his party has enough votes to make a coalition with National or Labour. He has also confirmed he would only make a coalition with Labour if he is told what the party's tax plans are.

Journalist Guyon Espiner had 25 minutes on Radio NZ on Thursday to try to get NZ First leader Winston Peters to tell us some things we didn't already know - or at least weren't clear about.

A fair bit of time was taken up talking about the cost of NZ First's policies - Peters said $10 billion over 7 to 8 years.

There was also discussion about how Peters' previous times in government had ended, which resulted in one of Peters' colleagues being asked to go to the car to get a letter then-Prime Minister Helen Clark sent to Peters in 2008.

NZ First leader Winston Peters, left, didn't hold back when he was interviewed by Guyon Espiner.

NZ First leader Winston Peters, left, didn't hold back when he was interviewed by Guyon Espiner.

Towards the end, the conversation turned to the matter of what might happen after the election if one of the main parties wanted NZ First support to form a government.

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It was full of entertaining exchanges. Here are some of the highlights.


Winston Peters tells a crowd in Dunedin about an exchange he had with RNZ's Guyon Espiner on Morning Report.

* On the NZ First website having said the cost of the policy to remove GST from some food. The website had been saying the cost would be $3 billion. Peters said that had been corrected to $6-700 million.

"Oh come on, come on mate," Espiner said. "How are voters supposed to know when they look at your website and they see it there, and you're saying it's wrong?"

* On the NZ First policy to reduce the company tax rate, which Peters said could have a short-term cost of possibly $2.5b before becoming an earner. Espiner said that was from the total of $10b.

Winston Peters: "I think your ideas are preposterous. They're stupid, they're ridiculous."

Winston Peters: "I think your ideas are preposterous. They're stupid, they're ridiculous."

 "So you've got 7-1/2 left - billion, that is," Peters said. "What else would you like to try and dispute here and become an amateur treasurer or finance minister."

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* Next was NZ First's plan for lower taxes on export-generated income. Espiner asked what the extra cost of that would be and Peters said the result would be dramatic growth.

"You don't have a loser economy like you've got now, Mr Espiner. You get the very reverse, and your ideas that you're defending now have been tried for 33 years and we are sliding down the OECD. It is you that has got the radically non-performing policy," Peters said.

Guyon Espiner: "Oh come on, come on mate."

Guyon Espiner: "Oh come on, come on mate."

Espiner: "What is the initial impost of putting business tax rates for exporters to 20 per cent."

Peters: "We'll never know that until we know, Mr Espiner."

Espiner: "So you don't know."

Peters: "No, no stop right there. Stop there. Before you make yourself a self-appointed genius, just stop right there. You do not know until you know the level of the take-up, that's axiomatic, but business will tell me very quickly how many of them intend to go from being internal market providers to external market providers, and you may well find your turn around is dramatically to the improvement of this economy."

* Espiner asked about NZ First's policy of bringing back into public ownership the energy companies sold by the Government. "At the appropriate time," Peters said.

Espiner: "So is this a first term commitment, or not?"

Peters: "How do you mean a first term commitment?"

Espiner: "Quite easy, three years in a term."

Peters: "... It's really logical and you've got to actually follow this because words do mean things. If the appropriate time is in your second or third term, that's the appropriate time."

Espiner: "So you're not necessarily committing to that in the first term."

Peters: "Well we didn't say so, did we?"

Peters then complained about the interview. "Why do we have to be so obstructive here. Here I am talking about our policy and you're sitting here like some sort of self-appointed auditor critiquing it when you know very little about it."

Espiner: "My job is to critique the policy."

Peters: "If you want to critique policy, first of all get yourself qualified."

Espiner: "Thank you."

Peters: "Which you're not."

Espiner: "Thank you."

Peters: "Sorry to say that, this close to the election."

* Another issue was the policy on low interest rates for first time home buyers

"That's what this country once did before geniuses like you decided the economic revolution would turn this country upside down," Peters said. "We did that for decades when we became one of the highest property ownership countries in the world. It's your ideas that have destroyed people's hopes in this country, and I think your ideas are preposterous. They're stupid, they're ridiculous."

Espiner appeared somewhat surprised to hear he was responsible for the ideas Peters didn't like.

* Early on the issue of Peters' previous times in government came up.

"How come you've been sacked three times as a minister?" Espiner asked.

Peters: "Excuse me. I didn't get sacked three times."

Espiner: "You did, you never made it a full term."

Peters said he walked out of the Jenny Shipley-led government. "The third time, can I just say, I've got a document in my bag downstairs that says what you just said is a lie."

Peters' asked his colleague in the studio to go and get the 2008 letter from Clark.

"Now I've got three answers for you that you have misled the public on for so, so long," Peters said.

Espiner: "I'm looking forward to seeing it."

Peters: "I'm going to enjoy this conversation."

Espiner: "This is going to be fun."

Peters' unseen colleague returned with the letter shortly before the end of the interview.

Reading the letter, Peters said: "This letter confirms the arrangements we made on Friday, following your offer to stand aside from your portfolio responsibilities while the Serious Fraud Office makes its investigations."

"Investigations, I might add, which were found to be groundless," Peters said. "There it is, the prime minister at the time, so please don't go and tell people that I was sacked. I never was."

Peters handed the letter to Espiner, then shortly after took it back, saying "can I have it back."

Espiner: "You can actually, can I have a copy?"

Peters: "No you can't."

* With little time left, Espiner asked about talks that might go on after the election to form a government. There was some dispute about something Peters had said in the past.

"Mr Espiner words matter, you're a trained man please stick to what I said," Peters said.

Espiner: "I thought I was untrained from 15 minutes ago in the conversation."

Peters: "Well maybe just giving me further evidence I was right the first time."

Espiner: "Maybe you were."

Espiner asked Peters: "What is it you want?"

Peters: "What do you mean? What do you mean by a statement like that, 10 days out from the election?" ... "Define what do you mean, what do I want." Peter then appeared to briefly break into song: "what do you need, what do you want, what do you get?" The he said: "This is pathetic".

He then talked about having full consultation within the party "before somebody steps up like some dictator and says, 'I want this and I don't care what you guys want'."

Espiner: "Do you have bottom lines?"

Peters: "No you write them for me because I don't use the word bottom line."

Time ran out and as the pips sounded both men were smiling.

 - Stuff

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