Peters defends past statements on Muslims and extremism

7:06 pm on 19 March 2019

The New Zealand First leader says no politician is blameless when it comes to past political comments.

Winston Peters

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters says his comments must be taken in the context of the time. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Winston Peters was asked this afternoon whether he stood behind comments he made in the past about extremism, including linking it to Muslim members of the community.

In a speech in 2005 about the London bombings, he said New Zealand had never been a nation of Islamic immigrants and suggested moderate Muslims were operating "hand in glove" with extremists.

Mr Peters said his comments must be taken in the context of the time, as he was following the voices of Muslim leaders right across the globe.

"Leadership of the Muslim world was saying right then 'we have got to out our people if they're behaving that way'. The Muslim leadership was saying it, not just me," he said.

Mr Peters said he has made all sorts of comments about extremism - including recently calling out a group of Nazis from Austria who were driving the UN migrant pact debate.

"I made it very clear, I've called it out wherever I see it. Because I don't believe that terrorism, whatever its background creed, or wherever it comes from, is acceptable."

He also said he's been in politics far longer than most, and made more public comments in that time than anyone else.

"If you want to look at someone who's had the longest political career of anybody in this Parliament, and you think that I would claim that I'm blameless over that long career, well you might but I don't assume such a thing and I never will."