14 Oct 2020

Winston Peters remains upbeat about election chances

2:00 pm on 14 October 2020

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters is defying recent polling, saying the election is the only poll that matters.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters campaigning at Ōrewa Community Centre in Auckland on 25 September.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters. Photo: RNZ / Simon Rogers

He was speaking to RNZ's Morning Report in the programme's latest leader interview today.

"The one poll that matters is the one that people are conducting themselves where they are the king and the queen in this matter," he said.

He urged voters to back New Zealand First, saying making the wrong decision would mean debt and costs for their grandchildren.

"We need to have plain, clearheaded business-sensitive common sense and experience in government. For three years I've had a stable government with Jacinda Ardern with all these crises. We did, I think, a sterling job. The prime minister gave the leadership and we got on with doing the job properly.

"That stability is needed for the next three years and that's why New Zealand First is the only insurance for so many New Zealand voters to take out in their second vote."

Serious Fraud Office

Peters said the Serious Fraud Office investigation into the New Zealand First Foundation had not hurt the party.

"The SFO investigation was ... forced to go public and say that not one New Zealand First member or party member wasn't any way anything other than exonerated."

The Serious Fraud Office has charged two people with obtaining by deception after its investigation into the foundation. The defendants are accused of obtaining more than $700,000 between 2015 and 2020, which they then used to pay expenses of the New Zealand First Party.

Media outlets are set at a hearing this afternoon to urgently appeal a court decision granting the pair name suppression.

"It's the SFO - which you will see in the documents today - that it doesn't want disclosure, not New Zealand First," Peters said.

He said his party had been singled out by the media, saying he had not seen reports about the investigations into the Labour Party, or the Christchurch and Auckland mayoral campaigns.

"It'll be out today and you can tell people tomorrow morning 'we were wrong'," he said.

"We're gonna come home with a rush because of this sort of behaviour on your part," he told Morning Report host Corin Dann. "This full scale month after month of attack. I had to go to the high court to get them to release the information."

"All those documents will disclose the very congress that it doesn't hinder you or others from leading a full scale attack against New Zealand First. Now, I'm a big boy, I can handle it, and today people are going to be set free on a matter of truth here."

Taxes, inequality, housing and immigration

Peters maintained his position that Labour wanted to introduce a wealth tax, despite the party repeatedly ruling it out.

"The Labour Party campaigned on a tax like that and the Greens have always argued for that even though as I said, look at the facts here and tell me how it helps New Zealanders right here, right now."

He said New Zealand First had blocked Labour's proposed capital gains tax because it would have taken too long to see any benefit to New Zealand, and would not work.

"Yes, because here comes the rub, when it was first introduced by Labour in the 2014 campaign they said we would get no returns from it until 2021, now it means we won't get any returns until 2027."

He was asked directly whether he was ideologically opposed to it, or it was just a matter of timing.

"Every economist knows that if you want to fix the economy you have to fix the economy with smart clever policies that are adding value and growing exports right here and right now.

"Here's the point, nothing could help us now from that type in the present Covid crisis. The Covid crisis has seen us in the worst situation for 100 years and as somebody with a lot of experience in government and common sense I could see that these sorts of fillips weren't going to work and I said so."

Of course, Covid-19 was unheard of back in April last year when the government rejected the capital gains tax which had been recommended by its own Tax Working Group. It had been expected to give the government $8bn within five years, to be put towards income tax cuts.

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern ruled out ever introducing a CGT - or taxes on water or fertiliser - for as long as she is in power after the decision.

Asked what had been done to reduce inequality during his term as deputy Prime Minister, Peters said the solution to the problems with housing was reducing immigration and increasing housing supply.

"Long time before the 2017 election I've been out there saying that the weight and shape of massive immigration was causing terrible problems inside our economy, that the demand side of people wanting houses have no supply side of houses.

"We have said that we've got to rein back and have a focused immigration policy and alongside that a practical, workable housing policy. We've got to reform massively the ... resource management legislation, we're going to have to have a full scale investigation as to why house costs in terms of composition are 35 percent higher than Australia."

"My party put all its efforts into the provincial growth fund and the provinces have seen export records in primary production in the last three years ... we've turned exporting around.

"We'd come down from [annual net immigration of] 72,000 to 46,000 which was the target that we were working on... my real point is that you cannot have that massive backlog of years of going at 72,000 with no supply. It's not complicated."

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