The man who could be kingmaker at this year's general
election says he is closer to Labour on economics, but
disagrees with the party on social reform.
An upbeat New Zealand First leader Winston Peters took part
in a lively conversation yesterday with University of Otago
politics lecturer Dr Bryce Edwards, one of a series being
filmed in election year.
While Mr Peters refuses to state a preference for National or
Labour, his harshest words yesterday were reserved for the
party from which he split in the 1990s.
Former National Party prime minister the late Sir Robert
Muldoon would be ''turning in his grave'' to see the party he
led had become an ''international global party'' of big
business and banking interests. It used to be a party whose
interests reflected its name. Now, it lacked a moral and
He was pleased Labour turned its back on the ''neoliberal''
economic policies of the 1980s, but he disliked its tendency
to impose social reform without referendum.
Taking aim at Prime Minister John Key, he said the popular
leader was a ''good old boy'' who had brought the ''behaviour
of Wall Street'' to his role.
''He's become the country's number one salesman, selling this
Asked about MPs he admired, he named Labour deputy leader
Dunedin-based David Parker, whose ''innate honesty'' made him
someone who could be trusted.
Mr Peters said he had always compared himself with the best
in the world, rather than other New Zealand MPs, and had thus
avoided being ''pigeon-holed''.
On the question of succession, Mr Peters (69) said he would
campaign for the next leader of New Zealand First when the
time came, but at the moment he was young enough, and
enjoying the role.
He was not asked about the leadership by his own supporters:
''New Zealand First has got a leader, and most party's
problem is they haven't got one''.
On the question of Labour's fortunes, ''I'd love to be
advising the Labour Party now and what they should do''.
Asked to elaborate, he declined, saying he was tired of being
asked about parties other than his own.
Mr Peters said the minimum hourly wage should be increased to
$16 to reduce the gap between rich and poor. Asked about
industrial relations, he maintained the Government should
adopt a ''neutral'' stance, siding with neither employers nor