National 'dodged bullet' with Winston

Chris Finlayson.
Chris Finlayson.
Senior National MP Chris Finlayson has used parliamentary privilege to launch a stinging rebuke of Winston Peters, saying he has done nothing for New Zealand, had no integrity in the coalition negotiations with National, and that National "dodged a bullet" when Peters decided to go with Labour.

Speaking in the address and reply debate in the House today, Finlayson said he had some regard for some of the New Zealand First caucus, but not for its leader.

"I have absolutely no regard for the Right Honourable Winston Peters, and have had no regard for him from the time I acted for the National Party caucus in the early 1990s, when he was removed from the caucus for disloyalty.

"And old habits don't change very quickly, and he has made absolutely no contribution to New Zealand in my view."

Finlayson echoed his colleague Judith Collins, who last week openly questioned whether Peters had played the National Party in their coalition negotiations in light of the legal papers that Peters served on a number of National MPs, including Bill English and Paula Bennett and Steven Joyce.

Winston Peters
Winston Peters
Peters filed the papers the day just before the election, but they were only served last week.

"It's becoming abundantly clear, as Judith Collins said recently, that the negotiations were essentially a fraud after the general election," Finlayson said.

"I believe we've dodged a bullet, and I'm very happy that the National Party conducted itself with propriety and dignity."

Finlayson also used his speech to implore the Government to be careful with the so-called Hobbit law. Finlayson was Attorney General at the time and provided legal advice in the 2011 stoush between Warner Bros and the unions, which resulted in the Hobbit Law, properly known as the Employment Relations (Film Production Work) Amendment Bill.

The law means that film and television workers are contractors by default, meaning they cannot legally collectively bargain.

Previously, workers could potentially disrupt a production by testing their worker status and, if confirmed as an employee, start collectively bargaining. It was this uncertainty that was highlighted as potentially keeping film producers from making productions in New Zealand.

Finlayson said he still remembers when Sir Richard Taylor called him with concerns that The Hobbit films might be taken overseas.

Weta Digital had five employees and 1800 contractors, Finlayson said, and was "very worried" about possible changes to the law.

He said it would be wrong to repeal the law as "utu" against Peter Jackson and the National Party.

"They would destroy the film industry in Wellington ... Utu is not a proper basis for law-making."

Workplace Relations Minister Iain Lees-Galloway has said that he is meeting with industry stakeholders to come up with an enduring solution.

He said he had met with Weta Workshop, "and they are very comfortable with the approach we are taking".​

Comments

Um.. yeah Chris it wasn't just National dodging a bullet, the whole country dodged one when Peters went with Labour.