Audrey Young rounds out her latest blog post with a copy of a quite extraordinary text: the NZPA transcript of last Friday's press conference with Winston Peters. Had it been written by John Clarke for television, we would have hailed it as a work of droll satirical genius. As a record of real life it's … something else.
It begins thus:
Reporter [Q]: What did you use the Spencer Trust (ST) for?
Peters [A]: I've just given you the total answer to that.
Q: What was the reason for the ST?
A: I've just told you if you want to know that ring up the ST. I have no involvement in that trust.
Q: But you solicited the money for the trust.
A: Again that is a false allegation.
Q: So who solicited the money Mr Peters?
A : With great respect I'm asking you to deal with the allegations that you've made that are on the table now and I'm happy to answer those
Q: I am dealing with them
A: But please don't come on a fishing expedition without any evidence to what you're saying. I don't intend to answer any of those allegations.
And ends like this:
Q: But the existence of the trust, you've known about it for some time?
A: The existence yes, but as to its details, who they are, what there purpose is, that is not within my purview, please ask them.
Q: So how long have you known about it?
A: How long have you known about the alphabet
This feast of farce extended yesterday to John Key declaring in the House that he, as Prime Minister, would have been asking the hard questions of Winston Peters -- and then failing to ask Winston Peters any questions at all, despite having the opportunity to do so. National's tactic all along has been to gamely look over Peters' shoulder and jab its finger at Helen Clark (the Herald's ever-helpful editorial column joined in today too). Clark, clearly, isn't about to go burrowing around in another political party's finances, especially when it might put her government at risk in an election year. Presumably, she has a threshold: I'm just not sure National has anything like the nerve to push her towards it.
The Standard has a useful graph on the measure the business lobby never mentions: the historically low (since the early 1990s, anyway) proportion of GDP composed of wages and salaries in New Zealand in comparison to other economies. In the past few years, that ratio has almost returned to what it was in 1990.
Spare Room has a new political blog: The Outlaw Pages. It reads quite well.
And, because it's just that kind of year: one wonders how long the Exclusive Brethren's "elect vessel" will be able to pop across the Tasman for a visit if the writ being filed against the sect in an Australian court today -- alleging kidnapping, money laundering, immigration fraud in New Zealand and bribery of police and members of the judiciary in India -- proves to have merit. Has Stephen Joyce's timing been a bit poor? And is Winston Peters looking forward to finding out?