John Armstrong: 'This was Peters' last chance. His last chance to get it right. He has got it right'

Winston Peters did not disappoint.

Last night's announcement of New Zealand First's choice of coalition partner - more especially the hours of chaos leading up to it - was exactly the kind of schemozzle to be expected of him on such occasions.

That dignity and decorum were in short supply was no surprise.

Winston Peters speech in the Beehive, where he announces the new NZ Government. Source: 1 NEWS

His party's decision to form a coalition government with Labour would have been a surprise, particularly for those on the left who did not dare to believe it was a possibility.

In the end, however, the choice was really no choice. Peters has signed up New Zealand First to be a fully-fledged member of the Coalition of the Losers.

When it comes to his self-interests, that is far more preferable to joining what odds-on would have ended up being a Coalition of the Cadavers.

Opting for National would not have been the politics of coalition co-operation. It would have been the politics of coalition capitulation.

It would have been capitulation to the many in New Zealand First's ranks whose unthinking conservatism would have made them feel far more comfortable propping up a rapidly tiring fourth-term National-led government than than backing a new vibrant, reform-minded Labour one.

It would have been capitulation to those in Peters' Party who cannot abide being associated with what they consider to be the suffocating loony-tunes political correctness of the Greens and significant elements of the Labour Party.

It is a brave decision.

And not least because Peters has finally determined that last month's election was a vote for change rather than - as the percentages of the vote won by the centre-right as against the centre-left seem more to suggest - a vote for continuity.

If things turn to custard - as Peters' questionable pessimism is already warning - there will be no prizes for guessing who will get most, if not all the blame.

The decision may yet prove to be the death of New Zealand First.

But there was no life in going with National even though that would have kept that party’s hands on the economic policy tiller.

Ms Ardern will lead NZ's next government after Winston Peters offered Labour his party's support. Source: 1 NEWS

Joining a governing arrangement with Labour should remove New Zealand First's blinkers.

It should help Peters' eventual successor to widen the party’s appeal. Whoever picks up that mantle is going to need all the help he can scrounge or scramble.

In that vein, this was Peters' last chance. This was his last chance to get it right.

This was his last chance to go down in the history as someone who proved he was capable of being be just as much a consummate politician when sitting on the Government benches in Parliament as he has unquestionably been the case during his long years in the Opposition's seats.

He had to get it right if he wanted his much talked about legacy to be meaningful. He has got it right.

Ignore the delays, the appearance of dilly-dallying and brinkmanship over such things as the allotment of Cabinet portfolios of recent days. They are of little consequence.

There is another reason why installing a Labour-led Government was the only decision Peters and his colleagues could make - one which he stressed heavily during his announcement last night.

Peters likes to talk about bottom-lines.

But there was one bottom-line not of his making which screamed for attention above the myriad of other competing pros and cons for opting for going with Labour or National.

Throughout his political career, Peters has railed against the neo-liberal, market-driven economic policies adopted by Labour in the 1980s and reinforced by National in the 1990s.

If anything, Peters’ denunciation of what he calls the "failed experiment" increased in both volume and acrimony during the recent election campaign.

He claimed that every other political party apart from New Zealand First had signed up to "irresponsible capitalism" - even the Greens.

Winston Peters has thrown his support behind a Labour-led government with Jacinda Ardern as PM. Source: 1 NEWS

He promised New Zealand First would confront the pervading economic ethos and put things right.

Given his mouthing of such sentiments, Peters would have been guilty of electoral betrayal of massive proportions had he opted for National.

It would also have amounted to self-betrayal on almost a similar scale.

It would have amounted to bottling out - something which Peters, for all his faults, has never been guilty.

Sure, he likely negotiated major policy concessions from National during the negotiations of the past week or so.

But National's willingness to do so would have been grudging.

Moreover, the back downs might well have proved to have been only temporary. Once Peters retired, National would have likely reverted to type.

Such a coalition might have been more stable in terms of numbers in Parliament, but in terms of trust, potential friction and fracture-lines it would have been a powder keg looking for a lighted match.

If Peters wants to leave a legacy as a constructive politician capable of major reform then that reform must stick.

There is much more chance of that being the case by working with Labour, whose policy prescription is more compatible by a country mile with New Zealand First's manifesto than National's economic orthodoxy.

What Peters has done is to take the first step in doing what he has long promised to do when it comes to reshaping New Zealand's economy.

It is only the first step. But it is a very big step.

And he has never looked quite as serious about ensuring that the steps get even bigger over coming months as he did last night.



'Some links to the Mongrel Mob' – seven charged after BOP police sting sees guns, Hilux vehicles, $21k cash, drugs seized

Police have arrested and charged seven people after executing a number of search warrants in the eastern Bay of Plenty as part of Operation Notus II.

Speaking to media today Senior Sergeant Richard Miller said the operation had "some links to the Mongrel Mob".

Operation Notus II is the second phase of a long-running investigation, led by the National Organised Crime Group, into organised crime and the supply and supplying of methamphetamine and cannabis in the eastern Bay of Plenty region.

Acting Eastern Bay of Plenty Area Commander, Senior Sergeant Richard Miller briefed media today. Source: 1 NEWS

Search warrants were conducted this morning in properties in Kawerau, Whakatāne and Te Teko.

The seven are facing a number of charges, including possession for supply, and supplying, methamphetamine and cannabis, as well as firearms-related offending.

They will appear in Whakatāne District Court this afternoon.

Along with methamphetamine and cannabis, 26 firearms and more than $21,000 in cash has been seized.

Three stolen Toyota Hilux utes were recovered from one address in Kawerau, along with a number of power tools.

A stolen Toyota Hilux Surf and trailer were recovered from another address.

Operation Notus, launched in October 2017, revealed the Kawerau Mongrel Mob's involvement in the commercial distribution of meth and cannabis to the community.

As a result of the investigation, 48 people were arrested and almost $3 million in assets were frozen in March 2018.

Acting Eastern Bay of Plenty Area Commander, Senior Sergeant Richard Miller, said, "This was a major disruption to organised crime and methamphetamine supply in EBOP".

Guns seized during Operation Notus II in the Eastern Bay of Plenty
Guns seized during Operation Notus II in the Eastern Bay of Plenty Source: NZ Police


Man, 26, charged over weekend stabbing of another left with life-threatening injuries in Napier

A 26-year-old man has been arrested and charged with grievous bodily harm over the stabbing of another man in Napier at the weekend.

Police say the incident occurred on Bledisloe Road, Maraenui, about 9.45pm on Saturday. 

Police were advised a short time later when a 42-year-old man arrived at the Wellesley Medical Centre with life-threatening injuries.

He remains in Hawke's Bay Hospital in a serious but stable condition.

The man arrested has been remanded in custody and is due to reappear in Hastings District Court in four weeks.

Anyone who witnessed the incident or has information relevant to the investigation is being urged to contact Hawke’s Bay Police on (06) 873 0500, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Police car at night Source: 1 NEWS

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Midwives met with silence on pay equity funding model

New Zealand midwives are heading into a "make-or-break" pay talk meeting with the Government today.

The focus of the meeting will be on a funding model co-designed by midwives and the Ministry of Health, as part of a settlement reached when the College of Midwives dropped an earlier pay equity court challenge against the Ministry.

The College of Midwives described the settlement as a legally-binding certainty that addressed their long-standing concerns, and the Government's failure to act on it was a breach of the terms of mediation.

College chief executive Karen Guilliland has hinted at the possibility of starting new legal action over pay equity before a meeting later today with Health Minister David Parker.

Ms Guilliland told Nine to Noon the college believed it had an agreement in principle over the model and was awaiting sign-off, but had since been met with silence.

Documents released under the Official Information Act show that as far back as December last year the Health Ministry was recommending against implementing the funding model.

The documents showed the funding model would cost up to $353 million a year - three times the current funding level, which was considered unaffordable.

It was also likely to impact on wider healthcare funding.

Ms Guilliland said they never expected overnight results, and while community midwives welcomed an 8.9 per cent "catch-up" pay increase announced in Budget 2018, it did little to address the gender pay gap.

Ms Guilliland said it was not unrealistic to expect a trebling of funding, as that was what they believed had been agreed upon.

"It was agreed this was what it would cost, and this was what the value of the work that midwifery did.

"You know, people... when they talk about pay equity seem to forget it will require quite a large injection of funds."

Ms Guilliland did not think they exited the earlier legal action too early.

The Human Rights Commission facilitated the mediation, after the historic gender equity case was filed by the New Zealand College of Midwives in 2016.

Ms Guilliland said the action through the Commission was a principled one based on gender discrimination. She said the college thought it would be a quicker process and because it believed the Ministry, it signed up to the agreement.

"Our problem is one of constant reassurances, constant hope, and false promises."

Ms Guilliland said today's meeting was about ensuring faith within the workforce and getting the Minister's backing.

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A petition is being handed over to parliament carrying more than 13,000 signatures. Source: 1 NEWS


New Zealand's female MPs, including Jacinda Ardern with baby Neve, recreate 1905 Parliament photo

New Zealand's female MPs have today recreated a 1905 photo of former Premier Richard Seddon and his colleagues. 

It comes as the country celebrates 125 years since women won the right to vote. However, women were not allowed to stand in Parliament until 1919. Elizabeth McCombs was elected as the first female MP in 1933. 

Richard Seddon, the 15th Premier of New Zealand, sits with his colleagues in 1905.
Richard Seddon, the 15th Premier of New Zealand, sits with his colleagues in 1905. Source: Supplied

Jacinda Ardern cradles her baby Neve in the photograph. 

Mr Seddon was New Zealand Premier from 1893 to 1906, winning five consecutive elections. 

Richard Seddon, the 15th Premier of New Zealand, sits with his colleagues in 1905.
Richard Seddon, the 15th Premier of New Zealand, sits with his colleagues in 1905. Source: Supplied

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, baby Neve and New Zealand's female MPs.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, baby Neve and New Zealand's female MPs. Source: Supplied