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A Pinch of Politics

-with Natasha Tziakis

At the time of going to print, the new Prime Minister of New Zealand had not yet been announced.

Hypocrisy is a common theme often seen in the political sphere and with Winston Peters, you can definitely say hypocrisy has followed him spontaneously throughout his political career.

Rewind to Meteria Turei and her fraud scandal earlier this year, Peters was one of the most vocal politicians, demanding she stand down from her position as leader of the Green Party. In the end, this is what Turei did and it has crippled parts of the Green Party campaign this election.

However, Peters found himself in hot water too, when it was revealed he had been receiving weekly superannuation payments that were much higher than he was entitled to. Often people yelling the loudest have the most to hide, and that seems to be true with Peters in this situation.

This raises a lot of questions about the transparency and agency politicians have in regards to their personal lives. Peters’ loyal supporters appear to be an older generation of people, or ‘grey power’, and they more often than not receive superannuation. For Peters to have been targeting this demographic for so long, I wonder how did he not know the exact numbers of the superannuation payments.

In an interview with The AM Show, Peters claims that the over-payments occurred “with an IRD matter which was not picked up,” and, “that it wasn’t clear how the mistake was made”. Peters believed the IRD leaked this information to the media. These events happened in July, but were only been leaked to the media in the past month.

There has since been an investigation into both the IRD and the Ministry of Social Development about their involvement with Peters’ superannuation leak. Both companies have completed these investigations and the results were that the people who had access to Peters information did not pass it onto any third parties, and the information was dealt with carefully and professionally. This is an important progression of this drama as Peters was waggling his finger at companies who were not the guilty parties.

If we are to assume that it was purely a clerical mistake and that Peters was not purposefully trying to get larger payments, then how did he not notice the error over the course of the seven years ? Because of this, there are three questions I keep coming back to: Does Peters really not know what money is coming in and out of his bank account, is he not aware of the different superannuation payment schemes, or does he just not care?

This brings light to the idea of the transparency and agency that politicians possess. With Peters being so vocal about Turei, and then him committing what some could call similar behaviour himself, does this make him less trustworthy? Or does it mean there was just a mistake and he was not aware of it? Bouncing off this idea, if he was not aware, why wasn’t he?

The most interesting thing is that while you are reading this, we will know if Peters has entered into a coalition with the leading party or not. But more importantly, we will know if Peters is now the Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand.

Winston Peters is a very smart man who has endured a lengthy political career. With these smarts, arrogance and mistakes can often be found and made, but this isn’t to say that Peters won’t rise up and be the ‘Kingmaker’ or ‘Queenmaker’ we know him to be.

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