Ed Said - Politics 101
It was something of a coup to get the Northland MP Winston Peters to address an interested crowd in Mangawhai last month but what attendees expected is not exactly certain.
Did they expect to hear a recipe for taking Kaipara into the land of sunshine and song? Or did they expect a dirge of sympathy for what has dogged Mangawhai the past five or so years?
Remember, Winston is not the MP for Mangawhai, he is MP for the whole of Northland, of which Mangawhai, while the greatest growth area, is still only a small part.
What the public was treated to without really knowing it was an hour of entertainment on the art of politics.
Remember the TV sitcom Seinfeld?
It ran successfully for nine seasons and was often described as being "a show about nothing". That was exactly what Winston delivered without most recognising it.
We heard that, while local body minister Amy Adams encouraged locals to vote in the upcoming elections she never once mentioned the word ‘democracy.’ So What?? According to many, New Zealand hasn’t arguably been democratic for some time. Perhaps Winston (there’s that name again) Churchill had it right when he said "The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter."
We heard again about the Wine Box money laundering fiasco from 1992. Who really cares what happened in 1992?
Nobody was ever charged over it and if you believe the Panama Papers, money laundering is still going on under our very noses. We heard about the wrongs of Kiwi rail being sold in the 90s, we were reminded that, although we criticised Mike Sabin for supporting the Rates Validation Bill we still had enough confidence (or brain-fade) to re-elect him in the last local body elections.
In reference to the ill-fated Wastewater project we were told if we continue to support NZ First at the next General Election “I’ll get your money back for you, don’t worry about that.” Yeah, right!
He said rail must come again to Northland. “The corridor has already been bought to Marsden Point.” I very much doubt this as said corridor would need to go through around fifty properties and that would never happen without there being a major uproar. No chance of it going anywhere near where the collapsed Marsden City was planned due to the un-consolidated peat land. Then there is endless wrangling by Whangarei District and Regional Councils, Forest and Bird, DoC, the Port Corp, and the general public. Not to mention that moving the port from Auckland to anywhere else would cost billions!
Were this even remotely likely to happen I would bet any money by the time the harbour and port legalities and expansion was done, there will not be a rail line to Marsden Port within ten years.
In short, our MP re-capped events from the past which we all already knew. Furthermore when asked what could he do for us in the future he responded saying the future is in the hands of the voters which, in point of fact, it is, which let him off the hook. ‘It’s up to you people here to nominate and elect a council you can be confident with,’he said.
So far he is just another MP who has done little for Northland despite his avowed affinity. In fact NZ First never even stood a candidate in Northland in the last two General Elections. Promises are one thing opposition MPs are good at.
He became an MP in 1978, a National Party Cabinet Minister in 1990, was sacked in 1991, formed the New Zealand First party in 1993, formed a coalition with National in 1996 then later with Labour in 2005. Failure to reach the required threshold in 2008, a resurgence saw NZ First back in parliament in 2011 and again in 2014 with Peters , from a left field position winning the 2015 By-election following Mike Sabin’s resignation.
Never far from controversy and always one prepared to voice his opinion and hold others to account Winston Peters can be considered one of the most colourful and entertaining characters of modern day politics and Mangawhai saw his performance first hand.