Tuesday, 20 Oct 2020

Election 2020: ‘Sorry sunshine, no thanks’, Winston Peters takes on Covid-19 denier

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters is warning seniors they’re under “serious threat” by a “government that lurches violently to the left”.

However, there was also a more immediate threat at the Tauranga public meeting which Peters had to address.

During questions, a man – much younger than the average age of the crowd – stood up and started reading from a piece of paper and said that NZ First had voted for the Covid-19 Public Health Response Act.

Peters interrupted and told the man he had one question and the same time to ask it as everyone else.

“Where is your evidence that there is a virus?” the man asked.

“Sit down,” Peters said before rattling off some statistics about Covid-19 including that there are eight million active cases.

“And here we’ve got someone who says the Earth is flat. Sorry sunshine, no thanks.”

In the last week of the campaign, Peters is finishing his “Back Your Future” tour of New Zealand with public meetings in Tauranga, West Auckland and Whangarei.

During his speech to a crowd of about 100 mostly senior supporters in an aircraft hangar at the Classic Flyers museum, Peters said a crisis was “no time for experiments” and doubled-down on his political experience.

“You do not need people down there with training wheels on trying to find where the bathrooms are.”

He spoke at length about the Greens’ wealth tax and said it would “rob those people and literally tax them out of the home they saved and worked so hard for”.

“The Greens, if they have the control of the government, are going to be your nightmare,” Peters told a public meeting in Tauranga, which was met with a lone “hear, hear”.

The proposed tax would introduce two new tax brackets for an individual whose assets were worth more than $1 million and $2 million. Couples who together own a $1.2 million house without debt and $700,000 in the bank would not be affected, for example, as the tax is individualised.

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern has ruled out implementing this if re-elected alongside the Greens.

Later Peters refused to answer questions about whether he took Ardern at her word.

In his speech, he also took aim at National and Act for having billion-dollar fiscal holes in their policies.

“I’ve been astonished in this campaign to see political parties who have got slogans about how they’ve got experience – they can’t even add up,” he said.

“Then I picked up today’s Herald and there they are, National arguing with Labour and the Greens about a wealth tax.

“Fascinating isn’t it? Real fascinating. And National got those numbers wrong as well,” Peters said referring to the party having to pull political adverts.”

He told the crowd they needed to “rise up”for this election and said it was the most critical – unless you remember the last world war, Peters said.

“Be warned every time there is a glitch in the economy they come for the young and the old.”

Tauranga is Peters’ old stomping ground after he first won the electorate in 1984.

As well as playing up his experience in Parliament, Peters his audience’s minds back and reminded them of his record in the region.

Under his watch, the electorate gained another bridge over the harbour and Tauranga was bumped to the front of the Bay of Plenty phonebook to save having to flick past Rotorua.

National snatched the seat off him in 2005 by 730 votes and is now held by former leader Simon Bridges with a healthy majority.

But NZ First had always been reasonable, said Peters, and constituents could give their electorate vote to whomever they wished.

“Make your second vote count and party vote New Zealand First,” he said before many in the crowd gave him a standing ovation.

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