Grip and grin for election stalwart

By Sam Boyer

Winston Peters walked into Mid-City Mall to the sound of gospel music - and a standing ovation.

The seasoned politician took to the stage yesterday in front of about 250 mostly older supporters, who braved the midday heat to hear his party's election policies.

And they weren't disappointed. It was classic Winston.

The issues included race equality, state-owned asset sales, and tax policies for the rich.

Mr Peters focussed on the economic state of the nation, saying the current National-led government was failing the country culturally by giving preferential treatment to Maori, and had failed the country financially by inadequately controlling state spending while keeping taxpayers in the dark.

"This government has presided over the biggest deficit in our history. Eight billion dollars of mainly old people's money has been lost and they have done nothing. And they still want your vote," he said.<inline type="photogallery" id="9858" align="outside" embed="no" />

"They believe in the mushroom principle - keep them in the dark and feed them on plenty of ..." he said, leaving it to the audience to finish his sentence.<inline type="recurring-inline" id="1003" align="outside" enforce-sites="no" />

In what he referred to as "the most important election for the last 80 years", Mr Peters said New Zealand First would bring to account those elements of government that were taking New Zealand away from regular Kiwis.

He said the government had let down its people by selling assets and failing to better manage the economic recession.

"That [the deficits New Zealand has experienced] did not happen to smart countries like Singapore and Norway, but because of our leadership, or lack of it, it is happening to us.

"And to add salt to economic wounds, this government's plot is to sell more of our high-earning assets.

"What sort of financial geniuses do this?"

"New Zealand First stands ... against the speculators, the spongers and the manipulators who treat our country like it's some great, grand game of Monopoly. These are our lives, our children's lives," he said.

He said he stood against apparent plans by the Government to constitutionally recognise the Treaty of Waitangi and reiterated instead his one-rule-for-all approach.

Supporters at the rally were vocal in support of the party leader.

Senior citizen Melanie Thomas, who had travelled from Torere on the East Cape for the speech, said she felt the New Zealand First leader had got it just right, particularly in regard to his policy on the seabed and foreshore.

"He makes a lot of sense. It belongs to all people," she said.

Friend Nola Melrose agreed: "He's for the people of New Zealand - you can feel it," she said.

Former Tauranga mayor Noel Pope said he could see Mr Peters regaining his seat in Parliament.

He said his stance on retaining state assets was what the country needed.

Although a commercial hub such as Tauranga should not rely on politicians to "press the buttons", it helped to have people in charge who understood the importance of commerce.

"I don't think there's any question about it, the country wants him there. I think the policies are pragmatic. That's what the country's after at the moment," he said.

"If he was talking rubbish up there I'd be on him, but he wasn't. What he said is correct."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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