Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Claire Trevett: Is Winston Peters NZ's Donald Trump?

66 comments
Winston Peters. Photo / NZME.
Winston Peters. Photo / NZME.

While the rest of the world try to calculate whether a Donald Trump presidency would be more or less dangerous to the world than North Korea, MPs in New Zealand have embarked on a contest to anoint the Donald Trump of New Zealand.

Calling somebody Trumpesque has become the insult du jour in Parliament, way up there with calling somebody Muldoonist or the offpsring of Margaret Thatcher. Many insults have been ruled out of order in the past but so far calling somebody a Trump has passed the Speaker's taste-o-meter.

One of the joys about it is that it is a true multipartisan insult - an insult built for the MMP times.

Thus far, Labour's Grant Robertson has called National's Chris Bishop "Donald Trump Junior". National's Paula Bennett called Labour's Phil Twyford the Donald Trump of New Zealand politics. "Like Donald, he has got bad ties and thinning hair, and he too has decided to mock people based on their surname." It is possible Labour leader Andrew Little is making a belated bid for the title with his new immigration policy which appears to be aimed at keeping out Chinese and Indian cooks.

Little is clearly yet to learn that the way to a voter's heart is through the stomach.

But thus far Peters is the frontrunner to be crowned the Trump of New Zealand - The Tonz.

For a start, Peters appears to be the only one on a first-name basis with the Don. When Chris Finlayson heckled Winston Peters by calling out "come on, Donald Trump," Peters responded with a somewhat inaccurate "yeah, well, Donald has got hair like you."

Peters has also been likened to Trump more than any other MP. National's David Bennett announced NZ First leader Winston Peters was "the Don Trump of New Zealand politics" because he wanted to build a wall around New Zealand. He went on to insist Peters would never be able to build a wall as high as Trump, clearly forgetting Peters' 2002 Bob the Builder campaign slogan.

Finlayson also described Peters as "nothing more than the Donald Trump of New Zealand politics" but his rationale was that Peters "wants nothing more than a cheap headline".

Then there is the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Trump has a lot of love to give - so far he has professed to "love the poorly educated" and to love the potatoes of Idaho. This is cupboard love - a love only declared after the poorly educated and potato eaters of Idaho voted for him. Nor is it necessarily reciprocated - after Trump pledged to protect the Idaho potato growers' market, US media pointed out the potato industry was in favour of the TPP because they wanted to export those loved-up potatoes.

But Trump has no love to spare for the TPP. That is a great delight to Peters who also has no love for the TPP and is trying to turn Trump's sentiments into a hot potato for Key.

Every time Little or Peters tackle Key on farmers struggling to keep up loan payments, Key simply replies if they really wanted to help farmers they would support the TPP.

When Peters tackled Key about the prospects of the TPP hitting the wall if Trump was President of the United States, Key insisted Trump was actually complimenting New Zealand.

"The reason he thinks it is a bad deal is that he thinks that the United States has done a bad job of negotiating the terms, which, by definition, means that we did a good job of negotiating the terms, because we got a better deal."

While Peters is the frontrunner as The Tonz, it might be more accurate to describe Trump as the Peters of the USA. Trump's slogan is "Make America Great Again".

In 2008, Peters gave a speech in which he spoke of NZ First's determination to "make New Zealand great again". He touched on it again in his campaign launch in 2014, setting out his recipe for New Zealand "to be great again".

If Peters is to take anything from Trump's playbook in return, Peters will have to learn to show a little love. This month he will celebrate his first anniversary as MP for Northland. Having taken Manhattan, he is now in the process of trying to take Berlin - or at least Whangarei. Kumara of Dargaville, beware.

Debate on this article is now closed.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW
Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor and joined the Press Gallery in 2007. She began with the Herald in 2003 as the Northland reporter before moving to Auckland where her rounds included education and media. A graduate of AUT's post-graduate diploma in journalism, Claire began her journalism career in 2002 at the Northern Advocate in Whangarei. Claire has conjoint Bachelor of Law/ Bachelor of Arts degrees from the University of Canterbury.

Read more by Claire Trevett

Sort by
  • Oldest

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf05 at 10 Dec 2016 13:09:42 Processing Time: 445ms