'Ron's always welcome'

By Nathan Crombie

NZ First Party leader Winston Peters has a candle burning for his former political stablemate and sitting Carterton Mayor Ron Mark.

Mr Peters was speaking yesterday at the NZ First Wairarapa branch annual meeting, held at the Wairarapa Services and Citizens Club.

Later he said he was keen to visit Mr Mark, who was a NZ First list MP from 1996-2008.

He was kept well-posted on Mr Mark and his mayoral fortunes, he said, and would welcome him back in a flash to the central government arena.

"It's all over to Ron really and the political environment. There's a lot of opportunity still in New Zealand politics, especially with this Government and things turning from bad to worse."

During his speech to the annual meeting yesterday, Mr Peters focused on Budget 2012, which is released on Thursday, and told close to 50 electorate members that the country was being driven toward becoming a "feeder state" for Australia.

"Once we used to joke about the number of New Zealand rugby league players scooped up by Aussie talent scouts. That is professional sport.

"However, on the economic front it should be a matter of great concern to all of us that so many Kiwis are heading across the Tasman to make a better life for themselves."

Mr Peters said the "trickle of migration has turned into an exodus" that would be worsened by Thursday's Budget. He predicted a "slash and burn" Budget that would not help "ordinary people" pay increasing bills for power and doctors, and would entrench already dominant Australian banks in New Zealand.

"The biggest threat to New Zealand at present is not the communist state of China - it is the democratic state of Australia." However, he said that despite the economic trials facing the country, there was still hope.

"New Zealand First is back in Parliament in the nick of time.

"We will be holding the Government to account for its decisions and will go through the Budget carefully, and again expose the errors of this National Government's ways."

- Wairarapa Times-Age

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