I am flat out refusing to get flat out depressed by the election result. It is what it is, and I'm at an age and a stage to know that voters do what they do. Even those with low IQ. And high too. New Zealand First's role as the kingmaker was far from unexpected.

Post-election morning, Winston Peters was as belligerently accurate as ever when he told media that they didn't understand MMP. Many just don't appear to. Or don't want to. Or something.

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Winnie won't be hurried - and that is exactly the right way to approach coalition negotiations. There's nothing the "genuinely worried" farming sector, or "nervous" business community can do about that. Except whine, of course, to the media. That's already in full swing.


Am I scared of New Zealand First? Not really. Winston can behave when he wants to, and demonstrated that with Labour and Helen Clark after the 2005 election. He was a creditable foreign minister, and boosted our relationship with the Bush administration via his obvious ... er, rapport with Condaleeza Rice.

He is wily, instinctive, humorous, and is often proven to be right. He also possesses experienced politicians in Shane Jones, Ron Mark and Tracey Martin. The latter is extremely likeable, and possesses a strong social conscience coupled with a great sense of humour. A real shame that she was rolled from the deputy leadership position.

But here's the downside for me. NZF is so irrationally fawning over the rural sector - who don't return the favour - that we may have to say goodbye to any chance of a water royalty.

More irrigation, no reduction in cow numbers, no inclusion in the Emissions Trading Scheme, no polluter pays - all could be the upshot of any coalition deal NZF stitches together with either side.

Indeed, if you think you're feeling cheated by the circumstances we find ourselves in, imagine what the state of our rivers will be in another three years. It doesn't bear thinking about. If there's absolutely no acceptance by NZF that they can be at least partially aided by polluters paying towards their clean-up, then we've all got a problem.

But here's the thing. There's always hope when political parties desperately want something from each other to gain power. Winston has always demonstrated a willingness to do a deal and, on the degradation of our waterways, he will be mindful of the message voters have sent loud and clear. New Zealanders want action on this issue, and they want it now.

Fonterra CEO Theo Spierings' salary (including bonuses) was nearly $8.3m. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Fonterra CEO Theo Spierings' salary (including bonuses) was nearly $8.3m. Photo / Jason Oxenham

Winston is also a rare breed of politician who uses the word "neo-liberal" as a pejorative. This is good. This is very, very good. Because on Monday, a perfectly odious illustration of the "n" word made for nauseating headlines. One that inspired the NZF leader to put his money where his mouth is.

Fonterra CEO Theo Spierings' salary (including bonuses) of nearly $8.3m was announced. It made for sickening reading, and not only for the many Kiwis struggling to afford the basics of milk and cheese. It is a galling example of everything wrong with our nation's addiction to dairy farming, nest feathering, and inequality.


Fonterra wasted no time in attempting to justify the bonuses. Chairman John Wilson said short-term and senior executive incentives were met, which brought in about $2 billion of cash and working capital.

"Clearly these numbers are high from a New Zealand perspective and we absolutely respect and understand that, from an Australasian and a global perspective which is the nature of our business, they're actually well within the bands of what those global executives earn."

Oh, so it's New Zealanders who just don't understand the ways of the world then? Here's an idea. How about Spierings' remuneration being tied to meeting water quality and environmental targets, rather than how much capital he raised.

If Winston goes with National, we can expect more of the same. An unaccountable industry hellbent on profit over environment at all costs. Fonterra is still using - and building - coal-powered factories. What year is this? 1817?

The growing uprising over water quality won't suddenly disappear either. It's going to get stronger and stronger, and farmers and their industry leaders are going to get more and more pressure. Pressure like they've never felt before. Like, I'm not going anywhere. You?

If Winston goes with Labour/Greens, maybe we can finally get some traction on getting dairy to pay for their own pollution. I mean, we're not a country of "pretty communists" are we? User pays, the market, and all that.

One thing's for sure, any farmer acceptance of Spierings' pay packet puts Labour's water tax in perspective. Their real enemy is within.

Winston's been around long enough to know that too. Which is why he spoke up about it. I, for one, am glad he did. It bodes well.