Seemingly outlandish comments and claims of omniscience have been NZ First leader Winston Peters' most enduring trademarks. The Herald takes a closer look at a few of Peters' prophesies and hyperbolic claims from recent times: the Budget 'leak', Simon Bridges and KiwiBuild.
On Thursday, NZ First leader Winston Peters merrily declared the war was over.
The war in question was the long-standing dispute over the teachers' pay negotiations.
Peters announced after he was kicked out of Question Time that he had simply been trying to inform the Speaker that the teacher negotiations had ended.
He insisted it had all been announced at 2pm.
Alas, it had not. The war did not end until 10.45am the next morning.
Peters' spoiler appears to have been a genuine misunderstanding – he had been under the impression the announcement was being made at 2pm yesterday and had assumed it had gone ahead.
Nonetheless, Peters' declaration frustrated some – not least because it was for the PM or Education Minister Chris Hipkins to make such announcements.
It is just one of the many prophesies and hyperbolic statements Peters has uttered since entering the coalition Government.
He gets away with it purely because everybody knows to season his declarations with a vast pinch of salt.
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Sometimes they are mere political puffery. Sometimes they are not.
Sometimes Peters simply likes to be contrary – even when it is the Prime Minister he is contradicting.
Sometimes they are instances where others forgot to send the memo to Peters – but he sticks by his claims nonetheless even after the memo arrives.
One of Peters' geniuses is being able to cast just enough doubt on things to raise a suspicion. He also tends to leave himself enough room to wriggle out of being found wrong on a technicality.
Sometimes he is never proven right or wrong.
His recent musings include:
BUDGET SCANDAL CLAIM I:
The most recent example was his claim, outside the protection of parliamentary privilege, that Simon Bridges and National engaged in illegal activity by either accessing or receiving Budget information ahead of the Budget.
Bridges released those figures on the Tuesday of Budget week just before 10am.
Half an hour later, Peters downplayed the release, saying it was possible National had simply guessed what the numbers were based on last year's numbers.
But on Wednesday, he leaped to allegations of illegality after Treasury referred it to Police on the Tuesday night and described it as "systematic hacking".
He announced Bridges was "goneburger now, because of this".
"The facts look very, very bad for the National Party. Information came to them in circumstances where behaviour was totally illegal and they should have known.
"That's all I can say right now. It's my job to know that."
Of course, he had not known that at all. At that point he had no idea how National had got the information.
At that time, it was not publicly known that the GCSB had contacted Minister Andrew Little on Tuesday night to pass on reservations to the Government about Treasury's use of the word "hacking".
After that point, the PM and Robertson did alter their language to avoid the word hacking, and any insinuations of criminality.
However, Peters either did not get the memo or ignored it.
He said it was possible that a third party had been involved, "but whatever happened there was illegal behaviour".
On Thursday morning, Treasury confirmed publicly police had discovered it was through the use of the search tool and did not appear to be unlawful so they would not look into it further.
National showed how it had obtained the information by using the search engine on the Treasury website.
Peters was still having none of it.
"There are lawyers, and I'm one, that think that sort of behavior is a crime."
He said his basis for this was that only lawyers and the courts would be able to test the legality of National exploiting a flaw in the Treasury's website – not Treasury, not the police.
He pointed to cases where the police have dismissed a case only for a private prosecution to result in a guilty verdict in court.
He was not alone in this view.
He has waved around three opinions from law and IT commentators from news websites that argue exploiting the flaw or releasing sensitive information could potentially fall foul of the Crimes Act.
Those same opinions gave him an extra accusation, that Bridges acted unethically by using the Budget information rather than telling Treasury of the flaw.
He pointed to a protocol implemented in 2014 when Bridges was Communications Minister which required people to tell an organisation if its website had a security hole.
It can be dangerous to dismiss all of Peters' claims, even when the police and GCSB disagree, so there remains a possibility Peters could indeed be proven right.
It also could not.
BUDGET SCANDAL CLAIM II: Peters also claimed that every figure in National's release of those Budget numbers was wrong.
Even after Robertson and Ardern conceded some of the figures were right, Peters continued to insist they were wrong.
Peters was so adamant that on at least two occasions, he put this to PM Jacinda Ardern in Question Time to try to prove it.
On Tuesday he asked her to confirm she had been told that every figure in the press statement was wrong. On Wednesday, he asked again.
On both occasions, Ardern wisely opted to stick to her lines that some of the figures were right and some were wrong, and that some of the statements or assumptions in the press statement were incorrect.
Confronted with the PM's admission some figures were correct, Peters tried to claim that he had only been talking about the figures in a press statement that headed National's fuller release of figures from 19 spending areas – not the entire release.
However, a check back of the audio from the morning of that release shows is while he initially refers just to the press statement, he is then asked about the full set of figures.
It is unclear whether he has actually seen them at that point, but he insisted they too were wrong: "yeah, he's got them all wrong. You name it, I'll tell you which one's wrong".
"Every figure Mr Bridges used is utterly fake, false and will be proven to so on Thursday. His credibility is utterly shot."
On Thursday, the Budget was indeed released and Bridges' figures were judged as correct by pretty much everybody other than Peters.
Despite this, Peters will die in a ditch rather than admit he was wrong.
By this week he had again re-defined his claim from "figures" to "calculations".
He insisted of eight calculations in the statement, seven were incorrect. Getting the concession that one was correct was quite something.
Peters' argument is that National was wrong when it calculated how much more was being spent this year compared to the last.
In assessing how much more was being allocated this year, National had compared Budget 2019 figures with what was allocated for the same things in Budget 2018.
However, many of those numbers changed as the year went on depending on whether the money was actually spent or not.
Peters was calculating them based on what was actually spent over the year, rather than the initial allocations in Budget 2018.
Peters is yet to concede. Nor will Bridges be holding his breath for it.
THE GREAT KIWIBUILD CLAIM:
One of Peters' most reality defying claims was his insistence that not only would the Government reach its KiwiBuild targets, it would exceed them.
In January, after KiwiBuild was put into a "reset" and Housing Minister Phil Twyford admitted it would fall well short of its first year target of 1000 houses by about 700 houses, Peters insisted there was still a chance.
"We're not giving up at all, we've got six months to wind this up as fast as we can and practically we will."
Despite Peters' confidence, this week Twyford reported he now expects just 266 to be built by July. 119 had been built so far – with one month to go.
By May, Twyford and Ardern had also stopped claiming that the 10-year target of 100,000 houses was still in place, saying things would depend on the reset.
Again, either Peters did not get the memo or ignored it.
Peters insisted the target was "easily achievable" and the Government would build "probably a lot more".
THE EXPIRY DATE ON SIMON BRIDGES' LEADERSHIP
The National Party website has a clock running counting down the days and hours until its annual conference in July.
According to Parliament's prophet, Winston Peters, that clock is also ticking down on Bridges' leadership.
Back in April, Peters prophesied Bridges would not last until the party's conference in July – and his deputy Paula Bennett would not be far behind him.
Prior to that, in July last year Peters had said Bridges would not last long but Bennett would be first to go: "That's what jackals do. They go for the smallest and weakest one. And then it will be Simon."
Peters regularly reviews this prediction. When the Jami-Lee Ross controversy broke last October, Peters stood and played Burning Bridges on his cellphone.
This Budget week, he again declared the Budget hack would see Bridges "goneburger" almost immediately.
He defined a "goneburger" as not very tasty and vegan. "No meat."
However, this week Peters appeared to give him an extension from the initial July prediction.
In the midst of the Budget hack he issued a new expiry date: "Simon Bridges will not be leading the National Party at the next election. We'll see who's right about that and who isn't."
Peters is not the only one to have made such a prediction, of course, but as yet Bridges is showing no sign of obliging. Bridges asks for some of this: National were merciless when Peters appeared to be caught napping at important meetings - moments Peters put down to "deep contemplation".
It is possible Peters' attempts to hurry things along with his prophesies are counter-productive and are protecting Bridges.
Antipathy toward Peters within National is such that few would want to give him the satisfaction of being proven right.