I am an intensely private person, which is why I sued two government ministers at the High Court of Auckland in the full glare of the news media.
It had to be done. I place a high value on my privacy. I have always believed that my business is my business and that I have every right to keep $18,000 worth of superannuation overpayments close to my chest.
Privacy plays a big part of my ancestry. I come from a long line of people who don't tell anyone anything, ever. Family legend has it that one of my forefathers took a vow of silence at the age of 18 months until his death at 93. I follow his example whenever I am pestered by the heads of government departments.
One of them tried to engage me in conversation this morning. I wasn't having a bar of it. I just put my head down and got on with the crossword while she blathered away. Now and then words or phrases drifted into my consciousness - "can see you're busy", "would you mind", "please?" – but I ignored her, put down my crossword and then did my nails, left hand first.
It's an important part of public service to look your best and you can't beat a good manicure. Take a closer look at my fingernails next time I'm on TV. The media wonder how it is that I've survived so long in politics but voters notice little details like that and it sends a message that I'm a person who values appearances.
I'm a Westie and if I've got something to say, I'll tell you straight, yeah? No beating around the bush and I won't say anything behind your back. That's me. Westie through and through. We're honest, us Westies. As honest as the day as long and right now it's daylight saving, yeah? So, very honest.
When they called me to give evidence at the High Court of Auckland, I told them like it is. I upheld the Westie code. They asked if I knew anyone who would deliberately leak the information about Winston Peters' superannuation overpayment. To be honest, I was shocked that they even asked. I mean I don't know what they think goes on in politics but all I know is that I practise it with honesty and integrity, yeah?
"I'm sure there are people like that," I said in court, "but they're not people I associate with."
I fell and tripped when I got off my high horse.
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Well, look, all I can say is that I didn't tell anyone about Winston Peters' superannuation overpayment, apart from my sister one day on the way to her car - but only as a subject of general interest and in the manner that you might say, "Lovely weather we're having, isn't it, but for God's sake don't tell anyone I said so."
I started manicuring my right hand and the public servant finally left my office. Shane Jones came in, and said, "What did the Prime Minister want?"
I said, "Couldn't tell you."