Now let me make myself clear - not for one moment am I suggesting that the Rt Hon Winston Peters has somehow morphed into Africa's deadliest mammal. No, the point I'm making is that our esteemed Minister of Foreign Affairs displayed hypocricy of the highest order in the House yesterday.
"Tell us more" the people chorused! OK - this from Hansard yesterday, during a question from Tony Ryall on conflicts of interest and the HBDHB (my emphasis added):
"Rt Hon Winston Peters: Madam Speaker, we are in great danger here, if you are to accede to Mr English’s request, of so restraining the rights of members of Parliament as to in fact end up with an abuse of our rights, which we have had since 1688. Just because Mr English is sensitive about some things, that is no reason for you to tighten the Standing Orders. But, more important, Mr Ryall has been invited countless times to go outside this House and say what he has said here. The fact that he does not do so might add some substance as to whether we should believe him."
Now many of you will remember the Winebox saga - Winston's lone crusade against the evils of big business, especially Messrs Fay and Richwhite, darlings of the fourth Labour government. Winston made all manner of allegations in the House under the cover of Parliamentary privilege, but seldom, if ever, did he repeat those allegations beyond the protected confines of the Debating Chamber - and with good reason - many of his allegations were proved baseless.
But wait, as the TV hucksters say (a good analogy?), there's more! A later supplementary question:
"Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why does the Minister not ask Mr Ryall to table the information from which he is reading—which is clearly improperly obtained—so that all the rest of the members of this House and the public can know what on earth he is talking about; would he simply ask that question now and seek leave for that to happen?"
Winston revelled in the Winebox saga. He hinted for weeks, months, that he had a treasure trove of documents which would incriminate many. And week after week he was told to "put up or shut up" and table his evidence. Did he? In a word - no! Well, at least not until he had milked the Winebox for all he was worth. All of which makes his demands to Tony Ryall yesterday hypocricy of the highest order.