If Winston Peters had the decency his position deserves, he would now resign. The testimony his donor, Owen Glenn, has given Parliament's privileges committee directly contradicts the New Zealand First leader's public statements about the expatriate businessman's $100,000 contribution to his legal expenses. Mr Glenn says Mr Peters not only knew about the contribution in 2005, he requested it. Mr Peters says that is not so and maintains he did not know of the donation until his lawyer, Brian Henry, told him about it on July 18 this year.
Dealing with the conflict of evidence, the leader writer says:
If neither is honestly mistaken in his recall, then one of them is not telling the truth. On a matter of public interest such as this it seems reasonable to ask what motive either may have for deception. It is hard to imagine a motive for Mr Glenn. He is primarily a Labour supporter, the largest donor to that party's expenses at the 2005 election. He says he agreed to help Mr Peters in the belief this would aid the Labour Party, which of course has governed with NZ First support since the election.
Mr Peters would not want it to be known that he or his party was in receipt of donations from somebody such as Mr Glenn. He has built his political career on opposition to the supposed corruption of politics in this country, claiming others are beholden to big-business donors and selling out to foreign interests. Even so, it would be foolish of him to falsely deny any knowledge of the Glenn donation, and he did own up to it the day he says he was informed of it by Mr Henry.
Indeed. Who built his party on the catch-phrase "Keeping them honest"? Who has been exposed as being as politically expedient as the next politically expedient politician? Who has the most at stake here? If you answered "Winston Peters" to each of those questions, go to the top of the class!
Lastly, the editorial comments on Helen Clark's position:
Labour needs his party's support to pass some sentinel legislation, the emissions trading bill, and would prefer it through to the election, now little more than two months away at most. Mr Peters should consider whether these are honourable reasons for him to remain in office.
The questions raised by Mr Glenn's testimony to the committee could not be more serious in their implications. Mr Peters should resign as Foreign Minister forthwith. If he were also to withdraw his party's support for the Government, it is probably too late to force an election slightly earlier than Helen Clark may have in mind. But ultimately it is the public who will pass judgment on him and any party that seems likely to deal with him if he survives the election. Even National, ever tentative, has now cast him aside.
The Prime Minister should now consider the interests of her party and the country and hold the election as soon as possible. The best way out of this predicament, for Mr Peters and all concerned, would be to name the date today.
Keeping Stock could not agree more.
Meanwhile, John Armstrong compliments John Key for slamming the door on Winston Peters yesterday, and makes reference to Key drawing on his currency trader instincts:
Key is still taking a gamble. National could miss out on Government for another three years if NZ First holds the balance of power.
However, this is the gamble of John Key, the money trader; the gamble of someone who sees the potential dividends far outweighing the costs and is willing to trust his instincts.
The ploy is well-timed. Labour is starting to recover in the polls. National's rejection of Peters now implicitly ties him and his party to Labour, which was already in danger of suffering collateral damage from his truculent behaviour of recent weeks. Someone who Labour had tried to keep hidden in the garage is now running amok in the living room.
However, the big plus for Key is that he can now argue a vote for NZ First is effectively a vote for Labour. And he can say a vote for Labour is a vote for NZ First.
Perhaps those stories about Key being known as the Smiling Assassin in his currency trader days were well founded after all. Not only did he effectively eliminate Peters yesterday, barring a phoenix-like resurrection, but he fired a strong warning shot across the bows of the good ship Labour - and he has already received broad acclaim.