John Armstrong takes a journalistic swing at Winston Peters in his Herald column this morning; check this out:
So much for the theory that Winston Peters was mellowing into Parliament's version of everyone's favourite, if somewhat cranky and irascible, uncle.It was a more familiar Peters who delivered the leader's address at New Zealand First's annual convention last Sunday.The speech was not so much a dog whistle as a wolf howl for attention. There was certainly no coded language to decipher.His pinging of Chinese immigrants for allegedly sponging off New Zealanders by picking up state-funded super payments and other entitlements without paying any income tax was unquestionably populist - so much so that he was almost parodying himself.Peters cited a young couple from China being able to "bring in four elderly parents who don't have to work here in the 10 years before they turn 65, yet they will all receive full New Zealand Super".He was unable to offer any evidence bar hearsay of his claim that 22,000 immigrants nationwide are allegedly collecting super without having paid any direct tax.He instead rationalised his accusation of freeloading by arguing that New Zealanders needed to know all the facts about superannuation rather than being manipulated by the savings and insurance industry into believing there was a "crisis" which required an end to universality in the payment of the state-funded pension.It all added up to a lame excuse for an attack on a segment of immigrants who are always an easy target because they are reluctant to fight back.
Armstrong is right on the money. Winston Peters has been off on his anti-Asian target for many, many years. As far back as 1996, Peters made his famous anti-Asian speech in Howick, where he slammed the "rows of ostentatious houses" that were rising up in that area. It scratched enough of a red-neck itch that year that Peters fatefully held the balance of power at the first MMP election. And many readers will remember the shenanigans that resulted as Peters played New Zealand off to satisfy his ego.
But there's one thing about Winston Peters; he never lets the facts get in the way of a good xenophobic rant, and Armstrong fisks him good and proper; read on:
It actually did not add up at all. Peters is the one choosing not to put all the facts on the table, especially major Government policy changes affecting those applying for residency under Immigration New Zealand's family and parent categories.While Peters rails against Chinese immigrants supposedly gobbling up the super - but then refuses to say what he would do about it - the National-led Government has quietly stolen a march on him.His line about a migrant couple bringing four parents to New Zealand is carefully worded. It is technically correct in referring, if only obliquely, to the requirement that to be eligible for superannuation, immigrants must have lived in NZ for at least 10 years, five of those since turning 50.Peters' statement was instead designed to leave the impression that the elderly parents of immigrants can simply swan around waiting for the day they turn 65 and the money rolls in.The reality is that there is no plonking mum and dad on the next flight out of Beijing once one of them turns 65.They effectively have to arrive here before they turn 55 - an age when they would expect to be working and therefore paying tax.If they cannot find work, their sponsoring son or daughter is responsible for at least five years in ensuring they do not become a burden on the state. That obligation is scheduled to be extended to 10 years.
Winston Peters claims to have been given his information on Chinese rorting superannuation by a Dominion Road restauranteur. He obviously has a favourite dining spot along that road of restaurants, just as he does when in the capital.
But this time he is just plain wrong, and instead of rushing to give him publicity as the TV channels did at the weekend, John Armstrong has done some fact-checking. And he has exposed Winston Peters as a speaker of half-truths and untruths. That ought not to come as a startling revelation; distorting the truth has been Peters' stock-in-trade for many years.