Deputy and soon-to-be acting Prime Minister Winston Peters put his own stamp on this week's post cabinet press conference, as Jason Walls describes

Winston Peters cartoon by Jacky Carpenter.

By Jason Walls

If Deputy, soon-to-be acting, Prime Minister Winston Peters made one thing clear at his first post-cabinet press conference, it was that journalists are now playing by his rules.

Gone are the days, at least for the next six weeks, when the Prime Minister finishes up when reporters are out of questions.

The weekly press briefing ends when he says it ends.

Say goodbye to detailed answers to questions and hello to vague, at times seemingly random, monologues.

While Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is on maternity leave, Peters has been tasked with chairing the Government’s cabinet meetings.

He has also taken the reins of the post-cabinet press conference, something that has been keenly anticipated by many.

From the outset, it was clear Peters was putting his own stamp on the weekly conference on Monday afternoon.

He brought along Health Minister David Clark – who was there to provide details on the nurses' pay negotiations. “Any questions for the Honourable David Clark?” he asked, without moving from behind the lectern.

After an awkward few seconds, a reporter asked if Clark could stand at the microphone – “No, you need the questions first and then I’ll put him at the microphone,” Peters said.

After a question, Peters let Clark take over.

As Clark entered his sixth-minute answering questions, Peters glanced at his watch.

“I think we have covered the subject as comprehensively as we can possibly do it with Mr Clark here,” he said, as he resumed his place behind the lectern.

Reporters’ questions were still being fired at Clark but now, it was Peters’ turn.

Any questions

“Any questions,” he said, peering around the room.

Usually, there is never a second of silence at post-cab. Reporters race to be the first one to ask their questions. In fact, most times Ardern is hit with a wall of noise before she has even uttered “any questions.”

Monday was different – there was deafening silence as Peters waited for the first question. Perhaps no one wanted to be first.

Eventually, a question about Pike River Mine was asked, then another, and another. He stood by his commitment to being the first one into the mine.

“Are you being responsible, Mr Peters, with being the first one in?” he was asked.

“What’s wrong with that – if that’s your major issue on the 18th of June 2018, I’m happy to answer it; or maybe it’s because you care about me,” he said, sporting his signature ear-to-ear grin.

It’s just under 11 minutes in – so far, so good.

Before the election, Peters gave what has now become an infamous press conference when he refused to answer questions, personally attacked journalists and baffled many who were watching at home.

The events of that night were still front of mind of many in the Beehive Theatrette on Monday.

And things felt like they might be building up to those levels a couple of times. Peters was not happy about answering questions about the process of how he will find out if he has officially become acting Prime Minister.

He sighed, loudly, and rolled his eyes: “I think the Prime Minister has already walked you through the process countless times,” he said, begrudgingly.

Time to go, but first…

After a few more questions, he checked his watch again. The questions were now about his relationship with Fonterra.

Last week, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones called for the co-op’s Chairman, John Wilson, to resign.

Peters refused to say Jones was out of line and joined in on slamming the dairy giant.

He continued that criticism on Monday.

“I do believe in a thing called commercial accountability, as I also believe in political and journalistic accountability.”

He blamed the former National Government calling out Fonterra’s massive losses in its overseas ventures.

For the next ten minutes, he canvassed a range of topics: Business confidence, trade, the economy and his superannuation lawsuit leak just to name a few.

As the questions dragged on, he began to fidget with his papers – rolling them up and tapping them on the lectern. He looked like he wanted to get out of there.

And at 26 minutes and 43 seconds, he’s done.

“Thank you very much,” he said walking away from the stage. Reporters questions still being asked as he makes for the door.

“I’ve answered all your questions, and I’ll see you next time,” he yelled back.

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22 Comments

Watched him on the AM Show this morning. Boatman what the heck were you thinking voting for this man? That said, it brings a wry smile to my dial to think that Labour and the Greens have to work with him. The HMNSZ New Zealand is rudderless until the next election and it's just a matter of time until the crew start to mutiny.

Just think if Boatman hadn’t voted that way, amongst others, we may well have had a Labour Greens only coalition. Anybody ever run the sums on that?

If NZ First hadn't made it Labour+Greens had less vote than National, even without Acts support.

Maybe then that was National’s strategy, if and only if, they had any part in the “leak” of the super over payments. Enough of a discredit to see NZF voted out as happened over the Owen Glenn saga. If so it backfired rather badly. But again perhaps they knew NZF would not align with them anyway, so worth it still to play any card you have got, even from the bottom of the deck.

Collection of Whingers out in force today.

So hand on heart you are in favour of Winston leading the government then? Do you think his surley/blustering unresponsive and frequently incomprehensible performance in response to questions in parliament and interviews is a good thing for the Coalition?

Winston has always been toxic, whichever side he supports, I can remember what a dickhead he was as far back as the 80's when I was at school.

up
10

I think Winston's time at the helm will be largely inconsequential, not making any particular difference. The sky will not fall on our heads, as you whingers seem to believe.

Not necessarily ineffective to a Nick Smith degree, obnoxious to an Aaron Gilmore degree, dishonest to a John Key degree, bribing of foreign businessmen to a Murray McCully degree, dirty-politicking to a Judith Collins degree, or negotiating away taxpayer funds to a Stephen Joyce-Sky City degree.

I'd guess he'll probably just hold the helm pretty straight and this time will be much of a muchness. Will wait and see, however.

And if he answers questions in a somewhat incomprehensible and evasive fashion, surely that is only a more pleasurable thing for dedicated John Key voters, for whom it will provide a pleasant chance to reminisce
their more happy times.

Oh dear, good muster, but you omitted the largest but not the least, ie The Honourable Brownlee & EQC disposing of Canterbury EQ claimants

Check the lefties true nature in this thread https://thestandard.org.nz/open-mike-19-06-2018/ We are saints here.

Yes, well I guess Mike Pence pointed out what a Christian act it is to take kids from their parents. That sort of thing should never engender any bad language, as you might go to hell.

Meanwhile, on WhaleOil...

You need to have a shower, soap and a towel at the ready once you have visited that site.

^^lolBL^^

I thought he looked tired this morning on the AM show.His years of puffing on the death sticks appear to have taken its toll.
Very evident when he breathes in when talking.

Those things will get you in the end if you don't deal to them in enough time.

Perhaps he is acting out the traditional Conservative mantra: 'Don't just Do Something, Stand There'...

And as quoth Spike Milligan, “We can’t stand around here doing nothing, people will think we are workmen.”

I make a habit of turning the TV/Radio off when Winston appears. I find it infinitely more enjoyable than listening to him waffle on. At least Jacinda can string a sentence together.

Yep , the leeda of the laba pardy's good like that

It is going to be better than any stage show.
It won’t be a best seller but it is going to be hilarious.
Winston in the limelight continuously, means he will need to be doing something for the money that the country pays him for, which is pretty foreign to him!

Slumlord, Kettle, Black

Did anyone watch the question session yesterday?

Broken Bridges sounded like a mouse