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Q+A: Winston Peters interview

Corin Dann

Published: 12:39PM Sunday June 09, 2013 Source: ONE News

Q + A - JUNE 9, 2013

NEW ZEALAND FIRST LEADER WINSTON PETERS, INTERVIEWED BY CORIN DANN

CORIN Good morning to you, Mr Peters.

WINSTON PETERS - New Zealand First Leader
Good morning.

CORIN How did you know when you were at that select committee to raise those allegations?

WINSTON I had information that suggested I should check out three things to pursue the information I had in terms of its disclosure.

CORIN What is that information?

WINSTON Well, that he wasn't being questioned on oath, he wasn't being questioned with electronic record, and, in my view, there was most certainly- he wasn't having checked his electronic records.

CORIN And where did you get that from? Have you seen the emails?
WINSTON Look, I'd like to tell you, but, frankly, how many informants would I get if I start disclosing who they are.

CORIN Okay, so you're not going to tell us where you got it from, but can you describe to us the nature of what you have seen in terms of have you seen emails? The emails in question?

WINSTON Let me just tell you, because there's much more and wider than you think. The electronic records are very, very clear. Mr Dunne's denial is, frankly, futile in the extreme. Those denials are bound to fail, and they concern far more than one leak from the GCSB on a classified document. There are other sets of information items from the GCSB which he leaked as well to the same journalist.

CORIN Can you give us some details of what they are?

WINSTON Well, you know, here's one - one was to do with the very low morale of the GCSB, none of which would've been helped by leaking that sensitive report, again from the same minister to the same journalist. There was one with respect to the appointment of the head of the GCSB, the new one, as well as the one that was seriously classified - the Kitteridge report - at all times. And there is more than that as well.

CORIN So that implies that you've seen the nature - you've seen the actual emails themselves?

WINSTON I don't think it's any help for you to try and ask me for how I got the information-

CORIN Because we need to know whether that's- how valid that is.

WINSTON Valid? That's why he's gone.

CORIN But when-?

WINSTON I don't know why you guys still doubt. When I said in the select committee that I wanted that information, if anyone doubted that I meant to get to the bottom of it, then they don't know how important this information is.

CORIN But what we need to know- You're saying that there are other leaks that have come from Mr Dunne to this journalist, but what we need to know - is that what is contained in those emails that he won't release?

WINSTON Some of it, yes, but it most certainly leaves no doubt that it's him.

CORIN And you feel, given that, he needs to be gone from Parliament?

WINSTON Look, when you leak classified information that goes to the core of your country's international relationship on security issues with four other countries with which we have a special relationship - the so-called Five Eyes arrangement - when you leak information that brings our respect and integrity as a nation into doubt, then there's no way he didn't do it both as a minister and as an MP. Mr Dunne is an experienced MP. No way can he possibly say now, 'Well, I'll fall on my Cabinet place sword and I'll stay in Parliament.' He must go.

CORIN But this report was going to come out anyway. There's nothing sensitive in this report. It was a review.

WINSTON But the report on the morale of the GCSB, the report on who the new appointment was, other Cabinet appointments which were being leaked.

CORIN So you're saying these emails contain details about Ian Fletcher's appointment?

WINSTON Yes.

CORIN What did it say?

WINSTON Well, it says something that's clear to you - that a minister is leaking like a sieve.

CORIN So can you just give us a sense of the nature of what you've seen and you've claimed to have seen in these emails? Is it.. how does it.. what does it show about the nature of the relationship between Andrea Vance and Peter Dunne? Do you think Peter Dunne was acting in an appropriate way?

WINSTON No.

CORIN In what way?

WINSTON Well, I don't want to, you know, go down that path. It doesn't-

CORIN Because Peter Dunne says he was absolutely professional, that this was simply just a case of a journalist talking to an MP. Are you saying that's something different?

WINSTON Sadly, that statement is not true.

CORIN What evidence have you got to back that up?

WINSTON Sad for his staff as well, but, sadly, that statement's not true.

CORIN Have you got evidence to back that up?

WINSTON Yes.

CORIN What is it?

WINSTON Well, again, I never have pursued that path. I'm interested in the national security issue. I'm interested in the Prime Minister understanding, perhaps for the first time now, how critical his role was in not doing anything. This was not the first leak from the GCSB. That's the point. It wasn't the first leak from the Intelligence and Security Committee, on which committee Mr Dunne sits and Mr Key is the chairperson. Now, this is deadly serious, and I want a proper response from the Prime Minister that suggests for the first time he understands how untoward the behaviour of Mr Dunne was - sufficient that he should go from Parliament as a clear signal on what was and is capable of being construed as a criminal act. That's why we've lodged a complaint with the police as a clear signal that that will not be tolerated. And there is no precedent for this in our history, to the best of my knowledge, that someone sitting in such a high position on an intelligence and security committee would be leaking like that.

CORIN Why do you think he did leak it, if that's the case?

WINSTON In a phrase - there's no fool like an old fool.

CORIN What does that mean?

WINSTON You know what it means.

CORIN No, no, tell me.

WINSTON Well, I'll leave it to you. I'm not going to head down that salacious path, but there's no fool like an old fool.

CORIN What should John Key do, though? Are you saying that he should be doing more? What could he do more?

WINSTON Well, you cannot go on nationwide TV in front of all the journalists and say, 'I want to believe him.' Look, it's staring him in the face. His job was to have gone and found when they first knew there was a leak where that leak was. His job was to have gone - it's the Prime Minister's job - to the police and say, 'I've got a serious concern here. Someone is leaking like a sieve. I've got to find out who it is. I've got to shut this leak down.' He did none of those things. He had the report and all the information a long time before me, and he still hasn't lodged a complaint with the police. It means he's not doing his job, and, you know, all those people out there who support the National Party should be scratching their heads as to whether or not that in a former National leader would ever have been tolerated.

CORIN What are you going to do this week in Parliament? Would you also seek Privileges Committee, something like that?

WINSTON Oh, look-

CORIN Because if you're saying that he has leaked this, then you're also saying that he's misled Parliament.

WINSTON What I want- Well, he's misled Parliament, he misled the select committee, he's misled everybody - that's as clear as daylight. But you recall when this matter broke, Mr Key showed no interest in doing anything about it. What I want is a formal inquiry. My concern - and you were at that select committee - I can recall…

CORIN Yes.

WINSTON …I asked, 'Was this evidence on oath? Was there electronic record?' And to find that the answer is no to both those questions-

CORIN Okay, so you want John Key to do that?

WINSTON Well, because then you would see all of the electronic record, which you are entitled to, against a minister who has offended seriously the laws of this country, and second, who's now arguing the privacy and the slippery slope down which we might go if his emails are disclosed. Those emails are about him breaching the security and the privacy of classified information.

CORIN Okay. Winston Peters, in the last couple of weeks, you seem to have found some renewed vigour and energy. I mean, you had a big speech on migrants. You've used parliamentary privilege to attack an opponent. What's motivating you at the moment? Are you clearly positioning yourself now as the kingmaker for the next government?

WINSTON First of all, dislodge this idea of parliamentary privilege. I know what the journalists say, and let me tell you this - if I didn't ask that in a privileged environment, they wouldn't publish a thing.

CORIN Sure, okay. No, I accept that.

WINSTON ...because they're too scared of being sued. I'm not. They are.

CORIN Okay, fair point. Coming back to my point on the kingmaker - you have - whether by design or otherwise, you are now in the kingmaker's position. What is your message to New Zealanders about how you're going to approach that going into the next campaign?

WINSTON Well, you know, the truth is that that's not a description we want as a party. New Zealand First is interested in its policies, its programmes and a consistent line of economic and social policy, which we have argued for years. So we're not going to get caught up in all this…

CORIN But you know that you're going to end up having run-ins with people like me saying, 'Who are you going to go with? Who are you going to go with?'

WINSTON No, I'm not.

CORIN So will you run a strategy where you say-?

WINSTON What I'm going to tell you today-

CORIN …this party or not?

WINSTON What I'm going to tell you today goes for every journalist - you've always known it. We will not be going into any arrangements until the people have spoken. And after that, on Election Day, then we'll have a mandate to consider as a party, a caucus and a wider organisation, what we will do. We are not going to be manipulated by anyone in the media, making countless statements about, 'New Zealand First is gunning to do this, going to do that.' All I'm saying is if-

CORIN Could you work with either side?

WINSTON If you're a journalist- If you're a reader out there or a viewer out there, and you hear that from any journalist, you will know that journalist is lying. I personally am sick and tired of people interpreting me without ever having asked me, so that's what I'm saying to you.

CORIN This is a simple question. Could you work with either side?

WINSTON Pardon?

CORIN Could you work with either side? Right or left?

WINSTON It's not about working with either side; it's what are the policies you're being asked to support? And right now, you've got intolerable policies from this Government, for example, the sale of Mighty River Power shares - nonsensical. Even Treasury told them that.

CORIN So you can't work with a government that's going to sell assets?

WINSTON We are not going to work with a party that sells out the national interest. Now, they can rein back that sort of behaviour and make themselves acceptable, but we will not be tolerating-

CORIN What's your relationship with John Key like at the moment?

WINSTON We will not tolerate the assets built up by generations of this country being treated as some temporary cashbox.

CORIN So if the Government scraps the asset sales, you could potentially work with John Key? Have you-?

WINSTON Well, see, I know what that means. What you're really saying is that we're going to be sidling up to them or the other side. That's never been our position. We have never ever-

CORIN Accepted. I take your point. Will you look at a situation, which you have in the past with the Helen Clark government, where you effectively sat on the cross benches in the middle, but you were still able to play a role as a minister? Is that a conceivable way to go?

WINSTON Look, all options are over to us, depending on what the national interest is, but we made it very clear on the 6th of, I think, September or October last- in the last election, at Kelston, that we were going with no one, that we'd sit in the cross benches and keep the system honest, and that's what this exercise has been about - keeping the system honest.

CORIN New Zealand First leader Winston Peters, thank you very much for your time.

WINSTON Thank you.

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