Friday November 24, 2017   Last updated 06:03AM

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Don't put the blame solely on Winston !

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Don’t put the blame solely on Winston

I can recall carrying a cardboard cutout picture of Winston Peters around the Otara Flea Market in 1999 pretending to debate him. Why? Because he wouldn’t enter into a debate with me.

I was standing for the newly conceived Māori electoral seat of Hauraki. That seat took in all of Auckland.

That’s my first interaction with Winston. Once I had entered Parliament in 1999, I sat, as we all do, on the backbenches and cast aspersions Winston’s way at every opportunity.

And whilst I do not support half of his policies, I do support the other half.

And I think this is what attracts a large number of New Zealanders to vote for Winston.

So it’s hardly fair to put the blame for the current political predicament solely at the door of the New Zealand First leader.

We have had over 21 years of working out MMP. We voted to accept it in 1996 and again reaffirmed MMP at another referendum in 2011. So we have had 7 elections to work out MMP and the first babies born in 1996 have had their first opportunity to vote in their first MMP election.

The day we agreeed to MMP is the day we changed our constitution forever. We confirmed that 3rd parties would detemine which of the larger parties would govern. No government since 1996 has achieved 51% of the vote and been able to govern alone.

We all knew 18 months out from the 2017 election that Winston Peters was going to be the third party who could and would ultimately make the government. We knew this because the Greens had counted themselves out by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), linking themselves to the Labour Party.

The level of critisism directed at Winston Peters is unfair and unacceptable. It shows a level of incompetence or worse still, a reflection of others political persuasion, rather than journalistic balance and observation. It’s easy to make bad assumptions after the event.

Third parties are there to act as a handbrake from outrageous aplication of power by majority parties.

The majority of New Zealanders - in fact 93% - might not like what has transpired on election night 2017, but that’s what was voted for and its the democracy we voted for in 1996.

John Tamihere is a former Labour Government Minister and is CE of West Auckland urban Māori Authority Te Whānau o Waipareira.


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