Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Peters and the wound of hubris

Peters in the hot seat
Winston Peters made it clear last night he will not go down without a fight. The New Zealand First leader is still denying he sought a donation from billionaire Owen Glenn for his legal bill in 2005 arising from the Tauranga electoral petition but conceded that he spoke to Mr Glenn by phone on a critical date in question. Appearing before Parliament's privileges committee, Mr Peters disputed Mr Glenn's evidence of what that call was about. And he said the Monaco-based billionaire had been coached by Geoff Harley, a lawyer who appeared for Fay Richwhite at the Winebox inquiry. "It's not the first time my memory has been challenged by a wealthy businessman," Mr Peters said.

Well, he wasn’t very good was he? On the issues of substance, like why his lawyer emailed Glenn bank account details right after a phone call, Winston had nothing more credible than to say Glenn may have asked for Mr Henry’s contact details which just doesn’t add up, why would his lawyer send bank account details as an opening email if it was just swapping contacts? Then there were the slip ups, with Winston referring to Owen wanting a position like Mike Moore’s but then questioned latter Winston claims it was like Jim Sutton’s roving trade post but Sutton hadn’t had that position until the middle of 2006, several months before the phone conversation took place. The final home goal was when Winston was asked if he told Brian Henry that Owen wanted his bank details, Winston responded that he remembered telling his lawyer about Owen Glenns “extraordinary” questions about the roving ambassador role but then couldn’t remember the conversation at all to answer the question about the bank account issue.

Do I think Owen Glenn is honest? Sometimes, I think some of what he says is provable, but I also think some things just don’t ring true, Mike Williams asking for a job just doesn’t ring true, claiming Mike invited himself to Nice when Mike has the email with Owen inviting him, and the claim that Labour asked for further cash when really I think Mike was there trying to ascertain exactly what Owen was going to say rather than for cash. Add this to wanting to give a million to have Sir Howard run for parliament and his claim of being offered a cabinet position and you seem to have a Billionaire who loves the media spotlight as much as Winston used to.

Where to now? Helen can’t hang him today and has to wait for another messy and painful weekend of media on the Winston issue because the Privileges Committee is still meeting on Tuesday and her whole defence so far has been due process so she has to grin and bare another torturous weekend of criticism and all of this is to happen with the next major political poll coming out on Sunday. The election date may have just moved to the 15th.

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