Is this Winston Peters scandal really that significant?

Winston Peters: "Maybe?"

At least, not yet.

Newsroom and Newshub both report that Winston was overpaid $18,000 by the Ministry of Social Development.

What we know so far is pretty straightforward.

  • Winston was paid the extra $60/week entitled to pensioners who are single
  • Winston was alerted to the discrepency a few weeks ago, and instantly paid the money back on July 14th, days before Metiria’s admission
  • Winston has refused to confirm the amount, any details about the amount, or who is responsible for the mistake, calling the issue a ‘private matter’

Now, it’s difficult to make anything from Winston’s interactions with the media, given his refusal to cooperate is entirely consistent within his character.

Much of the outrage seems to simply be around Winston taking the pension anyway, when he already is privileged to have an enormous salary and a large mansion. This is fair- morally this can be seen as unjust (Certainly not an argument for means testing super).

Criticism also mounts for his lack of transparency, despite repeatedly calling for it from everyone else. It’s not helping his defence.

There’s only three possible situations here, and it’s really to early to make any judgement without any one of these confirmed.

  1. MSD buggered up their data
    1. Seems unlikely, considering he assumes MSD added a penalty fee, though he also claimed this was usual and sorted out after the money had been repayed (which sounds dumb)
  2. Senile Winston made a mistake on his form
    1. Possible, but implausible. Winston claims he did indicate he was living with his partner, but then it seems impossible to muck up such a simple and explicit form
    2. https://twitter.com/strewnryan/status/901915840894795776
  3. Doltish Winston lied on his form
    1. Who bloody knows?

Anyway, the scandal may soon be eclipsed by the instigators of this cocoffany: Winston’s said he’s now got investigators on the job, trying to uncover who is responsible for the leak. Not only that, but he has some deep suspicions.

If it’s anyone, my money’s on the National Party. Only they woould have that kind of swing over the ministry, and they have every incentive to try and push NZ First both below 5% and out of parliament.

But, when it comes to Winston and his super, it’s too foggy to come to any justified conclusion. Let’s give it a few days?

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