Vote Choice: Winston Peters – the (well, a) Conservative

This week’s featured politician is Winston Peters. According to Peters life begins at conception because…the royal baby (?!). We know this because, again, Bob McCoskrie from Family First did the hard work for us in an interview with Peters during which he asked him about his and NZ First’s views on abortion (at 20:35 in the video). The transcript from this section of the interview is below.

The interview, as well as his voting record, highlights Peters’ is conservatism about abortion. He supports “safe, legal and rare” abortions but he opposes the decriminalisation of abortion and actively supports parental notification for young people seeking terminations. In 2004 Peters voted conservatively in three movements to amend Clause 37 of the Care of Children Bill which would make parental notification of a termination compulsory for people under 16.

In 1990 Peters did vote in favour of the repeal of Section 3 Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act relating to contraceptive advice to those under 16. Since then, he has consistently voted conservatively on abortion. You can see his voting record in our PDF of the list of MPs’ voting records on abortion.

In his own words: Winston Peters on abortion

Now, for your information and entertainment, here is the transcript of Peters and McCroskie’s discussion on abortion. Particularly savour the moment where Peters reckons New Zealanders’ reaction to the royal baby is proof life begins at conception.

Bob McCoskrie (BM): We’re up to parental notification. Do you support basically parents being told if their teenager is pregnant and is considering an abortion – do you think parents have the right to know unless there are exceptional circumstances which can be argued through the court?

Winston Peters (WP): If that girl is in the parents’ care, that is legally the parents’ care, the answer’s yes.

BM: Simple as that?

WP: Simple as that.

BM: Is there a private member’s bill coming out of New Zealand First to fix that? ‘Cause it’s dragged on for a lot, I mean there’s-

WP: Well, uh, we’ve got 8 members- 7 member’s bills up now. That is, we’ve got a lot of bills waiting, trying to get them in the ballot paper. Uh, so, if you ask me the question “Have we got such a bill ready?” No. But that’s the first time anybody’s asked us. Amongst other things.

BM: I’ll keep asking

WP: Well hang on, we’ve got some serious bills on big issues, about the unfairness of society, the unfairness of the economic policy. Issues to do with who owns this country and the land and the farms and what have you. So I’m not saying that your issue’s not important, but what we have got, waiting in the ballot box, are very important issues as well. That’s all I’m saying.

BM: Let’s talk about abortion. There appears to be a clash in the minds of New Zealanders of whether a woman has a right to an abortion or a unborn child has a right to life. Which side do you come down on?

WP: Our position has never changed, nor has mine since I’ve been a politician. If we are to have abortions they should be safe, they should be legal, and they should be rare. That’s where this party stands.

BM: So do you support the Greens’ policy of decriminalising abortion?

WP: No we don’t.

BM: But you’ve just argued that they should be legal. So-

WP: Oh no no. If it happens, our position is they should be safe , they should be legal and they should be rare.

BM: So legal within the guidelines that are in there.

WP: That’s right. And don’t forget I emphasise the word rare. That’s not what’s happening now as you well know. The Greens’ want to open, uh, no rules at all. The Greens are not just saying we want to make abortions legal, as you well know they are now. They want total removal of all restrictions on this issue.

BM: So you’ll oppose the decriminalisation. What about in terms of, for example, gender selection, Down syndrome, where there’s abnormalities, I mean, the Greens’ policy suggests that right up to 40 weeks, a child with abnormalities-

WP: But we’re ah- let me tell you about this year. The Greens have never been in political power since they began in the name and the shape of the title of the Values Party in 1972. They’ve been around a long time and have never made it and I don’t want to be on the stage, wasting my time talking about a party that’s never made it.

BM: Can we go back to that-

WP: Well, this interview is about a party that has made it. And it’s gonna make it big time in 2014.

BM: So the Greens- ah, well there’s another party that reckons that a child at 19 weeks is entitled to be aborted but at 20 weeks you shouldn’t abort it. When do you, for your personally, when do you think life begins? When does an unborn child have a right to life, at what point in their life?

WP: Well speaking biologically, life begins from the very start.

BM: Conception?

WP: Yes. Well isn’t it curious, it was the royal family and the day we all knew, as members of the Commonwealth, we began, we’d think “There is a baby. It’s gonna be an heir to the throne”. Right? Now look at that concept, as opposed to what people say in other circumstances. So my answer is, from the beginning.

So that’s that. Remember, we encourage members to go along to candidate forums or local meetings and ask candidates where each stands on abortion. You can send through your intel to so we can begin to profile candidates and their views. Or if you would like to feature a candidate and write up their position for the blog, please send that through to us for posting.