The comprehensive list of Winston Peters' bottom lines

OPINION: Winston Peters has made some big, bold policy promises over the years. Many of them are unlikely to be adopted during Government formation negotiations.

However, there are many others that New Zealand First will get across the line, many of which aren't well known.

I've gone through all Mr Peters' policies and identified 25 policy wins he's likely to get.


1. Big cuts to immigration

Winston Peters wants to cut immigration by up to 60,000 people a year.

He wants the annual increase (what's called 'net migration') to be 10,000 - when it is currently running at about 70,000.

Mr Peters also wants regional distribution of immigration, minimum English requirements and a jobs-for-Kiwis-first rule.

LIKELIHOOD: HIGH. Mr Peters won't get the really big cuts he wants, but as one of his main platforms, nothing less than a decent cut to immigration and changes to policy will suffice. Easier to achieve with Labour than National.


2. Ban foreign buyers from housing market

Mr Peters wants laws that only allow New Zealand citizens and permanent residents to buy residential freehold properties.

LIKELIHOOD: HIGH. Labour would agree to this, but National would find it a lot harder, given its opposition to a ban for the last nine years - although it wouldn't go into Opposition over it.


3. Ban foreign buyers of land and farmland

Remember Lochinver Station? Mr Peters led the charge against its near sale to a Chinese company. He's spoken out against many other sales of farmland to foreigners too. His policy "only permits farm sales to those privileged to be, or to become, New Zealanders". It's another non-negotiable.

LIKELIHOOD: MIXED. It wouldn't go down well with farmers, meaning National's unlikely to allow a blanket ban. Labour's much more likely to be open to it.

Winston's bottom lines.
Winston's bottom lines. Photo credit: Newshub.

4. Create a foreign buyers register

Mr Peters wants a comprehensive list of all the land (commercial, residential, rural) in New Zealand that is owned offshore, including details of the owner.

LIKELIHOOD: HIGH. There is already a version that doesn't work - it could easily be improved.


5. Retirement age kept at 65

Only National wants to move this to 67. With Mr Peters involved, this will never happen. He also wants to immigrants to be eligible for the pension only after they've been in New Zealand for 25 years, instead of the current 10.

LIKELIHOOD: HIGH. This is Labour's policy. National have already given this up.


6. Upgrade SuperGold Card

This card is one of Mr Peters' proudest achievements - and he wants to put it on steroids so it includes a built-in debit card, PayWave, Snapper, and AT HOP card. He also wants it to earn points for a new Super loyalty scheme.

Likelihood: HIGH. Both parties can easily agree to getting the ball rolling on this, even though there will be some technical difficulties creating a card that does everything.  


7. Restart payments to the Superannuation Fund

He wants payments into the Super Fund to resume immediately, and for it to be exempt from taxation.

LIKELIHOOD: HIGH. An easy win. Consider it done.


8. Rail link to Northport

This is the top policy concession both Labour and National will have to make in order to get Mr Peters on side, as he's said numerous times (and so has his presumed successor Shane Jones). It will cost $200m to build the link, and another $300m to upgrade the line from Auckland.

Likelihood: MIXED. It's a huge cost, and its benefits are unproven. But because Mr Peters wants it so bad, expect some kind of attempt.


9. Moving Ports of Auckland to Whangarei

Mr Peters has called this his legacy project, and wants it done by 2027. It would be a huge boost for Northland's economy, and it would open up 77 hectares on Auckland's waterfront. But it's not as easy as just legislating it - it will have serious flow-on-effects for almost the entire country.

LIKELIHOOD: LOW. It would cost billions, needs consensus from a whole range of parties and it affects so many different facets of the economy. But Mr Peters wants it - so there is likely to be at least an inquiry into it.

Winston's 25 bottom lines.
Winston's 25 bottom lines. Photo credit: Newshub.

10. Manned re-entry of Pike River Mine

New Zealand First was the first party to make this its policy, following a series of revelations showing the Government's position didn't add up. Mr Peters has said a safe manned re-entry of the access tunnel is a non-negotiable policy.

LIKELIHOOD: HIGH. Labour has this policy too, but National wants to permanently close it - although on the campaign trail Bill English softened to a "if it is safe" position. However, it would change its mind if it meant getting Peters on side.


11. Change Government's banking to KiwiBank

The Government currently banks with Westpac. Mr Peters says that makes no sense at all, given that it's foreign-owned. He wants all Government banking to be moved to KiwiBank.

LIKELIHOOD: HIGH. It would be a bit of a logistical nightmare, but both Labour and National would easily agree to this.


12. Government-owned KiwiSaver fund called KiwiFund

There's no KiwiSaver provider that invests 100 percent of its investments in New Zealand. Mr Peters wants to create one that does, and call it KiwiFund.

LIKELIHOOD: HIGH. While National would disagree with this in principle, it would likely let it slide if it got Peters over the line. Labour would be happy to allow this policy too.


13. Water bottling royalties

The party wants to tax companies which bottle fresh water for export. Those companies currently don't have to pay royalties for water use, just to get a permit. Mr Peters wants a royalty rate introduced, with 25 percent of royalties going to the local council.

LIKELIHOOD: HIGH. Labour wants this. National's open to it. It will happen.


14. No water tax

Mr Peters made this promise to an Irrigation NZ conference in Ashburton before the election.

He said he wouldn't be part of any Government that taxed farmers and other industries for using water.

LIKELIHOOD: HIGH. Only Labour wants a tax on commercial water use. They would back down or defer the policy to appease Mr Peters.


15. Boost police numbers

Mr Peters wants to boost the number of sworn police officers by around 1800 new recruits. He demanded this in 1996, and got it.

LIKELIHOOD: HIGH. National's already promised around 880 new officers, and Labour wants 1000. Both parties would happily agree to 1800 to get him on side.


16. Reserve Bank Act overhaul

This is quite a complex policy that would see the Reserve Bank overhauled. It's inspired by Mr Peters' political hero Lee Kuan Yew, the former Prime Minister of Singapore. Currently, the Reserve Bank controls the official cash rate, and it has a few minor levers that control lending by banks. Mr Peters wants it given more powers so it has more control over banks, currency, financial services, import and export settings, and employment targets. However, there's little detail on how exactly he'd roll this out and what it would look like.

LIKELIHOOD: MIXED. National and Labour would likely agree to some kind of review of the Reserve Bank Act, and would have to take it from there.


17. Regions keep GST from tourism

Mr Peters wants local councils to get a piece of the tax pie for tourism spending in their areas. He says all tourism-spending GST should be given to the councils.

LIKELIHOOD: MIXED. The logistics of this would be hard to implement. Mr Peters says it can be done by 'computerisation'. Labour and National could both buckle to this demand if it came to it, and there will at least be some sort of inquiry into it.


18. $20/h minimum wage + scrap youth wage + scrap secondary tax

Mr Peters wants minimum wage progressively raised to $20/hour by 2021. It would include tax incentives for businesses to ease the pain. It would also include paying all Government workers and contractors the 'living wage' of $20.20/hour. His wage policy would also see youth rates abolished, and secondary tax scrapped.  

LIKELIHOOD: MIXED. Labour wants to raise the minimum wage immediately to $16.50, so would likely agree to a target of $20 by the year 2021. National's unlikely to agree to it, but could come up with some kind of compromise. Labour would most likely agree to scrapping youth wage and secondary tax, National wouldn't.


19. Binding referendum on Māori seats and reducing MPs from 120 to 100

He's promised to hold a binding referendum in the middle of the first Government term on whether the Māori electoral seats should stay, and whether the number of seats in Parliament should be reduced to 100. It initially seemed like a rock-solid demand, but the ousting of the Māori Party has seemed to have softened his stance.

LIKELIHOOD: MIXED. National might agree to this because its policies are to abolish the Māori seats, and have smaller Government. Labour would vehemently oppose the Māori seats referendum.

Winston's bottom lines.
Winston's bottom lines. Photo credit: Newshub.

20. Wool carpets

Mr Peters wants all Government carpet procurement to be sourced from New Zealand woolen carpet manufacturers. It also applies to all other Government procurements: buy NZ-made products first.

LIKELIHOOD: HIGH. This is an easy win for Mr Peters, with both Labour and National unlikely to fight him on this one. It could mean higher costs for Government departments though.


21. MMP reform

Mr Peters supports lowering the 5 percent threshold and getting rid of the "coat-tailing" clause.

This would be a double-whammy that make it easier for NZ First to get back to Parliament and obliterate ACT's deal in Epsom.

All this would require is getting the Electoral Commission's recommendations that were ignored by National introduced to Parliament.

LIKELIHOOD: HIGH. Although scrapping the coat-tailing rule might be harder to bargain for.


22. Racing industry changes

One of Mr Peters' great loves is horses and the odd bet at the races. He's had this portfolio before, and he'll demand particular changes. He might even demand the Racing Minister role too.

LIKELIHOOD: HIGH. It's probably the easiest demand for National and Labour to agree to.


23. Electric cars

He wants all Government vehicles to be zero-emissions by 2025, and he wants the Government to build a national network of EV charging stations. The policy also requests a public inquiry into the future of cars and trucks.

LIKELIHOOD: HIGH. Both parties know that the future is electric, and will happily agree to this, or a variance of this.


24. State-owned pest fur company

An unusual request, but it's one that could get Mr Peters across the line. He wants to create a new state-owned company called 'EcoFur' to export the fur of pests like possums, stoats and ferrets.

LIKELIHOOD: HIGH. Both parties would agree to it if it came down to it.


25. Heavy rail link to Auckland Airport

Mr Peters doesn't want a light rail to the airport; he wants a proper rail link to the existing heavy main trunk rail line that passes through Wiri.

LIKELIHOOD: HIGH. Labour wants light rail, but would easily settle for a heavy rail link. National could agree, although it hadn't planned for airport rail until 2047.


THE CHALLENGES: Things Winston will struggle to get


1. Free-to-air sports broadcasting

In January, Mr Peters told Newshub he promises to make all major sporting events available to watch on free-to-air television channels. His party has tried this with a Private Member's Bill, but it failed at first reading.

LIKELIHOOD: LOW. It's unlikely National or Labour would bow to this demand. Its financial impact on rights holders like SKY and on sporting codes would be huge. It would require significant levels of Government compensation at the very least.


2. Power company buy-back

National partially sold off three state-owned power companies in 2012/13. Mr Peters wants to buy back the privatised 49 percent so they are 100 percent state-owned. It would cost billions.

LIKELIHOOD: LOW. Even though Labour opposed the sale of them, it would unlikely agree to buying them back. It's too costly. National wouldn't allow it either.


HONORABLE MENTIONS: The other wins WinstonPeters might get


  • Railways of National Importance, with electrification (Gisborne line included).
  • Rebuild the Manawatu Gorge road.
  • Speed cameras only allowed at accident hotspots.
  • Remove concurrent sentences for those guilty of rape and for those who commit offences while on parole, on bail, or whilst in custody.
  • Require that upon conviction of a serious crime, non-citizens will be deported to their country of origin.
  • Introduce a criminal 'demerit points' system for offenders.
  • New sentences for 'king-hit' offenders, and looters.
  • Create a Government-owned insurance company called KiwiSure.
  • Scrap Whānau Ora.
  • Restructure Māori Development Ministry.
  • Rearrange the structure of Māori Language Commission.
  • New state agency to acquire and develop land for residential housing development.
  • Re-establish NZ Forestry Service.
  • Increase funding to Women's Refuge.
  • Introduce country of origin labelling.
  • FTA with Russia as a priority.
  • Fund digital literacy for senior citizens.
  • Teach driving at school.
  • Establish a third medical school at Waikato University.
  • Make foreign patients pay to use our public health system.
  • Exit the Emissions Trading Scheme and legislate carbon targets instead.
  • Repeal all race-based provisions in the Resource Management Act.

Lloyd Burr is a political reporter for Newshub.