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NZ First courts the anti-mandate vote

In brief
  • NZ First under Winston Peters emerges as a staunch anti-mandate group and commits to hold a thorough COVID inquiry.
  • Polling showing NZ First could get back into Parliament suggests the so-called Freedom vote is bigger than many realised. 
  • The refusal of other politicians to engage this demographic has opened the door for NZ First to walk through.

NZ First by far the front runner with freedom vote

Tova O’Brien for Stuff writes Winston Peters, leader of NZ First, ”is pulling no punches in his dogged pursuit of the anti-co-governance, anti-woke, anti-mandate, anti-Ardern vote”.

The courtship began in 2022. Peters called for the end of vaccine mandates and visited the protesters’ camp in Wellington. That move resulted in then-Speaker Trevor Mallard trespassing Peters from the Beehive (a suspect move that was later overturned). 

At the time, Peters denied he was trying to capitalise on the budding “Freedom Movement” for political gain. 

“I’m just trying to legitimise a thing called freedom and honesty,” he said.

NZ First courts the anti-mandate vote - Centrist
Winnie is winning support from the anti vaxx and anti mandate vote. Image by US Embassy

Since then, NZ First polling above the critical 5% threshold has solidified the narrative that “disenfranchised voters marginalised by vaccines and mandates” are rallying behind the party. 

Peters success thus far caused The Post to admit:

“The anti-vax and anti-mandate movement has always been bigger than the establishment, including those of us in the media, previously realised or acknowledged.”

Concerns over the safety and efficacy of vaccines

Peters has hinted at questions of vaccine safety and efficacy, telling supporters at a Dunedin rally “Look at the number of people that died. The unusual death rates post COVID of so many populations. I want to see what the explanation for that is.”

Speaking to Liz Gunn on FreeNZ Media, Peters says he was “triple-vaxxed”, but he accused then-Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her team of concealing potential fatal vaccine side effects.

NZ First wants a FULL inquiry into the COVID response, including an examination of the effectiveness mandated vaccines, how they were purchased, the effectiveness of lockdowns and other key issues ignored by Labour’s currently planned inquiry

Another example perhaps could be the Government’s aggressive control of the airwaves, silencing contrary voices. And did they tell the other parties about Medsafe’s reservations?

Some may think the parties that went along with the mandates would want to avoid such enquiry.  But maybe it would show they were being kept in the dark and that some of the steps undertaken had an ulterior motive along the lines of “never let a crisis go to waste”.

How does NZ First fit with the right leaning parties? 

Peters has categorically ruled out working with the Labour government and that is easy to believe if you examine the underlying reasons. Meanwhile, ACT Party leader David Seymour has firmly stated his refusal to form a coalition with NZ First, where Winston is at the cabinet table. Chris Luxon, National’s party leader, has stayed mum.

Tracey Watkins of The Post says that neither ACT nor National “would want the nightmare of having the oxygen sucked out of their first days in power answering questions about the extreme fringes of Peters’ party”.

Perhaps those concerns are misplaced. Reasonable concerns over vaccines and lockdowns have been conflated with the lunatic fringe through sloppy and disingenuous mainstream journalism.

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