New Zealand’s acting PM calls MP ‘fatty’ in parliament

Winston Peters labelled ‘childish’ for ‘body-shaming’ opposition leader during question time

Winston Peters
Winston Peters pictured in the New Zealand parliament in August 2017
(Image credit: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

New Zealand’s acting prime minister has been censured for “fat-shaming” an MP during a parliamentary debate.

Foreign affairs minister Winston Peters, who has been filling in for Jacinda Ardern during her maternity leave, made the comments in his final day in the top job, ensuring his six-week tenure ended with a bang.

During a heated exchange over a government inquiry, the Speaker of the House asked National Party leader Gerry Brownlee to apologise for heckling fellow MPs.

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As Peters then rose to speak, microphones caught him quipping: “Yeah, throw fatty out.”

The remark was not directed at anyone by name, although the preceding dialogue suggests that Brownlee “was likely the intended target”, Newshub reports.

MPs did not appear to notice the remark amid the hubbub, and the debate continued. However, after the comment was picked up by the media, Brownlee got the chance to strike back at Peters.

“It's refreshing that a man of 72 can still be childish,” he told national broadcaster 1 News. “But it's sad that he is so particularly thin skinned himself.”

Peters, leader of the populist New Zealand First party, which governs in coalition with Ardern’s left-wing Labour party, is well-known for his outspoken comments on everything from immigrants to the media.

During the same session, he mocked leader of the opposition Simon Bridges, who is well known for his broad Kiwi accent, claiming not to understand his pronunciation of the word “mining”.

Nevertheless, Peters’ colleagues appeared pleased with his performance as a temporary stand-in for the popular Ardern.

“As he left the Beehive [the building which houses the PM’s office] for the last time with his acting prime minister's hat on, the lift well was filled with well wishers, led by Labour deputy Kelvin Davis, clapping him out the door,” reports.

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