New Zealand First leader Winston Peters told elderly in Paeroa today that he didn't want to scare them over the international financial crisis -- but they would be first to be hit when things got tough.
Labour and National yesterday launched their election campaigns focusing on the economic situation, with the Government guaranteeing bank deposits and announcing policy to keep people in jobs and training in the face of a likely unemployment increase.
Today the unlikely duo of Mr Peters and Greens co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons spoke to about 150 senior citizens in a chapel hall in the town.
Ms Fitzsimons got a warm reception for her speech on the need to ensure a clean environment and good health and education system for young people.
Mr Peters arrived at the end of her speech but made up for lost time by speaking for more than an hour.
He clearly had a good time joking with his audience in a chatty wide-ranging speech. But the theme he kept returning to was the danger looming for unwary elderly.
"Make no mistakes our seniors are the generation that is now most at risk of being disadvantaged and marginalised," Mr Peters said.
"In `87 after the sharemarket crash who did they come for first?"
Speaking to journalists later, Mr Peters denied he was trying to use the situation to his advantage.
"It's pretty important we alert New Zealanders to this because every time they had an excuse last time they attacked the elderly."
In his speech Mr Peters criticised Labour for taking too long to react -- New Zealand First had wanted the deposit guarantee scheme sooner.
But he saved his worst for National.
"They cut super back to 69 percent (of the average wage), then sold Contact Energy off to foreign shareholders....and they still don't know why they've had their noses pressed against the window of power for the past nine years.
"...If you give them a chance, with their unreformed unchanged policies, you will know what the consequences will be."
The answer, he said, was to invest in Kiwibank, link mortgage interest rates to inflation and...vote for NZ First.
"Buy yourself some insurance."
Ms Fitzsimons was also concerned about the future. But she focused on what sort of opportunities her audience's children and great grandchildren have if climate change was not addressed.
She fielded questions from the floor on methane gas, smacking and dairy prices.
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