Winston Peters had almost won Alf to his side of the argument about those funny aura handouts.
But he has blown it.
If he had called his partner his ladylove, mistress, paramour, sweetheart or inamorata, fine.
But he didn’t.
He called her his “associate”.
Mrs Grumble has been so taken by this label that she is demanding she similarly be known as Alf’s associate.
They have suggested he is a a hypocrite and reckon his partner has worked for one of the scheme’s biggest providers.
An angry Mr Peters denied claims that his partner, Jan Trotman, worked as a consultant on Whanau Ora for the Waipareira Trust in 2010 and last year and he demanded an apology from Maori co-leader Pita Sharples.
He said his “associate” – Ms Trotman – was contacted by trust chief executive John Tamihere in February 2010 and last February, once to talk to a management team and again to advise on an employment issue.
Mr Peters said none of that work involved Whanau Ora.
Alf had sensed Winston might be on to something, with those disclosures about whanau ora funding being used for family reunions, although he hoped (quietly) to see if he could tap into the fund
to pay for a Grumble family piss-up to strengthen Grumble whānau connections and engagements.
Until he heard if he had got the money, he would remain quiet.
But bugger it.
He isn’t going to stand by while bloody Pita Sharples plays the race card.
Sharples is saying
…the attacks on the scheme to deliver social services to Maori were from “the rednecks of racism”.
In Alf’s case, anyway, he thinks it’s fair to check on the prudence and worthiness of grants for strengthening whanau connections.
He is by no means a redneck of racism. He is simply concerned that taxpayers’ money is being well spent, especially in these times of economic austerity.
Peters, it’s pleasing to see, was not silenced by the Maori Party rebuff.
Yesterday, Mr Peters continued his attack, questioning Prime Minister John Key about the accountability of the scheme and whether money could be tracked after a provider received it. Mr Key said all Government spending was closely watched and accountable to the public.
Whanau Ora Minister Tariana Turia, disappointingly, did not thank Winston for drawing her attention to the prospect of some squandering of money in the fund for which she is ministerially responsible.
She might have said she was grateful for having this drawn to her attention, that she would look into it, and that she would stop it if indeed the money is being spent inappropriately.
But nah. Instead, she said Mr Peters’ attacks were scurrilous.
“We are talking about a person who in his previous time in Parliament took $158,000 worth of taxpayers’ money and never ever paid it back. Mr Peters knows nothing, and he shouldn’t keep guessing.”
This was a reference to NZ First giving $158,000 to charity after the party was found to have unlawfully spent that amount of Parliamentary Services money during the 2005 election campaign.
Other parties had repaid Parliamentary Services.
Yes, it was a shabby business. And Winston will be reminded of it, no doubt, every time he makes accusations of mis-spending.
But two wrongs don’t make a right.
So is Peters on to something or not?
All will be revealed before long.
Mrs Turia said Whanau Ora funding was closely monitored. A review was due to start soon.
Meantime Alf has this bloody problem of Mrs Grumble wanting to be known as his associate.
Introducing her as “my associate” just doesn’t sound right.
On the other hand, the idea of becoming an Associate Minister is no longer as attractive as it once was.
Not now that “associate” has become a synonym for – well, for something unconnected with Beehive business.