Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters has taken a swipe at former Australian Prime Minister John Howard over remarks he made at the National Party’s annual conference over the weekend.
Howard called last year’s election result – which gave Peters the balance of power – an “unjust and unfair political result,” calling the MMP system of Government “crook.”
Speaking at his last post-Cabinet press conference as Acting Prime Minister – confirming Jacinda Ardern would resume the Prime Ministership on Thursday – Peters did not take kindly to Howard’s remarks.
“He used to be called honest John – he had a departure from his character when he said that.”
Peters told reporters that New Zealanders don’t get “very enthusiastic” when people from overseas start “telling us how to run our country and our democracy.”
He says MMP is a superior system to the one used in Australia.
“We’re a sovereign nation, to say [the election] was unjust and unfair without being able to particularise and itemise that is rather a lazy and idol comment.”
Despite his comments, Peters says he still has a lot of respect for Howard, saying he has been to the rugby with him and his wife.
“It’s clear to me, with John Howard and John Key, that the National Party’s favourite film is Back To The Future.”
Peters also had a few words of warning for National Party President Peter Goodfellow.
At the weekend conference, Goodfellow said National had “dodged a whisky-swilling, cigarette-smoking, double-breasted and irrational bullet” – a jab at the Acting Prime Minister.
Peters was less than amused.
“One thing that’s not going to happen here, is someone like him thinking he can have a free hit on Winston Peters.”
“He did it the first time at a conference, probably emboldened by the fact that he’s still there.”
Peters says it’s “astonishing” that Goodfellow is still the Party’s President.
When pressed, Peters said: “If he opens his mouth, I’ll tell you why.”
“If he wants to repeat his comment one more time, I’ll tell you why he shouldn’t be the president of the National Party.”
After that, he left the podium and did not answer follow up questions.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday morning, Goodfellow did not appear to be too concerned with Peters' comments.
"I remember working for Winston as a young Nat when he got elected in Hunua, so it's just about having a bit of a thick skin."
Asked if his comments were meant to offend Peters, Goodfellow was evasive saying he "didn't actional mention him."
"I just made a number of comment about the bullet we dodged - I didn't mention his name."