Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters has disparaged Paula Bennett's decison to serve as National's Election 2020 chair as "amateur hour".
"What qualifications to run a campaign has she got?" Mr Peters said. "This has got to be amateur hour or can't be true."
Ms Bennett, an MP for almost 14 years and National deputy leader, announced today she would not contest the seat of Upper Harbour and instead go on the party list. She said she wanted to give "100 per cent" as National's campaign chair to Election 2020.
"Paula Bennett... has now decided she doesn’t want to stand for the electorate and is giving the excuse she is needed to organise the National Party’s campaign in 2020," Mr Peters said.
Mr Peters also called Vernon Tava and his soon-to-be launched Sustainability New Zealand Party "a headless chook, albeit being fed organics". National leader Simon Bridges had called the possibility of a 'blue-green' party "a very valuable option for New Zealand".
The Upper Harbour vacancy raises questions of who could take over the candidacy, including the possibility of a coalition party deal.
However, Ms Bennett said the decision of who would take the Upper Harbour candidacy was up for National Party members.
Ms Bennett told 1 NEWS today being campaign chair for National was a "huge job".
"Something's got to go," she said. "I think it was the right reason to step aside from Upper Harbour and let someone else go at it 100 per cent."
Previous National campaign chair Steven Joyce was also a list MP, with Ms Bennett saying she was deputy campaign chair for previous elections.
"It's good for the party, it's good for the seat and it's good for my family," she said.
When asked what strategy National would take going into Election 2020, Ms Bennett said "we will be calling out the Government for their faults and their failures to deliver on everything they've promised".