John Key says it's "very important" that National win the Northland by-election and he isn't going to be distracted by Winston Peters.
The New Zealand First leader has thrown his hat into the ring for the March 28 by-election sparked by the resignation of National MP Mike Sabin. National has nominated assets manager Mark Osborne as its candidate.
The Prime Minister told TVNZ's Breakfast programme this morning that Mr Sabin had been doing a good job before his resignation, saying he helped make improvements to roading, internet services and the creation of more jobs across the region.
"It's not really about Winston Peters, it's about National being able to carry out its mandate," he said.
However, Mr Peters claims that Northland has been become a "forgotten cinderella-ised province" under National and says the by-election is costing $1 million which is more money than has been spent on new roads in Northland in the last six years.
The by-election vote it certainly crucial. If Mr Peters wins Northland, National would lose that seat and Mr Peters would also get to bring in another New Zealand First list MP to fill his current seat.
If that happens, National, with 59 seats, will still able to pass laws, relying on support from either the Maori Party's two MPs, or ACT and United Future which have one seat each.