National Party leader Simon Bridges repeated loud and clear today that he can't trust New Zealand First and that, no matter the result of this September's election, he won't work with the former partner party no matter what.
National negotiated with NZ First after the 2017 election. However, party leader Winston Peters instead went into a coalition agreement with Labour to make the current Government.
Mr Bridges pledged Sunday he wouldn't work with them, and today talked to TVNZ1's Breakfast host John Campbell about why.
"Ultimately, John, it was a simple decision," he said. "It didn't actually take a lot.
"I can't trust New Zealand First and don't think New Zealanders can either, and I want to end the charade we've had in the past and I think we will have again if New Zealand First is there.
"I'm really telling you after the election National wont work with New Zealand First, full stop.
"If Winston Peters calls I won't answer and I certainly won't be calling. If they have the balance of power, that still remains the position."
Mr Bridges said he wanted to make it clear who voters were voting for.
"I wanted to give New Zealanders a sense of certainty and choice up front. I want people to understand there's a very clear divide in choice here between National on one side and between Labour, Greens and New Zealand First on the other."
Later in today's interview, Campbell questioned the party leader about the Serious Fraud Office's recent charges over political donations.
There are name suppressions in place for those facing charges, but in a media release last week the SFO said it "filed criminal charges today against four people in relation to donations paid into a National Party electorate bank account".
Former National MP, now independent MP Jami-Lee Ross took a complaint against Mr Bridges to police over a $100,000 donation in October 2018, then in March last year the electoral donation complaint lodged by Mr Ross was referred to the Serious Fraud Office.
"No member of Parliament in the National Party has been charged or involved in this and no staff, no one associated in any way with the National Party, and actually that's as I always said it was," Mr Bridges told Campbell today.
Campbell said Mr Bridges was at a distinct advantage saying that since the names of those charged cannot be published.
But Mr Bridges said, "in reality I do not know" who has been charged.
"But ...we asked the SFO and we were very particular with them - there is no National MP, there is no staffer, there is no one who is currently in any shape or form associated with the National Party that has charges against them."
When asked how it would reflect on the party, though, he said, "it won't and it doesn't".
"You may want that to be the case, John, but it just won't."
The four defendants are scheduled to appear in the Auckland District Court on February 25.