Winston Peters a non-starter for PM or finance but English and Ardern cagey on other roles




Bill English and Jacinda Ardern have both ruled out making Winston Peters prime minister or finance minister if he's part of the next government.

The latest Reid Research poll has the New Zealand First leader as king or queen maker after September 23, viewers of the Newshub Leaders Debate were told by moderator Paddy Gower tonight.

He asked the National and Labour leaders what they'd say if Mr Peter's price for supporting them is the prime minister's job for a temporary time.

Both Mr English and Ms Ardern answered "no".

Asked their response to making Mr Peters deputy PM, Mr English said: "It depends on the voters."

While Ms Ardern said that one's not off the table, adding "but I'm not saying absolutes here because we do have to negotiate."

Both leaders agreed Mr Peters as finance minister was off the table.

But when it came to making him associate finance minister Mr English's response was "this is not some sort of auction".

That prompted Gower to remind him "it's an election" to which the National leader responded: "I know and guess what elections are about. Elections are about voters deciding who the government is, not the commentators or Winston Peters."

On an associate finance role for Mr Peters, Ms Ardern said: "It is a negotiation. You're asking us to put all our cards on the table now. Ultimately it is what voters give us is what we have to work with."

Gower then quizzed the leaders on what personal attributes they have that their opponent doesn't, that would make Mr Peters more attracted to go with them in a coalition.

"I don't have baggage," was Ms Ardern's short, sharp answer.

Asked the same question about his attributes, Mr English said that's a matter for Winston Peters.

"All I'd say is voters should pick what sort of government they want, not leave it to him. 

"I've known Winston Peters a long time. He knows politics inside out. Whatever situation voters give us you're obliged to make it work so that New Zealand can have stable government," the National leader said.

Quizzed about their stance on Mr Peters' bottom lines, Ms Ardern said Labour has already said no to a referendum he wants on the Maori seats.

Mr English said: "Paddy, I'm not negotiating with you."

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