New Zealand First leader Winston Peters challenged Prime Minister John Key to be "a real bloke'' and allow the release of Mr Key's conversation with Act's Epsom candidate John Banks rumoured to include a discussion about rolling Act leader Don Brash.
Mr Peters put in a strong performance at tonight's TVNZ minor parties leaders' debate which also featured Dr Brash, Mana Party leader Hone Harawira, United Future leader Peter Dunne and Green Party co-leader Russel Norman.
Asked about the so-called tea cup tapes, Mr Peters said they should be made public.
"They're in the public interest and they were gained in a legal context where it was a total PR stunt that's the price you pay for fooling around with the public and fooling around with democracy''.
Mr Peters said the tapes contained evidence "which says the party that dumped the last Act leader is looking to dump the present Act leader and in doing so they've also dumped down on all the people''.
He said Mr Key today "lost his rag in front of the people of this country and he's spat the dummy in front of the people who've loved him, mainly the media''.
"I think that a leader who has got grit and courage should never do that.
"Above all if he's going to be a bloke that has a beer with the boys and drinks out of the bottle how about being a real bloke and come clean.''
Dr Brash said he didn't care about the content of the recording and had spoken to Mr Banks about them several times.
"He's assured me that we're going into this election together and that I'm the leader.''
He said he would "absolutely'' serve out a three-year term if he made into Parliament and later told reporters he hoped to contest the 2014 election as well.
Mr Harawira also turned in a strong performance, finding considerable ground with his former Maori Party colleague Tariana Turia as the pair championed the rights and welfare of Maori and the poor.
Facing questions on the economy and the prospect of another global financial crisis Mr Harawira got the first round of applause from the studio audience when he said he would be out in the streets if any Government responded to a global recession by cutting benefits. The poor were "bleeding'' already he said.
- APNZBy Adam Bennett Email Adam