Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Peters' message to Labour: Fix up, look sharp

NZ First leader Winston Peters taking advantage of the shade in a tree while speaking to media at Ratana. Photo / Mark Mitchell
NZ First leader Winston Peters taking advantage of the shade in a tree while speaking to media at Ratana. Photo / Mark Mitchell

NZ First leader Winston Peters has sent a veiled message to Labour to shape up if it hopes to thwart Prime Minister John Key's ambitions of getting a fourth term in Government.

Mr Key told the Herald last week he did intend to seek a fourth term as Prime Minister.

Asked about that ambition at Ratana, Mr Peters would not rule out Key's chances and instead sent a subtle jab Labour's way. "If the Opposition was in any way what it should be, [Key] wouldn't have a hope in Hades."

"That's the real test. Whether the Opposition parties mark up, shape up, keep themselves focused, keep their eyes on what the prize should be rather than their own political and egregious self interest and advantage. If they do that, then the Government wouldn't have a show in its present construction."

However, he said he was not worried about it.

"I wasn't worried in Northland when [Key] said I had no chance, and I'm not worried now." Labour leader Andrew Little had little to say about Mr Key's goal of a fourth term, quipping only that he was looking forward to his first term and expected that to be from 2017.

Mr Key reiterated his stance, saying he would stay as long as the National Party and public wanted him there. He would not go so far as to commit to serving a full term, saying "we'll cross every bridge as we get to it." He denied he was trying to beat Sir Keith Holyoake's 12 year record as Prime Minister from 1960 to 1972. "No, I've got a job to do. I don't think being PM is a longevity test, I think it's about whether you actually make a difference."

He said he had worked hard on grooming potential successors which was the job of a leader. "Nobody is indispensable. Even though every leader I'm sure thinks they are, the truth is if you're no longer in the job somebody will step up and do a good job."

- NZ Herald

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