Winston Peters has bet Mike Hosking $100 that New Zealand First will return to Parliament, saying there's a surge in support - "I can feel it out in the streets and I can see it in the malls".
Hosking interviewed Peters, Green Party co-leader James Shaw and Act leader David Seymour during the second of Newstalk ZB's leaders' breakfasts this morning.
First up was Peters, who is fighting for his party's survival as recent polling put NZ First on about 1 per cent.
Peters was asked to rate the Coalition from 1-10, with 10 being best - he gave it an 8. On the Covid response, he gave an 8 as well.
"We went early, we did not go hard enough in the context of getting the military in, using masks...but we still had a seriously, seriously good result...but we should never have had the second break-out, in my view."
NZ was too conservative on moving towards measures like travel bubbles, Peters said. The South Island could have linked up with places like Tasmania and the Cook Islands, for example - something crucial for the economy.
Asked what NZ First had prevented in government, Peters cited the scuppered capital gains tax, and what he said were Labour's plans to "interfere with leases", which he likened to belonging in countries like Venezuela.
He had also been a strong advocate for the Pike River mine re-entry. The Pike River Recovery Agency last week said it was more optimistic that evidence of miners could be found, and Peters said he suspected bodies would be found.
Hosking asked about NZ First's low polling. Peters said it didn't match what he was experiencing.
"We have got a surge going on at the moment for New Zealand First - I can feel it out in the streets and I can see it in the malls."
Hosking met that statement with laughter, and bet him $100 his party wouldn't get 5 per cent, with the money going to charity. Peters gladly took the wager.
The Greens co-leader was asked what he most wanted to get done during the past three years, that didn't happen.
The capital gains tax, he said. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has ruled that out under her leadership, but Shaw said the Greens had come up with "another version" in the wealth tax proposal.
"It is a different tax...people have got to have a vote first, and so then let's sit down and have that conversation."
Shaw said the most likely outcome of the election was a Labour-Greens coalition, and his party had achieved an enormous amount over the last term, with a personal highlight being the Zero Carbon Act.
The Greens were the party of long-term thinking, he said.
"We are the only party who are going to defy history and be as strong in the subsequent election as they were the one before...a vote for the Green Party is not a wasted vote."
Used to being a one-man show in Parliament, the Act leader is expected to lead a number of largely unknown candidates next term, with recent polling putting Act on 8 per cent (10 MPs).
"We are taking each day as it comes," Seymour said of that position. "If Act can play a role in holding all of them to account out there, that is a real positive."
Hosking asked about Act Party's candidate list, and whether any people set to enter Parliament could be trusted to perform.
Seymour said there was a strong vetting process, and they would be great MPs. The general public didn't yet know some of them, he said, but that was to be expected given they weren't yet MPs: "Nobody knew who Margaret Thatcher was."
Act didn't have bottom lines in any post-election negotiations. Even large parties couldn't guarantee their policy would survive negotiations, he said.
"If you vote for Act, then you are getting a push towards a more aggressive, more Taiwan-esque approach to health...you are getting a more aggressive approach to debt...there are other issues around the RMA, charter schools...firearm laws."
Seymour said he had worked with five National leaders, and they were all good day-to-day managers, and keen to stay in power. Act was different because it pushed new thinking.
"That is Act's role - to bring ideas to the table, to drive change."
What did the last Government do that he was impressed with? Abortion law reform, Seymour said. However, he ruled out any governing agreement with Labour, and insisted a National-Act coalition would happen, "by a whisker".