There was a time when the thought of Winston Peters running the country was mostly either amusing or scary.

Amusing because it was never going to happen. Scary because the guy's completely unpredictable.

Now, it's neither amusing nor scary.

It's no longer funny because it's actually happening, thanks to the real PM's maternity leave.


But why is it no longer scary to consider Peters as PM?

A poll out last week showed most New Zealanders now trust him to run the country. Almost one third thought he'd do a good job, more than half thought he'd do just fine and only 11 per cent thought he'd be a shocker.

Compare that to a pre-election poll by the same company which showed more than half of New Zealanders didn't even want him near the more junior Finance Minister or Deputy PM jobs.

So why are we warming to wily old Peters?

It could be one of two reasons. Either the public has realised he's not that crazy. Or, he just seems a lot less crazy than the rest of the lot he's in government with.

You have to admit, Peters hasn't done too bad a job of Deputy PM and Foreign Minister.

For the most part he has been Awol overseas, shaking hands with British counterpart Boris Johnson and actually believing his personal intervention in Trump vs North Korea would prevent World War III. There have been no temper tantrums at radio journalists or "NO" signs. Nothing like that.

The worst Peters has done is to secure a slightly weird tax break for beautiful race horses and occasionally contradict the Prime Minister on major world events like Donald Trump acknowledging Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Beltway stuff.


So, his good behaviour over the past eight months could be why the public's having a bit of a Peters love fest.

Or, it could be because he's about to give us six weeks' reprieve from some crazy carry-on, mostly from the Greens.

It turns out the Greens were responsible for the PM's disgraceful decision to ban future oil and gas exploration. A dump of official documents last week revealed that Greens co-leader James Shaw had written a (heavily redacted) letter to Ardern in February arguing exploration needed to be stopped. It was banned by April.

It's hard to know who deserves the most blame. The Greens for the original idea, or the PM for rushing the idea through without any advice or understanding of how much it would hurt the country.

Either way, it's hard to imagine this kind of nonsense happening on Peters' watch.

There's a good chance few major policy announcements will actually happen anyway for the next wee while. The Budget blew most of the surprises and spare change.

Still, just in case the Greens get any ideas, it's good to know Peters is in charge. He's got no time for the Greens. He didn't even meet with Shaw until days after the coalition deal was finalised. So he probably won't let any of their loopy ideas through for a good six weeks.

Which is welcome, because the Greens are fever-crazy at the moment.

In February it was oil and gas. Last week it was plastic bags and meat. Shaw, the Climate Change Minister, started the week telling us to cut out a meat meal a week to save the planet. Days later, Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage picked up the loony baton and declared she planned to ban all single-use plastic bags by the end of the year. Don't worry, she's cooled her extremely ambitious plans.

Then, Shaw opened consultation on his bill to cut New Zealand's carbon emissions to zero. The documents admit doing that will slow economic growth and probably hurt poorer families most. We'll be clean but poor.

The Greens and their crazy ideas make Peters look decidedly sane. It might be quite nice to have an adult in charge for six weeks.

Heather du Plessis-Allan is on NewstalkZB Wellington, weekday mornings.