It was not the smoothest of starts to Winston Peters' first full week as Acting Prime Minister with a stoush over a late arrival for a television slot and a muddle-up over Government's policy of subsidies for winter warmth.

Peters took over as Acting Prime Minister last Thursday after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern headed off for six weeks' leave with new baby Neve.

He had done most of her chores the week before, dubbing it a "dress rehearsal" but now it was the real thing.

It began by being struck off Newshub's AM Show for being late for the second time in a row.


Newshub had him down for the usual Prime Minister's slot of 6.40am but Peters did not turn up until about 6.45am – just as the show's host Duncan Garner was on air castigating Peters for being unreliable and "not a morning person".

Garner then ruled that in future Peters could have a sleep-in because he would not be invited back.

It turned out to be a cock-up rather than a sleep-in that delayed Peters - Ardern's staff took the blame, saying there had been "a stuff-up" and they had told Peters the interview was at 6.50am. They even presented paperwork to prove it.

This was not clarified until after Peters had castigated reporters over it, insisting he was seven minutes ahead of time "bright-eyed and bushy-tailed" and claiming everyone knew he was supposed to be there by 6.50am, including his driver and press secretary, and telling them not to be "disputatious".

To make Peters' morning worse, he then appeared to muddle the policy around the Government's new "winter warmer" payments for superannuitants despite being one himself.

Asked on Newstalk ZB if he was getting the payments, Peters replied "I don't know whether I've applied or not" - apparently unaware the payments which apply from July 1 are paid automatically unless somebody opts out.

Despite the perfectly clear audio, Peters later denied he was asked that at all, saying he had been asked if he had opted out which had not been the question at all.

It remains unclear whether Peters will or will not opt out – despite his $335,000 salary, his superannuation payments, and the taxpayer footing the power bills for his ministerial house in Wellington Peters insisted the cost of power (and possibly his legal bills) was so high he had to think twice before turning on a heater.


The heater did go on at Question Time when Peters was asked by National leader Simon Bridges about the ever-increasing number of strikes either underway or being threatened by different worker groups.

After some to-ing and fro-ing, there was another game of "Grant Says" again in which Grant Robertson provides handy hints on how Peters might answer a question.

Confronted with questions from National's Simon Bridges, Robertson was seen saying "bus" to Peters and Peters stood and reprised his bus analogy from the day before.

That analogy likened workers to passengers turning up at the bus stop for the bus of pay increases under the Labour-led Government because they knew the bus would turn up. By comparison, none had bothered to do so under National because they knew the bus was not coming.

Bridges had already worked out an effective analogy-queller: "How will the bus turn up at the bus stop when all the drivers are on strike?"

Having been outwitted, all Peters could respond with was that Bridges had come to "a duel of wits" unarmed.