The same Families Package that delivered an extra $645 to the pockets of poor, cold, superannuitant Acting PM Winston Peters also delivered National leader Simon Bridges something of a problem.

It is true Peters probably does not need his Winter Warmer payment. But he has insisted he will take it as a matter of principle and to show his support for universality.

So Peters has become one of the poster boys for those benefiting from Labour's package – a combination of Working for Families entitlements, Accommodation Supplement increases, a baby bonus for newborns and cash to help superannuitants and beneficiaries pay their bills.

Because the July 1 start date for the various payments is about the 146th time they have been announced, Labour's sales job for it has been difficult.


It has consisted of Finance Minister Grant Robertson reading out lengthy and effusive epistles in Parliament until even Speaker Trevor Mallard gets bored and orders him to summarise to haiku length.

Nonetheless, Bridges has fallen into the trap that inevitably ensnares all leaders of the Opposition.

National leader Simon Bridges strong in his criticism of NZ First leader Winston Peters suing his own government officials. / Mark Mitchell

That is criticising what the Government has done without yet having anything to pit against it other than last year's dinner – National's more limited package for Working for Families, Accommodation Supplement and tax cuts for all.

So Bridges is bogged down in circuitous logic. He has argued simultaneously that Labour's package is too targeted but not targeted enough while National's would not have been targeted at all except when it was.

He has argued the main aspects of Labour's package provide no benefit to vast swathes of people because it is aimed at low and middle income families.

However, Labour's baby and winter payments are bad because they provide for all comers rather than only those on low incomes who need it.

In the next breath he claims National's tax cuts are good because they were universal rather than targeted at those on low incomes.

The bigger problem for Bridges comes in the next obvious question: will National repeal those two payments?


Thus far, Bridges has stopped short of saying that. This is not due to indecision. National has after all already said it will repeal things such as the regional fuel tax.

The difference is that repealing those payments would be taking money away from people who will by then be taking them for granted. The new treats will be perceived as entitlements.

It is the same dilemma National faced in 2008 over interest free student loans and Working for Families, a scheme it had initially opposed.

As Peters actions show, only a fool would turn down 'free' money.

A bigger fool would try to take it away from them.

So National caved on both interest-free student loans and Working for Families. Now Bridges must come up with a solution to the baby payments and winter payments.

All Bridges can do at this point is say what voters would have had if only Peters had gone with National instead of Labour after the last election.

In that regard, it is fair to point out in monetary terms Peters shortchanged himself in that decision he made.

The effect of National's proposed tax cuts would have seen him a grand total of $1700 better off a year, a combination of tax cuts on his salary and the flow on effect to his superannuation payments ($675 a year).

While all this was being digested, Peters' colleague NZ First MP Mark Patterson had uncovered the real threat to New Zealand's prosperity and set out to eliminate it.

He declared war on a vegetarian burger.

Patterson was first to cry foul upon discovering Air NZ was serving 'Impossible' burgers on international flights.

The burgers are made of plant-based meat substitutes.

Patterson declared this heme-enhanced meal an Enemy of the State, ruling the burgers "pose an existential threat to New Zealand's second biggest export earner." [meat]

He found an ally in National's carnivorous Nathan Guy.

Guy too said Air NZ should be rolling out the fatted lamb for its burgers, not fake meat.

Mike Moore, the champion of the Lamb Burger, will be proud although Patterson and Guy's solution probably would not quite meet the criteria for vegetarians.

Meat substitutes can also work elsewhere in life. Accusing politicians of leghemoglobin-barrel politics does have a condemnatory ring about it.

But Silence of the Textured Vegetable Protein does not sound quite as horrifying as Silence of the Lambs. Fava beans and chianti anyone?