Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has refused to say whether or not she has confidence that Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters has been acting within the law at all times.
National Leader Simon Bridges in the House today repeatedly asked Ardern if she had confidence that her Deputy Prime Minister – Peters – was acting within the law at all times.
Ardern would not directly answer that question.
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Instead, she said was only going to reply to questions that she, as the Prime Minister, had responsibility for.
This comes as both Ardern and Peters continue to face pressure over the New Zealand First Foundation and allegations regarding the transparency of donations.
Peters remains adamant he and New Zealand First are in clear, telling reporters this afternoon any notion of wrongdoing was "fake news".
But ACT MP David Seymour says Peters needed to step down as Deputy Prime Minister while an investigation is conducted.
"This stinks to high heaven; if it was anyone else, he [Peters] would be the one attacking them."
But much of the drama from this ongoing saga came in question time this afternoon.
Under Parliament's rules, Ministers are only allowed to answer questions directly related to areas they're responsible for.
Bridges pressed Ardern a number of times, asking: "If she has confidence that the Deputy Prime Minister has been acting within the law at all times?"
Ardern replied: "The member [Bridges] has been asking questions more broadly around issues of electoral law – as I say I'm not the arbiter of that."
She said it would be an "indictment on our democracy to have any other political party ever inquire into other political parties" and argued that she did not have responsibility for National's compliance, or noncompliance, with electoral laws.
"Nor do I have responsibility for any other political parties beyond my own," Ardern said.
When pressed again, she doubled down.
"It would be wrong to have me, as the leader of a political party inquire into the practices of any other political party," she told the House.
But she did say she has confidence in the Deputy Prime Minister.
Ardern said it was up to the Electoral Commission to look into issues such as these, which it is currently doing.
Peters has welcomed this, and has promised to work with the Commission.
"A whole lot of people are making fake news, false allegations and we will prove that to you and the hundreds of thousands of voters out there," he told reporters this afternoon.
Speaking to Newstalk ZB this morning, he said the NZ First Foundation was set up to represent and advocate "democratic institutions in this country".
He insisted that it did not fund New Zealand First in any way.
"The fact is, it is not illegal. It is not an organisation doing what they [opponents] claim they are doing. There is nothing secret about it – that's why it's known as the New Zealand First Foundation."