19 Jun 2018

Peters chairs first cabinet in warm-up for PM stint

6:58 am on 19 June 2018

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters is warming up for his stint in the top job, which will formally start when Jacinda Ardern arrives at the hospital to have her baby.

Winston Peters

Winston Peters chaired Cabinet and hosted the weekly post-cabinet media conference for the first time this afternoon on behalf of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern who is awaiting the arrival of her baby. Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

Mr Peters chaired Cabinet and hosted Ms Ardern's weekly post-cabinet media conference for the first time this afternoon.

Last Monday, Jacinda Ardern was advised not to fly anymore and since then has been working from home in Auckland.

It was a calm Mr Peters who strode into the Beehive Theatrette in her place this afternoon to address the media.

"This afternoon, we had the normal cabinet meeting, this was chaired by me as deputy prime minister, as you know the Prime Minister is in Auckland and remains the prime minister until the birth of her child," Mr Peters said.

"In the meantime, I am assisting by carrying out her Wellington-based duties."

Ms Ardern's due date was yesterday, but there is no sign yet of the new arrival, so Mr Peters is still deputy prime minister for now.

So how should this press conference be viewed given he is not yet acting prime minister?

"Well you could say it's a bit of a curtain raiser, couldn't you?"

Mr Peters was asked how he would be told that it was time for him to step up.

"One of the media people rings me and tells me its happening, as they already have and I've told them they're wrong," he laughed. "Or I get a phone call from the prime minister, that's number two.

"Number three is a text, number four my chief of staff tells me or number five her chief of staff tells me - maybe there's 10 variations, but I'm giving you five, is that adequate for you."

Mr Peters told media he had been in touch with the prime minister today.

"I've had two phones calls with her today, and was she happy? Yes, she was thank you very much."

Mr Peters will be standing in for the prime minister in her regular media rounds tomorrow morning, and will be answering questions on her behalf in Parliament for the rest of the week.

But as to when he gets to fully take over the job - well, that's a waiting game for everyone.

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