17 Sep 2018

Winston Peters: 'There's only one captain on a boat'

8:48 am on 17 September 2018

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is doing a "superb job" and is in the driver's seat of the coalition government, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters says.

NZ First Leader Winston Peters

Winston Peters (file). Photo: VNP / Phil Smith

Ms Ardern yesterday set out a coalition blueprint alongside leaders of New Zealand First and the Greens in an event designed to demonstrate unity.

Over the past weeks, there have been open disagreements between New Zealand First and Labour including on the refugee quota and employment law changes.

Mr Peters told Morning Report the right balance had been struck between the interests of New Zealand First and the government.

"We have a coalition agreement, we have for example the 100 day plan, we have the Speech from the Throne, and we had the Budget 2018.

"There are four precise things which are the balance."

Mr Peters said Ms Ardern was at the helm of the coalition government.

"I think she's doing a superb job and I just wish some people in the Press Gallery and the media would stop lecturing her when they know nothing about leadership and she clearly does.

"That's why she's there.

"Of course she's driving the car. There's only one captain on a boat."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern released a plan of what the coalition government will do for the rest of the term and potentially into the future. Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

Speaking to media after her speech, Ms Ardern reiterated there would always be a diversity of views.

"Everyone would expect we'd all be one party if we all agreed 100 percent of the time; we have different ideas and opinions but ... we make it work."

National Party leader Simon Bridges said the government was in damage control.

"The reality of it is there is simply nothing new in it - it's very high-level platitudes that frankly I could sign up to in their entirety, Mr Bridges told Morning Report.

"Ultimately Jacinda Ardern knows that she needs to have Winston Peters sign off on everything that she does.

"Winston Peters believes he runs the roost."

Employment law

Mr Peters said the new employment law was still going through Parliament, so was not finalised and it was "not the fact" that he had agreed to it in Cabinet.

The Employment Relations Amendment Bill would scrap the 90-day trial period for big businesses, bring back guaranteed rest and meal breaks and prevent employers from being able to opt out of Multi-Employer Collective Agreements at the outset of bargaining.

"This is an industrial relations package which was not part of any coalition agreement," Mr Peters said.

"And so we have worked on it.

"What's difficult about that to understand?

He said it was false to say that Labour had jumped the gun and that New Zealand First had pulled them into line.

SuperGold Card changes

Mr Peters said the government was looking at spending up to $9 million to beef up the SuperGold Card.

In unveiling the coalition blueprint yesterday, Ms Ardern announced improvements would be coming for the card.

Mr Peters told Morning Report the idea was to give access to the latest technology.

He said it would cost between $5 million and $9 million, but the finer details were still being worked out.

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