Winston Peters: 'How many times do you have to have that
repeated to know that those denials are not worth the air
they pass on?' Photo Getty
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters says Judith
Collins' credibility is in tatters and her accusations of lying
about a plot to potentially roll Prime Minister John Key are
Mr Peters has sparked a war of words over his claims that an
"emissary from someone in Judith Collins' camp" approached
him earlier this year to ask if he could work with a
Collins-led National Party after the election.
He suggested it was a plot to roll Mr Key, but it prompted an
angry response from Ms Collins.
"Winston Peters is wrong. I have never approached him nor
have I asked anyone else to approach him," she said.
Mr Key dismissed it as Mr Peters "trying to get himself into
the news" and stood by Ms Collins, though he said he would
"probably" sack her if the claim were true.
Mr Peters called her response "foolish", and said he was
willing to sign an affidavit or even stake his life on the
veracity of his claim.
He said Ms Collins had no credibility left after the Oravida
saga, her attack on journalist Katie Bradford, her dealings
with Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater and her back-pedalling
after wrongly claiming to be cleared by the Privacy
"How many times do you have to have that repeated to know
that those denials are not worth the air they pass on?"
Mr Peters would not be drawn on whether the man who
approached him was political strategist Simon Lusk, who is
one of the central figures of Nicky Hager's book Dirty
"I never give away sources or others associated with it, for
very sound reasons. No one would trust me.
"I've never worked with Simon Lusk. Do I know who he is and
have I met him? Yes, like tens of thousands of New
Zealanders, he's an acquaintance."
Correspondence between Mr Lusk and Mr Slater, published in
Dirty Politics, claims to show a strong preference for Judith
Collins to eventually be party leader.
"That's why I'm keen to have her as leader, our side will
learn to fight properly," one email allegedly from Mr Lusk in
"We need to talk to Crusher about what happens if Winston
gets back in and we end up in power," Mr Lusk allegedly said
in another email in 2011.
Mr Lusk did not respond to requests for comment.
Mr Key said he believed Ms Collins when she said it had not
"I suspect Winston Peters is trying to get himself into the
news. We don't give it any credibility at all."
He said it had not changed National's willingness to work
with Mr Peters if New Zealand First was needed for a
The claims follow polls that show a majority in favour of Ms
Collins' resignation for her part in the Dirty Politics
scandal. Ms Collins has admitted passing on the details of
public servant Simon Pleasants to Mr Slater, whose subsequent
blogposts abused him.