Winston Peters' super leak 'great gossip' I couldn't use against him - Paula Bennett

When Paula Bennett first heard about Winston Peters' super overpayments, she knew it was "great gossip" she couldn't use against him.

"As soon as I heard it, I went, 'Right - this is controversial... but I can't tell a soul,'" she admitted to The AM Show on Friday morning.

In July, Mr Peters received a letter from the Ministry of Social Development saying he'd been overpaid since signing up for the pension in 2010.

He paid it back immediately, but in late August - right in the middle of the election campaign - the details were leaked to the media.

It's still not known where the leak came from. Ministerial Services staff were cleared following an investigation, and both the Ministry of Social Development and Inland Revenue have said there's no evidence their staff were involved.

Mr Peters pointed the finger at National, saying under the 'no surprises' policy, Cabinet ministers including Ms Bennett and Anne Tolley would have been told. Ms Bennett says it wasn't her.

"I didn't give it to anyone else. They've gone through my office and looked and questioned my staff, they've all been honest.

"At the end of the day, do I wish I didn't know? I wish I didn't, but unfortunately I do, so I was honest that I did. I actually could have not said that I knew, to be quite blunt."

Both National and Labour are now waiting on Mr Peters to decide which way the election's going to go. National lost its partners the Māori Party and United Future, so doesn't have enough seats without NZ First or the Greens.

Labour didn't get as many seats as National, but could still form a Government if both the Greens and NZ First sign on.

Perhaps mindful of Mr Peters' animosity towards National following the super leak controversy, Ms Bennett is talking up the possibility of getting the Greens to switch sides and back a fourth-term National Government.

"You've got to say there are definitely some areas they could work on and areas they could make gains on, actually. That's the reality of it."

Paula Bennett and Kelvin Davis on The AM Show.
Paula Bennett and Kelvin Davis on The AM Show. Photo credit: The AM Show

She says her personal relationship with the Greens is "great", because they respect her work on climate change.

"We'd quite like to talk to them... but I don't think they are up for it."

Labour deputy leader Kelvin Davis, also appearing on The AM Show, said his party is giving Mr Peters "the time and space that's needed". Mr Peters says he won't negotiate with anyone until the special votes are in on October 7.

"I haven't spoken to Winston, and to my understanding Jacinda [Ardern, Labour leader] hasn't yet. But you know, we're going to have to wait and see the lay of the land and give Winston the time and the space. The ball's in his court."

Mr Davis puts Labour's chances of forming the next Government at "50-50".

"MMP says that we have a mandate to negotiate. Our goal is to create a stable and durable Labour-led Government."

Ms Bennett said if the tables were turned, and it was Labour on 46, National on 35 and ACT on six, she's not sure Labour would be so keen on the "crazy system" of MMP.

Newshub.

Contact Newshub with your story tips:
news@newshub.co.nz