Newshub political editor Patrick Gower says National and the Greens need to revive hopes in the so-called 'teal deal' in a push to remove Winston Peters' leverage.
The New Zealand First leader is once again occupying the kingmaker/queenmaker role in Parliament, and his choice of which party to join forces with is what will ultimately decide the next Government.
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Gower told The AM Show on Tuesday morning that while the MMP system has tossed up a difficult situation for the Labour-Greens bloc and National, the parties' leaders have ended up pandering to Mr Peters in the hope he'll choose them.
"What we've got here is a very complicated political system that has delivered a complicated result. There's a complicated process and a very, very, very complicated man in the middle of it, controlling it all," he said.
"I want to call out Jacinda Ardern first. She said when she appeared on The AM Show that her and Bill English aren't lapdogs in this process - but they need to cut the crap.
"Winston Peters has total control. He's got them both pinned down on policy. There ain't no deals for either side on anything else - they're all waiting on him. They are his lapdogs."
Gower says one solution to the pandering to Peters is for National leader Bill English to get on a phone call with Greens leader James Shaw about forming a coalition of their own.
"I know there's been all this white noise about the teal deal, but they don't need to do a teal deal - they just need to have a teal phone call," he said.
"I know why it won't happen - Bill English doesn't want to ring James Shaw because he's afraid it'll drive Winston absolutely crazy, because he's scared of him. James Shaw doesn't want to ring Bill English because he knows it'll drive his supporters crazy.
"If they could somehow concoct a way of meeting where they forget about all these crazy things, and get together for New Zealand and remove the leverage from Mr 7 percent."
Gower says any government formed with New Zealand First already looks "poor" and "shambolic".
"He misses deadlines, he says things that won't happen, everyone's got to admit things on The AM Show and then scuttle along to the Beehive," he said.
"What we might have is a perception issue for whoever ends up with Winston Peters.
"The problem with Winston limbo land is nobody knows a way out until he tells us what the way out is."
Gower says while not all Mr Peters' bottom lines will be met in coalition negotiations, he's willing to bet that Ecofur - a state-owned exporter of possum, ferret and weasel fur - will be brought to fruition.