Key, Little not ruling Winston out as deputy PM

Key, Little not ruling Winston out as deputy PM

Prime Minister John Key and Labour leader Andrew Little are both still open to forming a Government with Winston Peters and New Zealand First despite the latest donation controversy. 

When asked if he trusts Peters, the Mr Key said he's wary.

"I take everything with a grain of salt," he said.

But that doesn't mean he won't work with him if the New Zealand First leader is kingmaker - including as Deputy Prime Minister in a coalition government.

"Probably if we had to but let's see how it all goes," Mr Key said.

Mr Peters had been criticising the leader of the newly-formed People's Party, Roshan Nauhria, for unsuccessfully bidding $20,000 for a breakfast at a National Party fundraiser. 

But Newshub revealed that New Zealand First had also received a donation from Mr Nauhria - who alleges Peters was personally handed the $3000 cheque among others. Mr Peters denies he was given the cheque.  

When asked if he'd trust Mr Peters to be the next deputy Prime Minister, Mr Key dodged it. 

"If you're asking me to go through critiquing everything that Winston says and does, I'm not going to do that," he said. 

It's a markedly different attitude to what he had in 2008 when Peters infamously held up the 'No' sign when he was caught up in the Owen Glenn donation scandal. 

Back then, the Prime Minister said Mr Peters "won't be a minister in any National government I lead".

And in both the 2008 and 2011 elections, Key ruled out a confidence and supply agreement with Mr Peters.

But this time around, the Prime Minister says its "pretty unlikely" that he will rule out working with him in the lead up to next year's election.  

Mr Little said he trusted Mr Peters.

"I've worked with Winston for the best part of a couple of years, he is a man of his word - to me - yes, I do trust him on that," he said.

"Every word he has made with me, he has stuck with."

Asked about Mr Peters as deputy prime minister, Mr Little said: "I'm not making appointments at this stage".

Both leaders are reluctant to criticise Mr Peters - that's because they might need him. 

The latest Newshub-Reid Research poll had National on 45.1 percent, the Labour-Green marriage close behind on 44.2 percent and New Zealand First on 8.1 percent

Neither side would have the numbers to govern without New Zealand First - meaning Winston Peters would once again be kingmaker.