Barclay 'barely a tap' in the scandal stakes - Bennett

Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett is playing down the significance of the Todd Barclay scandal and says she doesn't think it will get in the way of National's bid for a fourth term.

Mr Barclay isn't seeking re-election in Clutha-Southland after being embroiled in the alleged secret taping of staff in his Gore electorate office.

"As a party we are 81 years old, we've taken some bumps along the way, we've been knocked down and we've always got back up," she told reporters at National's annual conference on Saturday.

"Events of last week weren't a fatal blow - in fact, it was barely a tap."

Ms Bennett said issues such as the Barclay scandal didn't affect Kiwis in their own lives, and what really mattered were the issues they would see the Government focusing on in the election campaign.

The only official mention of Mr Barclay came when the list of retiring MPs was read out by party president Peter Goodfellow.

Some were there to receive their service awards, but Mr Barclay wasn't one of them. However, neither were Sir John Key, Murray McCully, Maurice Williamson or Craig Foss.

Earlier on Saturday, Prime Minister Bill English suggested Mr Barclay might not even have done anything wrong, despite earlier saying it was Mr Barclay who told him about the recordings in the first place.

He then excused his shifting version of events on the fact he's "not a lawyer".