Winston Peters confused over winter energy payment

Winston Peters.
Winston Peters. Photo credit: AAP

Winston Peters appeared confused on Tuesday morning as to whether or not he'll be receiving the winter energy payment.

Mr Peters said he doesn't know whether or not he'd applied for the payment. That seems to be a misunderstanding about how the payment works - all superannuitants and those on a main benefit will receive the payment automatically.

When asked whether the Government had its messaging clear around who gets the payment and how, given the Acting Prime Minister didn't seem to understand the process, Finance Minister Grant said people will understand how the payment works "when the money ends up in their pockets".

"I can't speak for Mr Peters but information has gone out to those who are eligible for the winter energy payment telling them the way it will be paid into their bank accounts. I'm very confident that as New Zealanders see the money go into their bank accounts they will be very pleased about that."

But Opposition leader Simon Bridges didn't think Mr Peters was confused about the payment at all.

"For him to play cute and pretend he doesn't know what's happening - he'll be getting that money and, as we've seen in other situations he should know about that, and he should be straight up with New Zealand," the National Party leader said on Tuesday morning.

Simon Bridges on his way to a caucus meeting.
Simon Bridges on his way to a caucus meeting. Photo credit: Anna Bracewell-Worrall/Newshub.

As for Mr Peters, his story changed mid-morning, when he insisted the question he had been asked on breakfast radio was whether he'd chosen to opt out of the payment.

But that wasn't what he was asked at all.

Following a few questions about the decision to make the payment universal for superannuitants, Mr Peters was asked on Newstalk ZB, "Are you getting it [the winter energy payment]?"

"Um, I don't know whether I've applied or not," Mr Peters said.

"You don't know whether you've applied?"

"Well, no, I don't."

By 11am, Mr Peters was clearer about the payment, telling reporters you don't have to opt in to receive it.

"You were asked this morning, and you said you don't know whether you had or haven't [opted in]," Newshub's Jenna Lynch told Mr Peters.

"No, I was asked a different question - I was asked the reverse: Have you had an application not to get it?" Mr Peters said.

Newshub has listened back to the full interview on ZB, and Mr Peters was not asked whether he had opted out of the payment.

Mr Peters did say, however, that he would feel that he could afford to "put the heater on" with the payment.

"I am gainfully employed, and I'm well paid, but I still think about putting the heater on because power prices in this country are outrageous," Mr Peters said. 

The winter energy payment will automatically pay single people on a main benefit or superannuation $20.46 a week, and couples or those with children will get $31.82 from 1 July to 29 September 2018. In future years the payment will kick in from 1 May.