Jacinda Ardern's 'driving the car' - Winston Peters

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters says Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is "driving the car" in the coalition Government.

It comes after a week of speculation over whether Mr Peters is wielding disproportionate power.

Mr Peters was appearing on RNZ when he was asked who is "driving the car", a reference to a speech made by Ms Ardern on Sunday, in which the Government's "12 priorities" were laid out.

In her speech, Ms Ardern likened previous coalitions' governing style to being on a road trip without knowing where you're going.

"Now, I can tell you, as the person driving that car, that wasn't enough for me," Ms Ardern said.

Mr Peters said Ms Ardern is doing a "superb job".

"Of course she's driving the car. There's only one captain on a boat," he said, either dabbling in the poetic tool of the mixed metaphor or likening the coalition Government to an amphibious car.

Asked where in the vehicle he is sitting, the Deputy Prime Minister wouldn't answer.

But New Zealanders will want to know whether Mr Peters' hand is hovering above the handbrake.

To recap, last week:

1. Mr Peters refused to answer questions referring to the Government as "Labour-led"


During Question Time on Thursday, Paula Bennett repeatedly asked Mr Peters questions about "Labour-led Government" legislation. It was an attempt to frustrate Mr Peters, and he took the bait, twice using his answer to explain his issue with the words "Labour-led", instead of answering the question. Labour's ministers didn't have quite the same issue with the phrase.

One eagle-eyed press gallery reporter has spotted a slight change in wording on the front page of Labour's website. Where it once read "Labour-led Government", it now reads "coalition Government".

The change happened some time between April and June.

2. Mr Peters described legislation signed off by him in Cabinet as "a work in progress"


Mr Peters reportedly took issue with the Employment Relations Amendment Act, stalling its passage into law. It's legislation NZ First Cabinet ministers have signed off, but this week Mr Peters dialled back his support to calling it "a work in progress".

Asked by RNZ host Kim Hill whether he undercut Labour on industrial relations, Mr Peters was terse.

"Excuse me. I'm not going to be talked over, with the greatest respect. I've been around for too long. I know a bit more about coalitions than you do. Let me tell you..."

"Well, your last one didn't go too well, did it? So how much do you really know?" Ms Hill interrupted.

"It went very well under Helen Clark and it went very well under [Jim] Bolger," Mr Peters insisted.

3. Mr Peters reportedly stalled progression of Kelvin Davis' Maori Relations portfolio


Again, Mr Peters described the portfolio as a "work in progress". Some media reported the portfolio was due to be signed off and announced on Monday, but it failed to get support from NZ First.

That comes after public disagreement over the refugee quota increase and three-strikes legislation.

Ms Ardern's speech on Sunday attempted to lay out the Government's agenda. It has been criticised for rehashing the contents of the existing documents - particularly November's Speech from the Throne.

National leader Simon Bridges described the speech as a "Kumbaya stage session" on The AM Show on Monday morning.

"Jacinda Ardern knows New Zealanders are coming to the conclusion that she's not running the show. He has the presidential veto on everything. I wouldn't let that happen, I can give you that assurance," Mr Bridges said.

But Mr Peters said the coalition Government is balanced.

"We have the right balance now. We've always had the right balance. We have a coalition agreement. We have, for example, the 100-day plan, we have the Speech from the Throne and we had the Budget 2018."