Winston Peters has unleashed on David Seymour after he called for Shane Jones' sacking over conflict of interest allegations.
The Deputy Prime Minister defended his New Zealand First colleague on Tuesday, telling Magic Talk it was "unprofessional" of the ACT Party leader to call on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to fire Mr Jones.
"Look at how unprofessional that is," he said, explaining how Mr Seymour - who has asked the Auditor-General to investigate Mr Jones' role in a funding meeting - should have waited to hear back before calling on the PM to step in.
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Mr Jones, the Regional Economic Minister responsible for the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF), has been criticised for attending a funding meeting for a Northland cultural centre that he had earlier been involved with as a Labour MP.
Despite stepping away from the project, documents show Mr Jones recently sat with Cabinet colleagues where $4.6 million was approved from the PGF for the Manea Footprints of Kupe Cultural Heritage and Education Centre in Opononi.
Mr Seymour said on Monday it was unacceptable the minister declared a conflict of interest and then attended a funding meeting just 11 days before it was announced.
It's also understood Mr Jones was once touted as a possible chair for the project, which could indicate he had a vested interest, and should not have been seen to be influencing it in any way.
Mr Peters said the issue has "become a circus", telling Magic Talk: "At the time that the critical decision was made, and I'm certain of this, no he was not at the meeting."
"As far as I'm concerned, Shane is getting on doing his job rather than sitting on his metropolitan backside the way Seymour does without any regard to the rest of the rich export earning wealth of New Zealand in the provinces."
When asked about it on Tuesday, the Prime Minister said guidance was sought from the Cabinet Office, who said they were "notified of the conflict of interest and that the minister followed their advice in managing that conflict".
National leader Simon Bridges said the situation was "remarkable", telling media on Tuesday: "I've never seen anything like this myself where a minister has declared a conflict and that says something in itself".
"I don't think Shane's someone who would do that lightly... what has happened is he's been in the meeting with ministers, he's been involved in the decision-making, and he signed a written question that he hadn't been involved in the decision-making.
Mr Bridges said he thinks that's "misleading".
"The Prime Minister says there's nothing to see here. I think ultimately it's for Parliament to take a view on whether Shane Jones has misled Parliament."
It's also not the first time Mr Jones has faced controversy around meetings related to the PGF. In November last year, it was revealed he had failed to disclose more than 60 meetings and had to correct 20 answers to questions from National.