Watch: Simon Bridges ridicules Deputy PM Winston Peters for 'sleeping on the job'

National leader Simon Bridges has ridiculed Winston Peters after he was accused of sleeping through a top-level conference in Turkey. 

The Deputy Prime Minister was peppered with questions from Bridges in Parliament on Tuesday as he stood in for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern while she was in China. 

The debacle began when Bridges questioned Peters on whether he thought the Tax Working Group's chairperson, Sir Michael Cullen, should have been paid $1000 a day.

The issue has been raised before, with National questioning the Government's move to extend Sir Michael's contract after the Tax Working Group had released its report in February which recommended a capital gains tax. 

"Given the difficulty of the subject matter and also the composition of that committee of highly trained experts, that's what we'd expect the cost to be," Peters told Bridges.

Peters was then asked if he agreed with Labour MP Willie Jackson, who said recently in Parliament that at $1000-a-day, Sir Michael is "doing us a favour because it's peanuts". 

"Well, compared to what some people get, yes it is," Peters said, adding that Sir Michael has a "serious record of being a fine public servant". 

Bridges then asked Peters if Sir Michael had been paid for "deep contemplation" - a dig at the Deputy Prime Minister when he defended against speculation that he fell asleep during a recent conference in Turkey. 

This image prompted speculation Winston Peters had fallen asleep at a conference in Turkey.
This image prompted speculation Winston Peters had fallen asleep at a conference in Turkey. Photo credit: File

Images and footage taken at an emergency conference of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), showed Peters, who is 73, with his head slumped and eyes closed, prompting suspicion he had fallen asleep. 

Peters defended himself at post-Cabinet last week, saying he was in a state of "deep contemplation" during the conference, and that it was "amazing" to suggest he had nodded off.  

Clapping back at Bridges, Peters used the joke against him, saying: "The Government has received the Cullen report [and] we are in 'deep contemplation' of that - we will be soon announcing our conclusion."

Bridges took another dig at Peters, asking him to "elaborate for me what his deep contemplation looks like", which prompted laughter from other MPs. 

The Deputy Prime Minister then took a serious tone, insisting his trip to Turkey had been successful and that "unless you were there and saw the reaction... you will never know how successful that trip was". 

Peters added: "The reality is, we went to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to ensure that they understood the true facts about the circumstances of Christchurch."

Peters was criticised for not confronting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the conference over playing parts of the Christchurch shooting footage in campaign videos. 

But he said the footage Erdoğan aired in his campaign video after their meeting was different to the original, and that the clip had been shortened and blurred.