New Zealand First's chairperson for the Whanganui electorate has labelled the Government's proposed vehicle tax "bloody stupid".
Reginald "Reg" Skipworth, who ran for the west coast electorate in 2017, made the comment on Facebook over the weekend.
"It's a bloody stupid idea. Obviously not wanting to win in 2020," he wrote, using the New Zealand First - Whanganui Electorate Facebook page.
The comment was made on a post by National MP Andrew Falloon which questioned the Government's proposed car tax - unveiled last week - which would add an expense to imported vehicles that don't meet emissions criteria.
Vehicles that emit over 250 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre (CO2/km) would be considered heavy polluters so importing those vehicles would come with a financial penalty.
On the flip side, new imported vehicles that produce zero emissions - like the Hyundai Ioniq - would be eligible for an $8000 discount, while used zero-emission cars would get $2600 off.
Skipworth told Newshub on Monday the comment was based on his own personal beliefs. He said as far as he was aware, New Zealand First did not have an official stance on the policy.
He said the proposed car tax could hurt middle New Zealanders - a nod to the $3000 charge on some vehicles being imported that produce high emissions, such as the Toyota Landcruiser.
He said in the future he would be more careful about social media posts and use his own Facebook page to express his personal views.
The policy, though led by Julie Anne Genter - a Green Party Minister outside of Cabinet - was signed off by Cabinet as a Coalition Government decision.
New Zealand First's four ministers sit inside Cabinet as part of the party's Coalition Agreement with Labour.
A spokesperson for New Zealand First said members, including electorate chairpeople, are entitled to their own personal view, but Skipworth's view doesn't reflect the position of the party.
The Coalition Agreement states that Labour and New Zealand First can "agree to disagree" and that the parties would be "free to express alternative views publicly, and in Parliament".
National leader Simon Bridges has been scathing about the proposed car tax. He told Magic Talk on Monday that it struck him as "nanny state".
"I'm all for EVs [electric vehicles], I've had a couple of them, and I did a lot of positive work in that area [as Transport Minister] - but I can't go along with this," he said.
"We're a country that needs bigger vehicles. If you're a mum with three kids and three car seats, you can't go in a Suzuki Swift."