David Seymour thinks National leader Judith Collins would be a "better manager" than Labour leader Jacinda Ardern, but he insists ACT has the best ideas.
Seymour is banking on National and ACT gaining enough votes to form a Government together, and Collins has not ruled out making him Deputy Prime Minister under that scenario.
But Seymour is not shying away from telling voters to back ACT over National, telling reporters that while he thinks Collins would make a better Prime Minister than Ardern, National needs ACT's ideas.
"Fundamentally, the National Party are good day-to-day managers, but where do the ideas come from? Look at charter schools last term, look at Pharmac review this term, look at being Taiwan-smart," he said.
"We're even providing the National Party with slogans saying 'change your future'. The role that ACT plays is we bring the impetus and ideas to a Government and I think they're going to like a lot of them because they make sense."
The latest Newshub-Reid Research poll showed National on 29.6 percent and ACT on 6.3 percent meaning they wouldn't have enough to form a Government, and while ACT rose to 8 percent in a new Colmar Brunton poll, it still wouldn't be enough.
Collins is still optimistic about the prospect of a National-ACT Government because there was still 7 percent of voters undecided in the Colmar-Brunton poll.
She also thinks the general public are confused by the MMP system, where voters get to vote for a candidate and a party.
"I just think that people get very confused on this," she told The AM Show. "We have people who say 'should we give our party vote to help you or give that ACT or New Zealand First or something', and I say 'the only way to help National is to party vote National'."
Collins said she's keen to form a Government with ACT because they agree on things like reforming the Resource Management Act (RMA), which Labour also agrees with.
"My first thing would be with the ACT Party, we'd want to do a deal with them and we would obviously negotiate on things. There are lots of things we agree on, like RMA reform, like freeing up the country from so many regulations that we deal with."
Seymour wants them to work together on developing a different approach to dealing with COVID-19 and avoid future lockdowns.
"The ACT Party says you need to govern for all New Zealanders and all needs and be prepared to balance risks in a measured and intelligent way, working with the private sector, rather than the approach they've taken where if you're glamorous or you're a sailor or a filmmaker or a rugby player you get an exemption," he said.
"If you're trying to get people to work in your horticultural industry from a COVID-free country, you're out of luck, and we've got to start balancing our approach a lot better."
Labour has made some exemptions to the border, such as allowing up to 30 veterinarians, 570 deep sea fishing crew, and 210 agricultural and horticultural operators to enter the country through managed isolation.
Seymour said Collins would manage COVID-19 better than Ardern - but he thinks she would need ACT's support.
"Judith Collins will be a better day-to-day manager than Jacinda Ardern, but without the ideas and the impetus of ACT, I suspect that really the difference would be blue and red, Coke or Pepsi. You've got to get that yellow and pink in there."
Ardern said earlier this week that the prospect of Seymour as Deputy Prime Minister is not an "experiment" she would like to see.
The Labour leader defended her record on COVID-19 in an interview with RNZ on Friday, saying Labour would continue its approach to the virus while a vaccine is developed.
"We would continue with the approach that we've already taken," she said. "In our view, and all of the measures and indicators that matter to us in terms of people's health and wellbeing but also the economy, have demonstrated that that plan of stamping it out every time we have a case - going hard and going early - has really worked for us."
Ardern said there is "good" progress on a vaccine.
"You'll have seen that New Zealand already has purchase arrangements for vaccinations that are set to be delivered in 2021 so at the moment everyone is angling their plans towards that timeframe."
Collins is still pushing the idea that if Labour formed a coalition with the Greens - currently polling on 8 percent - after the election they would introduce the Greens' wealth tax policy, despite Ardern repeatedly ruling it out.
"The Greens have to get something - they got almost nothing last time," Collins said. "They are certainly very keen on it and they've been talking about it. They're the ones who brought it up. It wasn't us who invented it. They brought it up and then continued to talk about it."
Collins was asked on The AM Show if she thought Ardern was lying.
"I think she may well mean that she will not do that but if she's in that negotiating room the Greens... they could say want all these other things instead. If she's not going to give them that, what does she want to give them?"
Tune in on Three and Newshub.co.nz from 7pm on Saturday for Newshub’s Decision 2020 election special.