NZ Election 2020: Newshub Nation Powerbrokers debate - the best one-liners, rants and retorts

Four leaders from the minor parties faced off this week in the Newshub Nation Powerbrokers debate.

Marama Davidson from the Greens, Winston Peters from New Zealand First, David Seymour from ACT and John Tamihere from the Māori Party took questions from host Simon Shepherd.

Here are the best one-liners and rants from the debate.

"We combined with Labour to pass 190 pieces of legislation - that's serious cooperation. But we're in a campaign now - surely you understand that we're all campaigning as separate parties? Otherwise, we'd be a one-party state." - Winston Peters on being called "negative" and a handbrake.

"They're the kings, they're the queens and they'll make the change on election day." - Peters on the public, after being asked who'll be in a position to decide the next Government.

"It seems pretty difficult, doesn't it? You look at what they did with charter schools. They say they put children at the centre of everything, then they closed them down and re-opened them the next day with two changes - one, no performance requirements, and two, they had to use union contracts. People who do things like that, it's very difficult to work with them. That shows their priorities - poor brown kids who never get a chance were getting a chance at charter schools, and the Labour Party closed them down and decimated them in order to pay off their union mates. I just can't work with people who do that." - Seymour on whether he could form a Government with Labour. 

"It's not so much about where we're sitting on the bus - it's where the bus is going." - Seymour on whether he'd accept a Deputy Prime Minister role if offered. 

David Seymour.
David Seymour. Photo credit: Newshub Nation

"We're building an enduring Māori political movement that bows to no Pakeha control mechanism." - Tamihere on what price his party would pay to be in power.

"Not to be braggartly, but the parliamentary service actually asked me to write some advice for incoming MPs on managing their team because they thought I was one of the better employers in Parliament." - Seymour on whether he had the experience to run a team, after being alone in Parliament for so long.

"He's a recipient of the house burning down. That's the National house, right? Judith's job is to save the furniture - what she doesn't understand is David's out the back, taking a lot of it out." - Tamihere on why ACT is doing so well in the polls.

"When it's all over and they've lost, they'll all be sharing the furniture on the back bench and doing nothing at all for the country." - Peters, responding to Tamihere.

"Only one country actually gets this thing. They had 12 times fewer deaths per head of population than we did, with no lockdowns. They did that by having really smart rules... by having an epidemic command centre that's multidisciplinary and public and private sector, by using better technology and weighting their approach to risk... those are the sorts of principles that we've brought to the table." - Seymour on Taiwan's successful COVID response.

"Do you mean poach, like a poached egg? Or get them onto our side? Look, I'm very focused on bringing more ACT MPs in, so I haven't thought about that." - Seymour, when asked which MPs from other parties he'd like to poach.

"It might sound strange, but there are many MPs that I seriously do admire. But if you ask about one, this guy was fired with a lie, he got his job back, I always believed he was an honest guy - his name was David Parker." - Peters when asked the same question.

"If you're 18 in New Zealand and go to a high-decile school, you're one of the luckiest humans to live since we climbed down from the trees." - Seymour on New Zealand's education system.

"Here's the problem I've got with Seymour - 'Greed is good.' I understand that at one level. The problem is that people like Seymour led the neoliberal economic revolution." - Tamihere on Seymour's economics.

"In all fairness, I was in kindergarten at the time." - Seymour's response to Tamihere.

John Tamihere.
John Tamihere. Photo credit: Newshub Nation

"You know how he's going to manage [Māori]? Build more prisons." - Tamihere on Seymour again.

"If it's a choice to spend other people's money, then you've actually got to have some restrictions. Here's the thing - there should always be a benefit. Nicole McKee, our number three candidate, her first husband died while she was a month away from having her first child. She went on the DPB, it was there for her and it always should. But the fact is one in 10 New Zealand children are born onto a benefit. It's unacceptable. And it's unacceptable for the kid." - Seymour on his party's policy to control beneficiaries' spending.

"Can we have a short answer from some of these people?" - Peters, getting annoyed at the others.

Marama Davidson.
Marama Davidson. Photo credit: Newshub Nation

"It's got to be the stupidest policy that this Government has, and that's really saying something." - Seymour on the Carbon Zero Act.

"It's my business if I want to have a fag outside, not yours." - Peters on smoking.

"I forgot our wedding anniversary last week. I've been on the couch for a while." - Tamihere on the worst mistake he's made lately. 

"The answer now is extremely difficult - we need, no matter who our ancestors were, a system of the rule of law and property rights. That's the only way you get prosperous and solve the problems we're talking about tonight. But right now, because the Prime Minister decided in a dispute to side with the squatters and undermine legal property rights, it's now extremely difficult to work through. It's possibly the most damaging thing, in the long-term Jacinda Ardern has done." - Seymour on Ihumātao. 

"They're not squatters, they're mana whenua. They're not squatters, they're tangata whenua." - Tamihere on Ihumātao. 

"I just want everyone to know from here to eternity, we're not going anywhere, the tangata whenua. From here to eternity, we will seek justice and righteousness and fairness about our rights to break out of the bottom end, structurally embedded in the bottom end of the land of our ancestors. If the truth of that upsets others, so be it. But it's our truth and we will speak it." - Tamihere on his party's prospects. 

"Paso doble." - Seymour when asked the worst thing he's done lately.

"I watched the paso doble." - Davidson, when asked the same question.