Grant Robertson talks up Mark Richardson's chances of becoming National MP

Grant Robertson has joked TV presenter Mark Richardson might soon be an MP, the way things are going for the National Party.

Richardson, who describes himself as a "raging National Party supporter", was full of praise for the Finance Minister when he appeared on The Project on Thursday night.

Earlier that day Robertson had delivered his fourth Budget, notable for the biggest boost in benefits since the National Government slashed them in 1991, allocating hundreds of millions of dollars to setting up a Maori Health Agency and $344 million for redeveloping our base in Antarctica. 

"Is there something wrong with the fact that here I am, a raging National Party supporter, centre-right, and here you've got a Government that has got the biggest left-leaning mandate that any Government has had for a long time, and I'm going 'oh yeah, that's not too bad,'?' Richardson said on The Project, after an interview with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. 

Richardson, a former international cricketer, said Robertson is a "safe set of hands behind the stumps".

"Here I am, a nasty-fasty, with a cricket ball - which is like tax - and I hurl my tax at Robertson and he just accepts it nicely, comfortably. 

"The problem is somewhere amongst the other fielders, that ball gets lost on its way back to me, and I go, 'Where's my tax gone?'" 

Co-host Jesse Mulligan wasn't impressed.

"I used to think there was a cricket metaphor for all of society's problems, but you've just proved me wrong."

Robertson and Richardson.
Robertson and Richardson. Photo credit: The AM Show/The Project

Both Robertson and Richardson appeared on The AM Show on Friday morning, the latter batting on with his metaphor. 

"The problem is I don't have as much confidence in the three slippers you then pass it onto - mid-off, mid-on, short leg, Willie Jackson who's just mouthing-off under the helmet there. But I like my wicketkeeper."

"Aw, thank you Mark," said Robertson.

The AM Show host Duncan Garner said Richardson's assessment was "not bad", "from a National MP".

"He's not quite a National MP yet," replied Robertson. "But judging by how things are going here, maybe there will be an opening at some point."

National has been struggling in the polls, the most recent from Newshub-Reid Research putting the party on 27 percent. Leader Judith Collins is performing particularly badly, falling behind John Key in the preferred Prime Minister stakes - four-and-a-half years after the popular former leader quit politics altogether. 

In 2018, then-deputy leader Paula Bennett invited Richardson to stand for the party in the upcoming Botany by-election. 

"Oh, look I'll consider it, but at the moment I'm quite comfortable where I am," Richardson said at the time.