Prime Minister John Key has done nothing except bring up the idea of a national cycleway, ACT leader Rodney Hide told guests at a party fundraiser.
Mr Hide made the comments in Christchurch yesterday to ACT supporter Roger Beattie, property millionaire Martin Coffey and other guests at his table during a $45-a-head breakfast function.
Not aware that a reporter was also at the table, Mr Hide, whose party is a support partner in the National-led Government, said Mr Key "doesn't do anything" and was highly regarded, while "ACT did everything and we are hated".
All Mr Key had done was the cycleway, Mr Hide said. "It's amazing."
He told the table guests before his formal speech that a person could get a "s...load" done in government as long as "you set the agenda" and have a clear direction.
He had been amazed at how much he was able to achieve in the Cabinet because "you turn up with your papers" and "they are too busy with their own stuff; they're not bothered".
Mr Hide is a minister outside the Cabinet and does not regularly attend Cabinet meetings.
His ability to make progress on the Auckland super-city plan had been an example of his achievements, he said, and he talked about getting rid of 700 bureaucrats and saving $66 million. "You're thinking, s..."
Asked after the breakfast if he would like to expand on his comments on Mr Key, Mr Hide said he made the comments off the record, thought he was among "friends" and did not know a reporter was at the table.
Reporting the comments would be unethical, he said.
When Mr Key's spokeswoman, Lesley Hamilton, was approached after the breakfast, she said Mr Hide had already reported the comments to Mr Key. Her emailed response was: "It was obviously a bit of light-hearted political banter that took place at an ACT function. Mr Hide subsequently got in touch with the prime minister's office and spoke to the PM, who was relaxed about it."
The breakfast prompted controversy last month when some local body politicians invited to the event accused Mr Hide of using his ministerial position to raise money for his party.
The issue was sidestepped yesterday when the organisers donated $200 of the proceeds to St John Ambulance. About 30 people were at the event.
In his speech to yesterday's function, Mr Hide said "you could not get a better guy to work with" than Mr Key, who had made it clear he wanted all his ministers to have a good relationship with ACT.
"He has been absolutely true to his word."
QUICKSTEP ON PERK
ACT leader Rodney Hide is backing away from a vow to continue taking his partner on overseas trips paid for by the taxpayer.
Mr Hide, who made his name early in his career as a perk-buster, has said the 90 per cent subsidy on international travel for MPs who came to Parliament before 1999 and their spouses is wrong. But he has come under attack for taking advantage of the perk to take girlfriend Louise Crome on a super-city fact-finding trip to London and the United States.
In all he claimed $25,000 for Ms Crome's travel in the three months to September.
After earlier saying he would continue to take advantage of the system, because the allowance was effectively deducted from his salary, he softened his stance yesterday. "I will not rule out ever using my MP's travel allowance to travel with my partner. But I recognise it is important this facility is used sparingly," he said.
His spokeswoman said Mr Hide had reconsidered his position after receiving "feedback".
with VERNON SMALL
- © Fairfax NZ News
How important is NZ's anti-nuclear policy to you?Related story: It's all good, just don't mention the nukes