Peters back on the campaign trail

Winston Peters
Winston Peters

Winston Peters looks to be lining up to take on Prime Minister John Key for the Helensville seat at next year's election.

Mr Peters was on the campaign trail today after his 2008 election loss, speaking to about 70 students at the Wellington's Victoria University, urging them to consider signing up as New Zealand First members.

He said he was settled in Auckland and re-affirmed he wouldn't stand for next year's election in his old Tauranga seat, but despite not having come to a party decision on contesting seats, he didn't deny Helensville was a possibility.

The electorate, which Prime Minister John Key has a strong hold on, was an "interesting proposition" and campaigning there would force Mr Key to "turn up and have a debate", he said.

TV3 reported tonight that it had sources confirming Mr Peters was genuinely gearing up to contest the seat.

Mr Key won the seat in 2005 and then again in 2008 with a majority of more than 20,000 and, while unlikely to win, a challenge from Mr Peters would at least cause him some disruptions.

Mr Peters said he would also "love to think about standing in Epsom, but I would never want to have a dual of wits with an unarmed opponent". The seat is held by ACT leader Rodney Hide, who is having a bad week after conflicts with deputy leader Heather Roy came to a head.

Mr Peters was heckled throughout his 50-minute visit by a young ACT Party member and delighted in telling the man why he was rude and misguided.

"I don't want any Heather Roy signs from you guys from the ACT Party," he said.

"I know it used to be the policy of fascism that you'd go along (to addresses) and shout...we're not going to have circa 1920s Mussolini in New Zealand in 2011."

He went on to say the ACT Party's confidence and supply deal with the National Party was "sordid in the extreme".

Asked if he would consider joining a National-ACT coalition if his party got enough votes next year he said; "That's not going to be a possibility at the next election."

Mr Hide's party would "slide apart" following the conflict exposed by the dumping of Mrs Roy and his reluctance to account for it, he predicted.

When it came to the possibility of teaming up with Labour and commenting on issues surrounding the departure of rogue MP Chris Carter, he wasn't so keen to criticise, other than to say those who turned on their party needed to make sure their reasons were justified and valid.

"I think Mr Carter has not answered that question."

Mr Peters gave his party's take on issues from immigration, mining and Whanau Ora to the Emissions Trading Scheme, GST and pig farming.

Students pressed him on specifics and one even asked; "Will you make our trains run on time?"

That sparked a history lesson on Tranz Rail, which has had a rough run since being sold by the National government in 1993, run down and bought back at the end of Labour's recent term.

Mr Peters turned his sights to superannuation in a speech two hours later to Upper Hutt Grey Power members called Standing up for Superannuation.