Peters poster used to oppose MMP

POSTER BOY: Winston Peters in the Vote for Change campaign poster.
POSTER BOY: Winston Peters in the Vote for Change campaign poster.

NZ First leader Winston Peters has become a reluctant poster boy for the anti-MMP Vote for Change campaign.

Voters will be asked whether or not they want to retain the MMP electoral system in a referendum being held in conjunction with next month's election.

This week Vote for Change will erect billboards featuring a photograph of Mr Peters and asking: "Trust Winston to chose the next PM?" Mr Peters is holding a "No" sign. Vote for Change spokesman Jordan Williams issued a challenge to Mr Peters yesterday to argue the merits of MMP in a live television debate.

Mr Williams then bravely attended the NZ First campaign launch at Auckland's Alexander Park. "Winston Peters represents what is wrong with MMP," he said. "If Winston can reach that 5 per cent, effectively he will pick the next prime minister.

"We think that choice should be in the hands of New Zealanders on election day, not in the hands of Winston Peters after election day in closed-room negotiations."

However, Mr Peters dismissed Vote for Change as the epitome of elitism. "They only have 250 members, it's appalling that they get so much publicity without the plausibility of membership. This is a disgrace in a democracy."

Asked if he would debate with Mr Williams, Mr Peters replied: "You have got to be joking. They desperately need some respectability and I don't intend to give it to them. I'm busy campaigning on behalf of the people. I'm not going to give him any oxygen."

Mr Williams retorted by saying Mr Peters had a vested interest in the outcome of the referendum.

- Fairfax NZ