Northland by-election: Winston Peters to resign as list MP

WINSTON PETERS: The NZ First leader convincingly wrestled National's strong hold off the Northland electorate by more ...
Hannah Peters/Getty Images

WINSTON PETERS: The NZ First leader convincingly wrestled National's strong hold off the Northland electorate by more than 4000 votes

Northland's new MP Winston Peters has confirmed he will resign from the NZ First list meaning his party will now gain an extra MP.

The change in the makeup of Parliament will make it harder for the Government to govern.

The NZ First leader, who convincingly wrested the northern stronghold from National by more than 4000 votes, told Radio NZ's Morning Report that there was never a question that he would resign as a list MP.

"Of course I'll resign, I don't know why it was ever a material question," he said.

Under MMP rules, Peters resigning as a list MP means the next candidate on NZ First's list can enter Parliament.

NZ First will therefore continue to have the 11 list MPs it was entitled to because of its party vote at the 2014 election, plus Peters as a 12th - electorate only - MP.

The shuffling of the numbers follows the weekend by-election forced by the shock resignation of Northland's former National MP Mike Sabin.

Peters said things would become difficult for UnitedFuture leader Peter Dunne - a support partner of the Government.

"He is in their pocket," he told Morning Report..

"If he doesn't like it he's gone."

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Peters said he didn't owe Labour anything for the way the votes unfolded on Saturday because no deal had ever been signed.

"I had no discussions with Labour . . . I'm not beholden to anybody," he said.

Labour effectively removed themselves from the race in Northland and threw their support behind Peters when polls revealed it was a tight two-horse race between the NZ First leader and National's candidate, Mark Osborne.

Peters told 3News that his standing in the Far North was always about stopping the "mistreatment of the Northland voter and Northland people". 

Central government had ignored the "ordinary people" of Northland - "when I say ordinary . . . it's because they're the ones out there doing what this country requires".

"That is exporting and bringing wealth back to this country, and yet so many of their priorities and needs are just sidelined," he said.

There was no chance of National backing down on promises made in the lead-up to the election - including replacing 10 one-way bridges at a cost of $70 million.

"They're going to be required to honour those bribes and they're not going to get off the hook here," he said.

"I'm going to make sure there's a sentry on guard here watching every hour, every minute of every darn day when it comes to politics, to see that they perform and fulfil their promises."

KEY BACKS OSBORNE

Prime Minister John Key still backs National's candidate, Mark Osborne, to win in Northland in 2017 .

"If he wants to run, and that's a personal decision, but if he wants to run and it's a normal general election he'd have a very good chance of winning," Key told TVNZ's Breakfast.

While National "bled a little bit of support to Winston Peters" it wasn't as much as people probably thought, he said.

"Peters is actually popular up north," Key said.

"He polled 7 per cent around the country in the 2014 general election and 13 per cent in Northland".

Key said if Peters ran in the Far North in the 2014 general election he possibly would have won it.

"Two things didn't help us. One is Winston Peters has 40 years of name-recognition, [and] Mark Osborne had 40 hours of name-recognition."

"We ran the biggest ground game that we could - we threw a lot of effort at it."

'HURT' BY SELECTION PROCESS

Osborne said the process of selecting a candidate for the electorate was time-consuming and "hurt" his chances.

"We've got a very democratic process of selecting a candidate which meant we were two or three weeks behind everyone else getting out there," Osborne told Radio NZ.

"I think that hurt a little bit - we didn't get the profile out there and get out around the traps."

The by-election had proved to be a "perfect storm" given there had to be an election in the first place and then Peters threw his name in the hat.

On top of that all the other parties threw their support behind Peters, he said.

"It was a difficult challenge for sure."

Osborne wasn't ruling out a return to politics in the future.

"If the opportunity arises again for me to be involved in some way, be it as the candidate or be it on the executive, then I certainly will put my name forward."

 - Stuff

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