Conservative Party leader Colin Craig may be showing "a bit of brilliance" in his approach and is "a serious proposition" as a Government support partner, Prime Minister John Key says.
In recent weeks Craig has hit the headlines. This is not only because his party could be a coalition partner for National after the 2014 election, but also for his uncertainty over whether the moon landing was real.
Appearing on Newstalk ZB this morning, Key said he did not know Craig at all well, meeting him last several years ago to discuss anti-smacking legislation.
However, Key believed Craig might be playing the media.
"There's either a bit of naivety going on there, or a bit of brilliance going on there," Key said.
"Let's go into the brilliance argument. He's into the Winston Peters style of publicity, so all publicity is good publicity.
"Get on the TV, get on the radio, get everyone talking about you, because let's be honest, we are talking about him and we're not talking about a new mythical leader of ACT, because we don't know who that is."
Key had earlier estimated that about 20 per cent of the population would generally not vote for National or Labour, and would choose from a variety of other parties.
"It could be Colin Craig, because they know him. Name recognition counts for a lot."
If Craig was genuinely naive about issues such as the moon landing "he'll need to learn to deal with the national media, who will spend the next 12 months trying to trap him, bait him, whatever", Key said.
Theories that the moon landing was a hoax, or that airlines were spraying mind-controlling chemicals onto people were "great stuff that 13-year-olds google out of interest", the prime minister said.
However, it would not affect how the Government was run, which was to deal with how the country should be run and how it should create jobs.
"Colin Craig's got a serious proposition there because he's right in the sweet spot of where Winston Peters is."
A stance on smacking legislation was likely to attract some support.
"There's a potential partner there, there's a potential person we might be able to work with" although Craig needed to realised if he was to be a serious candidate he needed to be "engaged" in political issues.
Meanwhile, Key also predicted that ACT could return to Parliament.
"With the right candidate they can potentially get there."
He was at a loss to say who ACT's new leader, or Epsom candidate, should be.
"If I was Rodney [Hide] I wouldn't come back ... I like Rodney an awful lot and I'd work happily with him. It's just that my view is that every person who comes back to Parliament regrets it."
Auckland councillor Cameron Brewer would be "very good but I think he's National to the core".
Key was less complimentary of Right-wing commentator Matthew Hooton, who has been cryptically hinting at a tilt at the leadership of ACT.
"I think he ruled himself out," was all Key would say of Hooton.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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