John Key says he is not panicking over the prospect of New Zealand First leader Winston Peters returning to Parliament, but wants to make sure people know what they are voting for on election day.
The National Party leader has said the country could be held to ransom if Mr Peters' party holds the balance of power after Saturday's election. He believes Mr Peters would be an unstable influence on a Labour-led government and could force a second election.[image:3828:half:right]
New Zealand First has said it would not join a government with the National, Labour, the Greens or the Maori Party, but would instead push its policies from the Opposition benches.
Winston Peters says Mr Key is being totally alarmist and is panicking at the prospect he might be making a return to Parliament after the party's steady rise in the polls.
He told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme on Monday the real message John Key wants to give voters is to give enough National enough support for it to govern alone and unquestioned.
"What he's asking for is to govern alone, to do things unquestioned, to get a blank cheque to sell the country's assets out as he pleases. And that sort of behaviour is antiquated, out of date and it's not what New Zealanders want in 2011."
Mr Key says he is not concerned at the prospect of New Zealand First back in Parliament - he just wants to make it clear that a vote for Winston Peters is a vote for a Labour-led government.[image:3839:half:right]
"We want strong and stable government over the next three years. We think that's what's really important to New Zealand."
Support for New Zealand First is rising. On Friday, the Herald-Digipoll placed the party on 4.9%, just short of the 5% it needs to get into Parliament.
However, Mr Key says he does not think anyone seriously believes that Winston Peters would sit on the cross-benches.
"Mr Peters isn't saying that he is going to provide confidence and supply to any government past their budget. He's saying issue by issue, budget by budget, he'll decide whether we're going back to the polls or not - well, that's not a recipe for stable government."
Greens co-leader Russel Norman says his party shares Mr Key's concerns about political instability and New Zealand First.
"The position Winston Peters seems to be taking seems to be extremely unclear, pretty incoherent - and that's not the Green Party's approach. We think you need to be upfront from the beginning."
Winston Peters says he has no doubt that the week ahead will be "a total bombardment and onslaught". He says Mr Key's words are misrepresentation and fiction, but he and New Zealand First will not be put off by it.
Goff says National leader scaremongering
Labour Party leader Phil Goff says John Key is scaremongering with his comments about Winston Peters.
When asked about the prospect of a Labour-led coalition being a multi-headed hydra, Mr Goff pointed to his party's history.[image:3840:half:right]
"Labour's been very successful in the past in running coalition governments providing stable government for New Zealand and doing the right thing for New Zealanders. Mr Key might need to sort out his own problems with his coalition partners."
Mr Goff says under the MMP voting system, the obligation on every party leader is to try to establish a stable Government for the country. He won't say whether he trusts Mr Peters, but believes John Key should start talking about the real issues.
"Well, he spent all of last week talking about John Banks and Don Brash, and all of this week apparently about Winston Peters.
"I want John Key to talk about the issues - why we shouldn't sell the (state) assets, why New Zealanders deserve a break against the rising cost of living, why we've got to get young New Zealanders off the dole and back into work."
Mr Goff says it is up to the people decide who is in Parliament, and Labour will work with whoever is ready to work responsibly to create a stable government.