“The idea that NZ First would step in to protect a media organisation that has been shining a light on the opaque NZ First Foundation raises serious questions”, according to ACT Leader David Seymour.

“The timing of Winston Peters’ détente with the media is deeply suspicious. Peters has a history of bad blood with journalists and has come under serious scrutiny from Stuff over the past few weeks.

“Today he called an impromptu press conference in which he acknowledged the importance of the Fourth Estate and suggested NZ First would support an NZME takeover of Stuff going ahead if the latter organisation’s local newspapers were protected.

“Peters performance this morning might have seemed out of character, but let’s consider what has taken place over the past few weeks.

“Stuff has done a superb job of shining a light on the opaque NZ First Foundation. But now it has now gone completely silent on the Foundation and Peters has come out in support of a proposal that could potentially protect Stuff’s regional newspapers.

“Is Winston Peters wielding regulatory power over Stuff? What contact has Peters’ team had with Stuff about its coverage of the NZ First Foundation and NZ First’s support for NZME’s bid?

“Serious questions need to be asked about Peters’ motivation. Why would NZ First seek to protect a media organisation that has spent the past few weeks questioning whether the NZ First Foundation is breaking the law?”