Incoming Prime Minister Christopher Luxon has avoided questions on whether he has spoken to Winston Peters after his false tweet about the Christchurch mosque shootings.
Peters was widely criticised earlier this week for falsely claiming then-Prime Minister Dame Jacinda Ardern concealed her office received an email from the shooter before the attack.
Speaking to media on Saturday, Luxon refused to pass judgement on the tweets and wouldn’t reveal whether he has spoken to Peters since they were posted.
Luxon said he “wasn’t a party” to those conversations, adding he wasn’t in Government back in 2019.
“I wasn’t party to that. Obviously, there’s a coronial inquiry going on and I’m actually very interested to see what we can learn from that given 51 people tragically lost their lives… I don’t have any further to say about it,” Luxon said.
He disagreed with suggestions Peters was trying to send a message to him with the tweets.
Peters’ tweet came as an inquest into the 51 lives lost during the mosque shootings is underway in Christchurch. The tweet was criticised by Gamal Fouda, the Imam of the Al Noor Mosque for using the tragedy for a “political game”.
In his Wednesday night tweet, Peters said: “We waited until today to find out, for the first time, that the Prime Minister’s Office received information about the March 15 terrorist attack before the massacre took place.
“Jacinda Ardern should be called to the hearing and asked to explain this appalling lack of transparency to the New Zealand public – let alone to the Deputy Prime Minister and government coalition partner.
“This was a crisis event. To keep this basic information hidden is not only unacceptable it is now clearly indicative of how that office worked. The next question is who else inside Cabinet knew and said nothing?”
However, the tweet has been fact-checked by X’s community notes tool, which added context telling readers Ardern had already publicly confirmed on March 16, 2019, the Prime Minister’s office was sent the manifesto of the Christchurch shooter minutes before the attack.
The Prime Minister’s office released a statement earlier this week calling Peters’ comments “completely inaccurate”.
“Mr Peters should remove the tweet and post a correction,” a spokesperson for Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said.
But Peters has not backed down, releasing a second statement clarifying his first.
“For those political apologists and feckless media, there is an existing transcript of a phone call made by the Prime Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister at the vital time of a crisis when a terrorist had just massacred innocent people.
“Not once were we transparently informed of this information – such as the phone call her office made to the police – despite the obvious expectation and clear opportunity.
“To excuse it because it was known at a ‘public press conference’ the next day, instead of information that should’ve been shared with the Deputy Prime Minister and coalition partner the day before, is as bizarre as it is biased.”