Bridges says it's 'quite clear' he'll be National's leader on election day

Author
Jason Walls, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 28 Apr 2020, 3:40PM
Simon Bridges. (Photo / RNZ)
Simon Bridges. (Photo / RNZ)

Bridges says it's 'quite clear' he'll be National's leader on election day

Author
Jason Walls, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 28 Apr 2020, 3:40PM

National Party leader Simon Bridges is batting away questions over his leadership, saying it is "quite clear" that he will be the party's leader come September's election.

Speaking to media this afternoon, Bridges said he was not getting distracted by issues such as caucus leaks and was instead focused on getting New Zealanders back to work.

Yesterday, details of a letter senior MP Dr Nick Smith sent to Bridges – which copied in all 55 National MPs – was leaked to media.

Smith was frustrated that he, the head if the party's policy unit, did not have more involvement in National's new Covid-19 policy team.

Asked about that letter being reported by Newshub – which obtained it through a National Party leak – Bridges said: "That's just the way it goes – we've been here before."

But he would not elaborate much further.

"I'm not going to get distracted from a situation right now where we are in uncharted times."

Bridges did say Smith's letter was raised today during the party's caucus meeting, but "no concerns like that were raised", referring to the leaking of the letter.

He wouldn't go into more detail, saying only that it showed National has "a lot of work going on" when it comes to new policies.

It was a similar story when he was asked about the party's internal polling.

"We don't discuss those matters in public and I don't expect to start now."

Last week, Bridges was heavily criticised for his response to the Government's announcement that the level 4 lockdown had been extended.

A Facebook post where Bridges said the lockdown extension was a result of the Government's lack of preparation attracted almost 30,000 comments – many of them critical.

After speculation from left-wing bloggers that Bridges' leadership was in trouble, National's deputy leader Paula Bennett proactively tweeted that the speculation was false.

Today, he said he stood by the comments he made in the Facebook post.

He said he makes "no excuses" for what he said and that he would "say it again".

Meanwhile, Bridges was back in the House this afternoon.

Parliament has been closed during level 4 and today was his first opportunity to question Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in the House.

"I'm focused on the things New Zealanders are focused on, which is a sense that we have flattened the curve – but we don't want to flatten the economy."

He said National would be focusing on getting new Zealanders back to work "safely and sooner, rather than later".