ON AIR: Overnight Talk

12a.m. - 5a.m.

The Soap Box: Bridges is 'inedible' toast

Barry Soper,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 17 October 2018, 6:26a.m.

They usually ask a condemned man before his execution whether he'd like to say a few words. Rather than taking his caucus colleagues up on what was sure to be an offer, if he'd bothered to turn up two floors above, Jami-Lee Ross decided to have his last say to the media.

He strode confidently to the podium, clutching screeds of printed notes, apologised for the length of time it'd take, and 15 minutes later the journalists' jaws were being picked up from the unforgiving black and white stone tiles.

It was like a script from House of Cards, it had all the ingredients, corruption, secret dinners, a six-figure secret party donation, lies and more lies, claims of sexual harassment, bullying, intimidation, threats and fear and the promise of a police probe.

Ross was the man standing head and shoulders above his cowering colleagues, they were all too afraid to do what he'd done, even though many of them wanted to. He was their crusader against the tyranny of a megalomaniacal leader, prepared to do anything and stamp out anyone who stood in his way of claiming the ultimate political prize, a prize Ross says he's ill-equipped to lay claim to.

It was an impressive performance from a man we were told had mental health issues. He even addressed those, admitting there were issues but they'd been sorted, claiming that Bridges had sent him away to recover essentially to shut him up.

Whatever the medication was, it spectacularly did the job. If all of what he'd claimed was to be believed, Bridges is now inedible toast.

Within an hour Bridges popped up at the same podium, flanked by those who'd fought him for his job eight months ago. If ever he needed a performance this was it, rarely has a leader been so publicly maligned. The last would have been David Lange by his former Lieutenants Roger Douglas and Richard Prebble thirty years ago.

Unfortunately, Bridges fell well short of what was expected from a leader who'd been accused of so much, not the least corruption involving the Electoral Act. A donation of $100,000 from a Chinese businessman is something that Bridges most certainly would have known about, and if you listen to Ross, he not surprisingly invited the man round to his house for dinner.

Bridges sounded like Sergeant Schultz from Hogan's Heroes, he appeared to know nothing, or if he did, he repeatedly refused to address it, insisting time and time again he'd done nothing wrong, welcoming the intention to bring in the cops.

All in all, it played out as a National Party soap opera, a bizarre day summed up by Winston Peters using his cell phone to do the talking, well singing Kelly's Heroes to journos.

The verse was entirely appropriate: "Friends all tried to warn me but I held my head up high, with the final chorus, everyone I left behind each time I closed the door, burning bridges lost forevermore".

ON AIR: Overnight Talk

12a.m. - 5a.m.