Tauranga MP Simon Bridges elected National Party leader; Says he'll present an 'ambitious and strong alternative government'; Paula Bennett retains position as deputy

Tauranga MP Simon Bridges elected National Party leader; Says he'll present an 'ambitious and strong alternative government'; Paula Bennett retains position as deputy

Tauranga MP Simon Bridges has been elected Leader of the National Party, with Paula Bennett retaining her spot as deputy.

He was elected in the second round of the ballot, meaning he won at least 29 votes after one of the other candidates was dropped in the first round.

Bridges won’t say which of the candidates was the first to drop out of the vote.

Bennett was one of two MPs running for deputy, but Bridges would not say who the other candidate was.

In a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Bridges signalled there will be a portfolio reshuffled within the next couple of weeks. He stressed it’s important to bring new talent through, but to also retain experience.

He said he has offered none of his colleagues a specific portfolio.

“We need the experience, that’s important because you want to see we have the heft that we have had after being in Government for nine years.

“But what’s also true is we can’t go into the next election with the same plans that we have had, we can’t do things just as we have. We can’t say to voters that nothing has changed – we need to continue to modernise.”

In terms of his focus as leader, he said that one of the main areas he will spearhead is holding the Government to account – “we will be firm but fair.”

“We will also be an alternative government in waiting, with a clear and positive plan for the 2020s.”

Bridges mentioned a number of times the current Government was “muddling along,” taking aim at the fact it is “treading water.”

“Their Government is big on lofty intentions, but are struggling to turn that into real gains for New Zealanders.”

He would not go into his “full policy manifesto” but suggested environmental issues would be a priority for any Government he leads.

Earlier on Tuesday morning, he told the AM Show if it came down to it, he would choose to be in a Coalition with the Greens over New Zealand First.

Interestingly enough the Greens were the first party to officially congratulate him in being elected leader. 

“Mr Bridges has an opportunity to redefine his party for the future,” Greens leader James Shaw says.

“I hope that he takes this opportunity to work constructively across the House on the most important challenges we face together as a country.”

What’s next for Joyce?

On the future of current Finance Spokesman Steven Joyce, Bridges can’t say if he will remain in that position but says he still has an important role to play in National, noting his strengths in campaigning, economics and finance. 

Joyce says he does not know if he will stay in the role and won’t say if he wants to keep it – “I’m not going to try and put pressure on him through the media, I’m just looking forward to having that discussion.”

Both he and Judith Collins say they have had a “fun time,” and it was a good contest. Neither of them would say if they had run for deputy.

Speaking to media this morning, Ardern said Bridges was the candidate she knew best out of the five.

“I spent a number of years meeting with him weekly in the green room of TVNZ for the Breakfast show.”

She agreed with the statement that the leader of the Opposition was “the worst job in politics,” as it tends to put the leader in quite a negative light.

Despite this, her advice to Bridges was to just “enjoy it.”

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.

82 Comments

13
up

chortle

He's got my vote by virtue of the Party he leads but I'm not inspired by this choice. Taxinda is an easy target based on performance to date. If he doesn't score some goals then next one please.

13
up

What tax? Seriously what tax have you suffered at the hands of Labour?
National crooked the books by depleting health, education, policing, roads, infrastructure, unfettered immigration etc etc etc are you actually witnessing the reality of their calamity? This country is stuffed unless the present government buys its way out of the shit pile the National plonkers forced us into. And yes, it may require the borrowing of money and the taxing of your unearned capital gains...

Hear! Hear!

A lot of folks shoot their mouths over the disaster that has befallen NZ since the new govt was elected, but honestly what has changed. I mean, that in itself is almost cause for alarm....

Watch out for Collins - she may implode and or start her own party.

... so true ... once again the Gnats have taken a steady as she goes , don't rock the boat approach ...

For starters , they ought to have biffed Mistress Paula out of the deputy's role ...

... and they should've decided to mix it up , to get down and dirty , by bringing in the Crusher as their new leader ...

I expect that under the stewardship of Simon Bridges the Gnats poll rating will begin a slow and steady decline ...

... there will be a coup ... propbably after Taxinda thrashes them in the 2020 election ... regardless of whether or not we're privileged to know the exact date of her next conception ...

3 more years for Winston ... the guarantee of a political life line until 2023 ... he surely must be wearing that inimitable Cheshire cat grin of his : Happy Days !

Will be interesting for sure. Id point out that the Gnats only need a small increase to rule alone, or a partner that can hold a couple of seats (Maori).

Epsom + another 6% of popular vote...? Big call on a platform of big calls!

Is Bridges being Maori part of the strategy?

I don't know about Winston. His health could fail, I mean he has been as quite as a tame mouse since he became a minister, but I expect that's all those baubles keeping the whisky flowing...

As to be expected and also as to be expected he will last about as long as his Labour counterpart, what was his name again? Shearer? Only a naive clot would take this position now, with the polls running hard against your party, and certain to get worse. Soccer teams with results like this sack the manager. So too political parties. Everybody knows that! Perhaps though it may yet be better for National that he blows out his trumpet now, rather than later when it will be more important one would expect.

Jacinda is already performing well overseas with the advantage of not having to go there much. Nice start.

Bridgie has grown on me. But it's his owners I will blame.

John Campbell's sit down interview on RNZ tonight will be great. (Don't mention the mining).

A maverick youngman v.s. a soon-to-be mum with a heart-warming smile (albeit fake).

It is a pretty obvious choice for gullible voters.

Jacinda reminds me of Mrs Briscoes (Tammy Wells)........all smiles, enthusiasm and gushing relentlessly about products and sales.........Bridges is going to have to up his game considerably to prove the current goods aren't up to standard...........

... given the feedback by callers on the radio stations , the choice of the B team ... Bridges & Bennett ... it's a polarizing team selection ...

After the 2020 election the Gnats will have to burn their bridges ...

"current goods" = do nothing national just what more of do nothing will be of interest to the voter remains to be seen. Election 2020 will be interesting.

For a tidy (donor funded) consultants fee, Key could provide Bridges some coaching lessons on being the best replacement "smiling assassin" for the "new" old National Party

13
up

Maybe Key could teach him the X tables & how to not recall

Along with the best ways to grip ponytails

Yikes!

... and how to sit on your hands for 8 years and not develop stinky fingers ...

Eeww

Ah right, so the voter is gullible where they dont vote the way you want them to, how arrogant of you.

Why don't we do away with the 3 year term and have Jacinda the leader for ever. Seems like a good idea for China...what could go wrong?

generation to generation do you mean? Winston, while still with us bless him, will not be happy.

13
up

Simple Simon should be able to not recall just like JohnnyK
So glad I’m not living amongst this garbage
The status quo of deceit & power continues with this selection
Paula should be leader at least she’s actually pulled herself up using the same benefits she took away from new solo moms ! What’s Simon done?
Crony politics NZ style continues with Nats

21
up

As long as Jacinda remains as leader of the Labour Party it will remain the government and that potentially will be for at least two more terms. National took the country for granted and did not look after those who were born outside the boomer years. As Don Brash said recently on TV3 National completely dropped the ball in the area of housing. What is more important to the average New Zealander than the opportunity to buy a home at a reasonable price in the area they grew up in. If Labour can make the New Zealand housing market a more level playing field for all generations , not just the boomers, then they will stay in power. Simon has his work cut out for him.

The housing mess has been decades in the making it will take massive changes to even turn the boat in the right direction and will involve breaking too many eggs for Labour or even the Nats to weather hence the endless can kicking

Smiles build houses of course!

However the "right" seems to hold the reigns on policy ie the voter clearly expects to pay no more taxes but expects improvements in services and housing from Labour. The Q then is how will Labour cope with the budget straight jacket they willingly put on to get into power and yield the expected results.

Well Gordon, wouldn’t it be nice if WP carried through on his manifesto to get the number of MP’s back to 90 or so. Just like the Royal Commission pre MMP stipulated. That while hopefully culling some of the more useless, would at least claw back a little of the self interest excesses such as your example as below.

Simon Bridges might not have to say much or do much as leader....... other than bide his time and let the Labour-led coalition Government implode.

Remember, Winston Peters can't help himself. There'll be a showdown followed by carnage before too much longer.

TTP (for Prime Minister)

17
up

It will not implode. They will have difficulties of course but those at the top getting the biggest perks such as ministerial housing, crown cars and great overseas travel will do their best to keep it together. Politicians are a greedy bunch and it is a world wide trend. Remember we went to bed one night and woke up with a new politicians pension scheme in place. All the parties had agreed to it and kept it quiet and while were tucked up in bed asleep they voted on and passed all three stages of the bill. They lost a lot of respect from me that day.

There is one huuuuuge mess to clean up, especially in housing, it won't be easy, pity it wasn't being addressed for at least the last 9 years. Best Bridges' stays well away from that, unless he is happy to pick up a shovel and lend a hand. If all he is interested in is trying to score points so as to win the next election, he can go jump in the lake, this has got to be sorted, somehow or other.

Interesting but no, no implosion I think.

Lets flash forward to 2020, what will the voter be asking? why isnt the housing crisis fixed? What will Labour say to that?

I cant wait for the answer to that one from Labour myself as there is not an honest one the voter will want to hear.

but, just as importantly (or more so) what can SB say to that?

"We did nothing for 9 years and we promise to do nothing again for 3? hardly inspiring stuff.

WP, well seems to have survived very well in previous terms, for what must be his final one (or maybe 2) he will be hanging out for a "Sir" he wont screw that up IMHO.

Ha, National had no where to go.

Bridgie had better be careful with the that knife he will be using. His first self imposed job is to "refresh" and bring forward the "talent". That could go really, really wrong with those swinging voters, let alone the ego on the shadow front bench. It could be free fall in the polls.

Lower than 35% he's toast. It will dive, but how much is the question.

Noooooo - "moi" "moi" "moi" for another three years. Shudder

Look. at. moi. DiDi

ha ha ...good job..they elected who they deserve. Another holier than though, self congratulatory big head, consumed by his own self importance. Watch the polls die over the next few months....

Hmmm . . . From the above, it seems as though all interest.co bloggers are left wing.
Or, is it just that they are all bewitched and memorised by the Jacinda effect.

Not all, but most. Taxinda is the modern day Boudica, Whether Bridges is the modern day Suetonius is yet to be seen, but those of us on the Right are optimists.

Well if to summon up that age, would see a modern day ambition for Mr Bridges more akin to that of Sejanus.

Boudica was a defender of an invaded country, guerrilla fighter extraordinaire, Suetonius was a recorder of history, the official Roman conquest of Britain was by Claudius (despite numerous attempts prior). Is your analogy here - Jacinda defends NZ from invading interests? Bridges semi-records history while some other foreign invading general removes sovereignty from NZ? I'm confused.....

I think expat was referring to the General/Govenor Suetonius Paulinus...

Not the Wikipedia landing page of anyone who googles "Suetonius"...

Google eh, rubbish, it won't last.

Seems that we have competing versions of history https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boudica

Alternate facts? I'm suggesting that history doesn't equate popularity to ultimate success.

I will sit corrected on Suetonius, apparently there is more than one, who knew? Still a bit confused about the analogy nonetheless, rebellious leader of an invaded nation vs an invader.

I'd love to hear Bridges talk of that great epic.

His trademark inflection along with the likely grammatical direction of speaking in the third person past principle about the present day battle of ideology and competency.

Unfortunate for Simon is that he is the ultimate a yes-man.
Equally unfortunate is that the only person that doesn't realise it, is himself.

Bridges' problem is he does not speak from all the way down to his diaphragm so his speech comes from no deeper than his throat, and it comes out like it has no breath behind it to project it, it's just droning from the throat, Coleman does the same.

nope. TOP/Lab this time and prior to that the Nats since my first vote. That said, i'm still waiting on the coalition to deliver.... now hasn't Winnie been very quiet? Whats happened to all the promises??

Speaking oif bewitched, Jacinda has merely replaced key as the flavor of the season. Says it all about attention to policy huh?

Unimpressed by the corrupt and incompetent numpties infesting National =/= left wing. That's a logic fail. Or do you think that because somebody doesn't like guacamole, that leads to the conclusion that they must therefore love beef gravy?

Bridges would be a good puppet for the influential interests that usually control NP and benefit most ?
Amy Adams might have struck a more independent stance, may be.

looking forward to the debates especially with simon bridges taking about himself in the third person
Simon Bridges focused on Simon Bridges becoming leader of the National party
LOL

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8YSJEMWGvE

Simon says lets set up a working group to talk about building those bridges I promised back in 2015.

Didn't Bridges say something about the environment's reign of terror being over at some stage? Think it was when the Nats might have been having another crack at mining on conservation land. Now, he says he'd work with the Greens. Yeah right, he'd work with them as long as they shut up and did what they were told.
Anyway, expect Collins to find her family suddenly needs her soon, or she thinks (or it is suggested to her, nudge, nudge) to try for the Auckland mayoralty.

Bridgie is the one who a few years ago was aggressively backing deep water drilling off the Kaikoura Coast.

The Greens are off the phone, sorry Bridgie.

If the Greens are serious about their ideology they will fall in with NP

Probably what the Jafa's need to sort their City out

15
up

From a handy Huawei bug. Just translated back: “Who’s next on the voting paper? Mr Bridges? Okay, ask him to come in. Simon, I think you know why we're here. This is a very important moment. We’re here today to decide on the leader of the National Party. You know how the Pope is picked? No? Well, it doesn’t matter, but it’s a bit like that. We ask a few questions, you answer them, and we make our minds up. No, no, no, not yet, we haven’t asked anything yet. And I think it would be better if you stop grinning for a moment. This is an important moment for all of us. I don’t think anyone will disagree if I say it’s a critical time for our country. Yes, critical, Simon. Have you seen that film about Churchill? Churchill. You haven’t heard of him? No matter. He was a leader. No, not here. It doesn’t matter where. My point is, this is a battle-of-Britain type moment in the life of our country, just like in that film. We need a strong leader. Why? Well it’s obvious. Obvious. Remember we’re all up to our necks in property. What I mean is it's the wealth of this country. That and some other stuff. But property, Simon. This is why we're here in this party, here in Parliament. Because it's like service. Service to the nation. And have you seen what’s happening to prices? They’re soft, Simon, soft as loo paper. What did you say? Really, you have how many houses? Hey, do you know how many houses Simon has? Heck, you should be the leader. Hands up. Yes, Simon, it's your turn. We’re relying on you. No, we don’t need to see anyone else. What? She can stay deputy. A bit of advice, Simon. A word in your ear. Don’t bother with focus groups. Just keep your eye on the auction results. Central Auckland. The North Shore. Wellington. Alright, we're done. Who needs a drink? ”

Tks workingman & my word, that’s the best bit of satire I have read for many a long time. God how much I miss Punch! Trouble is though, i t would be funny if it wasn’t true.

Simon said..... nothing :)

Wonderful stuff. I love it.

Once again a bridge too far.

Well I didn’t see that one coming!
Simon Bridges would have been down my list for leader!
He hasn’t really shown a helluva lot so far, but to be fair he won’t need to go show up the coalition!
Whether he has the ability is debateable however if he doesn’t increase the popularity stakes he will be toast.
Seriously though, NZ is overly gifted with great politicians or leaders at the moment!

Seriously though, NZ is overly gifted with great politicians or leaders at the moment!

...Like Jacinda Ardern?

THE MAN 2, in your view that it's such a slam dunk the Coalition is going to implode, does Simon Bridges even need to show up for work? Leading a "don't rock the rich" party will be easy....... until the day after all votes are in, in 2020 - lol!

He'll blow his top at John Campbell again...... Not tonight but soon......

Simon....Jacinda's wish come true ?

Successive govts of both colours have kicked the can down the road and bought into the population / property ponzi.
In my opinion the Clark govt were as culpable as the Key govt.
We are now seeing the crises hitting us, teacher shortage (brewing for years) now palpably obvious

RP, we are fortunate That it doesn’t really affect us as to,what government is in power.
The coalition policies in regards to rental property will make no different to our income or asset position, as our properties are all positively geared and even moreso,since interest rates have dropped.
It is the joe average working person that I feel sorry for having this coalition of non business people in power.
There is no direction as to how to they are going to make NZ a better country even though it is great alread.
Many policies have been spat out and yet I am pretty confident that not one of these policies has been actioned.
Trees planted. No
Pike River entered.No.
Reduce child poverty,over certain time. No wrong facts
Affordable homes. no
Reduce immigration. no
Jacinda pregnant. yes. That’s right that wasn’t a policy was it?

Dont need to go on anymore, what have they done?

THE MAN 2, Coalition in power four months and your already stoning them when National had nine years and achieved nothing. Give real progress a chance to play out ;-)

What National party supporters seem to have in common is that they will be quick to slam the coalition for not solving child poverty overnight but will blissfully ignore the problem in the midst of nine great years of wealth accumulation under National.

Whats it really about?

Mindless tribalism and an outraged sense of entitlement is what it's about.

Perfectly sums up my view of the Left and more particularly Unions. Stuck in a Dickensian mindset and feel entitled to take what they haven’t earned.

Ex Expat, that's an interesting comment given it stereotypes attitudes that exist within members of our own and extended families.

Self entitlement has been a key component in creating todays asset bubbles and exploding debt. It's a huge mirror your chucking stones at!

RP - abour 40% of the population want to be rich without worrying about the social and environmental effects of their 'wealth'.....and if a group decides to have some ethical standing about the welfare of the environment and society, they're labelled a 'leftie' then given 2 weeks to make changes and if that doesn't work its back to 'making money' at all cost (or as some like to call it, 'getting ahead' - which I still haven't quite figured out - what are they trying to get ahead of, their neighbours, their families, their own communities?)

... what has Labour done ?

Well , for starters , the Gnats had 9 years to put a stop to foreigners buying up our houses from under the wallets of wage earning Kiwi citizens .... but failed to see there was a problem there ... and said it was all too hard ... and under free trade agreements couldn't be done .... and tuned out the cries from struggling FHB's ...

... Jacinda took just 24 hours to get it done !

I thought she had so far found a possible mechanism that might be acceptable. Has it actually been implemented?

TM2'

Pike River Reentered. You've got a nerve. Under the previous government,nothing would have been done,despite Key's promise. Now,the families know that an effort will be made to give them closure. It may not be possible to re-enter the mine,but it may possible to get into the drift.

Affordable homes. Again,the possibility now exists that some action will be taken to help balance supply and demand.

You really are an idiot. And you reference to Ardern's pregnancy is puerile and pretty disgusting. Grow up.

first maori leader and deputy leader of the national party, never thought i would see that in my lifetime
the baby boomers will be up in arms on radio talkback this morning

looking forward to first pacific leader of ACT
or first japanese leader of the greens
or first American in charge of labour
and lets try first Chinese in charge of NZ first