Herald editorial on National’s dirty little leaker

The NZ Herald editorial discusses National’s dirty little leaker and the problem for Simon Bridges: Quote:

While Australia was waiting to see who would next lead its government yesterday, New Zealand’s National Party leader called one of the more odd press conferences to have occurred in Parliament Buildings.

Simon Bridges announced that somebody had owned up to leaking his travel expenses last month. If this seems like small beer by comparison with events in Canberra, it was. But everything an Opposition Leader does can offer insights to the judgment of someone who is bidding to lead the next government.

Bridges’ response to the travel expenses leak has been odd from the moment he called for a full independent inquiry into it. Then he got his MPs to agree to open their parliamentary email to investigation for the QC undertaking the inquiry. He believed the culprit was not in his caucus and cast suspicion on the Parliamentary Service.

Yesterday he announced he had received an anonymous text from a person with mental health problems claiming to be responsible for the leak and claiming to be in the National caucus. Bridges said the police knew who it was though he did not. If it is a National MP, police may be reluctant to say, because the person said his or her mental health could suffer if the investigation proceeded.

Thus an investigation that started over a triviality may leave the country wondering which National MP might have a serious mental health problem. This is what can happen when a leader over-reacts to a slight. The consequences can be worse than the offence. End quote.

Simon Bridges should have just shrugged and said that leaks happen, meh, and the information was going to be released in a few days anyway. He didn’t and so the mess he has is of his own making.

He still has a problem in that the leaker seems to have gotten away with it, and will now likely be emboldened to go again. It is also obvious that this was personal and political, an attempt to destabilise the leader. This hit failed, but ultimately it may well be the first of many cuts to come from National’s dirty little leaker. Bridges should give the task of outing the leaker to someone who can handle it. To do nothing will cement the impression that he is weak.