Whaleoil transcript: Simon Bridges on leadership, slushy machines, National party & government’s performance

National leader Simon Bridges
Transcript starts at 9:30.

Mike:

Simon Bridges met with his caucus yesterday for the first time since a whole bunch of stuff seemed to rark them all up. The review into the party culture, the Jami-Lee Ross shambles, the so-called emotional staff issue around a poll. Soper says it was raucous. A raucous caucus said Soper – he didn’t put it that eloquently ah but Bridges lived to see another day and he is with us. Good morning.

Simon:

Gidday Mike. How are ya?

Mike:

Are you sick of this?

Simon:

Oh… no not…  you know… the story that’s the real story is a boring story, and I get that, is that I’m the leader and ah… I’m not changing that, so you know would I prefer that we didn’t have Barry interviewing himself and doing these sorts of stories? Yes, but I answered their questions and we’ve just got to get on with it.

Mike:

Well let me give you a piece of advice. Here’s what the media said to you yesterday. Listen

(Plays recording)

Tova O’Brien: “Can you just say those words: I am loyal to Simon Bridges. I am loyal to Simon Bridges? Can you just say, I trust Judith Collins, I trust Judith Collins?”

Why don’t you tell them to get stuffed?

Simon:

Because look, I answer their questions. I suppose what is ah… the reality is they write the stories they are wanting to at the moment, not that accurate. What you are saying to me is I could go full Trump on them and I suppose Shane Jones tries a bit of that in NZ… I don’t know if it works real well. I answer their questions but I can tell you this: the real story is boring; I’m the leader and you’re stuck with me Mike.

Mike:

Right. So, the things that allegedly upset people – the review into the party culture, the Jami-Lee Ross things etc – do you mea culpa to any of it?

Simon:

No, but what I would say is look, any leader in opposition has got to keep improving, doing all ah he or she can… ah… to win the treasury benches. But I know we got the strategy; I know what we are doing and I think it’s going to work. But the treatment is this, Mike though, and I know you bang on a bit about this as well. I’m not a celebrity politician, the prime minister is. I am just a politician without the razzmatazz, but I’m a family man, I’ve got experience, I’ve worked hard to get ahead and I and my caucus we know what to do.

Mike:

Was the slushy thing a mistake?

Simon:

No, absolutely not. It was an incredible waste of money. And if you want to put it in these ah… mercenary terms… you know we know it’s the right thing to focus on because hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders turn to us on social media and so on and agreed with us, right? So, look ah… the commentariat can have their views on these things but the truth is, those slushy machines were an incredible waste of money, they were symptomatic of wider things going on in the government which is wasting your taxpayer’s money all over the place.

Mike:

I tend to agree with you. The trouble is, the position you find yourself in, and this is where I have some sympathy for you, is… is that when times are tough you start to second guess yourself, and it all starts to look as though it’s imploding. Does it feel a bit like that at times?

Simon:

No because look, ah… I want you to know something. I’m resilient, I don’t want your sympathy and, believe you me, I don’t second guess myself. Let’s just have a mature understanding of where New Zealand is politically right at the moment. It’s 18 months into a new government. We were all over them and they were at sea over capital gains tax. We’ve now had a tragedy and while no one’s got a political side to that, we’ve unified, to an extent around the government, there’s been some unity on that it’s had a rallying effect to them. But right now, the so-called year of delivery, they’re not delivering diddly squat. And you name… and I think you probably… frankly you couldn’t name a single area where they have improved things, in fact in everything in health, education, environment and poverty, certainly the economy. Things are getting worse. So, we’ve got huge fodder to play with. We’ve just got to get out there and focus on that.

Mike:

The 40% that you claim saves you, which is a not unreasonable argument, is there a point where, that becomes a problem, for you, if it goes much lower?

Simon:

Ah… well, look… you know I’m not going to deal with hypotheticals, I would say this and, you know, the caucus knows this as well. The reality under my leadership is we’ve always been in the 40s and you’ve got to say – find me another opposition anywhere in the world 18 months into a new government where that’s been the truth. But I tell you what that really means. And different people have all their different views but I think it’s this simple. Middle New Zealand still doesn’t get this government, they don’t trust it, they don’t actually think it’s focusing on the stuff that matters to them. The prime minister’s office offered to grant to talk about social media when here it’s actually about housing, transport – you know I could run the list that you would agree with me on. We are focused on those things, that’s why we are still in the 40s.

Mike:

It’s claimed that Sir John Key has gone behind Collins – do you know that?

Simon:

Ah, good grief. Ah… well what a load of fake news. Complete nonsense. John’s texted me ah… to say so and the reality is he’ll be at our National Party conference to support me and the party that he believes in.

Mike: Good to talk with you – Simon Bridges the National Party leader with us this morning

9%
×