Transcript: Susie Ferguson & Simon Bridges on the Treasury leak

Susie:

But Paula and Mark aren’t featuring in this. We are talking about Judith Collins.

Simon:

And then you look across at Jacinda Ardern and her team. Well she’s supposed to be having a reshuffle here. The reality is she won’t do anything because she isn’t blessed with the team and the party vote actually that we’ve got right now.

Look, if she was doing the right thing Phil Twyford would go – now we know that’s not going to happen. And that’s because…

Susie:

Are you calling for his resignation though?

Simon:

Absolutely. Because the reality of the situation is, I’m calling for his demotion, certainly. The reality is that is the most visible manifestation of a Labour party that is failing to deliver on it’s promises.

Susie:

Okay, what about the situation with the budget breach? Do you still want Gabriel Makhlouf, secretary of the Treasury, to go early?

Simon:

I… I think there’s no question his position is untenable. I mean you just go through it.

Susie:

He should have resigned?

Simon:

Yes, he should have. I cannot see any other scenario here. It’s pretty simple fundamentally, um the Treasury was advised there was no compromise, in fact they were told there was simply a data management issue which effectively means look at yourselves Treasury, not at anyone else. Despite that he went out and talked about hacking, he referred this to the police…

Susie:

Yes, and why do you think he did this?

Simon:

Um, well he probably had a huge amount of pressure…

Susie:

Was he badly advised by Treasury officials?

Simon:

Well, we don’t… we don’t know all of that. But he’s ultimately the boss and he would have been under a huge amount of pressure. I mean the other thing that is here of course is the government that sat on a lie and that’s not right either.

Susie:

Why did you hold back on where you got the information from?

Simon:

Because I’m not the government, because the government has thousands of officials, because actually it did know the true situation, because I said literally on the day where it was a situation where it fixed the issue where it had on its website…

Susie:

But why not… why not front up? Why not front up and say this is what we know and this is where we got it and this is how we got it?

Simon:

Well, I did.

Susie:

No, you didn’t.

Simon:

Yes, I did.

Susie:

You didn’t. You didn’t say where you got it from.

Simon:

Thursday morning 8:45am I did exactly that.

Susie:

On Tuesday you didn’t.

Simon:

And did that change anything from the government? No, they continued to obfuscate and not tell the real story.

Susie:

But you sat on information as well. You sat on information for two days from Tuesday to Thursday about… You sat on that information about where you got it from as well. Was that in the public interest?

Simon:

What I understand ultimately here Susie is that um this budget was botched and when New Zealanders look at it, and that is why National is up, they simply see a government where there’s nothing in it for them, where the economy is weakening, where health didn’t get what it needs, where people have to go to Aussie for cancer drugs, and that’s why National is doing well.

Susie:

But sitting on that information for two days – wasn’t that just a political stunt?

Simon:

I’m not the government. My job is to hold the…

Susie:

That’s not the question. Was it a political stunt?

Simon:

It absolutely is the answer: I’m not the government. My job is to hold the government to account and develop positive plans and policies. What people saw in the budget was a lack of competence, lack of accountability and something far different from the well being transformational hype that had been talked about. New Zealanders know that Labour is failing to deliver on its promises.

Susie:

Thank you very much for your time, that’s the National party leader Simon Bridges in the studio.

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