Transcript: Simon Bridges Shows Some Spine

audio from 9:00 onwards

Mike:

So over a good couple of days, as we were saying earlier in the show, for Simon Bridges’ political party – the cancer care announcement I think went reasonably well over the weekend and you’ve got to argue that it was an extraordinary thing for an opposition party to be able to do – to usurp the government who should have been onto this earlier of course. We are still waiting. And then last night we got the One News Poll – latest in the polls – do we believe polls anymore? Currently, they are polling at 45% in the latest Colmar Brunton, which is above Labour on 43%, Simon Bridges is with us – good morning.

Simon:

Gidday, Mike.

Mike:

Do you believe the polls?

Simon:

Yeah, I do. I mean it sounds self-serving from me but it’s similar to what we see so I think it’s about right.

Mike:

So, your internal polling’s got you at 45ish?

Simon:

Yeah, it’s got us around the mid-40s and it has for a wee while and the reason is pretty simple.  It’s… it’s… it’s a piling on of costs and tax. People can feel that – and they see the money wasted… I think it’s a real sense – whether it’s the cancer stuff, whether it’s just a failure to build anything, a failure to deliver anything on promises. And I think the other thing that people are picking up – it’s just a lack of competence and focus.

I mean, I know none of us are really out to be mean to the Prime Minister, but goodness, gracious – what on earth is she doing in Tokelau when she’s got the first Maori land protest um… ah… occupation in living memory when… when we’ve got an economy that’s tanking – it’s… when we’ve… see we’ve just had a, from my perspective, three week recess and we’ve got parliament’s sitting today. She’s not going to be there. I’m not even sure if Winston Peters is, frankly. It’s feels a bit like a part-time government.

Mike:

He is… I think Peters is leaving for Thailand today, though I think you’ll have Kelvin Davis which I would assume you would relish, wouldn’t you?

Simon:

Yeah, look that’d be fun. Although you know, in all seriousness on that, I kind of want answers from the Prime Minister. You know, getting incoherence from Winston or Kelvin doesn’t really cut it. I won’t get anywhere on um… ah… where she thinks the economy is going or what they’re doing with cancer and Ihumatao and ah… why on earth she’s owned this problem instead of getting on and building 480 houses.

Mike:

Well, give us some advice. If you’re the prime minister tomorrow – what is it you’re doing with that land protest?

Simon:

Um… well nothing. I would be making sure that those houses were being built. I think she’s had a very bad error of judgement. I don’t know if she’s listening too much to Willie Jackson or what but this is an incredibly poor precedent and… and it showed that the government isn’t serious about building houses, as I say, instead of about building a kind of anything, actually.

Mike:

It’s an ironic thing too, that the Greens are protesting down there as well. Protesting against themselves, as far as I can work out – given they too are in the government.

Simon:

Oh, look exactly right. I mean it’s a bizarre situation. But I come back to… I think she sort of felt she was just about to go to Tokelau, she kind of needed the space to keep the woke crowd happy – so she’s done that. Um… and, you know – I come back to what should she be doing? Well isn’t one of our top tier issues building houses? Let’s get on and build 480 of them.

Mike:

Can you believe you got away with the cancer thing on Sunday? Because realistically, no matter what you think of any given party and any given time, they should have addressed this by now, shouldn’t they?

Simon:

Yes, you are absolutely right. They promised it, right? They promised “world class health – ah… cancer drugs” and they promised a national cancer agency. But it comes back to why they are sort of not kind of getting it together. They’ve done nothing for two years. Like literally – you think I’m joking – they have done nothing on this right?

And actually, the word I am getting is David Clark doesn’t want to do the stuff he’s talked about. The reality is they prioritised the money – so you know, Shane Jones’ fund for the fees-free and I think most New Zealanders would sit there and say, you know “is it those things or is it cancer drugs?”

Mike:

Mmmm. Have you read Peter Dunne’s bit that he wrote on how close the election will be next year?

Simon:

Yes, very briefly. I think he’s sort of right inasmuch as it’s going to be close right?  Actually, MMP elections are always close, is the truth of it. I would just sort of say to you, I… if I haven’t said it to you already about the poll – I totally get… we got a lot of work to do, there’s a huge amount of water to go under the bridge, but I just sort of think that you look at where the government’s at, you look at where we’re at, we are a fitter, stronger team – if you want to use the rugby analogy which I have been. We are about to go into our second half – this will be our best half. I love campaigns and I’m really looking forward to next year and giving it everything.

Mike:

I know there’s no appetite for this, but in looking at polls, 88% of people support the two parties they always did, there’s one party above the line still, is MMP worth it?

Simon:

Sighs. Here’s the problem, right? Um… I have never, ever ticked the box for MMP. In the referendum we had a while back I voted for Supplementary Member which is sort of a hybrid between first past the post and MMP. But it’s a bit like Brexit. There’s now a democratic legitimacy for MMP and as much as two- or three-times people have had the choice, and they’ve voted for it. So that’s why, Mike, there’s no appetite and that’s why I’m not even saying “come on, let’s revisit the system”.

Mike:

But the reason I ask the question is you still need… even at 45 – you still need help. Where’s the help coming from bar Act who I see going nowhere?

Simon:

Briefly, there’s three scenarios, right? One is that one of the parties in parliament i.e. NZ First change its horse – you’ve got to sort of ask them about that in a way because he’s the one, Winston’s the one that’s rejected us. He was with us on the day of the election so I don’t feel that that’s a working strategy.

The other one is that um… one of the other parties in parliament doesn’t get there. Well actually for the last year NZ First hasn’t. Now the likes of you might say “oh, yeah, but he always comes back.” But actually, he doesn’t in government, by the way, because um… he’s got the power. If he wanted to promise and do something, he could do it now rather than take it to the election.

And the third one is new parties.

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