Jacinda Ardern showing 'real weakness' over Clare Curran - Simon Bridges

The AM Show 10/09/2018

While he considers both himself and Jacinda Ardern "nice" people, Simon Bridges doesn't think the Prime Minister knows when to stop.

Ms Ardern's had a rough few weeks, having to deal with controversies involving MPs Clare Curran and Meka Whaitiri, disagreements with Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters over the refugee quota, and backlash over the round trip an Air Force jet took to get her to Nauru separately from the rest of the New Zealand delegation.

Speaking to The AM Show on Monday morning, Mr Bridges zeroed in on Ms Ardern's handling of Ms Curran's resignation.

On Friday morning Ms Ardern told Newstalk ZB Ms Curran had "paid her price" and wouldn't be fired. What she didn't reveal was that Ms Curran had already offered her resignation the night before, after weeks of what the former Broadcasting Minister called "relentless pressure".

Ms Curran publicly revealed her resignation on Friday afternoon.

"She in the end had to do what the Prime Minister in a sense wasn't strong enough to do," said Mr Bridges. "It was real weakness from the Prime Minister."

He suggested Ms Curran was sick of waiting to be sacked by Ms Ardern.

"This is someone who wants to be nice, who likes to be kind. But there's also a place for being really clear in your expectations and dealing with them."

Clare Curran and Meka Whaitiri. Photo: Facebook/supplied.

Mr Bridges wouldn't say Ms Ardern was lying on Friday morning, but was "economical with the facts".

"I like to be kind. I like to find the best possible interpretation of these things. It wasn't straight. I make that really clear."

Ms Curran's final faux pas was using her personal Gmail account for parliamentary business. It's unclear whether those emails will be able to be revealed publicly, as she's no longer a minister so the Official Information Act doesn't apply, Chen Palmer lawyer Leo Donnelly told RNZ on Sunday.

National broadcasting spokeswoman Melissa Lee says OIA requests were made before Ms Curran's resignation, and so the emails should still be discoverable.

'Taking the mickey'

Turning his ire on the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Bridges said Mr Peters has been "taking the mickey" out of Ms Ardern.

The Government, and particularly Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway, have talked about plans to increase the refugee quota to 1500 - even funding the building of new blocks to accommodate them at the Mangere Refugee Centre.

But Mr Peters, head of the traditionally anti-immigration NZ First, surprised everyone last week when he said there was no commitment at all

Ms Ardern then said it was a "personal commitment" of Mr Lees-Galloway's to increase the refugee quota, and Labour policy, but it wasn't the Labour-NZ First coalition's stance.

Mr Bridges said Mr Peters was showing Ms Ardern to be a "weak" leader.

"If you can't run yourselves, and if you can't lead from the top, I think New Zealanders will be starting to say, 'Can you run the country?'"

Mr Bridges said Mr Peters' refugee policy was the same as National's, but rejected a suggestion from host Duncan Garner that meant he was trying to get them onside for a centre-right coalition in 2020.

"I didn't hear that in my lips. Come on. Today is not the day for that. We've got a couple of years to go. We'll make clear what we'll do on those sort of things then."

Watch the full video above.

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