20 May 2019

Simon Bridges on Botany: 'We will win that seat for National'

8:42 am on 20 May 2019

National leader Simon Bridges says he is happy to give list MP Alfred Ngaro "the space" to explore the idea of splitting off and setting up a Christian values party.

Watch Corin Dann interview Simon Bridges on Morning Report here:

Mr Bridges said he had spoken with Mr Ngaro about his potential plan to set up a Christian values party, but said National was not involved.

"A month or two Alfred Ngaro came to me, he said that he has been approached by people around New Zealand about this, it's in the very early stages, and my position is effectively 'oh, cool, let's see how you get on and get back to me when you've got more news.

"I know he's not unhappy being in National, but he's also, in a sense, got this opportunity, and he's going to have to weigh this up and decide."

Mr Bridges said there was a "gap in the market" and he was happy enough to give Mr Ngaro the space to look at the idea. He said it was not an issue of loyalty.

National MP Alfred Ngaro and National Party leader Simon Bridges

Alfred Ngaro and National Party leader Simon Bridges Photo: RNZ

"There is an allure to this but what is also true is he's going to have to weigh up the cost in terms of a big job setting up a political party - the organisation and so on - and they are all matters for him. The cost for me is not great."

Mr Ngaro is being criticised for sharing an anti-abortion post on his Facebook page at the weekend, which describes abortion as an "unholy holocaust in our nation".

His link to the event was posted with the caption, 'be there'.

Mr Bridges said National was a broad party, and while he wouldn't use the word 'holocaust', Mr Ngaro is allowed to share his position.

"I'm a Christian... I'm not a Christian politician. I've got a broad party that has all the views on the spectrum when it comes to, if you like, moral issues. But Alfred's exploring it, I'm happy enough to give him the space.

"Abortion is a conscience issue, my position on that is actually people including members in Parliament are allowed strong - actually really strong, in fact very emotive - views. That's what Alfred has done. I think actually they should be entitled to them.

"My view is, on a conscience issue in a broad church ... people are allowed their views on these things."

He did not state a position on abortion himself, however.

"I want to keep my powder dry, I want to see what the government proposes ... I want to see what they're proposing, I don't think that's unreasonable ... let's understand this, they were going to come out in December last year with their position, they still haven't as a government put forward what the legislation is. They are clearly finding it more complicated than just the one, two, three options.

"My clear thrust in politics has been around ... actually what we've just seen in Australia, what ScoMo called the 'quiet Australians', they're here in New Zealand too. All they really want from a government is a strong economy, good public services and for us to get out of the way, and let them get on with their families, and that's what drives me."

When asked if National would have a tax policy which deals with housing and inequality problems in New Zealand, he said they would have a policy "about letting Kiwis keep more of their hard-earned money, it's as simple as that".

Mr Bridges specifically ruled out the potential of National doing a deal with Ngaro supporting him for the Botany electorate in exchange for the support of his party.

"We will stand a National candidate and we will win that seat for National."

However he would not rule out supporting Mr Ngaro's potential party.

"We know that story don't we? It's called MMP, we've got a guy called Winston Peters, a wily old rooster, who chose the last Prime Minister.

"A lot of people are very frustrated about that. My position is vote for National, make us as strong as you can. But there are other options out there and they are emerging."

He would not say whether he would consider working with Mr Peters himself at the next election.

"I will be crystal clear with New Zealanders, actually like John Key was when he was Prime Minister at the start of next year about our positioning ... New Zealanders will know which political parties I ... and the National Party want to work with."

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