29 Jan 2020

Simon Bridges to announce potential coalition partners 'soon'

10:06 am on 29 January 2020

National Party leader Simon Bridges says he'll make an announcement soon about potential coalition partners.

Simon Bridges in the RNZ Auckland studio for an interview on Morning Report.

National Party leader Simon Bridges. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Yesterday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the election will be held on 19 September.

Bridges told Morning Report he would let voters know who his party could work with in government.

However, he said recent polls point to strengthening support for National, which could mean it would be strong enough to govern alone.

"We're at 55 MPs, you need 61 to win and to govern, well that's another six."

Asked whether he would be giving the Epsom seat to ACT's David Seymour or anyone else from another party, Bridges again repeated he would be making an announcement.

"As I say we'll make an announcement soon, I said we'll do that in election year because I think New Zealanders do require certainty but patience is a virtue and today's not the day."

Pressed further about when that would be, he said: 'Soon my friend, soon.'

The only party he has said he won't work with is Hannah Tamaki's Vision New Zealand Party.

As well as electing a new government, voters will be asked to decide on voluntary euthanasia and the legalisation of cannabis through two referenda.

Ardern in her announcement yesterday said for politicians, a three-year term meant "we are always in campaign mode anyway".

She said Labour was asking for a further term to "keep getting the job done".

On the other hand, Bridges said while he personally saw four years as a good re-election cycle, he wouldn't want to distract voters with another referendum.

"There's been referendums on this from my memory a number of times and they haven't gotten anywhere I suppose New Zealanders like the ability to vote in and out regularly their governments.

"We want people focussed on the referendum that really matters and that's who governs and delivers for New Zealanders."

Social media campaigns

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced last week that the Labour Party is voluntarily signing up to Facebook's new transparency tool.

The Facebook Ad Library Report allows voters to see where campaigning money is being spent on Facebook ads. It was created after the 2016 US election.

"It means voters can see who is behind paid advertising online, how much they are spending and who they are targeting. The measures help avoid anonymous fake news style ads," Ardern said.

These rules are compulsory in the US, UK, Canada and the EU, but not in New Zealand.

The Green Party and ACT have also signed up to the rules.

National Party leader Simon Bridges told Morning Report that he didn't think the tool would combat fake news as claimed.

"It would be quite easy, I think, on the face of it to sign up to it so we may well do if RNZ and other media outlets are so excited about it that they think it's the number one issue in the election, but frankly I want to focus on the things that matter."

He said he stood by the party's social media ads as truthful.

"The statistics we have used are always right... I have every interest in a factual campaign, the reality is [the tool is] a very small thing this Facebook situation, we may well sign up to it because there's so little in it, but don't pretend New Zealanders that somehow this is an issue that matters."

He said what really mattered was the issues the party would campaign on like crime, transport, infrastructure and rising costs.

"I want to put more money in people's pockets, there's a lot of people struggling with more cost and burden and tax, we want to deal with that.

"I want to make sure we are doing the transport, the infrastructure, the highways that I think new zealanders need to get around, and I want to make sure we're making families safer, because gang and serious crime violence is rising very strongly."

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs