Simon Bridges versus Jacinda Ardern: round 1

Shortly after being chosen as National’s new leader Simon Bridges fronted up against Jacinda Ardern in Parliament today.

Hon SIMON BRIDGES (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister on behalf of the Rt Hon Bill English (National): Does she stand by all her Government’s policies and actions?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN (Prime Minister): Can I begin by congratulating the member and wishing him all the best for his new role as leader of the National Party. And, to answer the question, yes.

Hon Simon Bridges: How many of the projects announced on Friday were projects not already under way or planned under existing Government programmes? [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order!

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: We’ve actually been quite open about the fact that, predominantly, they had been ones that had pitched themselves to the last Government, but, obviously, were not progressed and were not funded. It took this Government to accept that those regions had produced initiatives that were worth progressing, and so we’re making them happen.

Hon Simon Bridges: Which region received the most cash in the initial round of projects announced on Friday?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I think this early on, it would be premature to pick a winner, of course, because it is a $1 billion fund per annum. We have only just started with a little over $60 million worth of investment. We always said that we would highlight, for instance, Northland, the West Coast, areas like the Bay of Plenty—wherever there is a lack of investment, high levels of unemployment, and deprivation. So we’ve started with those areas, and that’s included places like Northland.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! It was quite a specific question and—

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: And I mentioned Northland twice.

Mr SPEAKER: You did mention three regions. I’m going to ask the Prime Minister just to very briefly address the question again.

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: In this first, initial round, there was a dominant feature for Northland, as there should be.

Hon Simon Bridges: Why is that?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Because that region was totally neglected by the last Government.

Hon Simon Bridges: How much of the $61.7 million announced last Friday was already appropriated funding from the last Government, and how much of it was new money from this Government?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: As I said in the first answer, we’ve made no secret of the fact that the last Government ignored the pitches that were made by those regions, which made a strong business case for investment and were ignored. That’s why we decided to progress them. So on the one had you can’t argue that they were reasonable business cases when, on the other hand, you never funded them.

Hon Simon Bridges: So how much of the $61.7 million announced last Friday was already appropriated funding from the last Government, and how much of it was new money from this Government?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: The member is ignoring some of the projects—on the West Coast, for instance. The trails down there were initiatives that were promoted by Damien O’Connor and were progressed by this Government. As I said, we’ve acknowledged that the last Government didn’t progress, predominantly, ideas from Northland, which is one of the many neglected regions, and so a good portion of the $60 million is going to them.

Hon Simon Bridges: How much of the $61.7 million announced last Friday was already appropriated funding from the last Government, and how much of it was new money from this Government?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: The billion-dollar fund that this Government announced on Friday, of which we’ve announced a small portion to kick-start us—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I’m sorry to interrupt the member, but the Hon Amy Adams—I think it might be an idea just to leave the Prime Minister to answer the question, especially—

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: If I can finish it.

Mr SPEAKER: The member will get a chance to finish it, but her interjection has resulted in the Opposition getting an additional supplementary. I’d want to say to Amy Adams: she’s quite a long way away, but her voice is dominating at the moment, and I would prefer to go back to the answer, thank you.

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: The vast majority were new allocations. Perhaps the member would like to talk to us about the bridges he was meant to have built, as well.

Hon Simon Bridges: How will the Government’s provincial fund compensate the regions for all the backwards-looking policies being enacted, such as industrial relations, immigration, and red-tape restrictions?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I have to correct the member. When it comes to issues like the skills gap for our regions, this is the one party and Government that collectively have said, “We will allow a regional skills migrants list to respond to the fact the last Government didn’t listen to the problems that they had.”

Hon Simon Bridges: In light of the Government’s big spending initiatives in tertiary education and KiwiBuild, with no evaluations, why do we now have $3 billion of spending on regional development that we’ll never know how big a flop it is until 2023, because Labour have made sure there’s no evaluation?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: So on the one hand these were all your ideas; on the other, they’re going to be a flop. The member needs to make up his mind over whether or not the regional growth fund’s a good idea.

Hon Simon Bridges: Why is the Prime Minister comfortable with the provincial fund advisory panel being headed by a private political donor to Shane Jones and David Parker, the two most important Ministers for this policy?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I would make the comment that the only reason the member knows about that is that it was declared, it was transparent, and we’ve made it clear that that donation was made. But I think the member discounts the vast experience of every member of that advisory board, including the referenced person’s background in investment—exactly the kinds of skills we want on that advisory panel.

Hon Simon Bridges: So why has the Prime Minister set up a fund that gives the biggest dollop of cash to Winston Peters’ home region of Northland, is advised by a private political donor to Shane Jones and David Parker, has a New Zealand First list candidate on the independent panel—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order! Question, please.

Hon Simon Bridges: —and deliberately has no assessment of its effectiveness until 2023?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Of course we’ll be monitoring the effectiveness of our own policy, but one comment I would want to make is: is the new leader of the National Party telling Northland that they have no need for investment in infrastructure for their region, because that is a disgraceful claim to make?

22 Comments

  1. I thought that was well researched, smart and persistent questioning from Bridges, and very evasive and far from positive from Ardern. So a promising start for Bridges.

    • PDB

       /  February 27, 2018

      Ardern was asked a pretty straight forward question three occasions in a row about how much was new spending and wouldn’t give an answer – Trevor next to useless even though before that he did force Ardern to actually give an answer to an even simpler question regarding what region got the most money.

      Winston and Bridges going toe to toe when Ardern is on leave will be interesting.

      • Gezza

         /  February 27, 2018

        She’s only required to address the question. Her answer is that no specific funding allocations were actually made to any projects by the government – so she is getting away with arguing that no money was specifically appropriated for the projects they’ve allocated it to. But you’re right that she should have been able say how much was new money (because she eventually said that the majority of it was ), or that she didn’t have that information at the moment.

        • Gezza

           /  February 27, 2018

          *No specific allocations to projects by the LAST gov’t, soz

    • Gezza

       /  February 27, 2018

      Yes, although Alan made the point elsewhere that he was working solely from a prepared script, and was actually speaking on behalf of Bill English.

      What was interesting though was how aggressively Jacinda reacted to the younger & different type of challenge he represents, & that indicates the pair of them will be slug it out: gender is not going to make any difference to either of them.

      And also how Trevor made her answer a question again, instead of obfuscating, & also awarded an extra question to the Opposition because of something she said.

      Simon has yet to demonstrate he can think on his feet & adapt questions to answers given.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  February 27, 2018

        Should be able to adapt on his feet as an ex Crown prosecutor. He did repeat his unanswered question quite dryly and coolly.

        • Gezza

           /  February 27, 2018

          Yes, he did, but Labour (Robertson, & Clarke especially) have been running the line that National hasn’t appropriated money for specific projects for some time now, so that therefore anything the Government might spend is money National had never earmarked anyway, so thus National didn’t fund whatever it was they’re criticising them for funding or not funding.

          The point’s maybe not that important to Parliament watchers – Bridges got the main points across:
          – that money they’re spending was money that National had put aside somewhere
          – that they’re paying off NZFirst
          – that they’re showing cronyism already
          – that they haven’t done a proper CBA on these allocations

    • Gezza

       /  February 27, 2018

      Looking at the transcipt & watching the video again, I think you’d definitively have to give that round to Simon.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  February 27, 2018

        Yes, that’s what I meant by the media running defense for her. She’ll be exposed when/if they turn on her.

      • Blazer

         /  February 28, 2018

        I wonder how many voters bother watching those encounters….there’s you,Al…and a handful of others.

        • Gezza

           /  February 28, 2018

          Al doesn’t, except for maybe the odd clip posted here. Zedd does, I think. If ypu’re working you wouldn’t bother. But you can pick up quite a bit of info & rate MP & Ministers performances.

          I find them lately quite entertaining, especially Speaker Trev. It’s clear the msm doesn’t bother much with them & the tiny excerpt shown of this session on1ewes didn’t tell viewers anything. With Simon facing off against Jacinda though there might be some heightened interest from reporters for a day or two.

    • lurcher1948

       /  February 27, 2018

      WOW bridges asks a few questions and our PM answers them and you say hes brilliant and shes avasive????????YOU ARE A HARD TASKMASTER PG.
      PS PG,big surpluses come from NOT SPENDING ANY MONEY ANYWHERE, right national

  2. David

     /  February 27, 2018

    It’s going to be entertaining, Bridges won that on detail and ARDERN won with her quite accomplished spinning ability.
    Mallard is absolutely tits at speaker.

    • Gezza

       /  February 27, 2018

      Well, I’m decidely not tribal, David. Personally I don’t think Jacinda’s spin was at all convincing. I think she was flapping about.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  February 27, 2018

        It’ll be interesting to see if the MSM pick up Bridges points or ignore them.

        • Gezza

           /  February 27, 2018

          She’s gong to need to learn to stay on top of money details.

          • Gezza

             /  February 27, 2018

            * going
            She learned that on the campaign trail. She is going to get asked questions that require a knowledge of what the Finance Minister’s doing.

            • Pickled Possum

               /  February 28, 2018

              Bro, didcha see paula sitting in the queen seat with her animated looks of interest surprise and she has the skinny smirkyness going on now.
              Why is she there? Is there no one else!? someone that knows what *privacy means. Whats she got to be so happy about!?
              maybe it’s her $201,666 + perks salary .. maybe she can see herself rolling Simon in 2020 and being the Queen of nothing.
              Ha Politics a Game of Many Thrones

            • Gezza

               /  February 28, 2018

              Yeah I did watch her sis – do you think she’s been to a tanning clinic?
              Looked like it to me. Unless it was just the choice of lipstick?

            • Pickled Possum

               /  February 28, 2018

              She’s a Celebraty now bro … so tanning is In, also lippy goes with her MO. But it’s like America now … he/she who scores in the ring is the winna. not unlike Charlie Sheen.

  3. George

     /  February 28, 2018

    Bridges, why did you not build the ten bridges or even start on one? A liar. Lol

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