Bridges leadership slammed over ‘meth crooks’ attacks

I’m not sure what’s worse for Simon Bridges, his off-putting speech, or his attempt to be tough and controversial over meth house compensation, described as a “massive backflip”. The offending tweet:

Gordon Campbell on Bridges’ ‘meth crooks’ leadership failure

Given that National Party leader Simon Bridges has made consistency and strong leadership the cornerstones of his attacks upon the coalition government, his own massive backflip on the meth compensation issue has been unfortunate, to say the least. Once again, it raises doubts as to whether he – or Judith Collins – is really in control of the National caucus.

To recap. Earlier this year the government’s long time science advisor Sir Peter Gluckman issued a damning report on how Housing NZ had used dodgy, inappropriately low thresholds for meth contamination as a basis for evicting tenants from its properties. Back in June, Bridges publicly accepted that Housing NZ had got it wrong, and that the National government had acted upon bad advice.

At the same time in June that Bridges was apologising for the wrongful basis of the HNZ/National government meth policy, National’s housing spokesperson Judith Collins had been criticising the turnaround in Housing NZ’s approach as a “step too far” that was sending the wrong approach to drug users.

Collins, at least, has remained consistent in her commitment to injustice. On September 20, she attacked the coalition government for paying any compensation to the people affected, regardless of the inaccuracy of the ‘expert’ advice on which HNZ had based its actions.

In going down this track, Collins has been wilfully blurring the lines between meth labs, meth smokers and those unfortunate enough to rent houses where residues – sometimes minute – from drug use by prior inhabitants had been blamed on existing tenants, willy nilly. Some of the tenants affected were elderly. Many were not only entirely innocent of such behaviours, but had been saddled with testing-related costs and furniture disposal and/or had been evicted from houses where the contaminants had been at such low levels as to pose no genuine risk to anyone.

By late on September 20 though, Bridges had changed tack on Twitter, so that he and Collins were singing from the same songbook – and crucially, he was now singing from her songbook. Like Collins, Bridges had begun to decry compensation being paid to quote ‘meth crooks’ unquote.

In fact, the claim by Bridges and Collins of compensation being paid out to proven drug users was quite false. It had already been made clear that people evicted from properties where the contamination level exceeded the new threshold advised by Gluckman would not be liable for compensation.

Collins has a record of being deliberately controversial and ‘tough’, but it’s hard to understand what Bridges was trying to achieve here.

Danyl Mclauchlan is more scathing: The dumbfounding nastiness of Simon Bridges’ ‘meth crooks’ remarks

Let’s take a stroll over to the National Party website and cast our eyes over their core values. They’re the kind of thing you’d expect a conservative, centre-right party to stand for. Equal Opportunity. Personal Responsibility. Strong Families. Limited Government. All good stuff, if you’re into that sort of thing.

I think that’s why I find National’s current position on the meth contamination issue to be so dumbfoundingly nasty.

National leader Simon Bridges’ response to all this is to attack the government for paying compensation to people like Rosemary Rudolf, an 87-year-old grandmother who’d lived in her property for sixty years, or Dianne Revill, a solo mother who has been homeless for two years after being wrongly evicted, separating her from her daughter who went to live with another relative, because they are, in Bridges’ words, ‘meth crooks’ who deserved to be evicted.

There’s been a lot of talk about strength and weakness, recently, with sacking MPs or ministers defined as the criteria for strong political leadership. But selling out your own party’s core values to win a slot in the media cycle, and because you’re afraid of a creature like Judith Collins feels to me like a total failure of leadership; the act of a weak and desperate leader who is playing the fear card because he himself is obviously afraid.

I don’t know if bridges is afraid of the threat of Collins or not, but he seems to have no control over her attacks.

Joining her in an attack looks like a massive blunder.

When speaking Bridges often sounds weak. He has backed this up with weak leadership.

Labour had a succession of failed gambles with post-Clark leaders. It looks like National has continued this trend post-Key & English.

Jacinda Ardern may have a secure career her for another term or two before she moves on the lead the world from the UN, but Neve may be a bit old to wow the media then.

26 Comments

  1. David

     /  September 26, 2018

    I would be surprised if there were more than 2 national voters who think giving taxpayers cash to drug users is a good idea.

  2. lurcher1948

     /  September 26, 2018

    So who in the National party leaked Simon Bridges road trip expenses…still waiting Simon

  3. duperez

     /  September 26, 2018

    I wonder how many National voters think that wrongly booting people out of their houses and destroying their furniture is a good idea.

  4. Zedd

     /  September 26, 2018

    Bridges is just ‘grasping at straws’ hoping to get SOME credibility.. anything will do ??

    I wonder whose idea it was to turn question-time into a ‘Natl party logo/sign waving rally’ (boxes on EVERY desk, with the logo on) ?.. frankly it looks silly.. :/

    • Zedd

       /  September 26, 2018

      maybe they could pile up a few on every desk.. then we wouldnt have to see their MPs

    • PartisanZ

       /  September 26, 2018

      @Zedd – “I wonder whose idea it was …”

      Another example of very poor strategic marketing advice I’d wager …

      But we must remember that parties, politicians and policies are now ‘products’ which we the voters ‘consume’ …

      Someone’s convinced the marketeers it’s that simple: Just keep the Logo and colour Blue in front of people all the time and they’ll either confirm or subconsciously shift allegiances …

      You should’ve seen the National-inspired ‘lift out’ in yesterday’s Northland papers, ‘OUR ROADS & TRANSPORT in Northland 2018’ … A party-political paper-cast dominated by Blue, by National, who ‘took’ the front cover and two double-page Blue spreads … “Build Four Lanes”!

      “We need four lanes … not just sticks” and its all about safety first before economic development second … No mention that the simple road-divider ‘sticks’ have been 100% successful in eliminating fatal accidents wherever they’ve been installed up here …

      Thankfully this indoctrination piece was open to anyone who wanted to purchase space in it, so Labour-led and NZFirst also had ‘sparticles’* advocating their 10 year NZTP with its sensibly weighted expenditure on various transport options and the re-invigoration of rail … and possibly even coastal shipping …

      Interestingly, the most highlighted service provided by massive trucking conglomerate Stan Semenoff Group – who took the whole back page – is ‘PALM KERNEL DELIVERY’ …

      • PartisanZ

         /  September 26, 2018

        I’m constantly reminded of Chris Trotter’s description of the first National government –

        ” … they were the crudest, most ignorant and bigoted collection of far-right reactionaries by which New Zealand has ever had the misfortune to be governed.”

  5. High Flying Duck

     /  September 26, 2018

    The facts are far different to the lefty outrage though, aren’t they:

    “But buried beneath the spin and fluff, some searing facts provide some sobering context about the scourge of meth in state housing and how the agency arguably acted in good faith.

    Since July 2013, 4958 of HNZ’s properties have been contamination-tested, triggered by reasonable grounds for suspicion, with 2483 properties testing above the Ministry of Health and Standards New Zealand’s prevailing thresholds at the time.

    Of those, 1214 properties were tenanted when testing was carried out. In the case of 264 properties, HNZ was satisfied that the present tenants weren’t responsible for the contamination and they were promptly rehoused. HNZ also paid for their moving costs and shelled out grocery vouchers or cash grants to atone for placing them in contaminated rentals.

    In a further 159 properties, the tenants were allowed to stay put, while it was remedied. But for 791 properties, the occupants were found responsible for the contamination, they were not rehoused, and were served with a seven-day notice, a 90-day notice, or a Tenancy Tribunal order to vacate.

    Hundreds of these tenants were already breaching other aspects of their tenancy agreements, like unpaid rent, vandalism and engaging in unlawful behaviour. In the case of 275 tenancies, the individuals were suspended from being housed by HNZ for one year.

    The HNZ report also reveals that of their rentals that tested positive for meth, 565 of them actually clocked up a reading of 15μg/100cm2 or higher. (The new contamination threshold as decreed by Sir Peter Gluckman.)

    Remember the 87-year-old pensioner who was forced out of her rental of 60 years? The TV news channels paraded her last week as a prime victim of HNZ’s “bogus testing”. Not only did HNZ rehouse her and pay the moving costs, but her rental recorded an off-the-charts meth reading of 22.5ug/100cm2. And that followed the tenant’s son arranging for the property to be commercially cleaned before testing. There had also been a firearms incident at the place.

    Yes, in the great majority of cases, the positive meth readings fell well short of the new Gluckman threshold that HNZ has now embraced. However, why are we frittering away big bucks compensating the occupants of those 791 properties, who had been cooking or smoking meth in their state rentals?

    If anyone was unfairly evicted who genuinely hadn’t broken their tenancy agreement or allowed meth to be used in their rental, sure, compensate them. But is there actually such a case?”

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/opinion/107321361/why-are-we-frittering-away-big-bucks-on-compensation

    • phantom snowflake

       /  September 26, 2018

      You pompously spout: “The facts are far different to the lefty outrage though, aren’t they” [my emphasis]
      Yet in a very important area it’s opinion that’s being stated, not fact:
      But for 791 properties, the occupants were found responsible for the contamination
      Found responsible!! Apparently you, and Mike Yardley, the writer, don’t understand that the above sentence which I have quoted translates to: “Someone at Housing New Zealand thought that the tenants were responsible for the contamination.”
      There was no proof!

      Your comments here consistently follow the line of “National can do no wrong”. Time to reassess this perhaps as with Collins and Bridges they’ve certainly stuffed up bigtime regarding Meth Contamination.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  September 26, 2018

        They stuffed up with a crooked standard but not with complaining about compensation for meth users.

        • phantom snowflake

           /  September 26, 2018

          That’s: alleged meth users.

          • David

             /  September 26, 2018

            The chemical residue from meth use breaks down remarkably quickly so if you get a sky high reading there is no escaping the smoking was recent, you can take readings from different surfaces and get a pretty good take on when someone last got on the pipe. If the tenancy has been in place for a couple of years and you get a high reading its pretty clear it wasnt the previous tenant.
            What do you think the meth user is going to do with the 800 buck compo, perhaps donate it to charity, feed and cloth their kids.

          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  September 26, 2018

            It’s not alleged meth users. Most of the contamination will have been caused by the tenants or their visitors. Only a small chance it was previous tenants.

            An even smaller chance they vote National. Probably your lot, snowflake.

      • High Flying Duck

         /  September 26, 2018

        Thanks for your #cough# common sense input there Phantom.
        The story was countering the bogus reports that people were turfed from houses with no proper process – that 87 year old lady has been bandied around all over the place as an example of the heavy handed approach of HNZ – the FACTS tell a different story.
        All cases were investigated and almost 2/3 of tenants were found not responsible and were rehoused with compensation for being housed in contaminated properties. That is hardly the sign of a witch hunt is it?
        The story quite rightly points out that the evicted tenants were found to have been using their state funded housing for illegal activities that impacted on the properties.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  September 26, 2018

          At the time, we were hearing about people had become very ill for no apparent reason and that when their houses were tested, they were found to be contaminated by previous occupants.

          It was accepted that P contamination was toxic. If HNZ had sent cleaners in to give the place a scrub and then sent the tenants back in, all hell would have broken loose.

          A local landlord gave the druggy house a thorough scrubbing-down and repainted it because he couldn’t afford the proper decontamination….I bet that many people are wishing that they had just invested in some Jif and a bucket and mop.

          Wasn’t painting supposed to be useless against the ill effects ?

  6. robertguyton

     /  September 26, 2018

    “Blue poison” – yeah, Muttonbird!
    “1
    26 September 2018 at 2:05 pm
    Further evidence that the National Party of New Zealand has absolutely zero idea about the New Zealand environment.

    They have allowed the pollution by dairy farmers of NZ waterways in the pursuit of profit. And they have allowed Kauri to perish by cutting research funding for its protection. My kids now cannot walk the tracks that my parents walked with me!

    Now they wish to turn NZ high country into a prolonged, barren, helicopter-hunting Schwarzenegger/Rambo paradise explicitly for the preserve of local and international gun-toting hunters.

    And this for the ‘preservation’ of a foreign species of goat.

    Green Party take note before jumping into bed with this Blue poison.”

  1. Bridges leadership slammed over ‘meth crooks’ attacks — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition