Jami-Lee Ross taking a break from MP duties

National front bench MP Jami-Lee Ross has announced that he will be stepping down from his duties as MP for a few months for health and family reasons. While privacy has been asked for the lack of detail has inevitably got the media speculating, especially over a possible link (denied) to the National leak inquiry.

Simon Bridges hasn’t helped damp down speculation with some of his comments which he later said were not ideal. His statement announcing Ross’s standing down:

In recent days I have been talking with Jami-Lee Ross.

He has asked for some time away from Parliament to deal with some personal health issues and I have granted him that.

Jami-Lee will be stepping back from his portfolio responsibilities and from the Opposition front bench.

His Transport portfolio will be picked up by Paul Goldsmith and his Infrastructure responsibilities by Judith Collins. Paul Goldsmith’s Revenue portfolio will be picked up by Andrew Bayly.

I will not be making any further comment on the nature of the health issues given this is a private matter but I can confirm this decision is unrelated to the ongoing leak investigation.

Thank you.

Ross also issued a statement ‘on medical leave’:

Recently I have been dealing with some personal health issues.

There are times in life where you have to put your own health and family first. As a husband and a father I need to do that at this time.

That is why I have asked to have some time off on medical leave for a few months.

Simon has been very understanding and agreed to this along with my request that my Transport and Infrastructure portfolios be reallocated and that I step back from my front bench role.

I look forward to returning to Parliament in the future to re-join our Caucus.

I will not be making any further comment and ask for privacy.

Thank you.

The lack of detail sparked a media frenzy on what the health issues might be, and whether this could be linked to the leak of Bridges’ expenses, where the leaker asked for privacy due to risks as a result of their mental health.

Bridges made things worse with comments about made at a media conference, saying it was “potentially embarrassing”.

Newshub: National MP takes leave from Parliament, Caucus for health issues

Speaking from a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Mr Bridges said Mr Ross will take a “few months” to focus on his wellbeing.

“My focus and Jami Lee’s is to make sure he’s getting the help he needs, he’s focusing on his wellbeing and his young family at this time,” Mr Bridges said.

Mr Bridges said the health issues could be “potentially embarrassing”.

“Maybe that’s not the right word. We all have our own views on these things… actually it’s not really for me to characterise it,” Mr Bridges said.

Mr Bridges said Mr Ross is “clear he’s not the leaker”, insisting the investigation is “entirely separate”.

But that didn’t stop the media pushing possible links. Bridges tried unsuccessfully to dampen down the speculation.

RNZ: National MP Jami-Lee Ross stands down for health reasons

Mr Bridges told reporters in Auckland the issues were of a “deeply personal and private” nature and were revealed to him last week.

“I’ve got to be honest with you, this came out of the blue. You think you know your colleagues very well, but you don’t always know everything that’s going on for what are personal, sensitive, perhaps embarrassing issues.”

He went on to say that perhaps “embarrassing” isn’t the right word.

“I suppose I’ve said it best when I’ve said this is a personal and private health issue, actually it’s not really for me to characterise it. But what I know from talking to Jami-Lee Ross is he’s serious about his wellbeing, about dealing with that, and that’s going to take him getting some help.”

“Be really clear, that is speculation. I think you have to be really careful actually about what is a serious allegation in relation to someone where there is simply no basis – that I have – to say it is him, or anyone else in my caucus. It’s a very separate matter from his personal and wellbeing issues.

“The reality is we’ve got a couple of things happening here. One, is Jami-Lee Ross and some personal and some private health issues. They’re serious, you know he needs to take the time, a few months actually, to focus on that, his wellbeing and his young family,” Mr Bridges said.

“And what we’ve also got of course is a leak investigation underway. We don’t know who is responsible for that, and that’s just a matter of working its way through.”

National deputy leader Paula Bennett said the caucus was taking these concerns very seriously and treating them accordingly.

“We ask the same of the media and we ask the same of the public, that we get behind someone who is going through some pretty traumatic and hard times and we actually back them. And we don’t do speculation that’s unhelpful, unnecessary and untrue.”

Media ignore requests not to speculate big time – that dominated some coverage.

I understand the desire of people with health issues to want privacy.

The problem for MPs is they put themselves in very public roles. Something major like taking several months leave really has to have some sort of explanation.

In this case Ross and Bridges chose not to reveal details of the health issues. They left a vacuum that journalists are only too happy to fill with speculation and hints. Like it or not, that’s politics, and National PR planners should have been well aware of that.

NOTE ON COMMENTING: claims and assertions and accusations without facts may be deleted.

 

 

65 Comments

  1. robertguyton

     /  October 3, 2018

    “I’ve got to be honest with you, this came out of the blue.”
    Later. National Party leader. Comedian.

    • Gezza

       /  October 3, 2018


      Ardern said she would not have used the word “embarrassing” to describe the situation.

      Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she would not have used the word “embarrassing” to describe the health issues that National MP Jami-Lee Ross and his leader cited as being the reason for Ross’ time off from Parliament.

      This follows National Leader Simon Bridges using the word three times during a press conference yesterday.

      Asked what she thought of Bridges using the word, she said: “We all get judged individually for the way we lead our own teams.”
      . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
      https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12136336

  2. robertguyton

     /  October 3, 2018

    Later/lawyer

    • Gezza

       /  October 3, 2018

      Turn off auto-correct.

      • robertguyton

         /  October 3, 2018

        How?

        • Gezza

           /  October 3, 2018

          What device are you using?

          • Gezza

             /  October 3, 2018

            It’ll be switched to on somewhere in the settings for your device or wordprocessing program you’re using robert. It’ll vary where it is depending on device and app or program. Sometimes an easy way to find it is to just google a query with the name of your WP program or device plus “turn off auto correct”.

  3. robertguyton

     /  October 3, 2018

    ““I suppose I’ve said it best when I’ve said this is a personal and private health issue, actually it’s not really for me to characterise it
    But of course, Bridges did “characterise it” – “potentially embarrassing”, Bridges called “it”.
    What a shambles. What a shambles.

  4. David

     /  October 3, 2018

    Lets hope he gets whatever help he needs and a speedy recovery. Unhelpful from Bridges.

    • lurcher1948

       /  October 3, 2018

      Simon didnt make him sick

      • Gezza

         /  October 3, 2018

        Simon makes the leaker sick though, obviously. Keep an eye on Tova. You never know.

  5. lurcher1948

     /  October 3, 2018

    So who was the leaker, has it being exposed(it meaning male or female) and did the two rightwing Canadians pay back the entry price to their event, so many questions never answered

    • Corky

       /  October 3, 2018

      Time for a trip to Kiwi Blog, Lurchy. 😄

      • lurcher1948

         /  October 3, 2018

        I have,but love chatting here to

      • robertguyton

         /  October 3, 2018

        Kiwiblog? There was this (lots of thumbs-up):
        “Captain Mainwaring

        I’ve defended Simon Bridges through thick and thin because I thought there was nobody better for the job and the CoL was busy tearing themselves apart without any need for help from the opposition.
        But yesterday I went right off him when he stumbled and mumbled and then suggested that there was something ‘embarrassing’ about Jami-Lee Ross’s illness.
        At a time when Jami-Lee is in a very difficult space this is the last thing the poor bugger needs.
        Bridges has proved himself un-Prime Ministerial. The rest of his caucus would have had their heads in their hands and I can hear Judith out in the back shed sharpening the knives.
        He must go, and soon.
        Thumb up 30 Thumb down 14”
        And this:
        “NewInoffensiveName

        Very serious. I heard that on the radio and couldn’t help myself from immediately began to wonder what the hell he was alluding to? Some horrible butt disease? Some chronic smelly thing? I really feel for JLR as he is going to be tarred with nothing more than reflexive speculation from this blunder.
        Thumb up 13 Thumb down 3”
        It’s all become rather…icky!

    • robertguyton

       /  October 3, 2018

      Right from the outset it was widely claimed that if, during National’s “internal” investigation into their leaking, any Nat MP “doing a runner” would come under immediate suspicion. Bridges hasn’t helped quell those expectations. Why Bridges applied that intolerable pressure to one of his own can only be guessed at.

  6. Blazer

     /  October 3, 2018

    National and their ‘cone of silence’…low ered.

    • Corky

       /  October 3, 2018

      No big deal, Blazer. Once Simon is rolled things will be as tight as ever. A little turbulence leading up to that event must be expected.

      • robertguyton

         /  October 3, 2018

        Rolling Simon won’t be pleasant for anyone. Judging by the hash he’s making of his own team, he’ll be a completely out-of-control unit when he’s under the gun. Think of the things he’ll say and do! Popcorn time, as they trumpet on Kiwiblog (it’s popcorn time now, actually 🙂

  7. Gezza

     /  October 3, 2018

    Simon, Simon, Simon. Disastrous. There must have been a better way.

    • robertguyton

       /  October 3, 2018

      National – a dog’s breakfast. Didn’t take long. The new leader’s next moves will provide even more entertainment than the present debacle. It’s so funny and fun to be on the other side of this sort of thing. Now I know how you Righties felt when it was happening to the Left. Do you enjoy the sensation? It’s petty, I know, but wasn’t it for you? It’ll come our way again, as night follows day, but not for years and years, aye, Corky!

      • Gezza

         /  October 3, 2018

        Well, personally, I’m just enjoying the entertainment – so long as things are basically trucking along ok at the present time. But I’m not a rightie or a leftie, so I can do that.

        It’s certainly been amusing to watch National, who expected to be the Government, picking the wrong leader, & being not really all that great in the role of Opposition, for which they are terribly inexperienced.

        And also to watch the Labour/Greens, who didn’t expect to be the Government, so far being not really all that great in the role of Government, for which they are terribly inexperienced.

        With prices going up (#morelevies=#moretaxes) and state employee unions starting to get stroppy & demand more dosh from the government than they expected to get away with, it remains to be seen how things will look in a year’s time.

        Too soon to write this government off but a stronger more focused Opposition would be likely to be score plenty of hits if the government Ministers and PM don’t start producing solidly good measurable outcomes soon.

        I see prison numbers are down 7% or so. Which is good. Unless crime rates go up 7%.
        Those are the sorts of indicators to watch.

  8. Zedd

     /  October 3, 2018

    maybe his dodgy hair transplant needs an upgrade ? 😀

    OR could it be that his ranting about ‘being the biggest party in the parliament & demanding to be heard’ has finally come back to bite his A.. perhaps just cant handle being IN OPPOSITION ??

    …. NEXT !!

  9. duperez

     /  October 3, 2018

    I saw Simon Bridges being interviewed. He was the one who used the word ’embarrassing.’ He was.

    Actually, his performance took me all the way back … to that of Clare Curran.

  10. Blazer

     /  October 3, 2018

    What are the odds of the public ever learning who the leaker is…after all this expense and drama..!

    • Zedd

       /  October 3, 2018

      IF Bridges’ expenses from the $100k tiki-tour/party-time were all ‘above board’ then why is this still being seen as ‘an issue’ ?

      OR could it be that some of his own party, think it was just a TOTAL waste of tax-payers money & want a ‘please explain’ to come out ??
      still on 10% pref-PM !

    • High Flying Duck

       /  October 3, 2018

      I think the person taking leave from parliament may be “unrelated to the enquiry”, but perhaps closely related to the reason for the investigation.
      Simon’s use of injudicious language about his MP suggests the leave may become more permanent following the result of the investigation.

  11. robertguyton

     /  October 3, 2018

    Chris (@TS) said:
    “Hey Simon Bridges, as a doctor, I can tell you that the only medical problem that is ‘potentially embarrassing’ is that one you seem to suffer where your foot keeps ending up in your mouth”

  12. robertguyton

     /  October 3, 2018

    Mickey Savage says:
    “Richard Harman at Politik (paid content) has reported that well placed sources have told him that Ross was being advised by National Party board member Glenda Hughes. She has history as acting as the party’s troubleshooter and was involved in sorting out the Todd Barclay problem for the party.

    To compound the impression that National is leaking like a sieve Harman’s article includes news from well placed sources that Hughes is advising Ross and that Ross does have personal matters that need to be attended to. He also comments on the more than remote possibility that Winston Peters and Cameron Slater know who the leaker is.”

    • Blazer

       /  October 3, 2018

      Glenda Hughes to the rescue…Mark Todd’s coke snorting ,rent boy gallivanting incident advisor….’thats a curly…one’…specialises in embarrassement.

      • veutoviper 5.1.2.4
        3 October 2018 at 11:12 am
        Interesting. I did not realise Glenda Hughes is Independent Chairperson of the NZ Racing Board, as well as all her other connections as ex policewoman, ex weightlifter, member of the Parole Board, member of the National Party Board etc …

        Small world in NZ.”
        Glenda Hughes came to Southland, in a clandestine manner, to “fix” the Todd Barclay/ Glenys Dickson debacle. Must be a debacle-in-the-making involving Jami-Lee Ross, I’m betting…

        • Corky

           /  October 3, 2018

          Connections the Left can only dream about.

          • Blazer

             /  October 3, 2018

            she is well over rated…damage control consultant…indeed.

          • robertguyton

             /  October 3, 2018

            “…member of the National Party”
            “Connections the Left can only dream about” – another cracker observation from Corky! The man’s on fire!

        • Blazer

           /  October 3, 2018

          Has been just another seat warming flop at the Racing Board…a gravy train with a dismal record.

  13. Gezza

     /  October 3, 2018

    Mike Hosking gives his balanced view of the situation:

    “This, of course, might be nothing, it might not be remotely connected.

    But if it isn’t, how come Bridges made such an abysmal job of it yesterday?”

    Might give you a quick sense of its flavour
    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12136039

  14. “Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she would not have used the word “embarrassing” to describe the health issues that …”

    • PDB

       /  October 3, 2018

      Both Ardern and Bridges are hopeless – the only differences are that Ardern is better at self-promotion & playing the media and the right know Bridges is hopeless (and most likely will be rolled prior to the next election) whilst the left are in denial about Ardern.

  15. robertguyton

     /  October 3, 2018

    “Worse, Bridges’ dogged pursuit of the leaker has caused a chain reaction of events that leave little room for doubt it came from within the National caucus.”
    D’ya reckon there’s anyone who still refuses to see that it was a Nat MP who leaked?? Aside from several here, and Pete??

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  October 3, 2018

      What are we supposed to see, Robert? Your wishful thinking? So far nothing to see except Labour has lost two Ministers and National has lost one spokesperson but has an idiot leading it which doesn’t say much for those who chose him.

      • Gezza

         /  October 3, 2018

        Ma’s admittedly no fan of National but when she rang me this arvo to make sure I was behaving myself (as always 🙄 ) we somehow ended up discussing this briefly – i.e. that with Key, English & Joyce gone – there’s not anyone who stands out among who’s left on the front bench who’s a likely replacement for English or Key.

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  October 3, 2018

          The kindest assumption I can make is that Simon just had the fewest enemies. The second option is that he was chosen as a placeholder for tactical reasons.

          • Gezza

             /  October 3, 2018

            He’s their Andy Little. Probably a decent enuf chap but just lacking the necessary intellectual equipment for the job.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  October 3, 2018

              Yep. Probably too used to relying on methodical preparation rather than trusting his instincts on his feet.

            • Gezza

               /  October 3, 2018

              He’s a plodder Al. I think he’d have been a good deputy. I don’t think he was ever a senior counsel. Give him instructions and he’ll follow them.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  October 3, 2018

              Hard to understand why on earth he used the word embarrassing when it just makes them both targets of speculation so long as it is unexplained. Awful.

            • Gezza

               /  October 3, 2018

              Just a matter of time …

  16. Karl

     /  October 4, 2018

    It’s obvious.
    He’s taking sick leave so [deleted – not appropriate to make poor taste jokes – PG]

  17. Zedd

     /  October 4, 2018

    Maybe Bridges should take a leaf from Seymour’s & M Fox’s books.. audition for ‘Dancing with the.. outgoing MPs & temp.party leaders’ 😀