Simon Bridges won't back down on part-time Prime Minister comments

The AM Show 31/07/2019

Simon Bridges won't back down over his comments calling Jacinda Ardern a part-time Prime Minister, going as far as to say the Government itself isn't putting the work in.

The National Party leader made the comments on Tuesday while criticising the Prime Minister's trip to Tokelau.

Ardern left for the trip last week and had to spend 24 hours on a navy ship to get to the New Zealand territory for the first visit from a sitting Prime Minister since 2004.

Bridges says she should have gone during the recent Parliamentary recess and isn't backing down even though his comments were labelled as disrespectful and sexist.

"I don't quite know what Simon Bridges was saying when he said the phrase, 'part-time Prime Minister'," Finance Minister Grant Robertson told TVNZ.

 I do wonder if there’s a bit of a sexist overtone.

But Bridges said he's not just targeting the Prime Minister, and everyone else in Government is letting the side down too.

"It's more than part-time Prime Minister, it's a part-time Government," he told The AM Show.

"I mean yesterday at Parliament in an important week... the Prime Minister's not there, Winston Peters is not there, the deputy leader of the Labour Party is not there. They're MIA." 

Bridges said he went on holiday during the recent parliamentary recess, as did Ardern and he's not criticizing that, but a conspicuous absence of senior MPs during the first week back is problematic.

"In Parliament right now when we have very significant disputes going on about the things that really matter to New Zealand, it's not just Jacinda Ardern, it's Winston Peters, it's Kelvin Davis.

"My simple point to you is the top brass are not there and I believe New Zealanders deserve us having a real focus on the stuff that matters to them."

The AM Show / Newshub reporter Katie Fitzgerald