'She's not a minister': Simon Bridges defends National MP Jo Hayes' Twitter rage

Peter Williams 02/12/2019

Jo Hayes, the National MP who sent an abusive tweet to a former Labour Party candidate, will not be formally disciplined by her boss Simon Bridges because he says she's "not a minister". 

"The thing I would say is there is a world of difference... between a Member of Parliament and a minister," Bridges, National Party leader, told Magic Talk's Peter Williams.

"Now don't get me wrong, there are some things that are clearly beyond the pale for MPs and require significant disciplinary reaction... Ministers though, it seems to me, are held to a much higher standard."

Hayes, a list MP for National, sent a late-night tweet on Friday to Labour's 2011 candidate for Helensville Jeremy Greenbrook-Held, accusing him of being a "nasty person" and "ugly". 

"OMG Youre such a nasty person and I hope that people checking you out for future work will visit your twitter page and see how ugly you really are [sic]," the tweet said. 

Photo credit: Jo Hayes / Twitter

Hayes confirmed to Newshub on Saturday that she sent the tweet from one of her two accounts and said she would delete it. It's not clear why she sent the tweet to Greenbrook-Held or if it was meant for someone else. 

When Newshub checked Twitter on Sunday morning, Hayes' entire Twitter account had been deleted. Her other account remains online. It's also not clear why she had two accounts.

Bridges told Magic Talk Hayes has "been talked to" but he said she will not be formally disciplined because she's apologised and he's "moved on". 

"She's admitted it, she regrets it, she's apologised, it's one tweet, so I'm moving on."

The Opposition leader said he wouldn't rule out a ministerial position for Hayes if National is elected to form a Government in 2020. 

"Everyone gets a second chance... She's not a minister at the moment and that's really the point I'm making.

"She's a Member of Parliament - a backbench Member of Parliament - in the Opposition, not even the government. It's one tweet."

Greenbrook-Held told RNZ he does not know why Hayes - ranked 36th on the National list at the 2017 election - commented on his post of a five-month-old photo of his graduation ceremony. 

"It's a bit worrying that she thinks she can tweet that sort of thing."

Greenbrook-Held said he considered deleting his Twitter account because he doesn't want to go through the experience again.

He later tweeted a screenshot of Hayes' tweet, saying, "Ahh ok @johayesMP". 

Hayes was one of three women to put ther names forward to become National's candidate for Palmerston North at the 2020 election, but they lost to 17-year-old William Wood. 

Hayes made headlines earlier this year when she accepted a petition to Parliament calling for an end to the teaching of gender diversity in New Zealand schools. 

You can listen to the full interview with Peter Williams above.

Peter Williams is host of Magic Mornings weekdays 9am to noon.