Tauranga MP Simon Bridges put out a challenge today to the NZ First and Labour MPs Clayton Mitchell and Jan Tenetti, reminding them they are in a National electorate.
“They have gone against what most people in the Bay of Plenty wanted,” says Simon today. “The Bay of Plenty did not vote for this sort of government and they need to understand that pretty clearly.
“Todd Muller and I believe we represent the majority of the people in this area, and it’s our responsibility to take it to the new government and ensure our economic direction isn’t sacrificed, that the prosperity and the gains we are making don’t go sideways.”
While congratulating Prime Minister elect Jacinda Adern, Simon says the result from yesterday where NZ First leader Winston Peters announcing he would form a government with Labour and the Greens, is very disappointing.
“Particularly given the strength of National’s vote,” says Simon. “We were nearly one in two votes throughout NZ and more like six out of ten here locally in the Bay of plenty.
“The Bay of Plenty did not vote for this Labour NZ First Greens government, and I’ll be working really hard to be part of a strong opposition that’s holding this three party government to account and ensuring that the really strong gains that we have made as a country over the last nine years where we have funded a wealthier more upbeat aspirational country, aren’t squandered.”
The National Party in opposition is almost the same size as the three governing parties together says Simon.
“We have a responsibility to hold them to account and ensure that they are managing the economy and the wider issues that New Zealand faces well,” says Simon.
“I think we will be very interested in how the coalition works, the dynamic of it - and we will be wanting to draw to people’s attention the issues.
“I think also we will be really policy focussed. We’ll have a real economic focus because New Zealand is stronger now and we don’t want to go backwards and there’s a range of policies that I think are worrying.”
Labour has policies particularly around employment law that are expensive, uncosted promises that won’t go well, says Simon.
“They want to introduce effectively going back to the old awards negotiated sectors process. That’s but one example of worrying policies we saw before the election that didn’t get a lot of scrutiny, and it will be our job as the opposition to highlight and dissect.”
The former minister of communications, economic development, transport, finance and Leader of the House is unsure yet what his role will be in opposition, but he’s keen to have a big responsibility.
“The exact portfolios we will work out over the next few weeks.
“The first thing is caucus next week. We will go through the result and start working on our strategy to be and effective opposition to hold the new government to account.”
Simon is unable to comment on the negotiations process because confidentiality agreements were signed, but he disagrees with some comments published so far referring to number of cabinet seats claimed and offered.
“We have actually signed confidentiality agreements. But broadly speaking I don’t think those stories are necessarily correct, and it is very hard to know why Winston Peters and New Zealand First did that.”
Simon says National is a strong, unified party. Leader Bill English led them to a really good result and he intends to stick with him.