Written By: - Date published: 9:37 am, March 4th, 2018 - 44 comments
Categories: crime, Environment, national, prisons, same old national, Simon Bridges, sustainability, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, transport, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags:
Spare a thought for Simon Bridges. This week he has taken on the most difficult job in politics, being the leader of the opposition.
The first week is very important. It is a chance to make a name for yourself and set down the themes you want to rely on in your quest for the top job. And first impressions are vital. The dominant initial feelings that the population have for you are very hard to shake loose.
If this is the case then Bridges’ first week has been a disaster. And I suspect Judith Collins is already planning for the future.
There were two extraordinary blunders on his part. He claimed that he was environmentally friendly when the most cursory view of his Ministerial history would confirm that this is not the case. And he forgot that his Government oversaw the stripping of democratic rights from all prisoners, and said that some prisoners should have the right to vote but then quickly adjusted his position when his error was pointed out to him.
Newshub Nation host Lisa Owen asked Mr Bridges about his environmental record, particularly during his time as Energy Minister.
In 2014, he signed off on mining exploration on Department of Conservation land at Victoria Park forest. In 2017, he opened part of the Maui’s dolphin breeding ground for oil exploration off the Taranaki coast. In 2015, he said mining had been a mainstay on the West Coast for 150 years “and long may it continue”.
National’s energy policy from 2017 says New Zealand’s “oil and gas potential is huge, we could be the richest little country in the world”.
“Do I resile any of those things? No, because actually resources are important, whether it’s for cellphones, whether it’s in houses and so on. We do need to do that, but we also need to transition,” Mr Bridges said.
He said he’d also pushed for public transport funding, cycle ways, electric vehicles and renewable energy.
“My record on the environment is strong.”
How someone who was so pro roads and pro oil drilling can even think of claiming that he has a strong environmental record is totally beyond me.
But his real faux pas was his failure to remember his Government’s actions in stripping all prisoners of their right to vote. Even though he spoke in Parliament in support of the bill that achieved this. With rather too much enthusiasm.
From Emma Hurley at Newshub:
Before his first appearance on Newshub Nation as National leader, Simon Bridges thought some prisoners could vote.
Mr Bridges was asked on Saturday by host Lisa Owen whether prisoners should be able to vote.
“It depends on the level. I think the answer that we came to in Government was under, is it two or three years? Yes. Where they’re in for really serious lags and really serious offences, no.”
Ms Owen told him in fact, at the moment no prisoners can vote, and asked if Mr Bridges was proposing a change.
“Well I thought that was the Bill we had put in place,” he replied.
Asked if he supported prisoners with sentences under three years being able to vote, he said: “Well no, I support the position we had. I thought I had that right.”
This tweet from Steffan Rusten captures the back down and change of position elegantly.
Bridges: I think prisoners serving less than 2 or 3 years should be able to vote
Lisa Owen: Well they can’t.
B: I thought they could
LO: they can’t. Because of National’s bill. So you support prisoners with sentences under three years being able to vote?
— Steffen Rusten (@steffenrusten) March 3, 2018
It is hard to understand how Bridges has not kept up with the issue. It was extremely contentious, and the Court of Appeal has ruled that the bill breached the rights of prisoners under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act.
Bridges’ principles appear to be very malleable and his memory poor. These are not good qualities for a nascent Prime Minister to have.