Extended Cut: Simon Bridges and his shocking problem

This article was originally published in September 2016.

There's a certain irony that the minister controlling New Zealand's electricity sector cannot control the static electricity in his own office.

Energy Minister Simon Bridges is getting zapped by shocks whenever he touches anything in his office. It's always been a problem in the Beehive, but new carpet has made it almost unbearable.

"I'm meant to be Minister of Energy and Electricity but I've got no control over this. It's not the biggest issue facing the country but for me as a politician it's a pretty big issue," he says.  

"On a daily basis I get shocks in my office - daily basis is actually a minute basis - and it got to a point where I was too scared to touch my doors," says the static shock victim.

He's resorted to a number of conventional and unconventional methods to try and dissipate the electricity, with varied success.

"We started with the taped door handles and that's been the least effective thing we've done. We put those on and I still got the shocks every time I touched," he says.

Six plants were delivered to his office by Parliamentary Service to help increase the humidity in his office, which he says have had an impact. Humidifers were also shipped in, which spray a mist into the air.

"The plants and the humidifier are making the biggest difference, but there comes a point when you don't want to get too wet in your office," says Mr Bridges.

Other solutions have included a rubber mat under his desk chair, and a bowl of water under a corner table. More bizarrely is his use of a water bottle to spray the carpet.

"Desperate times call for desperate measures," he says. "The steps we've taken to improve it have kind of improved it maybe 60 percent, but I still hesitate.

"I still have a pause before I touch any door handle or lift in this building."

He says the spraying can be therapeutic, and is a good time to think and mull over ideas.

"If I keep spraying on a daily basis, I don't get the shocks. So it's an important remedial step to take," says Mr Bridges.

The new carpet is meant to slowly become less static over time, and despite his rate of watering, Mr Bridges isn't worried about it going mouldy.