Simon Bridges pitches old Labour class size idea

Simon Bridges has made his first major pitch to the National Party as leader - and it's an old Labour one from 2014.

He told the National Party conference he'd reduce class sizes for primary school students, but isn't saying by how much.

With his family in tow and on show, Mr Bridges is pitching himself as a fresh new leader with fresh new ideas.

"I want more teachers in our primary schools, to ensure smaller class sizes," he told the conference.

But rewind four years to another party conference - this time Labour's - and then-leader David Cunliffe made a very similar proposal.

"Labour will reduce class sizes by employing 2000 more teachers," he said at the time.

Mr Bridges denied that his first big pitch was pinched.

"I think it's a long bow to say this was a Labour Party idea. If you want to go that way, here's the deal: they may have said it, but they didn't do it."

In Year 1 of primary school, there's one teacher to 15 students - going up to one teacher for every 29 students in Year 4 to Year 8. Mr Bridges has no details on how that will change.

It is a shift in policy; National was excoriated for planning to increase class sizes in 2012 - so who better to have on spin doctor duty than the boss at the time?

"I don't think Simon should be afraid of changing policy or stamping on some of things we might have done in government," said former Prime Minister Sir John Key.

Labour's policy was going to cost $850 million. As for National's - who knows?

"The hundreds ballpark, not billions," said Mr Bridges. "Whether that's 300, 400 500, we've got to do the detailed work.

"There's nothing vague about this," he added.

His first big pitch is a pitch to the heart strings - to children, families and education, and a major tack to the left.

Few people would argue more one-on-one time for children is bad, but after announcing charter schools - an ACT Party policy - yesterday, and then a Labour policy today, Mr Bridges has left himself wide open to a hammering.