Simon Bridges chides 'weak' Jacinda Ardern over Meka Whaitiri scandal

National leader Simon Bridges has accused Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of weakening New Zealand over her handling of the Meka Whaitiri scandal.

The Labour MP was removed as a Minister after allegations of a physical incident in her Gisborne office in August.

While there were no witnesses to the incident, an investigation found an incident did occur - and it was bad enough that Ms Whaitiri has now been sacked.

However Ms Whaitiri still denies aspects of the allegations, and will remain as co-chair of Labour's Maori caucus and as MP for Ikaroa-Rawhiti.

Mr Bridges says this isn't good enough.

"The fact of the matter is the Prime Minister's been very weak on this. It's leading to a weak Government," Mr Bridges told Newshub.

"It's like a rugby team with even fewer players on the field. That leads to actually not just weak leadership [and] weak government, but a weaker country."

But ACT MP David Seymour is welcoming the decision to remove Ms Whaitiri from the Government's inner circle.

"I wholeheartedly support Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's decision today to cut the size of the Executive," Mr Seymour says.

"Ms Ardern, by handing the portfolio to another Minister instead of looking to the backbenches for reinforcements, must acknowledge there was never a need for 28 Ministers and three Under-Secretaries in the first place."

ACT currently has a Smaller Government Bill which would limit the size of the Executive to 20 Ministers.

"She's implementing our policy one Minister at a time," Mr Seymour says. "If she sacks nine more, I will withdraw my Smaller Government Bill."

But Mr Seymour may be frustrated; Ms Ardern is leaving the door open to Ms Whaitiri's return to a ministerial position.

"I of course like to address issues and leave a path open," she told Newshub.

Ms Whaitiri will get training to learn to work well with her staff, and the Prime Minister isn't ruling out providing help with anger management.

"I'm going to work with the member. At this point we're talking more about managing employees," Ms Ardern said.


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