Jami-Lee Ross scandal tops even the worst of Australian politics - David Farrar

New Zealand finally has a political scandal worthy of Australian politics, according to blogger David Farrar.

The Jami-Lee Ross affair reached boiling point this week, with Mr Ross accusing National Party leader Simon Bridges of breaking the law, and releasing a recording in which they discuss donations, 'f**king useless' MPs and whether it would be better to have more Chinese or Indians standing for Parliament.

In turn, National booted Mr Ross out of the party, and on Thursday morning Newsroom published allegations from four women, accusing Mr Ross of using 'brutal sex' and intimidation in his "lust for power and control".

Jami-Lee Ross.
Jami-Lee Ross. Photo credit: Newshub.

Mr Farrar, a long-time ally of the National Party, told The AM Show on Thursday the claims and counter-claims have been "incredibly explosive".

"Earlier in the week I compared this to a typical Tuesday in Australian politics. But I think this is now actually going to exceed the worst of Australian and British politics. It just keeps growing."

Most shocking is the timing of it all - only a year into Opposition when the party remains the most-popular in the country.

"You'd sort of understand this if they were in their seventh year in Opposition in the mid-20s, like Labour did. You have to give Labour credit - they only did stuff this stupid when they were desperate."

He thinks Mr Bridges' job as leader might have been saved by Newsroom's bombshell report.

"The last thing [National MPs] want to do is be seen to be rewarding Jami-Lee's tactics. But also, politics is about electability. Any party that goes through a period of damage and someone's trying to take out the leader, it does do damage.

"Any caucus, whether it's Labour, National, Greens - maybe not NZ First - at some stage if they feel, 'Shit, we can't win with this guy,' they may make a change. But in the short-term, there's absolutely nothing there.

"People are so angry, they do not want to give in to these tactics at all. But it is damaging for National, there's no other way you can say it… It is possible with what's coming out this morning though, that this may actually now see a de-escalation, where it will be, 'Look - let's just move on, let's not move on, let's not release any more tapes,' and things get back to normal."

Mr Farrar also said despite the party leadership being aware of complaints about Mr Ross' behaviour, no one saw anything like this coming.

"Normally the MPs that have huge fallouts are those who have never got anywhere. They're bottom of the caucus, they've had a falling out - but this is a guy who had just been promoted to the front bench,  he got number seven and it seems he wanted number four. It seems to be as simple as that…

"One guy, because he couldn't get what he wanted, has done massive, massive damage."

David Farrar.
David Farrar. Photo credit: The AM Show

Mr Ross has taken his evidence against Mr Bridges to the police, including recordings of conversations between the pair. One he released yesterday included comments from Mr Bridges in which he called National list MP Maureen Pugh "f**king useless".

"Taping private conversations is the lowest of the low," said Mr Farrar. "All of us [have] private conversations, we're a bit more brutal in those than you would be to a larger group. You've now got 58 MPs there wondering how many of their conversations have been taped."

Taping conversations in New Zealand is legal if you're one of the people involved, even if the other party isn't aware. Mr Farrar said it was "quite despicable" however to release a conversation "without regard to the impact it would have" on Ms Pugh. Her mother, June Briggs, in turn called Mr Bridges a "dumb arse" in an email to Newshub.

Mr Farrar lamented the current state of his party.

"Parties tend to in-fight when they're doing badly, not when they're actually doing well."

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