Labour Govt will be 'elated' by National's Jami-Lee Ross v Simon Bridges implosion - Patrick Gower

  • 15/10/2018

Patrick Gower might be retired from political reporting, but he's still more than qualified when it comes to analysing the chaotic political events of Monday.

The National Party is reeling after a report indicated Botany MP Jami-Lee Ross, who is seventh on the party list, may be responsible for leaking Simon Bridges' expenses documents.

In retaliation, Mr Ross took to Twitter minutes before Mr Bridges held a press conference, claiming he had been framed and accusing the party leader of illegal election donation activity.

Several high-profile National MPs have slammed Mr Ross' comments, and tomorrow the caucus will vote on whether to suspend or even expel him.

"It's probably the most destructive and debilitating leak that I've ever seen," Gower told The Project.

"The second that I saw Tova O'Brien's scoop I knew someone was really going to get hurt. It's ended up probably destroying Jami-Lee Ross, might destroy Simon Bridges, but worst of all for the National Party, it's destroyed their semblance as a strong and stable alternative."

O'Brien, who replaced Gower as Newshub's political editor in February, was leaked Mr Bridges' expenses just days before they would have been officially released.

She refused to name her source, leading to a months' long hunt to identify the leaker. Speaker Trevor Mallard began and later cancelled a QC-led inquiry into the leak, while quietly continuing his own investigation.

Mr Bridges also commissioned an inquiry from PricewaterhouseCoopers, the findings from which were released on Monday.

The report strongly pointed to Mr Ross as the culprit although it could not say with 100 percent certainty that he was the leaker.

Gower says the Labour-led Government will be over the moon with today's mayhem as it means bad news for the Opposition.

"They'll be feeling elated because disloyalty is like poison. When you put it into a political movement, it's very hard to get it out," he explained.

"When you put it in from a very high level, like Jami-Lee Ross, it's very potent - and when it's in there for a long time, the longer it's in, the more it hurts."