Paula Bennett has used National Party members' extramarital activities to muddy the waters before, former Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox has claimed in an explosive interview.
Appearing on The Hui on Sunday morning with former National MP Tau Henare, the pair slammed National Party leader Simon Bridges' handling of the Jami-Lee Ross saga, Ms Fox saying Ms Bennett's implication Mr Ross had an extramarital affair was "classic Paula".
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Ms Fox said after Mr Bridges made a "hash job" of the inquiry into his leaked expenses, Ms Bennett had to intervene.
"[She] walked in, slayed it, threw some shade on Jami-Lee, showed that she would be loyal no matter what, and did a hatchet job on him. [She] said 'thank you very much' and waltzed on out in her leopard print suit," she told host Mihingarangi Forbes.
"When there has been information that needed to be leaked to muddy the waters or get away from something" Ms Bennett had often stepped in, said Ms Fox.
"There was only one path, and that was all out war on [Jami-Lee Ross]".
Mr Henare said the saga is like nothing ever before in New Zealand politics, and the party was suffering the consequences of keeping the allegations of sexual harassment and bullying against Mr Ross secret.
"Now they are reaping all of what comes from a pretty poor decision and I tell you, the President of the party, his head should be rolling down Willis St right now," he said.
Mr Henare said Mr Ross should have been cut out of the party as soon as it had become aware of the allegations.
"They should have walked into his office and said 'you're out, you're gone mate' …they should have jumped on it hard and fast."
Discussing his departure from National after falling down the party's list, Mr Henare said he never felt compelled to bring down then-Prime Minister Sir John Key.
"You just don't do that, and so what that says to me is that Jami-Lee is so entitled or feels so entitled… [that he] deserves to be either the deputy leader or the leader… he's going down the toilet."
He also commended Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for keeping out of the mess, but Ms Fox said the Labour Party was just as complicit in a "long-standing" cash-for-candidate system.
Ms Fox said the Māori Party had never participated in such a system, particularly because the party had no cash and no candidates at the moment.