Simon Bridges bats off Maggie Barry allegations, says staff have a 'spring in their step'

Simon Bridges says he's confident the Speaker's bullying probe won't uncover anything in the National Party, despite allegations against Maggie Barry making headlines at the weekend.

The review will look into whether bullying or harassment has occurred, and its extent. Speaker Trevor Mallard told The AM Show last week he wouldn't recommend his own children work at Parliament.

"I think we don't look after people well. I don't think a lot of the people involved in management there, including MPs... are trained to do the job."

Mr Bridges said he welcomed the inquiry because it won't be a "witch hunt or anything remotely like that".

"I think if I speak for National, I don't have a sense of a cultural issue," he told The AM Show on Monday. "I think, actually, people want to come to work. Parliament's not for everyone and we don't want to be complacent about it. That's why I welcome this."

But that lack of fear suggests the probe won't be digging deep enough, says Victoria University politics lecturer Bryce Edwards.

"It's incredibly limited. It's about protecting the reputation of Parliament. It's really the most limited amount that Trevor Mallard as Speaker could be doing in this situation," he told The AM Show.

"He had to do this. It looks like he's been on the front foot and he's getting plaudits for that, but this was inevitable."

Bryce Edwards.
Bryce Edwards. Photo credit: Supplied

The real reason for the inquiry, he speculated, is to make it look like they are doing something - and that could backfire.

"It always looks a bit like a cover-up if they don't do enough. I think that's what Trevor Mallard is risking here - he's given so little resources, so little scope to this inquiry, it could be seen as a bit of a whitewash in the end.

"But at the same time, some of these events have their own momentum - and I've got a feeling that the floodgates are going to open on this one. And people aren't going to direct themselves through the official inquiry - they're going to go to the media."

That's what happened at the weekend, with former staff members telling NZME about the trouble they supposedly had with Ms Barry, MP for the North Shore.

She's denied everything, despite recordings released by NZME and documents suggesting otherwise, and says Parliamentary Service investigations cleared her of wrongdoing.

Mr Bridges said there was no comparison between Ms Barry's tough language and Labour MP Meka Whaitiri's reported grabbing of a staff member she was angry with.

"I know the facts. I know Maggie Barry, I know what she's doing. I know what we've seen here with some pretty interesting claims, but actually someone who's doing a great job and I know what I need to know... In National, our workers come to work with a spring in their step. They want to be part of our team."

Christine Rankin accuses 'crude' Trevor Mallard of bullying

"I'm not really sure the public are going to be okay with this. We need something a bit more robust than this. This inquiry isn't even going to bring out any details - they say it's just going to look at trends and patterns. That's really not going to convince many people, I don't think."

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