Simon Bridges vows to 'scrupulously ignore' Jami-Lee Ross in 2019

Simon Bridges has a cunning plan to deal with troublesome MP Jami-Lee Ross in 2019: ignore him.

The Botany MP caused the National Party leader a lot of grief last year after he went rogue in a saga that gripped the nation. Secret recordings were leaked, allegations of abuse revealed and mysterious party donations exposed.

Mr Ross gave his proxy vote to New Zealand First after splitting with National, but refused to resign from Parliament - indicating he may stay on as an independent MP.

Speaking to Magic Talk's Sean Plunket, Mr Bridges spoke about the man who, even well into the new year, is still seen as the 'Sword of Damocles' hovering over the heads of the National Party.

His strategy is simple.

"I'm going to ignore him," Mr Bridges says.

"Bluntly speaking, Jami-Lee Ross is no longer my problem. We expelled him from the caucus, it took up a month or two of time, my time as leader of the Opposition. It was a distraction.

"I think to our credit we got back really quick onto the issues that matter to Kiwis, the economy, cost of living. Now, this year, I'm going to make sure I actually scrupulously ignore the guy because I've got bigger fish to fry."

He wouldn't echo Plunket's comment that Mr Ross is "dead to him and to National", but was firm he won't be devoting any more time and energy to the former chief whip.

"He's certainly not my problem. I expect him to come back, I expect him to do well - actually I don't know what I expect but he'll do what he's going to do, but we'll focus on what Kiwis want us to do."

It's been suggested that National could use the controversial waka-jumping legislation, which passed into law in September, to force Mr Ross to give up his seat in Parliament.

But Mr Bridges says it's "very unlikely" he'll use the law, which he vehemently opposed.

"What I said before, and it's still true, is that it's not something we would do while Jami-Lee Ross was unwell."

Even if Mr Ross makes a full recovery and returns to Parliament, the Opposition leader says it wouldn't be right to use the waka-jumping law.

"We have slagged this bill off Sean, we've done that because as a matter of principle we don't like it, the idea that MPs can't act according to their conscience or they'll get booted because Winston Peters doesn't trust his own colleagues. I'd be a hypocrite if I then went and used the law."

Those in Mr Ross' electorate of Botany will simply have to wait until the next election for him to leave, although Mr Bridges says members of his party are "working hard" to make sure people in the area will be able to discuss local issues with National MPs such as Simeon Brown and Andrew Bailey.

He also discussed the recently-released text message Richie Hardcore sent to Jacinda Ardern, praising the Government's initial decision to let convicted drug smuggler Karel Sroubek remain in New Zealand.

Mr Bridges says it's suspicious that two of Sroubek's most high-profile supporters, Hardcore and convicted fraudster Alex Swney, are both friends with the Prime Minister.

"I'm no conspiracy theorist but something's a bit smelly here," he says.

"I suspect there's more to come."