Will Simon Bridges survive 2019 as National leader? 'Absolutely,' he says

Simon Bridges has been leader of the National Party for almost a year, and despite a scandalous 2018, he doesn't think he'll be toppled anytime soon. 

Asked if he'll still be leader by the end of the year, Mr Bridges told The Project: "Yes, absolutely, because I've got a great team and I'm the best person to lead the National Party to the next election."

Mr Bridges became embroiled in the country's biggest political scandal of the year in 2018 after former National MP Jami-Lee Ross leaked secret recordings of the National leader in private, controversial conversations. 

Mr Ross alleged Mr Bridges directed him to split up a $100,000 donation from a Chinese businessman into smaller amounts. The National leader was also recorded calling fellow MP Maureen Pugh "f***ing useless"

Despite the scandals, Mr Bridges told The Project on Thursday that he expects to have a great year ahead, and that he'll be "making sure we hold the Government to account as well as putting forward our positive plans". 

He said he agreed with the Prime Minister's recent statement that 2019 will be a year of delivery: "We did that yesterday with tax indexation, but every month you're going to see from us new and exciting plans to show people what a Government led by me would look like."

Mr Bridges announced on Wednesday during his State of the Nation speech that National would save $650 million a year if it's elected in 2020, by linking income tax to inflation

Under National's model, you wouldn't move into higher tax brackets when your income isn't keeping up with the rising cost of living. Tax thresholds would be adjusted every three years to keep tax in line with the cost of living. 

"People's incomes go up with inflation, but those costs go up, and they slip surreptitiously into another bracket and they're paying more tax, and they're worse off," Mr Bridges told The Project. 

The idea isn't original, however. Former Labour Finance Minister Sir Michael Cullen announced it in 2005, and it became known as "chewing gum" tax cuts because the savings could barely buy you a packet of gum. 

Mr Bridges' comments on lowering tax come as the Government grapples with the possibility of introducing a capital gains tax, which the Tax Working Group is expected to recommend in February. 

"I reckon any Government, whether it's red or whether it's blue, should be thinking about this and doing this sort of thing," Mr Bridges said when discussing his tax plans.  

"What would a capital gains tax achieve other than more uncertainty and risk for a whole lot of people in our country?"