The war between Simon Bridges and Jami-Lee Ross has gone up a notch with yet more explosive allegations from the former National MP.
Ross has implied Bridges was told by intelligence agencies that a National MP was a Chinese spy.
Our top spies were asked about it at Parliament in their first outing since the Christchurch terror attack.
- GCSB boss Andrew Hampton warns against local election online voting
- Jami-Lee Ross brings more allegations against National's Simon Bridges
- GCSB, NZSIS concerned about foreign interference in New Zealand election
The leaders of New Zealand's spy agencies are normally secretive when out in the great wide open.
"We're really happy to talk to you after the hearing," Rebecca Kitteridge, director-general of the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS), told Newshub outside Parliament on Thursday morning when she arrived.
Both Kitteridge's agency and the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) - of which Andrew Hampton is director-general - are being investigated as part of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the March 15 attack.
When asked why the alleged gunman wasn't on NZSIS's radar, Kitteridge told Newshub: "Well, I guess that's what the [Royal Commission of Inquiry] will look into."
The head of the GCSB said the agency needs a red flag before it can act, and there wasn't one.
"Lots of people travel to Pakistan, lots of people have gun licences, unfortunately lots of people post not very nice stuff on dodgy websites," he said.
The spy bosses at Parliament were there to warn MPs about foreign government interference in New Zealand politics. They said they're not just using cash, but putting pressure on expat communities and even MPs.
When asked if she's concerned a state might have tried to exert influence over New Zealand MPs, Kitteridge responded: "Yes."
Under the protection of Parliamentary privilege, Jami-Lee Ross appeared to offer an example: "A desire by the Chinese community to have an MP appointed as a Minister in a future government."
He has no proof, but says it happened at the now-infamous dinner he and Bridges attended where a $100,000 donation was discussed.
Ross said the Chinese community also told Bridges they wanted a Chinese MP to become a Minister. But he says Bridges said no, because the MP's a Chinese spy.
"He said to me, 'I can't do it because, basically, the spooks told me he's a Chinese spy'. He then asked the spy bosses, 'was that intelligence provided by an agency?'"
"We don't report publicly on the intelligence we provide to Ministers or the Leader of the Opposition," Kitteridge said.
When later asked who the Chinese community wanted as the Chinese Minister, Ross told Newshub: "I'm not going to get into that."
National has just one Chinese MP, Dr Jian Yang, who admitted in 2017 he'd trained Chinese spies. But neither Yang nor Bridges would be interviewed for this story.
Sources close to the spies raised concerns about the allegations Bridges passed on top secret intelligence to Ross.
In a statement, the National leader told Newshub he hasn't breached national security - he has full confidence in all his MPs.