Simon Bridges reveals his line of attack against Jacinda Ardern

Simon Bridges is confident his leadership is secure despite polls suggesting otherwise, and he's revealed his plan to probe Jacinda Ardern on the Budget leak scandal

Bridges, the National Party leader, said he'll question the Prime Minister in Parliament about how much the Beehive knew about the leaked Budget material before Treasury issued a statement saying it had been hacked.

"They've failed the integrity test, so tomorrow you can expect me in Parliament to really strongly and forensically hold Jacinda Ardern to account on this," Bridges told Magic Talk on Monday. 

The Beehive was urged by the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) to stop Treasury boss Gabriel Makhlouf from issuing the statement it had been hacked, a report by NZME alleged last week.

It said Andrew Little, the GCSB Minister, received a call from GCSB director-general Andrew Hampton before Treasury's "hack" statement went out, warning him that the bureau did not believe Treasury had been hacked.

Little's office did not respond to Newshub's request on Friday for confirmation that he had been contacted by Hampton ahead of the release of Treasury's initial statement.

The revelation followed the drama of Budget week when the National Party released Wellbeing Budget information two days before the full details were due to be released.

Bridges told Magic Talk the ordeal was "fundamentally important and we will hold the Government to account on those things".

National leader Simon Bridges alongside National MPs (from left to right) Amy Adams, Judith Collins and Paula Bennett.
National leader Simon Bridges alongside National MPs (from left to right) Amy Adams, Judith Collins and Paula Bennett. Photo credit: Getty

"[Ardern]'s going to be like a neutral umpire waiting for a decision. She's not the umpire, she's the captain of the team. She should know what's going on in her team, and she may well be involved in what's going on."

But last night's Newshub-Reid Research Poll found more than half the country thought National releasing the Treasury Budget details was the wrong thing to do.

Bridges said he understood there would be people who felt National should be going after the Government on important issues such as the economy or health.

"I get that - those issues are fundamentally important and we will hold the Government to account on those things," he told Magic Talk.

"But although this one may not have the same sort of everyday appeal to Mrs Jones in Tauranga, or Mr Smith in south Auckland, the reality is it's  incredibly important because you see from a government its strengths and weaknesses around issues like this."

Jacinda Ardern still leads as preferred Prime Minister, according to the latest Newshub-Reid Research Poll.
Jacinda Ardern still leads as preferred Prime Minister, according to the latest Newshub-Reid Research Poll. Photo credit: Getty

The Newshub-Reid Research Poll also found that Bridges' popularity had sunk to 4.2 percent as preferred Prime Minister, behind National MP Judith Collins on 7.1 percent, and well-behind Jacinda Ardern on 49 percent.

Bridges said the poll didn't concern him. He pointed to another Colmar Brunton poll released last night that put National ahead of Labour.

"The true story here, if I'm right on the polls and which one's accurate, there was no Budget-bounce, and in fact National was overtaking the Labour Party in this poll halfway through a term," Bridges said. 

"What my Caucus knows is that we're strong under me, and that I have the backing of the Caucus, and so there will not be a challenge."

But both polls put Bridges behind Collins as preferred Prime Minister. He defended his position, telling Magic Talk: "There are always people who have leadership aspirations."

In April, Newshub was told the numbers in the National caucus were firming for Collins to take a leadership role - a position she had previously put her hand up for.

National deputy leader Paula Bennett told The AM Show on Monday she didn't believe the results of the Newshub-Reid Research Poll, and insisted that National's position was "way better than that".

"We are very confident in the leadership that we've got, the team behind him and the work that we're doing."

Newshub.  

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