Simon Bridges accidentally refers to deputy as Paula Benefit - again

Simon Bridges has accidentally referred to his deputy as Paula Benefit - and not for the first time.

Bridges was speaking to Newstalk ZB on Wednesday morning on the back of a Newshub-Reid-Research poll showing the National Party plummeting in support. It's led to speculation about his future as leader, with Bridges confirming two MPs are wanting to overthrow the current leadership team.

"The biggest issues we face in New Zealand right now are our economic future and I have talked to you about the 1000 jobs a day. I have talked to you about the mortgages, in terms of $80,000 of debt every household is taking on," Bridges told Newstalk ZB.

"But at the moment, there is a focus on leadership in the National Party. A couple of my colleagues want to challenge myself and Paula Benefit, Bennett, for the leadership and the deputy leadership of the National Party."

Bennett, a former beneficiary who was Minister of Social Development in the previous Government, has been deputy to Bridges during his reign as party leader. The nickname was used often during her time as minister. 

It's not the first time Bridges has got his deputy's last name wrong. He did so in 2018 when discussing Winston Peters. 

"Winston Peters spends a huge amount of time on me, on Paula Ben- Benefit- Bennett," Bridges told reporters.

That went on to win Massey University's New Zealand Quote of the Year, attracting 21 percent of the 3322 votes cast by Kiwis.

Competition organiser Heather Kavan said at the time: "I didn't expect voters to experience Simon Bridges' unconscious mind as more entertaining than some of New Zealand's best comedians."

"I think the win comes down to the twinge of delight we feel when we see people in power make a mistake."