NZ Election 2020: National 'in the game' despite recent polling, 'contest of ideas' needed - Simon Bridges

Despite National floundering in the latest polls, Simon Bridges believes the party remains "in the game" and that Kiwis deserve a contest of ideas, rather than a "coronation".

Two public polls have been released over the last week, with Newshub-Reid Research putting National on a dire 25.1 percent - down 5.5 points from May - and Colmar Brunton showing the centre-right party on 32 percent, a slide since its June poll. Labour's results consistently show it able to govern alone.

National has said it expects the race to tighten ahead of the September 19 election as it suspects Kiwis will face harsh economic consequences resulting from COVID-19. 

Simon Bridges - the former National leader who was rolled by Todd Muller in May - told The AM Show his party is the "underdog".

"The polls are explainable. It is a situation where COVID-19 came around, the country rallies, there is a shallow, warm sort of glow about that. But what we now need to see is a focus on what actually the next three years look like, and National is in the game."

The last month has been dominated by political scandal, with a National MP leaking private COVID-19 data, another accused of sending indecent images to young women, Muller suddenly resigning, and a Labour minister sacked for having an affair with a former staffer.

Bridges hopes Kiwis will see a contest of ideas. 

"I think, if you think it through, we have got a lot to come. What I despair about actually is you have got in the Labour Party, a party that isn't putting out any policy or plans and I just don't think that's good enough," he said.

"We want to see, I think New Zealanders do, the policies, the plans for our future, not a coronation. I am hopeful, over the next couple of months, we will see a real contest of ideas so people have a real choice here."

Labour MP David Parker told The AM Show it's good to be in the party on the up. 

"It's better to be up than down. But I think that is probably New Zealanders thinking they are pretty happy with the job that the Government, particularly the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, has done on COVID," he said.

"They see us making progress in issues like housing, even though they know they are thorny issues, and I suspect a lot of people don't want to change the captain."

In terms of the claim of no policy, Parker said Labour has expressed support for revamping the Resource Management Act.

It's been reported that Labour plans to begin releasing specific plans from early August. 

Recent announcements - such as on Thursday regarding investment into state housing - reflect decisions the Government has made rather than plans by the individual parties. 

Next week is the House's last for this term, with Parliament set to be dissolved on August 12. That provides parties more time to campaign ahead of the election.