'We're fed up as well': Simon Bridges' frustration with badly-behaving colleagues

MPs say the 'malarkey' that goes on in Parliament is nothing compared to what it used to be. 

Two MPs earlier this week lost their jobs in morally dubious circumstances. Rangitata National MP Andrew Falloon resigned after reports he'd been sending pornographic images to young women, while Labour's Iain Lees-Galloway - MP for Palmerston North - was fired from his ministerial roles after it emerged he'd had an affair with a staff member. 

"I think most people looking in would say 'a pox on all our houses' - it's been poor," Labour MP David Parker told The AM Show on Friday. 

"It's messy, it's unacceptable - use the word you want," added former National Party leader Simon Bridges, appearing with Parker.

"I would just say to New Zealanders look, if they're fed up, we're fed up as well. It's very disheartening for most MPs who... actually go to work with good intentions, work hard and aren't involved in all of this carry-on."

Falloon had reportedly been "drinking heavily" on the night he sent a lewd image to a 19-year-old woman - more women have since come forward claiming they too were sent inappropriate material. 

Earlier this week, former Labour Party staffer Phil Quin lifted the lid on Parliament's boozy history.

"As I roamed the halls of Parliament as a staffer in my 20s, ear cocked for a party, there was never a shortage of options," he wrote for Stuff. "In any event, you could always head to the bar at Bellamy’s which, back in the 90s at least, offered the cheapest pints in Wellington."

And in 2018, historian John Martin told RNZ it was no surprise Parliament developed a reputation for being full of drunks - the very first law passed in New Zealand, when it was granted self-government, was to allow a bar to be opened in Parliament. 

"As soon as they got down to work they passed this little piece of legislation that meant that they could enjoy themselves."

That legacy extended right through the 20th century. Winston Peters, who first entered Parliament 1979, told NZME earlier this week things have "changed for the better" since then.

Parker and Bridges agreed.

"I've been around there for close to 20 years and it's less than when you were in the gallery," he told AM Show host Duncan Garner, who was a TV news political reporter in the 2000s.

"It's not like that now. You go to the bar at Bellamy's... and there's often no one there. It's not closed, but it might as well be some nights." 

David Parker and Simon Bridges.
David Parker and Simon Bridges. Photo credit: The AM Show

Bridges, who's been in Parliament since 2008, said it's "definitely changed" over the past 12 years.

"Whether it's cameras in Parliament, whether it's cellphones, we live in a different world now. It is a much cleaner world than it was." 

Parker hopes the public doesn't spend too long dwelling on the actions of a few MPs, with less than two months until the election.

"I agree with Simon that the vast majority of MPs work hard and don't get up to this malarkey. It's also time for people to hear about what's on offer at the election rather than this sideshow."