Simon Bridges blames National's lack of diversity on being 'decimated' at election

Simon Bridges says the National Party caucus isn't as diverse as it once was because of their crushing loss last year.

A recent review into the party's performance in 2020 - their worst election result in 18 years - recommended they focus on increasing diversity and bring in "diverse, high-quality talent regardless of the election result".

"The reality of that is very simple: we got decimated at the election. I don't think we need to go over all of that," Bridges told The AM Show on Friday.

National currently has 33 seats in Parliament. Of those, just nine are women - 27 percent. In contrast, Labour has 55 percent, the Greens 70 percent and ACT 40 percent. 

Before the 2020 election, National had 67 people listed on its site as candidates for the 2020 election - 36 percent of them women, only two of whom were in the top 10. Its caucus before the election was about 37 percent female. 

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

The party lost many high-profile women MPs in 2020 to retirement, including Amy Adams, Paula Bennett, Maggie Barry, Anne Tolley and Nikki Kaye. 

"The truth is, we were a very diverse party in terms of our caucus representation across ethnicities, obviously the gender mix was much different than it is now," said Bridges.

The review also noted the party's lack of Māori representation. Just two of the party's 33 MPs are Māori, and one of Asian descent. There were more - including Indian-born Parmjeet Parmar and Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi - who lost their seats in 2020. 

There are now more people in the National Party caucus named 'Chris' and 'Simon' than there are Māori and more Todds (two) than MPs of Asian descent. 

Bridges - joking he was the "most diverse man on this panel" alongside AM Show host Duncan Garner and Labour MP David Parker - said the review was "robust", but he trusts the members to "get it right".

"They're smart, good-looking people. They'll work it out."