National's Simon Bridges says his party's MPs haven't been banned from talking to media without first seeking permission from their boss.
Party leader Judith Collins pulled out of two high-profile interviews this week - ditching her regular Wednesday spot on RNZ's Morning Report and a planned interview with Newshub Nation on Saturday.
The RNZ interview was canned after learning she'd be asked about the departure of a number of staff from her office. The Newshub Nation interview was scrapped via a 1:33am text message from her chief press secretary, who has banned all the party's MPs from appearing on the show, which typically features long-form, in-depth interviews.
Bridges told The AM Show that didn't mean National MPs were banned from other shows. The AM Show, like Newshub Nation, airs on Three.
"I can't do Newshub Nation tomorrow - I'm getting a haircut… I'm not aware of any bans whatsoever," he said on Friday.
He later admitted that was a fib.
"No, I'm actually not getting it cut. I just said that to have an excuse. But you know, I'm just making the point - we can do interviews.
"I think the reality is if you look at this week, Judith has done a heap of interviews. There was one in particular where it was about staffing issues - I think quite rightly there's privacy issues around that. But otherwise she's free to do interviews, I'm free, other Members of Parliament are free."
Collins' leadership has been rocky at the best of times, but has come under increasing scrutiny since a combative interview with TVNZ's Breakfast earlier this month, her bizarre feud with a prominent microbiologist and a poll which put the party on 21.8 percent - less than half the support Labour has.
Earlier this year Collins said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern showed "absolute arrogance" when she pulled out of a regular spot with right-wing radio host Mike Hosking.
Before he was rolled, like Collins, Bridges had dismal personal support in the polls - but the party was polling in the 30s and 40s. Again, he ruled out another go at the leadership.
"I'm a used-up has-been. Someone with a glittering future, a political career, I'm suspecting is Mark Richardson."
Richardson, AM Show sportsreader and a proud National Party supporter, earlier this week said he wouldn't be returning to The AM Show in 2022 - perhaps freeing him up for a go at politics. In May, Finance Minister Grant Robertson joked the way things have been going for National, "maybe there will be an opening at some point".