Labour minister Michael Wood regrets referring to Simon Bridges' comments about Maureen Pugh being 'useless'

Senior Labour Minister Michael Wood says he regrets comments he made earlier this week about National MP Maureen Pugh, who earlier refused to say she believed in man-made climate change.

Pugh sparked backlash earlier this week after telling media she was yet to see evidence climate change was caused by humans, before walking back on the comments following an in-person meeting with her boss Christopher Luxon.

There was disbelief about Pugh's comments from fellow MPs, including Wood.

"I think Simon Bridges made some comments on that a couple of years ago," Wood said. "I won't repeat them here." 

He was referring to comments from 2018 when then National-leader Bridges said Pugh was "f**king useless".

During AM's political panel on Friday, National MP Erica Stanford castigated Wood for the reference.

"What really comes to mind is the really nasty comment that Michael Wood made to TV Three that night when it went to air," Stanford said. "I thought it was not in keeping with how you usually conduct yourself, Michael - I was a bit disappointed. 

"I think you probably regret saying that," she added. 

Speaking to AM host Ryan Bridge alongside Stanford, Wood said "I do actually, a little bit" regret the reference.

Erica Stanford and Michael Wood.
Erica Stanford and Michael Wood. Photo credit: AM

"The broader point there should actually be that what we need to focus on is doing something about climate change."

Regardless of whether people believe in climate change or not, Wood reiterated "the important thing is that you do something about it".

But Stanford also admitted she was surprised by Pugh's comments.

"It's clearly not the National Party position, it's not our leader's position, it's not my position so I was somewhat blindsided," she said. 

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins on Tuesday rejected Pugh's comments, saying he was "staggered the National Party is still having this debate".