INTERVIEWER: Welcome back. A recent leak of opposition leader Simon Bridges’ travel expenses has expanded into full-blown forensic inquiry to discover the source of the Newshub story by Tova O’Brien. Joining me now to talk about his expenses and the inquiry is National Party leader Simon Bridges. Good morning Mr Bridges.
SIMON BRIDGES: Morning.
INTERVIEWER: You were pretty angry when your expenses were leaked?
BRIDGES: Absolutely. I was very angry. I’ve been working incredibly hard going around New Zealand talking to New Zealanders about New Zealanding.
INTERVIEWER: Do you have to travel in a Crown limousine? Surely there are cheaper ways of getting around than using your free ride?
BRIDGES: Look… I don’t think so. I think New Zealanders want to see their politicians turning up to cake stalls and charity baton relays rested and relaxed after a long journey. It’s very hard to cut a ribbon or successfully cradle a baby if you’re all stressed out from riding in a Jazz or, god forbid, a Prius.
INTERVIEWER: I do understand that, but don’t you think it looks a bit flashy, a bit over the top to be spending $900 per day when you could get something much, much cheaper.
BRIDGES: Well… it could be worse. I could have included the Thai foot masseuse for an extra $250 a day, but I didn’t include her except on a couple of dozen of the trips.
INTERVIEWER: So you were pretty outraged when your expenses were leaked to the Newshub political editor?
BRIDGES: Absolutely outraged.
BRIDGES: Totally disgusted.
INTERVIEWER: So you’re absolutely outraged and totally disgusted by someone releasing your travel expenses…
INTERVIEWER: …just a couple of days before they were going to be made public anyway?
BRIDGES: Yes. It is outrageous that the National Party only had 20 minutes or so to come up with our lines for the media. I’ve been working extremely hard, travelling the country talking to New Zealanders. I mean, face it, that line isn’t very exciting, but it’s all we could come up with after we were ambushed by Tova.
INTERVIEWER: So then, what’s your plan? What are you wanting to happen from here?
BRIDGES: I think the most sensible thing that has happened during this whole time is the Speaker of the House announcing his forensic inquiry into the leak. We need to get to the bottom of whoever has undertaken this threat to New Zealand’s democracy.
INTERVIEWER: Do you ever wonder to yourself if you’d just said, “yeah, we spent that money talking to New Zealanders,” and left it at that, then we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now and the New Zealand taxpayer wouldn’t be spending several hundred thousand dollars trawling through National Party emails to try to find the person who wants your job?
BRIDGES: (extremely long pause) Um… (another long pause) …um… ahh… (more pauses) I…. ahh… I don’t know…?
INTERVIEWER: Mr Bridges… thanks very much…
BRIDGES: Hang on… is that it?
INTERVIEWER: We’ve run out of time.
BRIDGES: But… I… that interview makes me look terrible.
INTERVIEWER: I think this whole debacle makes you look terrible.
BRIDGES: Hey! Aren’t you meant to be an impartial journalist?
INTERVIEWER: No. I’m a fake entity on a satirical blog post. I can be anything I want. Thanks very much for your time Mr Bridges.