RNZ, Auckland, October 18, 2018
Simon Bridges, Jami-Lee Ross (Photo by Rebekah Parsons-King for RNZ)
Aucklanders of Chinese and Indian descent say race-based comments made by Simon Bridges and Jami-Lee Ross are ugly, unprofessional and racist.
The comments were made in a phone conversation recorded and released by Mr Ross in which they discuss a $100,000 donation to the party.
Calling a fellow National MP f***ing useless and talking about who else could go was not the only bombshell in the telephone recording between Simon Bridges and Jami-Lee Ross.
After talking about the dinner with businessman Zhang Yikun and discussing a $100,000 donation, the pair talked about potential candidates.
“Two Chinese would be nice but then, you know, would it be one Chinese and one Filipino? Or, you know, what do we do?” Mr Bridges said.
Mr Ross replied: “Two Chinese would be more valuable than two Indians, I have to say.”
“Yeah, which is what we have got at the moment, right?” Mr Bridges said.
Chinese, Indians comment
Chinese and Indians in Auckland did not think much of the comments.
“My personal [opinion] is it’s a bit racist,” said one woman. “You shouldn’t say what nationality is better than others.”
On Dominion Road, Andy Dhamija, who was waiting for his bus, said that the National Party was a shambles.
He said the Chinese and Indian communities were being drawn into the Bridges and Ross saga.
“It just seems like National have lost the plot, they do not know what to do. I think all the senior leadership has gone so now I think it is the internal fight that is getting uglier and uglier,” he said.
Mr Dhamija said Indian and Chinese MPs were often seen as token members to show a party reflects diversity and to get votes.
“Bridges should go”
He added that Mr Bridges had made one too many blunders and should resign.
Lucy Lu said even if it was a private conversation, the two MPs shouldn’t have been talking about deciding the merit of people based on their race.
“I think it’s not professional because you should be careful because you serve for the public so everyone’s watching you,” she said.
But another Chinese woman said it was terrible that Jami-Lee Ross recorded the conversation in the first place.
“It’s like staging-up. It’s almost like he did it on purpose to record everything, it’s not good.”
After the recording was released, Mr Bridges apologised to National’s Maureen Pugh for the comment about her usefulness.
National Party’s multiculturalism
He said it was a “big and hard” lesson and he said the National Party is proud of its multiculturalism.
Mr Bridges admitted the conversation was “blunt”, but said National had a goal of better ethnic representation in Parliament.
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