Chris Bramwell, RNZ Wellington
October 16, 2018
The National Party Caucus will decide Jami-Lee Ross’ political future when MPs meet at Parliament this morning.
Jami-Lee Ross at Simon Bridges’ side during a session in Parliament last year.
Photo: Richard Tindiller for RNZ
National’s leader Simon Bridges yesterday released a report on the leaking of his expenses details, pointing the finger at Mr Ross.
Mr Ross is currently on medical leave from Parliament but is looking increasingly isolated as MPs rally behind Mr Bridges in a show of unity.
The report and the assessment of it by John Billington QC will be presented to National’s Caucus this morning along with what Mr Bridges termed “other matters.”
“The Caucus will be asked to consider all relevant matters, including his membership of caucus.” Mr Bridges said.
Mr Bridges said suspension was an option.
However, given the response of some of his MPs after the news broke, it seemed more likely that expulsion was on the table.
National MP Maggie Barry made her feelings known on social media tweeting that Jami-Lee Ross was a disloyal disgrace and calling him a flawed and isolated individual.
She said that having read the PWC report she personally believed what she called the ‘unpleasant and bullying pattern of behaviour’ of Mr Ross had no place in an otherwise united National caucus under leader Simon Bridges.
In the minutes before yesterday’s press conference – Jami-Lee Ross belted out a series of inflammatory tweets undermining Simon Bridges’ leadership and accusing him of unlawful behaviour, which Mr Bridges denies.
Judith Collin’s Views
National MP Judith Collins said the social media outburst was extraordinary.
“I would be very surprised if our caucus felt that this behaviour was at all acceptable.”
Ms Collins, who had previously put her name forward for the leadership, said she thought that Mr Bridges would be able to lead the Party into the next election.
“Because from my point of view, there is no point putting the blame on to Simon Bridges when quite clearly the person who was recording information and the threats in which were implicit in the tweets from Jami-Lee Ross.
“I’m always going to side with theLleader when you see that sort of behaviour.
“I would never put up with that behaviour, I don’t expect Simon to put up with that behaviour, I don’t expect our Caucus to put up with it.”
Mark Mitchell supports
Another former leadership contender, MP Mark Mitchell, said Mr Bridges’ leadership was absolutely not at risk.
“Not at all – and it’s not something that we’ll be discussing at Caucus. We’ll be discussing the report and action that has to be taken, and any decisions that the caucus might have to take.”
Under the waka-jumping law if the caucus votes to expel Jami-Lee Ross he must be given 21 days to respond and Mr Bridges must also be able to show that Mr Ross has acted in a way that distorts the proportionality of Parliament and is likely to keep doing it.
Once all those boxes are ticked, Mr Bridges could notify the Speaker of a vacancy.
If Mr Ross is eventually expelled, that will force a by-election in his Botany electorate.
National’s caucus meeting will start at about 1030 am.
Chris Bramwell is Deputy Political Editor at Radio New Zealand based in Wellington. Indian Newslink has published the above Report and Picture under a Special Agreement with www.rnz.co.nz