Opposition leader Simon Bridges says a deal with the Green Party over Question Time in the House is not the dawning of a potential National-Green coalition partnership.
But he has welcomed the move and says it will help his party hold the Government to account.
Yesterday Green Party co-leader James Shaw said the party would gift most of its primary oral questions to National, reserving the right to keep them if the Greens have hard questions to ask of the Labour-NZ First coalition.
Shaw said patsy questions – where a minister is asked an inane question to prompt an answer about how well the Government is doing – were a waste of time, and National could use the Green Party‘s 42 primary questions for the rest of the year to improve democracy.
Bridges told Newstalk ZB this morning that the party would use the Greens‘ questions in the spirit in which they were given, even if that meant turning them back on the Greens to ask hard questions of its ministers.
“I raised this with James Shaw, he understands that and I think he expects nothing less.”
But Bridges said the deal was not the start of a National-Green partnership working towards a coalition together.
“I wouldn‘t read that much into it … but I do want to emphasise the environment more, and we‘re open to working together where we have a common concern or interest.”
Bridges also criticised Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for her handling of the Young Labour camp in Waihi last month, where a 20-year-old is alleged to have sexually assaulted four people aged between 16 and 18.
“She‘s been far too eager to be an apologist, whether it‘s for [Labour general secretary Andrew] Kirton, for [Labour party president Nigel] Haworth, or frankly for [Foreign Minister] Winston Peters over Russia, rather than as Prime Minister leading decisively.
“Helen Clark or John Key would have been far more decisive.”
But he stopped short of calling for resignations, saying that if he had $1 for every time former Labour leader Andrew Little called for heads to roll, “I‘d be a wealthy man”.
Meanwhile Bridges is planning to meet with political aspirant Lance O‘Sullivan and is not ruling out doing a coalition deal to help him win an electorate seat as the leader of another party.
National has a dearth of support parties and fell short of the numbers to form a Government. O‘Sullivan is looking to stand for Parliament, and has been considering the leadership of The Opportunities Party.
“I‘ve got no agenda but I‘m happy to say ‘G‘day‘,” Bridges told the AM Show.
Asked about National standing aside in an electorate to help O‘Sullivan win a seat, Bridges said: “We‘ve got two and half years to go. Let‘s see what happens.”