Labour hope attacks Bridges

By Ben Guild

Labour Party leadership hopeful Shane Jones has labelled Tauranga MP Simon Bridges a "smirking pup" who has, in his view, limited influence within the National Party.

The extraordinary attack came just hours before Mr Jones and fellow Labour Party leadership hopefuls Grant Robertson and David Cunliffe were due to attend a hustings meeting in Tauranga as part of their national tour.

In response to a question relating to the troublesome $61 million debt that was outstanding on Tauranga's Route K, Mr Jones said the former Associate Minister of Transport had little traction within the Government.

"For as long as Tauranga sends a pup to do a man's job they are saddled with it and they are just going to have to suck it up because he will never deliver for them," Mr Jones said. "Inevitably the solution will lie between some kind of Crown, local government model, but there are enormous demands on the transport dollar."

Mr Jones said in his opinion the Minister of Labour and Minister of Energy and Resources had been uncaring in failing to adequately address safety concerns in the forestry industry.

Earlier this year, Mr Bridges said he was concerned too many forestry workers were being seriously injured or killed but was firm in his view there was no need for an inquiry.

This week he announced major health and safety reforms stemming from the Pike River disaster.

"I think that Simon has an unfortunate smirk and it has been really evident as he has turned his back on the forestry industry and the number of young men who have died in that industry. The number is larger than the number of casualties in the Pike River disaster.

"I'm totally amazed at why he continues to show that trademark smirk in Parliament every time he is asked about that issue and I think that's what he will be remembered for."

Mr Bridges expressed surprise the Labour roadshow was stopping in Tauranga, inquired where the meeting would be held and questioned how many people would show up.

"I don't really have a comment on those things," he said.

"I wish Mr Jones well at the candidates' meeting tonight. Unfortunately for him, though, he's a right-winger in a very left-wing party and he's got zero chance of being the next Labour Party leader."

He said talks on Route K between affected councils and the NZTA were on-going.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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