Row erupts over interview

By Amy McGillivray

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Journalist John Campbell has 'essentially accused Tauranga MP Simon Bridges of incompetence', writes Amy McGillvray.
Journalist John Campbell has 'essentially accused Tauranga MP Simon Bridges of incompetence', writes Amy McGillvray.

A war of words has erupted with prominent broadcaster John Campbell essentially accusing Tauranga MP Simon Bridges of being incompetent.

Campbell made the accusation after Mr Bridges failed to return a Campbell Live reporter's calls this week but Mr Bridges said the broadcaster had a narrow view on oil and gas issues and was only out to embarrass him.

At the end of a Campbell Live story about deep-sea oil exploration near Kaikoura on Tuesday, Mr Campbell told viewers Mr Bridges, the Energy and Resources Minister, refused to be interviewed on the subject.

"This is an issue of real public interest and a complex balancing act of pros and cons. There is much for the minister to discuss but Simon Bridges simply refused to be interviewed. Why? We think this is precisely the sort of issue a competent minister can and should front on - responding to public concern, explaining the economic benefits and offering meaningful reassurance about environmental protections."

"... Minister, the invitation does remain open."

On the previous night's show Mr Campbell told viewers neither Parliamentary Service nor Mr Bridges were interested in discussing the living wage with the show.

"In fact, Simon Bridges is proving to be a very difficult minister to get to respond on any issue at all," Mr Campbell said.

But Mr Bridges last night told the Bay of Plenty Times he was in Tauranga on Monday but could not be on Tuesday's show because he was on a flight to Australia to meet the new Government's ministers - but would not have done the interview on Campbell Live's terms anyway.

"I wouldn't have done it the way they wanted because they wanted to do a pre-record where they could cut me down to the most embarrassing half second," he said.

"I've done serious interviews on mining and petroleum with all the big TV stations and radio shows. With Campbell Live [the same reporter] did a reasonably lengthy interview with me on another occasion and didn't run any of it. It seems to me that the reason they didn't was because it wasn't embarrassing enough for me.

"They seem to have a slant on the issue. That leaves me a little bit jaundiced about what they want to do with it.

"I'm happy enough to go on the show on the proviso it's a serious, considered interview that's live and not edited ..."

"Campbell Live is not going to bully me on to the show. It's a free world. He can say what he likes."

The spat also spilled over on to Twitter when Mr Bridges reminded Mr Campbell of his previous interview on the subject and then accusing the broadcaster of not being open minded on the subject in response to another invitation to be on the show.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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