Bridges, TV's Campbell explode into slanging match

By Kiri Gillespie

15 comments
Simon Bridges and John Campbell are at odds over a public debate.
Simon Bridges and John Campbell are at odds over a public debate.

Broadcaster John Campbell and Tauranga MP Simon Bridges let rip in a fiery television exchange last night, with accusations of cheap shots and nimbyism.

Mr Bridges was on Campbell Live as Energy and Resources Minister to explain the benefits of deep-sea oil drilling, in light of opposition from Kaikoura residents to American petroleum corporation Anadarko drilling off their coast, which had been featured in an earlier Campbell Live story.

Anadarko was 25 per cent shareholder in the disastrous oil well that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico.

The pair began an angry exchange within seconds of the interview starting.

Campbell asked how many deep-sea oil rigs there were in New Zealand of the same depth as the proposed drill in the Pegasus Basis, offshore from Kaikoura.

He also asked if New Zealand was adequately prepared for a disaster response.

Mr Bridges failed to answer directly, prompting the broadcaster to talk over him. The minister fired back, shouting and accusing Campbell of being "nimby minded" by not wanting drilling in his back yard and not wanting to portray anything positive about the oil industry.

Mr Bridges challenged Campbell to recall a single positive statement about the subject from Campbell Lives' coverage, to which Campbell apologised for not having anything positive about the Gulf of Mexico as the "biggest oil disaster in the world".

The interview was extended by the show's producers but toward the end Campbell sighed and shook his head, saying he felt they had not achieved much.

"With due respect, you came in and shouted a lot of nonsense. Is there such a thing as you just turn up and shout?" Campbell said.

Mr Bridges responded: "The reason I've done that is I feel strongly about this."

He said he accepted there was a small risk in oil exploration but there were also significant benefits.

"I think it's a good thing to do and despite what you say I think it's what the vast majority of New Zealanders want to do."

Last week Campbell accused Bridges of being incompetent after he did return calls to appear on the show.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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