Editorial: A bright future is ahead for Bridges

By Scott Inglis

1 comment

Good representation in Parliament is important for Tauranga.

The city has been growing at a breath-taking rate and having a hard-working MP in the corridors of power fighting for constituents and local businesses is vital.

Tauranga MP Simon Bridges, who used to be a crown prosecutor, was elected to Parliament in the November 2008 election, replacing Bob Clarkson, and was re-elected last November.

In my view, Mr Bridges has performed strongly, and clearly most voters agree. He won 20,147 votes last November, increasing his majority to a whopping 15,812, from 11,742 in 2008.

Mr Bridges is not afraid to comment on important issues of the day but has managed to walk the fine line between being seen and heard and not getting into hot water.

He is intelligent, well-presented, carefully articulates his words, exudes some of that all-important X-factor, is social media savvy and backs issues that are sure winners with the public.

A great example is when he pushed through the Animal Welfare Amendment Bill, which dramatically increased penalties for animal cruelty, in July 2010.

Some other MPs fail miserably at this. The job either gets too big for them or they are so full of themselves they end up in trouble with their leader or end up embroiled in scandal.

Being controversial or being seen to break the rules is not the way to get to the top.

Mr Bridges' promotion this week to minister outside Cabinet is a well-deserved reward for his hard work and loyalty to Prime Minister John Key and the National Party.

Mr Bridges, who became a father for the first time last month, will be the new Consumer Affairs Minister, Associate Transport Minister and Associate Minister for Climate Change Issues. He will run the Department of Consumer Affairs and have delegations in the other two portfolios.

It is understood he will oversee road safety in the associate transport role.

His path was cleared by the ministerial resignation of veteran Nick Smith, who quit in the aftermath of the ACC controversy.

This promotion can only be a good thing for Tauranga, and indeed the wider Western Bay. Bay of Plenty MP Tony Ryall is already a senior minister.

Mr Bridges should be proud of achieving so much in such a short time and he has a fabulous opportunity in front of him, one that will demand more of his valuable time. His ability to balance his work as an MP with his ministerial obligations will be crucial.

If he can continue to steer a steady course, his next step surely has to be a seat at the Cabinet table, and given his background as a lawyer there are a number of top portfolios I believe he would be good at, such as justice, police or Attorney-General.

The National Party would be remiss if it was not looking at him hard in its succession plans.

I've heard people say he could even be Prime Minister one day.

Who knows? Politics is a brutal game and I have no doubt a number of tests lay in front of him.

But he is still young and has plenty of time to make it to the top job.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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