Former United Future leader Peter Dunne says coming out of the emergency alert levels will be harder for the Government to deal with than when the country entered lockdown.
Speaking to Kate Hawkesby on Newstalk ZB this morning, Dunne added that Bridges could be safe in his position as leader as there so far didn't appear to any other credible option.
Talking about the implications on the country during lockdown, Dunne said trying to get through the alert level systems, dealing with a Budget next month with an election pinned for September would prove tough for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the Government to juggle.
"It will be because the expectation is going to grow. At the moment the decisions are all being made purely on the say of the Director-General of Health but the Government will want to reassert political control at the same time as the public expectation will be that we will be moving through this much more quickly."
When suggested by Hawkesby that Dr Ashley Bloomfield had effectively been running the current health crisis, Dunne agreed.
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"It's more than relied on him, the way the law reads you could argue that he has more authority under the states of emergency than the ministers have and the Prime Minister said the other day they followed his advice to the letter.
"Now that's understandable at the early stages of the crisis but as we start to move through it and move through the alert levels and with an eye to an election some time later in the year, the Government is going to want to assert political control and get its political spin on what's happening as well."
However, he said that would be a fine balancing act as Jacinda Ardern dealt with the crisis but also the Government's own political moves as the election looms in September.
"It's going to be a very difficult act. Because on the one hand she can't afford to keep seeing this solely as a health crisis, on the other hand she's got to be very careful not to move too far ahead of public opinion and public feeling.
"In many senses, getting out of this is going to be harder than getting into it was."
He believed the country would stay longer in alert level 3 than just 2 weeks.
"I think we will. Once we move to level 3, a lot of people will think that on the 11th of May we'll be in level 2. Well, actually all the Prime Minister has said, and she made this quite clear the other day, she will announce on the 11th of May what happens next.
"There's no guarantee that we will be coming out of level 3 on the 11th of May and there will be a time lag of at least a few days and we will go through the same process again with coming out of level 2 and level 1."
Although the election was still locked in for September Dunne said he didn't see any urgency in trying to push that date out.
"At this stage I'm not persuaded they should but I think the time for making a definitive decision is drawing ever closer.
"She has got up until the middle of December to play with without having to go back to Parliament and get approval for a longer delay but at the same time as all of that she's got the Budget due on May 14, and that's going to be very, very critical."
He said the Budget was initially looking promising with "all the election year lollies".
"Well, you can forget all of that. This is going to be a recovery Budget but it's going to have to show basically what the steps are and how they're going to be paid for.
"They've got to satisfy the public, the market, they've got to satisfy also our trading partners that we're back in business."
No doubt in the back of the Government's mind would be the fact the International Monetary Fund last week said it expected New Zealand to be worst affected, outside Europe, of every other country except Venezuela.
"So we're right at the bottom of the list in terms of the expectation that we're going to come out of this in strong shape. It's a very difficult balancing act looming and the Government has got a massive task ahead of it."
As for speculation around Simon Bridges and his effectiveness as leader, Dunne said he "hadn't helped himself throughout all of this".
"But [conventional thinking] will be if you change your leader this close to an election then you're effectively conceding it, but of course Labour blew that theory out of the water at the last election.
"I think he is in a degree of strife but I think he's probably saved at the moment by the lack of a real strong alternative."
Instead, National needed to be looking ahead, at the recovery stage and how it can front foot it over the Government.
"Labour is the party that was in control during the crisis, National's challenge is to try and promote itself as the party that can deal with the stage of the recovery."