While Australia was waiting to see who would next lead its government yesterday, New Zealand's National Party leader called one of the more odd press conferences to have occurred in Parliament Buildings.
Simon Bridges announced that somebody had owned up to leaking his travel expenses last month. If this seems like small beer by comparison with events in Canberra, it was. But everything an Opposition Leader does can offer insights to the judgment of someone who is bidding to lead the next government.
Bridges' response to the travel expenses leak has been odd from the moment he called for a full independent inquiry into it. Then he got his MPs to agree to open their parliamentary email to investigation for the QC undertaking the inquiry. He believed the culprit was not in his caucus and cast suspicion on the Parliamentary Service.
Yesterday he announced he had received an anonymous text from a person with mental health problems claiming to be responsible for the leak and claiming to be in the National caucus. Bridges said the police knew who it was though he did not. If it is a National MP, police may be reluctant to say, because the person said his or her mental health could suffer if the investigation proceeded.
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Thus an investigation that started over a triviality may leave the country wondering which National MP might have a serious mental health problem. This is what can happen when a leader over-reacts to a slight. The consequences can be worse than the offence.