COMMENT:

It is becoming a habit - for the second time in three weeks, National leader Simon Bridges has accused Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of misleading the public.

This time she has also been accused of misleading Parliament as well as the public and Bridges has demanded she correct her statements.

Ardern put up a strenuous defence on both counts that there was no need for corrections.

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In both cases she was technically correct that she did not tell a lie but in both cases she omitted information that gave an impression that turned out to be wrong. It is becoming a habit.

The recent allegation is that she gave Parliament the impression she had received only one text from erstwhile Chief Technology Officer [CTO] Derek Handley, when in truth, thanks to Handley's own disclosures, she had received seven.

Simon Bridges in the House: Has she had any conversations, emails or text with Derek Handley since she's been Prime Minister?

Jacinda Ardern: My best recollection is that I received, some months ago, a text from Mr Handley mentioning the Chief Technology Officer role, which I do not recall directly engaging with, as that would not have been appropriate.

Jacinda Ardern also gave Handley her private email address when he said he wanted to send her his "start thoughts" on the "CTO thing" back in April.

He did not actually email his thoughts to Ardern until June 7 which is when he also revealed he had applied for the CTO job. And as she has told Parliament, she did not respond to the email – not even by emoji - even though he told her he wanted to help her whether or not he got the CTO job.

It was hardly a craven bid to be selected. In a somewhat Zen reference, Handley said "Whatever happens will be the right thing."

Ardern has also given the impression in Parliament that Handley was a passing acquaintance when in reality she had texted him to say it was great news he was returning to New Zealand (he had decided to do so before applying for the CTO job) and said: "Let's catch up when you're back for good perhaps? In the meantime I'll talk to the team about how we can make use of you and your kind offer [to help and support her in any way possible]."

And he texted her "how's mumhood?"

The other recent occasion Ardern was accused of being misleading was on September 7 when she was asked by Newstalk ZB host Chris Lynch whether she was considering firing Curran.

Ardern said no - yet she had privately accepted Curran's resignation the night before and it was announced later that day.

The Curran saga has graduated from a saga in August to a fully blown fiasco a month later.

Handley realised that references to him during the fiasco were leading people to think the worst and it was reflecting badly on him.

His full disclosures of the texts and emails with Curran and Ardern exonerate him. They do not reflect badly on him and he thoroughly deserved the apology delivered to him today by Digital Services Minister Megan Woods. It is not correct to say he brought his family back to New Zealand for the job – that decision had already been made. But he has been treated badly in being hired and fired for a job before even starting and with no explanation.

Until now, the fiasco, mainly over an undisclosed meeting, had reflected badly on Curran but the contagion has spread to Ardern and made the Government look amateurish.

Grant Robertson had to correct an answer in the House today he gave last week on Clare Curran's emails to Handley and Woods had to retract a suggestion that the severance contract with Handley may have been subject to a confidentiality clause.

Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters swore blind Ardern was blameless of anything and everything.

True, she will not have to correct any answers she has given to Parliament.

But that is almost irrelevant because even if she did, it would not undo the damage she has done to herself.