National Party leader Simon Bridges is shutting down questions about rogue MP Jami-Lee Ross and his secret recordings, saying "National is moving on".
Another recording was released yesterday, featuring a discussion between Ross, Bridges and deputy leader Paula Bennett before the Botany MP took medical leave from Parliament in early October.
They discuss Ross' alleged improper behaviour towards women - which he has denied - and Bridges implores Ross to take leave until next year and return to the backbench, citing medical reasons.
Bridges assures Ross that, if Ross went on leave, he would protect him by not telling any media why Ross was away.
"I give you my 100 per cent assurance that if you go with the statement along the lines we've talked about, I will never badmouth you in relation to this - privately, publicly, in background, off the record in any way," Bridges says on the recording, which was obtained by MediaWorks.
"I will do everything within my power to keep the things we talked about last week out of the public [inaudible]. I will do everything."
Bennett told Ross that leave would be the best course of action, and if he didn't accept, the issues would go before the caucus.
"Simon told you all about the disloyalty stuff Jami-Lee, and quite frankly if that was put to caucus, that would be enough."
This morning Bridges would not be drawn on what the disloyalty comment was referring to.
He repeated comments from the previous day, saying he was not prioritising Ross over the allegations and that he dealt with the matter "as the women involved wanted us to".
He then became dismissive of reporters' questions and repeatedly referred to his comments from the previous day.
"Every time a tape comes out, I'm not going to talk about it, I answered questions yesterday on this.
"I'm done talking about him. If people want to listen to the tape, they can do that, but I'm done with it. National is moving on. People are telling me they want us to hold this Government to account and focus on things that actually matter to their lives."
Bennett said the allegations against Ross were not the same as the claims of bullying and intimidating behaviour published by Newsroom.
"They weren't complaints. What we had were pretty low-level things that were raised with us that obviously were of enough concern that we put them to him.
"We weren't brushing anything aside. I'm sure you've listened to the whole recording. I think we've made our points pretty clear.
"We're not really interested in going out there every time Jami-Lee Ross wants to take one of his secret recordings and try to get one of you guys excited about it."
At one point in the tape, Ross apologises to Bridges for a heated exchange that took place when the allegations first surfaced.
Bridges and Bennett also state repeatedly that they are concerned about Ross' mental health - and tell him if he follows their instructions he could return to Parliament next year - and he might even return to the front bench.
Bennett says to Ross at one point: "... In light of everything that's going on and what you've done. We are offering you - because we do care about you and your mental health – we are offering you the lightest we possibly can."
Ross subsequently went on leave for personal health reasons and was later identified by an inquiry as the chief suspect for leaking Bridges' travel expenses.
The Botany MP has been expelled from the National Party but plans to return to Parliament as an independent MP.
He remains on sick leave.