Simon Bridges has been stripped of his responsibilities after making jokes about how to conceive a baby, Judith Collins has lost the leadership of the National Party and Shane Reti will take over as interim leader. It’s been a whirlwind 17 hours, but here’s a summary of what happened in seven key quotes.
9.24pm on Wednesday night: Judith Collins strips Simon Bridges of his portfolio responsibilities over comments he made to a female colleague five years ago.
“I was left with no option but to immediately demote Simon Bridges and relieve him of his portfolio responsibilities.”
At the late hour of 9.24pm on Wednesday night, Judith Collins sent out a press release saying she was stripping Simon Bridges of his portfolio responsibilities after an allegation of serious misconduct.
“The case relates to comments made by Mr Bridges to a female caucus colleague at a function a number of years ago.”
She said after being made aware of the seriousness of the complaint for the first time, she “was left with no option but to immediately demote Simon Bridges and relieve him of his portfolio responsibilities,” and that she had the unanimous support of the board of the National Party.
His portfolio responsibilities were as opposition spokesperson for Justice, Water, Pike River Re-entry and Māori-Crown Relations.
7.15am Thursday: Simon Bridges says Judith Collins did this as a desperate move to hold onto the National leadership.
“What we saw yesterday was truly desperate stuff from Judith Collins.”
At a short media stand-up early Thursday morning, Simon Bridges said what Collins did “shows that she'll go to any length to hold on to her leadership of the National Party”.
"There's a huge amount I want to say about what happened yesterday and how wrong it was, and I assure you I will, but I want to talk to my caucus first and be very clear with them about what I think, and what I think should happen for the National Party."
The National Party went into caucus (a meeting of all the MPs of the National Party) at 9am, with Collins saying she would make an announcement to media at 10am.
But the caucus meeting went for three hours, and by the end of it, she had been rolled as leader. It was announced deputy leader Dr Shane Reti would be taking over.
12.35pm: Judith Collins announces via Twitter she is no longer the leader of the National Party.
“I am just the MP for Papakura again.”
“I am proud of the support I received from Dr Shane Reti, a man of principle, and I will continue to advocate, not only for Papakura, but for those who have no voice,” she said.
“I’m so pleased that I can spend more time with my family & friends & I will not miss the gruelling media schedule.”
1.20pm: New interim National leader Shane Reti says the caucus meeting resulted in a vote of no confidence in Judith Collins.
“Caucus was concerned with the content of the press release and the process by which it was issued.”
“As a result the Honorable Judith Collins is no longer the leader of the National Party, and according to party convention, I have assumed the role of interim leader until the caucus meets again on Tuesday to choose a new leader,” he said.
“There is always a sadness when something like this happens but we get up and lift our eyes to the horizon and get on with our work.”
1.32pm: National MP Jacqui Dean says she was the person who heard the lewd comments, but won’t say what they were about.
“They were not about me, but they were inappropriate and not something I wanted to hear."
Jacqui Dean put out a press release saying five years ago Simon Bridges had made inappropriate comments that upset her.
“At the time there was an apology, but subsequently it has continued to play on my mind and with the recent reviews that have occurred in Parliament the feelings have been brought back up,” she said.
“The publicity around this has been upsetting and I ask that my privacy is respected on this.”
1.40pm: Simon Bridges reveals what the inappropriate comment was.
“I engaged in some old wives’ tales about... how to have a girl.”
At a press conference around 1.40pm on Thursday afternoon, Bridges said five or six years ago during a lunch break of a full-day National Party meeting, he had been speaking to a number of colleagues, and Jacqui Dean joined the conversation.
“We discussed our wives, our children, I can remember talking about the fact that I have two boys and I wanted a girl.”
“I engaged in some old wives’ tales about that, and how to have a girl. And I entirely accept and am regretful of that day because some of what I said was inappropriate.”
He wouldn’t reveal the exact wording he used, but it’s understood it was something around the position or penetration required to conceive a girl.
Interestingly, this seems to be a common old wives’ tale - the top result for a Google search of ‘how to have a baby girl’ is an article by nappy brand Huggies, which under ‘top tips for conceiving a girl’ recommends “avoid having sex which involves deep penetration – missionary position is best” - so one could guess Bridges’ comment was along these lines.
He said Jacqui Dean was “deeply offended” by what had been said, and that he had “apologised fulsomely” and learnt a valuable lesson at that time.
And says he might run to be the new leader of the National Party
“I’m going to consider it.”
He will decide in the next few days whether he will run for leader next Tuesday. Bridges said he was genuine when he recently told the media he was not interested in the leadership roles, but “that’s changed - I’m going to consider it."