Jacqui Dean: “That was not my intention”

Former leader Simon Bridges has announced that he is considering returning to the role – and said National had “not done well enough” under Collins.

Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean said she was surprised and disappointed when she spoke to former party leader Judith Collins a few weeks ago about the sacking and demotion of Tauranga MP Simon Bridges this week.

Collins lost her National Party leadership yesterday after a long caucus meeting after demoting Bridges and stripped of his portfolios late the night before.

Collins said she did so because of a complaint from a female group colleague alleging serious misconduct related to Bridges’ comments a few years ago.

That colleague was Dean, who told the Otago Daily Times that she mentioned the incident to Collins during a conversation that followed meetings she attended as the deputy spokesperson on recommendations from Francis’ Parliamentary Workplace Culture Review.

“I reached out to Judith a few weeks ago about my concerns and the interview was related to the work I did on the Francis review and I disclosed my experience,” said Dean.

A vote of no confidence was passed and Judith Collins lost the leadership of the National Party on Thursday morning.  Photo / Mark Mitchell, file
A vote of no confidence was passed and Judith Collins lost the leadership of the National Party on Thursday morning. Photo / Mark Mitchell, file

“The reason I did that was that as I looked at the problems … later in the play, I suddenly realized that this had happened to me and that I had to be satisfied not only with Parliament, but also with the National The party really does have the systems and processes to deal with situations where a MP and his behavior are involved.

“I think we found each other especially in something completely different.

“That was not my intention and I think several problems have merged and the rest has been dealt with.”

Bridges’ nightly sacking outraged many national MPs, enough for a hastily arranged session of the caucus yesterday morning to pass a motion of censure against Collins.

Your deputy, Dr. Shane Reti, is interim party chairman pending a meeting of the caucus next Tuesday to elect a new chairman, Nationals sixth in the past five years.

Dean said Bridges’ disturbing comments were not directed at her but were made while she was in the immediate vicinity.

The Waitaki MP says Simon Bridges' comments were not addressed to her but were said near her.  Photo / Mark Mitchell, file
The Waitaki MP says Simon Bridges’ comments were not addressed to her but were said near her. Photo / Mark Mitchell, file

She complained to party leaders at the time, and Bridges kept apologizing yesterday – a version of events he confirmed.

“I have absolutely no doubt about the sincerity of his apology,” said Dean.

“I think there are two issues here, parliamentary culture and a leadership dispute, and the two issues have been merged and I regret that.

“I am very grateful that Judith supported and supported me at the time, but it is not the result that one could have expected.”

That National was now looking for a new leader didn’t detract from the fact that the caucus had had a constructive discussion on the broader issue she raised, Dean said.

“I had a very good conversation with Simon Bridges afterwards and we got much closer to each other’s points of view and I think this is a good start to change.”

She now wanted to move yesterday’s events into the past and return to her duties.

“In my opinion, reviving an issue from the past does not get us any further.”

Collins said yesterday that she knew action against Bridges’ comments would likely cost her leadership, but she has no regrets.

“If I hadn’t done it, I felt like I didn’t deserve the role. I did not ask for the allegations to be brought to me, ”she said.

National Party President Peter Goodfellow said yesterday that his board of directors is not in favor of Bridges downgrading as Collins claims.

Collins claimed in her statement that she had the “unanimous support” of the board of directors.

Goodfellow said the board unanimously supported a first step to seek further information from both parties before drawing conclusions.

He said the board had not discussed, agreed or approved any specific penalties or measures at its meeting on Wednesday, other than assisting an investigation.

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