Simon Bridges

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The Honourable
Simon Bridges
MP
Simon Bridges.jpg
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Tauranga
Assumed office
8 December 2008
Preceded by Bob Clarkson
Majority 11,742 (31.69%)
Minister for Economic Development
Assumed office
20 December 2016
Prime Minister Bill English
Preceded by Steven Joyce
17th Minister of Transport
Assumed office
6 October 2014
Prime Minister John Key
Bill English
Preceded by Gerry Brownlee
Minister for Communications
Assumed office
20 December 2016
Prime Minister Bill English
Preceded by Amy Adams
Personal details
Born October 1976 (age 40)
Auckland, New Zealand
Political party National
Spouse(s) Natalie Bridges
Relations Simon O'Connor (brother-in-law)
Children Two sons
Residence Tauranga
Alma mater University of Auckland, University of Oxford
Profession Senior Crown prosecutor
Religion Anglican
Website simonbridges.co.nz

Simon Joseph Bridges (born October 1976) is a New Zealand politician and lawyer. Bridges has been the National Party Member of Parliament for Tauranga since the 2008 election. He is the Leader of the House, Minister for Economic Development, Minister for Communications, Minister of Transport, and Associate Minister of Finance.

Early life[edit]

Simon Bridges was born in October 1976 in Auckland, the youngest of six children. His father, a Māori of Ngāti Maniapoto descent, was a Baptist minister, and his mother, a New Zealand European from Waihi, was a primary school teacher. He has three-sixteenths Māori ancestry[1] and is related to former Labour Cabinet Minister Koro Wētere.[2]

Bridges grew up in Te Atatu, West Auckland, and attended Rutherford College. There, he was taught by future Labour Education Minister Chris Carter, and became head boy of the college.[1][3] He went on to complete a Bachelor of Arts in political science and history, and a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) at the University of Auckland.

Legal career[edit]

Bridges began his legal career as a litigation lawyer in a major Auckland law firm, Kensington Swan.[1] He moved to Tauranga in 2001 to take up a position as a Crown prosecutor in the District and High Courts. During this time, he took leave to travel to the United Kingdom to study at the London School of Economics, and later to complete a postgraduate law degree at St Catherine's College, Oxford; he also worked as an intern in the British House of Commons.[1] As a Crown prosecutor in Tauranga, Bridges mainly worked on jury trials.[4] Bridges ended his legal career in 2008, when he was nominated by the National Party to stand for election to the New Zealand Parliament.[5]

Early political career[edit]

Bridges became a member of the Young Nationals in 1992 at the age of 16 and was elected Deputy New Zealand Chair in 1997. He was active in National's West Auckland organisation as a member of MP Brian Neeson's electorate team. Bridges supported Neeson against a challenge by John Key for the National Party candidacy to contest the new seat of Helensville at the 2002 general election.[1] In the following years, Bridges held several senior positions within the party, including sitting on the party's rules committee and serving as chairperson of the Tauranga National Party branch.[5]

Member of Parliament[edit]

Parliament of New Zealand
Years Term Electorate List Party
2008–2011 49th Tauranga 51 National
2011–2014 50th Tauranga 30 National
2014–present 51st Tauranga 18 National

Election to Parliament: 2008–2011[edit]

In 2008 the incumbent National MP for Tauranga Bob Clarkson announced his intention not to stand for re-election. Bridges then announced his candidacy for the party's selection to stand in the electorate, and he resigned from his roles within the party. In June 2008 Bridges was selected as the party's candidate for the Tauranga electorate.[6] He was placed at No. 51 on National's party list.[7] Several opinion polls during the campaign suggested Bridges was likely to win the seat by a large margin.[8][9]

Bridges won the seat with a majority of 11,742 votes, against a field of 11 candidates, including New Zealand First leader Winston Peters. As New Zealand First did not meet the 5% party vote threshold nationally, it was reliant on at least one candidate winning an electorate seat in order to be represented in Parliament, and Winston Peters' Tauranga candidacy had been it's best chance that year.[10]

Bridges sponsored a Private Member's Bill to increase penalties for animal cruelty, which was drawn from the ballot in early 2010. After passing its first reading, the Animal Welfare Amendment Bill was adopted by the Minister of Agriculture David Carter as a Government Bill and was passed into law.[11]

Second term: 2011–2014[edit]

Simon Bridges speaking to Bryce Edwards at a 2011 election event.

Bridges was re-elected in the 2011 election.[12]

In April 2012, Bridges became a Minister outside Cabinet, as Minister for Consumer Affairs, Associate Minister of Transport, and Associate Minister for Climate Change Issues.[13]

Bridges made regular appearances on TVNZ's Breakfast programme as part of the "Young Guns" feature, in which he appeared alongside Labour MP Jacinda Ardern.[14]

In January 2013 Bridges moved into the Cabinet and became Minister of Labour and Minister of Energy and Resources. He continued to be Associate Minister for Climate Change Issues. He was no longer Minister of Consumer Affairs and Associate Minister of Transport.[15]

In April 2013 Bridges voted against the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill, a bill allowing same-sex couples to marry in New Zealand.[16]

In October 2013, during a TV interview on Campbell Live Bridges and presenter John Campbell became engaged in a heated discussion about the benefits and risks of offshore oil drilling.[17]

In April 2014, environmental activist group Greenpeace launched a campaign calling for Bridges to be removed as Energy and Resources Minister over an allegation he approved potential oil and gas exploration in Victoria Forest Park, West Coast, but later said he was unaware of having given the approval.[18][19] Opponents perceived that Bridges had wrongly approved the exploration in a sensitive area, however this was denied by Bridges and Prime Minister John Key.[20]

Third term: 2014–present[edit]

A by-election was held in the Northland electorate on 28 March 2015. On 9 March, the National party candidate Mark Osborne announced with Simon Bridges, Minister of Transport, that National pledged to upgrade 10 one lane bridges in the region at a cost of up to $69 million.[21] Opponents criticised the government for using its advantage inappropriately in the Northland by-election campaign, especially since it was later revealed that Bridges had asked officials for information on the 10 one lane bridges days before the announcement. However, Prime Minister John Key defended the request on the grounds that Bridges had sought factual information rather than policy advice, which is permitted under the Cabinet Manual rules.[22]

Following the resignation of Prime Minister John Key on 5 December 2016, Bridges announced his candidacy for the Deputy Leadership of the National Party and consequent Deputy Prime Ministership. He withdrew from the election process when it became clear Paula Bennett had the numbers to win.[23]

New Prime Minister Bill English made changes to the Cabinet effective 20 December 2016, and Bridges became Minister for Economic Development, Minister for Communications, and Associate Minister of Finance. He retained his role as Minister of Transport and was no longer Minister of Energy and Resources, and Associate Minister of Justice, and Climate Change Issues.[15]

Personal life[edit]

Bridges met his future wife Natalie, a British-born public relations consultant, while studying at Oxford University.[24][25] The couple have two sons, born in 2012 and 2014,[26][27] and they live in Matua, Tauranga.[28] As of 2008 he attended Holy Trinity Tauranga, an Anglican church.[1]

Bridges' sister, Rachel Trimble, married National MP Simon O'Connor in December 2016.[29]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Dudding, Adam (25 September 2008). "Tauranga: you are now entering Winston country". Sunday Star Times. Retrieved 20 October 2008. 
  2. ^ Roughan, John (25 September 2008). "A word with... Simon Bridges". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 20 November 2008. 
  3. ^ Forbes, Stephen (22 August 2002). "Former Rutherford Head Boy to speak". Western Leader. p. 14. Retrieved 20 November 2008. 
  4. ^ National Party biography: Simon Bridges. Retrieved on 20 November 2008.
  5. ^ a b Dominion Post and NZPA (9 May 2008). "No Clarkson vs Peters battle in Tauranga". stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 20 November 2008. 
  6. ^ "Stage set for tussle in Tauranga". ONE News. 14 June 2008. Retrieved 21 November 2008. 
  7. ^ Humer, Tim (9 November 2008). "Newcomers on the stage and a veteran Act". Sunday Star Times. 
  8. ^ "Peters' popularity wanes in latest poll". ONE News. 10 August 2008. Retrieved 21 November 2008. 
  9. ^ NZPA (2 November 2008). "Poll shows Winston Peters' chances in Tauranga near hopeless". 3 News. Retrieved 20 November 2008. 
  10. ^ "Official Count Results – Tauranga". New Zealand Ministry of Justice. Retrieved 25 November 2008. 
  11. ^ Tait, Maggie (2 February 2010). "Govt to back greater penalties for animal cruelty". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 31 March 2010. 
  12. ^ "Official Count Results – Tauranga". Chief Electoral Office. Retrieved 28 February 2012. 
  13. ^ "Bridges becomes minister, Tremain enters Cabinet". Television New Zealand. 2 April 2012. Retrieved 13 April 2013. 
  14. ^ "TVNZ Search Results". TVNZ. 
  15. ^ a b https://www.parliament.nz/en/mps-and-electorates/members-of-parliament/document/51MP2701/bridges-simon
  16. ^ "Gay marriage: How MPs voted". NZ Herald. 18 April 2013. Retrieved 27 April 2016. 
  17. ^ "Bridges, TV's Campbell explode into slanging match". Bay of Plenty Times. 15 October 2013. Retrieved 27 April 2016. 
  18. ^ "Greenpeace launches campaign for Simon Bridges to be sacked". NZ Herald. 14 April 2014. Retrieved 27 April 2016. 
  19. ^ "Opinion: Is Simon Bridges asleep on the job?". Newshub. 20 March 2014. Retrieved 27 April 2016. 
  20. ^ http://m.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11235217
  21. ^ http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA1503/S00096/national-to-replace-10-single-lane-bridges-in-northland.htm
  22. ^ "John Key backs Simon Bridges over Northland requests". Stuff.co.nz. 15 April 2015. Retrieved 27 April 2016. 
  23. ^ http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/87427846/paula-bennett-has-won-the-battle-for-deputy-prime-minister-and-will-team-up-with-bill-english
  24. ^ http://www.stuff.co.nz/sunday-star-times/features/decision-08/looking-to-the-election-28655/635737/Tauranga-you-are-now-entering-Winston-country
  25. ^ http://www.nzherald.co.nz/bay-of-plenty-times/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503343&objectid=11333830
  26. ^ Amy McGillivray (19 March 2014). "Simon Bridges welcomes second baby into family". Bay of Plenty Times. 
  27. ^ http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11222336
  28. ^ Ruth Keber, Julia Proverbs (11 March 2014). "Matua most sought after suburb in city". Bay of Plenty Times. 
  29. ^ Moir, Jo (10 December 2016). "Paula Bennett has won the battle for deputy Prime Minister and will team up with Bill English". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 10 December 2016. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Gerry Brownlee
Minister of Transport
2014–present
Incumbent
New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Bob Clarkson
Member of Parliament for Tauranga
2008–present
Incumbent