Bridges called 'chauvinistic pig' in House

Video: inthehouseNZ

National leader Simon Bridges was accused of being a "chauvinistic pig" in today's Question Time for a quip he made during questions to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

The accusation was not from Ardern herself but from Education Minister Chris Hipkins, who took umbrage when Bridges suggested that muttering by Grant Robertson was supplying Ardern with the answers.

Bridges referred to Robertson as "the ventriloquist" - a reference to the frequency with which Robertson actually does answer other people's questions under his breath.

Speaker Trevor Mallard made Bridges withdraw and apologise for that remark.

Hipkins, who as Leader of the House, is expected to exercise high standards, interjected: "That was offensive - chauvinist pig."

Mallard then made Hipkins withdraw and apologise which is meant to be done without embellishment.

Hipkins: "I apologise for calling the Leader of the Opposition a chauvinistic pig."

That apology earned National an extra five supplementary questions from Mallard before Hipkins was ordered to withdraw and apologise properly.

Bridges' question that sparked the controversy was over the primary teachers' pay claim: "Why did her Government prioritise $2.8 billion for a fees-free tertiary policy that isn't delivering any extra students over additional funding for teachers' pay…."

After all the kerfuffle, Ardern resumed the answer to Bridges' question: "The Minister of Finance, for those are interested in what he muttered, said 'We didn't.' I'm going to expand substantially on that answer because in the last Budget we prioritised funding for 1500 more teachers.

"We gave a 45 percent increase for operational funding. We provided the first core early childhood education funding increase in nearly a decade. We tripled learning support funding to $272 million. That is called prioritising education."

Comment has been sought from Ardern and Bridges.

- By political editor Audrey Young 

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