Bridges: Deal on NZ deportations "tough"

NZ opposition leader Simon Bridges says he's drawn some lessons from Scott Morrison's victory.
NZ opposition leader Simon Bridges says he's drawn some lessons from Scott Morrison's victory.

As he gears up to fight next year's election, New Zealand opposition leader Simon Bridges says he sees lessons from the unlikely triumph of Australian prime minister Scott Morrison.

The next-generation National leader, who like Morrison hails from the conservative side of politics, will battle Labour prime minister Jacinda Ardern at the 2020 poll.

Mr Bridges seems set to take a similar messaging and voter targeting approach to Mr Morrison in next year's Kiwi election, saying "there are definitely some lessons" from the Australian contest.

"I remember Scott Morrison talking about the quiet Australians. I think there is that phenomena is here too," he told AAP.

Mr Morrison first used the phrase 'quiet Australians' on election night, speaking of the constituency that returned his Coalition to power.

It has been translated to mean mainstream voters that feel disenfranchised by modern politics and alienated from the left-wing concerns that can preoccupy the agenda.

Mr Bridges' interest in Mr Morrison's win has been noticed in Wellington, where political observers are anticipating the introduction of tactics from this year's Australian election in their own battle in 2020.

It raised eyebrows when Mr Bridges described Mr Morrison "not a role model" during a fast-paced corridor press huddle earlier this month.

With the benefit of a less hectic environment, he clarified his thinking.

"Scott is a great guy. I think he is working resolutely in Australia's and Australians' interest," he told AAP.

"What I meant by what I said was quite simply this: He's not my dad.

"He's not John Howard, decades my senior, now out of the the contest and able to give a perspective back on what's been achieved.

"He's a contemporary."

"And our agendas will be quite similar in some regards, domestically, and potentially, internationally, as well."

Mr Bridges highlighted one obvious area of conflict between the two neighbours where he could potentially clash with Mr Morrison: that of the deportations of New Zealanders from Australia.

"We've got a situation today where Kiwis in name, but who have lived all their lives in Australia, are coming back here and creating mayhem," he said.

"I don't like that.

"I think a deal is hard. Because actually, Australia is acting in Australia's interests.

"We've got to think about how we can work out something that works better for New Zealand or at least try to do that."

Australian Associated Press