Dragging Jami-Lee Ross' private life into National's spat 'close to a very dangerous line' in NZ politics, says Peter Dunne

Former MP Peter Dunne has stepped into the Jami-Lee Ross affair, saying dragging his private life into it is a new low in New Zealand politics.

Mr Dunne was speaking after National accused its rogue MP of being unfaithful in his marriage. 

Amongst the allegations at Mr Ross' extraordinary news conference yesterday was a claim that National Party leaders had accused him of harassing four women. 

"I strenuously deny allegations that I have harassed anyone," Mr Ross said.

National didn't take it lying down, deputy leader Paula Bennett this morning saying he wasn't accused of harassment, but standing by her comments. 

"Oh look, look we just had discussed inappropriate behaviour. And he was the one who had gone out and said it was sexual harassment," Ms Bennett told TVNZ1's Breakfast. 

It was a bridge too far for veteran MP Peter Dunne who retired from politics at the 2017 election.

"I've never seen things get this nasty before and I think this is getting very close to a very dangerous line," he told 1 NEWS today. 

"Politicians' private lives and families have always been off-limits unless they are impacting on their particular behaviour. This is getting very close to saying it's all on for everything now. And that would be a real new low."

Politicians are normally very careful to keep each other's families out of the furnace - Political reporter Benedict Collins

I NEWS political reporter Benedict Collins says Parliament is a very different beast from most workplaces.

"It's an environment where your spats get played out publicly for the whole nation to witness. And that's why politicians are normally very careful to keep each other's families out of the furnace," Collins said.  

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said he thought any MP making statements, such as those by Ms Bennett, is "on seriously dangerous ground".

"You don't expect a Member of Parliament to act a troll," the New Zealand First leader said. 

Fellow NZ First MP  Shane Jones said: "Marriage discussions in politics are a quagmire. And the notion that Paula of all people should be offering marital advice is dangerous territory."

For his part, Jami-Lee Ross said he thought Paula Bennett "was better than that". 

"I'm comfortable with what I have with my wife," he said. 

"If the way in which we want to play politics when a political party and the leader are under pressure - if they want to start lifting the bedsheets on everyone that works in the building, you guys and MPs - then I think there will be a lot of people concerned," Mr Ross said.

Mr Ross yesterday resigned from Parliament, forcing a by-election in his Botany seat, and accusing National Party leader Simon Bridges of committing electoral fraud over donations. Mr Bridges denies the allegations.

Mr Bridges had earlier in the week named Mr Ross as the leaker of his travel expenses, following an investigation.

Today Mr Ross released a secret recording of a phone conversation between himself and Mr Bridges, and laid a complaint with police alleging that Mr Bridges broke electoral law.

Mr Bridges responded, saying Jami-Lee Ross has defamed him and is a liar. 

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    Families are usually off limits for political attacks. Source: 1 NEWS

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