Simon Bridges won't discipline Judith Collins over Twitter request to PM, based off fake news

National's leader Simon Bridges won't be disciplining one of his MPs for calling on the Prime Minister to denounce a story about child sexual abuse - even though it turned out to be fake.

Judith Collins tweeted the story from a website known to be a purveyor of fake news yesterday, and was quickly called out on it.

But Mr Bridges isn't going to reprimand her, saying everyone's prone to a social media controversy, including himself.

The Prime Minister said fake news can have an impact on security and domestic policies. Source: 1 NEWS

"I've liked things before, actually genuinely accidentally. I think when you're scrolling through things, you know that's created it's own little controversy."

That's what Mr Bridges is calling Ms Collins' sharing of an article off a fake news website: an accident.

The website she's shared is known for pushing Russian narrative propaganda, according to one Twitter user, and was apparently involved in Brexit and US election interference.

It's also known for conspiracy theories regarding pop stars, "revealing" Katy Perry as a cannibal and Justin Bieber as a shapeshifter.

Another Twitter user pointed Ms Collins to an article on the same website reporting a "real life vampire outbreak" in New Zealand.

Others asked whether the Prime Minister should also be denouncing the sinister alliance of the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot.

But despite the faux pas, Mr Bridges does not believe guidelines around fake news are necessary and will not be enforcing them on his party caucus.

"I don't know if I would particularly set down rules or expectations about this," he said.

"I think in this case Judith Collins feels strongly about the issue, that's legitimate. But it is a wrong source, she acknowledges that, and we should in general try and get them right."

The story Ms Collins shared is based on a real news story. France is passing legislation that will make it easier to prosecute crimes of sexual violence against minors.

But the country's President Emmanuel Macron is facing criticism for stopping short of introducing an age of consent.

When asked whether she'd be denouncing anything on day one back from maternity leave, the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was much more careful.

"There is a lot of fake news out there, and I want to make sure that I'm well-versed before I respond to anything like that."

Ms Collins didn't respond to RNZ's requests for comment on her tweet. 

Simon Bridges and Judith Collins.
Simon Bridges and Judith Collins. Source: 1 NEWS



Jacinda Ardern acknowledges low business confidence in New Zealand, says she wants 'to confront that head on'

Jacinda Ardern this morning acknowledged low confidence from sectors of the New Zealand business community, but disputed it reflects economic markers "that matter".

The Prime Minister addressed the perception the New Zealand economy is slowing, and may have come off the post-global financial crisis resurgency earlier than other countries.

"Look there are global changes that New Zealand is not immune to, and there has been some commentary around the fact that we've perhaps come off the post-GFC cycle a little sooner than others," Ms Ardern told TVNZ1's Breakfast.

"We are in an international environment at the moment where there is a tit-for-tat trade war that will be having an impact I think on the global outlook."

In its July update on the economy, the New Zealand Treasury said there is a risk that growth may be weaker than forecast in May's Budget.

Ms Ardern argued low Kiwi business confidence may be reflecting this international climate.

However, she argued that growth, at 3 per cent, was "looking pretty solid", consumer confidence was up, debt was low, New Zealand unemployment rates were some of the lowest in the OECD, and the Government was running a surplus.

"So on things that matter, yeah, actually our markers are good," the Prime Minister said. 

What was a problem to growth, she accepted, was a skills shortage.

"Having said that, I do acknowledge there is a perception in our business community, reflected in our surveys... I want to confront that head on," Ms Ardern said.

"Confidence and certainty are obviously connected and we are going through a period of change.

"The business wants us to invest in skills, it wants a more productive economy, it wants us to diversify, that means there will be change. We need to bring them with us on that."

The PM said pessimism from the business community was not reflected in most actual NZ economic markers. Source: Breakfast

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Part of human skull found near Mount Maunganui wharf

Part of a human skull has been found by a fisherman at Mount Maunganui.

Police say a fisherman found the human remains near Salisbury Wharf at 1.30pm.

A forensic pathologist is examing the skull and police say initial indications suggest the remains belong to an adult human and have been in the water for some years.

Police say there is nothing to suggest that there are any suspicious circumstances in relation to the skull and the matter has been referred to the Coroner.

Today the Police National Dive Squad will be assisting with a search of the area surrounding Salisbury Wharf. They will be assisted by the Tauranga Harbourmaster.

Huge Panorama from the famous Mt. Maunganui, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand (XXXL)
Mount Maunganui (file picture). Source: istock.com