Senior National MP Jami-Lee Ross will be absent from Parliament for “a few months” while he deals with personal health issues, a decision his leader Simon Bridges says is unrelated to the hunt for a leaker.
In a statement, Ross said he had been “dealing with some personal health issues” and had asked Bridges if he could take medical leave “for a few months”.
“There are times in life when you have to put your own health and family first. As a husband and a father I need to do that at this time.”
Ross said he looked forward to returning to Parliament in the future and rejoining the National caucus, and would not comment further.
Bridges said Ross’s transport portfolio would be picked up by Paul Goldsmith, with his infrastructure role handled by Judith Collins. Goldsmith’s revenue portfolio would be given to Andrew Bayly.
The National leader said he would not be commenting on the nature of his MP’s health issues, “but I can confirm this decision is unrelated to the ongoing leak investigation”.
Earlier this year, RNZ revealed a person believed to have leaked Bridges’ expenses had texted him, Speaker Trevor Mallard and Newshub political editor Tova O’Brien pleading for the investigation to be called off.
The anonymous leaker claimed to be a National MP, and said they had a serious mental illness which would be harmed if the investigation continued.
Mallard called off the inquiry against Bridges’ wishes, and the National leader later announced the party had commissioned its own investigation into the leak.
Bridges told RNZ on Monday the inquiry would not be completed for several weeks.