12 Feb 2019

No leadership 'chopping and changing like Labour' for National: Judith Collins

From Checkpoint, 5:34 pm on 12 February 2019

National Party MP Judith Collins says she doesn't want the party's leadership to end up like Labour's did when it was last in opposition.

Judith Collins

Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

In a Newshub Reid-Research poll out yesterday, National Party leader Simon Bridges' popularity has fallen to 5 percent, while Ms Collins rose to 6.2 percent in the preferred prime minister rankings.

She told Checkpoint that despite the poll she was focused on doing her job and not taking the leadership.

"We don't want to have years and years of chopping and changing like Labour did. I think one of the big things people expect from us and certainly our voters expect from us is that we get on with the job and that's exactly what I'm doing."

She was working on "holding the government to account on housing, urban development and RMA", she said.

"The fact is we are working very well as a team and leadership is always an issue for caucus and they have made their decision. I'm just getting on doing my job. I've always taken the view that whatever job I have been given in parliament I will do it to the best of my ability. That's what I'm doing.

While the result was flattering, it was only a poll, she said.

"I've been around long enough to know they come up and they go down and I just never get that excited."

The point at which a leader lost their mandate to lead was up to the caucus, she said.

"My view is [caucus has] made their decision and I'm just doing my job."

Asked if she thought the National Party would be better off with her as leader, Ms Collins said: "My opinion is I have to do my job and that's what I'm doing and as for the leader the caucus has voted for the leader and he is doing the very best job that he can. And it's a very tough job ... and people should not underestimate how hard that role is."

Simon Bridges in his office.

National Party leader Simon Bridges. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Earlier today, other National MPs backed Mr Bridges.

"I think we've got a wonderful leader," senior MP Louise Upston said.

"Polls are nothing. Simon Bridges is doing an awesome job and we're focusing on what matters to New Zealanders."

In response to a question as to whether the leadership of the party might be discussed at the party's caucus meeting this morning, senior MP Gerry Brownlee said "I don't think it's up for consideration at the moment."

Deputy leader Paula Bennett backed Mr Bridges as leader of the party and was pleased to see Judith Collins was a popular MP.

"I think Judith is fantastic," she said. "She's a great member of the team and I think it's great people love her."

Senior MP Mark Mitchell agreed, while also ruling himself out from any potential leadership contest.

Party MP Amy Adams was looking on the bright side of the results.

"We're polling, even by that poll, at 41 percent and I think if that poll had been taken any other night you could have had quite a different set of numbers. I think actually where we're polling is quite good for this time in the cycle, we're very happy with it.

"We always want our numbers to grow, we're always conscious of doing things to move them in the right direction but what I can tell you is the caucus is very comfortable with how we're tracking and certainly very united behind Simon."