28 Jul 2020

Judith Collins claims prison escapes false statement a 'joke'

3:18 pm on 28 July 2020

National's leader says people will know she's joking when her "eyebrows go up" after being challenged about a false claim no-one escaped from prison under her watch as Corrections Minister.

Judith Collins.

Judith Collins says people will know she's joking "when my eyebrows go up". Photo: RNZ / Ana Tovey

During yesterday's visit to Palmerston North, Judith Collins made the comment during two speeches - comparing her record to the government's in managing the quarantine facilities.

"We've got the Prime Minister telling us we're going to have regional lockdowns if we're not good little people, well I'll tell you what, all she has to do is sort out a quarantine, stop people from escaping and it wouldn't be that hard," Collins said.

"When I was Minister of Corrections nobody escaped."

Officials figures reveal, in fact, more than 20 people escaped during her stint as minister.

"There was the odd one who might have popped out but they all got caught," she told reporters this morning.

She dismissed any suggestion she had been misleading the public with her comment.

"I think you might want to understand a joke when you hear it", she said, when asked why she had said something that was clearly untrue.

"I think you want to get your Monty Python right."

When will the public know when she's joking, reporters asked. "When my eyebrows go up."

One reporter was told by Collins to "bone up on your comedy skills" when he asked to explain why her joke about prisoners escaping was funny.

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