7 Oct 2020

'Incredibly poor form': Judith Collins critiqued after on-air announcement

5:03 pm on 7 October 2020

Judith Collins is still facing questions over the fallout of her on-air policy announcement which prompted one of her MPs to say she had "incredibly poor form" and another to say she was "making up policy on the hoof".

National Party leader Judith Collins campaigning in Gisborne on 24 September, 2020.

National Party leader Judith Collins. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

She had announced a review of Auckland Council - if elected - during a Monday morning radio interview. That prompted National's Auckland Council spokesperson Denise Lee to send an email calling the policy a "highly problematic idea", "another working group", and said bypassing her was "incredibly poor form and displays a shockingly bad example of poor culture". Another National Party member said Collins was consistently "making up policy on the hoof" and creating division.

During a walkabout in the Auckland suburb of Ponsonby today, Collins said deputy leader Gerry Brownlee did not give Lee the "OK" to send her email to caucus.

He did not know about Lee's discontent before Collins did either, she said.

"You better ask him, actually. I'm really busy focused on what's important for New Zealanders... who talks to whom when is actually not something I am focused on."

In a statement yesterday evening, Lee said: "Yesterday I sent an email to my fellow MP's which was intended for internal purposes only. I completely disagree with the actions of the person who leaked the email and have since spoken with our party leader Judith Collins.

"I accept the leadership's decision about the policy announcement which acknowledges that Auckland Council needs to lift its performance. I remain focused on winning the seat of Maungakiekie and unreservedly support Judith Collins as leader and future prime minister."

She avoided responding when asked if it was hurtful her MPs were leaking so close to election day, but later said she didn't think leaking had lost her the election.

"I'm happy to talk about tax cuts, I'm happy to talk about the economy and I'm happy to talk about growing the economy, but I think it's really important that everybody understands that this is not a time for trivia, it's a time for seriousness."

She also avoided answering when asked if the "wheels were coming off the National Party".

National supporters weren't interested in "silly behaviour", she said.

She says National is still a strong team and that she will stay on as leader if National loses the election.

Asked if she'd like Paula Bennett to "zip it" for the rest of the election, she said: "Well, Paula, as you know, is leaving us very soon... I'm not worried about people who are finishing up in what, a week or so".

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