23 Nov 2020

John Key backs Peter Goodfellow, Judith Collins after National Party AGM

8:59 am on 23 November 2020

National Party members copped a handful home truths at its AGM when former leader Sir John Key did not sugar-coat any aspect of the party's performance which suffered a clobbering in last month's election.

He said disunity and a leadership revolving door made National lame ducks at the voting booth.

ANZ New Zealand chair Sir John Key. The head of ANZ bank's local operation David Hisco, has left after an investigation into his expenses.

Sir John Key. Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

"The reality is that we do have to take some responsibility, we did get some things wrong and if we don't learn from them then we'll just repeat them and won't win," Key told Morning Report.

He did not rule out getting back the 413,800 National votes that went to other parties in the 2020 election.

Key said there were a few things the party could do: "Firstly, you have to get control of the media agenda in the way that what they report and if you ... stop the leaking ... eventually those messages stop. Then the messages that the public start hearing from you are the messages they want to hear from you - the ones about them."

It would give the opposition party to put out its take on policy and also the ability to critique the government, he said. That's what voters respond to.

"What they don't respond to is endless stories about yourself."

He said it was easy to wait for the public to tire of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the government would fail.

"That's called the hope strategy and in my opinion hope is not a strategy because if we sit around waiting for Jacinda to make mistakes then we're not going to win the election in 2023."

As for Judith Collins being leader, he said she was a "tough operator, people want that".

He said Collins would make a good prime minister despite her being stood down the past when Key was the leader.

"You want to take those things with a grain of salt. I did ... the right thing ... when there was a situation where she stood down for a period of time and I did the right thing and I reinstated her."

Goodfellow, Ardern, tyranny

Peter Goodfellow was re-elected as National president.

In his speech over the weekend, Goodfellow led a tirade against the Labour government, accusing it of tyranny and calling it a "celebrity government".

National Party President Peter Goodfellow.

Peter Goodfellow. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

He gave Labour credit for its clear communication over Covid-19 but said there was a downside to that.

"It was suddenly a crime for us to ask legitimate questions or comments, and daily broadcasts became televangalistic, like gospel to the masses. Democracy for a period of time gave way to a form of temporary tyranny."

Key said it was upto National to say whatever they wanted.

Goodfellow was the "right person" to be president of the party, Key said.

Reacting to Goodfellow's comment Ardern told Morning Report: "I'm not going to really read into that particularly.

"It was a statement made at a political conference so I view it in that lens. I have to say, I've been called many things. Tyrant isn't one I've heard before."

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