14 Jul 2021

Judith Collins refuses to say if Don Brash helping fund billboard campaign

9:52 am on 14 July 2021

National Party leader Judith Collins will not say if she asked former party leader Don Brash to help fund a $300,000 billboard campaign on race issues

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

Large blue billboards bearing the face of National Party leader Judith Collins and the message He Puapua? Demand the Debate have sprung up around the country.

The He Puapua report looks at how the government can achieve the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The working group's report suggests separate Māori health and justice systems, RMA rules and electoral arrangements, and Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson described it as a collection of ideas, separate form government policy.

Collins has repeatedly said the report showed the government was trying to implement "separatism by stealth".

Many people fear being shut down by the media or 'cancelled' on social media for voicing their opinion on the He Puapua report, Collins told Morning Report.

However, she would not comment on reports that emails suggested she asked former leader Don Brash to raise funds for the billboard campaign.

"I am seeking funding from all New Zealanders who want to have a debate about the way that the government are bringing in policies that they did not campaign on," Collins said.

"I'm very clear that some of our former leaders have assisted us, have continued to assist us and I am very happy to say that.

"I'm happy to have assistance from Don Brash and every other former leader of the National Party."

Collins said she does not discuss individual donations to the party.

"I'm happy to take anyone's money as long as it's not the Mongrel Mob's and I think it's really important that we do that because we don't have union fees and we're not using taxpayer money," she said, in a reference to the government's support for a meth addiction programme involving the Mongrel Mob.

Collins said she wanted more people to get involved in the debate on government policies.

"We need money out there and we need to get the billboards out there because New Zealanders are feeling shut out from the debate and we need more people to talk about it."

She was encouraging National Party supporters to be proactive in raising their concerns on political issues.

"I don't have to agree with everybody when they donate to the National Party but what I do believe in is free speech and I do believe people need to demand the debate.

"A liberal democracy that National Party believes in, requires people to be able to debate issues without being told that they're bad people for having a view that's not necessarily everyone else's."

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