3 Aug 2021

Collins defends 'bottle' comments about Police Minister Poto Williams

4:33 pm on 3 August 2021

Police Minister Poto Williams' daughter has expressed fears for her mother's safety over claims National leader Judith Collins said people wanted to "bottle" her.

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Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Collins says she had meant that Williams should be put in a bottle like a genie.

Williams told media today her daughter told she felt unsafe for her after Collins made comments at a party supporters' meeting at Kerikeri Bowling Club two weeks ago.

The NZ Herald's David Fisher reported Collins saying she thought "a lot of people want to bottle her," before clarifying after a pause that she meant keeping her in a bottle like a genie.

Williams said she felt quite shocked at the statement at the time, but it was her family's response that was causing her distress.

"We [politicians] are public people, we live public lives and we have an expectation that our work will be critiqued. In this case my daughter feels unsafe for me and that is not on," she said.

She believed all Parliamentarians had received threats of violence at some point, and she had reached out to others who had also suffered abuse to offer support.

"I think Judith Collins just really needs to think about what she says before she says it, and I'm sure that if somebody had said that to her that her family would be feeling the same way."

Collins said Williams' daughter had not been at the National Party meeting, and it was disgraceful that anyone would spin her comments to suggest she meant violence.

"I was speaking about as a genie in a bottle, that's what I was speaking about," she said.

"She is someone who just pops out every now and again with a completely stupid view about something and I actually think she's the worst police minister I've ever seen.

"It's really wrong for people to completely take something out of context and I think you'll remember that David Fisher was very clear that I didn't mean that, so I think that is very nasty."

Williams said she did not feel anger over the comments, but wanted to support others who had experienced abuse.

"For me, I want to provide assurance for all parliamentarians that the work we do is really important and that we should do that free of any kind of abuse."

"I'm not an angry person ... I just feel a bit of distress for those parliamentarians for whom this kind of thing has happened in the past."

"Any of our families should not have to feel the way my daughter and my grandchildren did."