6 Aug 2021

National Party conference: 'Bitter lessons' to learn from 2020

7:43 pm on 6 August 2021

National's leader Judith Collins is promising party members the caucus is unified and up to the task of fighting the next election.

No caption

Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

About 700 supporters are gathering in Auckland this weekend, for the party's three-day annual conference, where they can expect to hear more details about how National will rebuild from last year's disastrous election result and prepare to take on Labour in 2023.

In her opening address, Collins said she and her MPs had heard the message from the membership about the need for discipline.

"Your caucus has listened to you," she said.

"You have told us you want unity, respect and professionalism. You want your caucus working together and backing each other. We have listened and we are serious.

"Our party has always been strongest when we all remember we are on the same team."

Collins will give her keynote speech to the conference on Sunday, but said she would reveal more details about National's policy priorities.

Meanwhile, National's president Peter Goodfellow said the party had learnt the "bitter lessons" from 2020.

He said it was important the mistakes that were made were not repeated in future.

Goodfellow reassured members the party was acting on the findings of the internal review of the 2020 election campaign, and they would be voting on a number of proposed rule changes at the conference.

He said the candidate selection process would also be reformed, so party members can be confident about anyone who is standing for National.

"That new process would cover more extreme and comprehensive vetting, wraparound support, mentoring and education, and a focus on core party values and principles," Goodfellow said.

"We can accept nothing less."

Goodfellow could be challenged for his job, as he has been seen as being partly responsible for the party's performance at last year's election.

The election of the party board take place tomorrow and the outcome will be announced on Sunday.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs