Judith Collins announces intention to run for National Party leadership

by RNZ / 14 February, 2018

Judith Collins. Photo / Rebekah Parsons-King

Judith Collins has become the first National MP to put her hand up to take over from Bill English.

Senior National MP Judith Collins has announced she is taking a crack at the National Party leadership.

Judith Collins announced her intentions on Twitter after current leader Bill English announced yesterday he was stepping down effective later this month.

Ms Collins said she believed the party needed strong and decisive leadership.

"We also need somebody that can operate in a way that will, in fact, bring about a lot of stress on the current government, and leader of the opposition is one of the toughest jobs in politics.

"So I'm one of the few people in our caucus who's had any experience in opposition and it is not going to be easy but we do need to do that," she said.

"I've got a plan to get 61 votes at the end of 2020 and I believe that I can do it, it's not going to be easy but I can do it."

The opposition needs to be able to keep the government accountable and Ms Collins said she would be able to do that.

"I can hold a government to account because I'm not frightened of a government.

"I can stand up when I need to and I also am somebody who understands that it's actually the people of New Zealand that counts, not us [politicians], it's not our feelings it's their feelings."

Ms Collins said she was approached by people from caucus during the Christmas break because they were concerned that Mr English might want to leave at some stage.

"My view at that stage was ... I wasn't going to do anything that would undermine Bill because he deserved respect, and he deserved to work things out himself."

The leadership competition should be about who can win in 2020 rather than just more of the same, Ms Collins said.

"I think it's really important that we have a really full and robust debate in the National Party caucus, I don't think that this caucus should stand by and just let things slip along.

"This is going to be the fight of our lives for 2020 and I'm the person to do it."

National needed the strongest possible opposition because although it had the numbers, that did not necessarily translate into winning, Ms Collins said.

Opposition was very different from government, she said.

"I think it's really important we have the strongest most decisive leader we can because there is no doubt about it, the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is a formidable, formidable person for us to deal with.

"We would be very foolish to underestimate her - I don't."

National's caucus has two weeks to decide on a replacement for its leader, Bill English, who announced he would step down yesterday - effective 27 February.

Other potential contenders include Simon Bridges, Amy Adams and Steven Joyce.

This article was originally published by RNZ.

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