Duncan Garner: National's secret weapon is not Judith Collins

Opinion 07/02/2019

By Duncan Garner, The AM Show host

OPINION: There wouldn't be a week go by that someone doesn't ask me: "Why the hell isn't Judith Collins the leader of the National Party?"

It usually ends with them saying: "that Bridges fella is bloody useless".

No chance, she did her chips in years ago during the meltdown over her links to Chinese company Oravida, which her husband has links to as well.

She's simply not trusted by the powerbrokers in the party - they are wary of her, her intentions, her plans, hence just one MP supported her to become leader during the battle for the top job.

She has twice beaten Jacinda Ardern in Auckland Central.

Would she be better than Mr Bridges as opposition leader?  Yes most probably, but in elections people vote for a Government or Prime Minister.

She'd be noticed alright, but she alienates people. MMP is about winning the centre ground. I think the centre voters might consider her too scary, not nice enough.

They'd flee to Labour and the lovely Prime Minister who just happened to be waiting with baby Neve and a welcome to Labour info pack.

People ask this question because many of you may wonder if Labour will be a one-term Government - possibly, but with the Greens and NZ First in tow Ms Ardern will most likely get another go.

But National needs to be ready to pounce and while Mr Bridges in private is relaxed, warm, fun, intelligent, bright and approachable, in office he's a stiff, robotic and sounds a bit funny.

He stands for what those before him stood for, tax cuts, spend less than his opponents and bring back oil and gas.

So progressive. He's like a Toyota Corolla, he lacks grunt. I see Nikki Kaye, his education spokesperson, is off on a road trip around New Zealand to talk education.

Rare for MPs to do such a thing, maybe she's testing the waters. Does she have wider support to be leader?

In all my dealings with her, she's impressed me, and one more thing - she has twice beaten Jacinda Ardern in Auckland Central.

Clearly she has some appeal.

Duncan Garner is the host of The AM Show, weekdays on Magic Talk, Three, and Newshub.