National Party leadership: Judith Collins insists she's 'not interested'

coronavirus 24/04/2020

Judith Collins has once again batted off suggestions she should replace Simon Bridges as the leader of the National Party.

An informal online poll by The AM Show earlier this week found 39 percent want her to take over as Leader of the Opposition (the poll was not scientific and shouldn't necessarily be considered an accurate reflection of the views of the wider New Zealand population).

The result came amid renewed speculation about Bridges' leadership, after he made a controversial Facebook post criticising the Government's handling of the pandemic response which received overwhelmingly negative feedback. 

Collins was 9 percent ahead of the second-placed Mark Mitchell, with current deputy Paula Bennett in third on 16 percent and Bridges himself in fourth - and last - on 15 percent. 

But that doesn't mean Collins, who once ran for the leadership, actually wants it. 

"You topped the poll... we asked a question, if Simon's going to be replaced, who do you want? And everybody said Judith Collins," AM Show host Duncan Garner told Collins on Friday morning.

"I'm sure that's not true. I'm sure not everybody said that," she replied. "You're stirring and you know you're stirring. So just stop it. We've got big issues to deal with... I'm not interested. I'm not doing anything. I'm just doing my job. So that's what I'm doing."

She said Bridges' job was safe. At least, she thinks it is.

"The issue is that people like to get excited about things and start trying to get things started and whatever because they're bored. Frankly, look, I'm just not interested. I'm doing my job, and I think that's what I should be doing - just getting on with it." 

Labour MP Willie Jackson, appearing on The AM Show with Collins, said the tens of thousands of negative responses to Bridges' Facebook post couldn't be dismissed. 

"When you get 25,000, I think, hate sort-of emails on your own Facebook, something's going wrong there," Labour MP Willie Jackson told The AM Show on Friday. 

"So I think that Simon has to look at - along with Judith - what do New Zealanders want? I tell you what they want - they want Jacinda and they want this Government... Look where we are today - well done, the Government."

"Well done the people," Garner suggested.

"And the people!" Jackson quickly added. 

For the full interview, watch the video above.