ZB

Kate Hawkesby: National Party needs to stay on track

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Mon, 9 Aug 2021, 9:08am
National Party leader Judith Collins addresses the National Party annual conference in Auckland. (Photo / Jason Oxenham)
National Party leader Judith Collins addresses the National Party annual conference in Auckland. (Photo / Jason Oxenham)

Kate Hawkesby: National Party needs to stay on track

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Mon, 9 Aug 2021, 9:08am

It was an easy hit for the Nats to slam the government’s lack of delivery, at the Party conference this weekend.

But it was also very necessary. Hitting the government on its record is about the best thing the opposition can do.

The slow vaccine rollout, the MIQ shambles, the Infrastructure projects that have gone belly up, the money for the mob, the fanciful cycle bridge, the Ute tax – this is absolutely where National needs to be finger pointing.

But on top of that, they also need new ideas.

New policies, new directions, new approaches.

This is where David Seymour has the jump on them.

He manages to zero in on policy and promote alternatives to the government.

And at the end of the day, voters want to know they have real choices, options and alternatives. Otherwise what is it they’re voting for?

There was speculation going into this weekend’s conference that there might be new leadership at the top, the very top – as in Party president.

But Peter Goodfellow managed to retain his role.

I don’t understand that, given he’s presided over so much of the chaos that National has blundered its way through these past few years. But he got the majority vote.

His challenger David Carter was so aggrieved he missed out that he quit the board, and fired a few broadsides on his way out too.

Which doesn’t bode well for a party that’s supposed to be reining in all that talking out of turn.

This is a party that’s supposed to be showing it can be solid, it can be watertight.

But former Speaker and Cabinet minister David Carter said as he quit that he had "zero confidence" in Goodfellow.

He’s reported as saying he’d received “about 40 or 50 texts from people sitting in that conference, unhappy with the decision."

He didn’t think Goodfellow could revive the party’s chances, given the reviews into National’s woes showed ‘dysfunction of governance and lack of money to run a suitable campaign.’

Under Goodfellow, Carter argued none of that would change.

So spitting those sour grapes at the Party president, while not a good look, also highlights disquiet and disunity within the party.

Which is everything I thought National was trying to tone down.

But look you’ve got to hand it to eternal optimist Judith Collins who boldly informed them all that National will be triumphant in 2023.

“Easily winnable,” she said. 

But, and it is a big but, only “if National focuses on the things that matter to New Zealand.”

And that’s the great challenge.

Can the Nats stay on message and not get distracted by side shows?

Collins says they’re “the party New Zealanders can rely on to get things done.”

Well hopefully that starts with proving their own house is in order first.