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Judith Collins assures 'she's safe' as National leader

Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 17 May 2021, 7:29am
National leader Judith Collins. (Photo / File)
National leader Judith Collins. (Photo / File)

Judith Collins assures 'she's safe' as National leader

Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 17 May 2021, 7:29am

National leader Judith Collins is not reading into the numbers in the latest political poll.

"I am safe," she said.

Sunday night's Newshub-Reid Research shows a drop in popularity for Collins, following weeks of the party accusing the Government of a "separatism by stealth" agenda.

Collins told Hosking the National Party was just "getting going on with the things that matter".

She said anecdotally people were telling her that they agreed with National holding Labour to account over its "radical" interpretation of issues such as the Treaty of Waitangi.

Collins said it was normal for an opposition leader to drop in the polls after an election.

She was pleased to see there was a small increase in support for the National Party.

Results from the poll show Labour at 52.7 per cent (up 2.7 percentage points from election night), and National at 27 per cent (up 1.4 percentage points).

In the preferred PM stakes, Jacinda Ardern polled at 48.1 per cent (down 4.5 percentage points); Judith Collins was at 5.6 per cent (down 12.8 percentage points).

Former PM John Key was higher than Collins on 6.7 per cent, while backbench MP Christopher Luxon was on 2.4 per cent.

These numbers mean that Labour could govern alone comfortably.

(Graphic / Herald)

They also mean the pressure on Collins' leadership will intensify, though it remains unclear whether any National MP would want to challenge her for the leadership at this stage.

Collins told Newshub that she "wasn't going down - full stop".

"It's really important that people understand what the Government is doing behind their backs. I'm not going to sit around and watch this Government divide our country up based on race."

Ardern told Newshub that National's political strategy in recent weeks was "sad".

In the poll, voters were asked whether Labour was being separatist and whether National was being divisive.

The most respondents (43.6 per cent) said Labour wasn't being separatist, while a similar proportion (44.5 per cent) said National was being divisive.

Among National voters, 23.5 per cent thought the party was being divisive.

The poll was conducted between May 7-13 with a margin of error of 3.1 per cent.

PM Jacinda Ardern told Newshub National's political strategy in recent weeks was "sad". Photo / Dean Purcell

PM Jacinda Ardern told Newshub National's political strategy in recent weeks was "sad". (Photo / Dean Purcell)

The Newshub-Reid Research poll is its first of the year, and follows a One News Colmar Brunton poll in March that had Labour on 49 per cent, National on 27 per cent, the Greens on 9 per cent and Act on 8 per cent.

This was a slightly narrower gap between the major parties than on election night in 2020, when Labour won 50 per cent of the vote and National won 25.6 per cent.

Sunday's poll follows a campaign from the National Party over recent weeks to accuse the Government of a "separatism by stealth" agenda, highlighting the He Puapua report, proposals to hand over conservation estate to Māori, the proposed Māori Health Authority, and the Government's use of urgency to rush through a law getting rid of a public veto on Māori wards.

The Government has rejected this, saying neither He Puapua nor DoC proposals have come before Cabinet, the Māori Health authority is about partnership, and the ability for a Māori ward to be overturned in a referendum was "discriminatory".

Collins told a regional party conference in Queenstown on Sunday that the Government was creating regional water authorities, and the one covering the South Island would see Ngāi Tahu co-owning water infrastructure assets.

But Ngāi Tahu rubbished this, saying Collins was "deceptive and wrong".

Te Pāti Māori has accused National of "racist rhetoric", which Collins rejected, saying she is simply raising important issues for discussion.

Last week the Government was also on the back foot over its proposed pay freeze for much of the public sector.

Frustrated unions, after meeting with ministers, claimed two victories: cost-of-living increases could be discussed for all workers on collective negotiations "regardless of salary", and the pay settings would be reviewed after a year, instead of in 2023.

This week the Government is delivering Budget 2021, with a focus on child poverty, climate change and housing.

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