Francesca Rudkin: Judith Collins' attack on Siouxsie Wiles unnecessary

Author
Francesca Rudkin,
Publish Date
Sun, 12 Sep 2021, 2:16PM

Francesca Rudkin: Judith Collins' attack on Siouxsie Wiles unnecessary

Author
Francesca Rudkin,
Publish Date
Sun, 12 Sep 2021, 2:16PM

Have you ever said something, and then thought, I could have said that better, I could have chosen my words better?

I certainly have. And I can’t help think National Party Leader Judith Collins may be feeling the same way after her rather personal attack on Dr Siouxsie Wiles.

On Thursday, a story started circulating on right wing blogs accusing Dr Wiles of breaking Level 4 lockdown rules. She has ridden her bike 5km to the beach, where she met up with a friend who is in her bubble, they had a mask-less chat on an almost deserted beach, and then the friend went for a swim – or paddle.

If you know anything about Auckland beaches, you’d probably be more concerned about the water quality than Covid.

Sure the friend should not have gone in the water, and Dr Wiles has admitted she should have encouraged her friend not to swim, but everything else comes within the Prime Minister’s guidelines. I doubt Dr Wiles was only person to go on a bike ride this week.

However, in this country if you put your put your head over the parapet you’re considered fair game, no one is beyond criticism, and that’s fair enough. But the response to the outing is probably more concerning that the actual incident.

When asked about the video, Judith Collins could hardly contain her smile when she announced Dr Wiles was a “big, fat hypocrite”, and how sick and tired she was of listening to Dr Wiles tell everyone else what to do while she was clearly breaking the rules herself.

A spokesperson for Collins claims the expression “big, fat, hypocrite” has nothing to do with body image, but this is the point where you think to yourself – best choice of words?

Regardless of whether Dr Wiles is your cup of tea, and I’ve not met her, Judith Collins’ response was at least harsh and unnecessary. While the Government’s 'Be Kind' message is tiring and patronising at times, the opposition shouldn’t need to be disrespectful and rude to make themselves heard.

It was an embarrassing outburst from the Opposition Leader, who has also, as Toby Manhire pointed out in The Spinoff, “proven herself completely unpredictable”. My question to you is, is this the behaviour of a potential leader of the country? I want strong, decisive leadership from our opposition, but I also want competency, decency and consistency.

It’s tough in a lockdown. We’re on day 26 in Auckland. Occasionally we all probably see people and wonder if they’re breaking the rules; then you’re reminded we all have different bubbles, and most of time it’s family and close friends looking after each other.

That’s what we do in a lockdown, look after each other. And go biking for exercise.