National leader Judith Collins tells caucus: Don’t fall to distractions, stay focused

National leader Judith Collins has called on her caucus to stay focused and not get distracted by the “bait” tossed their way by the Government.

And she used her opening remarks at the party’s caucus retreat in Wellington’s Basin Reserve cricket stadium to ask the MPs to trust their colleagues with workshops focused on “high-performance teams”.

After last year’s historic and devastating election loss which saw National’s caucus gutted from being the largest party in Parliament to just 33 MPs this term, Collins urged her colleagues to stay on-track with their messaging.

“Being in Opposition, we can get very reactive to what’s going on. One of the problems with that is we can lose track of our own line of work, what we’re doing, and we can end up getting very diverted and distracted by the things that are thrown across the line for us to goand pick up and run with.

“You will have seen a few of those recently, coming from the Government’s side where there are clearly distractions thrown out there so we could take the bait and keep off the things that really matter to New Zealanders.

“For instance, that we don’t seem to have any vaccine in the country at the moment despite being front of the queue. We’ve just got to find the queue I suppose.”

The caucus’ two-day retreat was meant to be held in Whangarei but was moved to Wellington’s Basin Reserve after the Northland Covid-19 community cases.

Collins said they had “no confidence” the Government would “do what it said it did” and so had to make the call to move the location rather than cancel it all together.

She said Labour’s majority Government meant it had “nowhere else to hide” because it could not blame other parties, which gave National some opportunities.

Collins also urged the MPs to learn to trust each other.

Ahead of the election, the party went through three leaders in as many months after Todd Muller rolled Simon Bridges then stood down after 53 days and Collins was elected leader. The year was also marked by a number of caucus leaks to media

“This is going to be an interesting and challenging year and every year I’ve noticed it gets more interesting and more challenging. But I think this is our opportunity to rebuild, to work together, to enjoy each other’s company and to learn to trust and respect each other for everything that we do,” said Collins.

“I think the great thing is that we won’t have the distraction as such of an election and we can get on and do our own work and at the same time hold the Government to account.”

The caucus will also hear from the head of the Rural Leaders Trust and the former Deputy Chief of Army, Chris Parsons, as well as a former Australian Treasurer and Lord Michael Ashcroft to hear about American politics and Lord Daniel Hannan who will speak about UK politics.

“It will be a great opportunity for us to think outwards, look outwards, but also think about what we can do ourselves,” said Collins.

She told her colleagues to work hard, smart, enjoy what they do and to have a “merry and happy” caucus retreat.

Collins will hold a media stand-up at 12.15pm.

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