Collins returns to original attack line in final campaign day

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National Party leader Judith Collins has enjoyed every moment of the election campaign and says while three months is probably enough, another month would be better.

National Party leader Judith Collins holds a media conference at Stonewood Homes on 15 October, 2020.

National Party leader Judith Collins holds a media conference at Stonewood Homes on 15 October, 2020. Photo: RNZ / Simon Rogers

At the end of a week of aggressive attacks, Collins was in Mount Roskill with Paul Goldsmith and Parmjeet Parmar today to return to her original core attack line against the government: failures to meet its own targets.

She said they were in the area to “look for the mythical light rail down Dominion Road”.

“What we’ve had instead are some of the failures of the current Labour government, we’ve had transport failure with 15 roads cancelled by Phil Twyford … and put into the mythical light rail.”

“Don’t know if you’ve found it but I do know that we’ve been paying an extra 10 cents plus GST per litre of fuel over the last three years to pay for this light rail.”

She hit all the old familiar pressure points.

“Looking at child poverty, another great failure unfortunately from the current government, the only real measure that matters is that of material hardship for children – 4100 more children now living in material hardship – which means that there’s probably not enough money for shoes or they can’t afford to get to a doctor.

“Housing was promised to be available under KiwiBuild, they’ve acutally produced about 1 percent of what they promised and we have $2 billion spent on that but there’s a new government department so that’s probably not enough … certainly not going to satisfy the voters who wondered where their houses are.

“I’d say, [the government] haven’t delivered on anything really … I could go on all day if you wanted, I’ve got pages of them but I thought I’d just run through the main ones.”

Ardern on RNZ this morning made an effort to defend her government’s record on those measures.

Collins, who persisted yesterday in saying her campaign had been – borrowing Ardern’s term – “relentlessly positive” despite her various attack lines, today took credit for negative aspects of campaigning as well.

“I think people would say that I have been doing a lot of the attack lines actually on this campaign, but campaigns are also about the positive as well and it’s important to not only attack an incumbent government on their record – which is, to be frank – unbelievably poor – but it’s also important to show a positive vision for the future.”

With all the policies released and just hours left before the big day, Collins was indeed cheerful and reflected that she had enjoyed every moment of the campaign.

“I always knew that a campaign as leader of the opposition would be really tough work but I actually never realised how much fun it would be,” she said.

“It’s been a lot of fun actually and it’s been certainly very exciting but … we’ve all had basically three months of it so I think that’s probably enough – although it would be even better if there was another month because that again would also have its benefits.”

She said she simply wanted more time for opportunities to show how the current government had not delivered on all its promises. She did not have regrets about her campaign strategy either.

“We’ve got to always look to the base, particularly when we’ve gone into opposition because the base can never be taken for granted … it just goes somewhere else, so it was very important for me to speak to National Party philosophy and principles.”

A public meeting in Palmerston North – a seat National has not held since 1978 – which drew about 430 people had been a highlight, she said, although the second wave of cases and restrictions from Covid-19 in Auckland had made things difficult after that.

With the end of campaigning in sight however, she was looking forward to a lie-in and a haircut.

“The hair appointment’s at nine, if I can get up at eight tomorrow that’ll be about two – in some cases three – hours later than I’ve been doing for the last three months.”

She said she had loved the public meetings and would continue them whatever the future held.

“Whether I’m prime minister or leader of the opposition after tomorrow we’ll still do public meetings … I just love them.”

And leader of the opposition she would remain, she says, should – as polling suggests – National be unable to form a government after the election.

“I know I have support of the caucus and I have support of the membership and I have support of the board, and I have support of the people who vote for us but I also think too – it’s very difficult for someone to roll the prime minister.”

“I’m very straightforward, nobody’s going to die wondering what I actually think … it’s just basically who I am.”

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