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Out to crush Labour

National Party candidate Mike Butterick with Judith Collins at Martinborough Bookshop on July 3, during a function promoting Collins’ book, Pull No Punches. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

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The National Party caucus took less than 24 hours to hand over the leadership of its 2020 election campaign to Judith Collins, and Wairarapa’s NZ First-list MP Ron Mark has called this move a “game changer”.

“Nobody should underestimate what this will do,” Mark said. “Collins has coveted this position for a long time and means business.”

It would be foolish for Labour to take anything for granted after the Tuesday night appointment of the experienced Collins to replace short-lived Leader of the Opposition Todd Muller, he said.

“She has clearly put Labour on notice and National is ready for the fight. I have respect for both Collins and her deputy Gerry Brownlee and this reshapes the ground for post-election negotiations with NZ First.”

But Wairarapa Labour-list MP Kieran McAnulty said it made no difference whatsoever to him and he had heard already that Collins adversarial approach was not liked.

“Her divisiveness is a style I don’t think Wairarapa people want,” McAnulty said.

In national media ‘Crusher Collins’ confirmed she is “100 per cent ready to go”. She also mentioned she was raised in a Labour Party supporting family and was “conservative and liberal”.

And in the style of Labour Party leader Jacinda Ardern in 2017 when she accepted the leadership with a, “Let’s do this”, on Tuesday night Collins said, “Let’s just do it”.

“We want to take back the government and here is my front bench.”

When asked why it took three times to get the top job, she confidently said to John Campbell on TVNZ Breakfast: “Why would you stop someone putting their hand up for something if they might lose? The fact is nothing would get done”.

National’s Wairarapa electorate chairman David Holmes said National has only had one female leader, Jenny Shipley, who took over from then prime minister Jim Bolger more than 20 years ago.

“Collins will not take any rubbish from anyone,” Holmes said. “She is strong.

“We have stability now and there is real competition being taken to Labour and this is what we want and expect.

“This is exciting as it is back to old style politics. When Muldoon had a debate here in Masterton he loved it more and more when questions were fired at him. Collins will respond well to this style too.”

At former ACT MP Deborah Coddington’s bookshop in Martinborough where she promoted her book, Pull No Punches, earlier this month, Collins said in political life, “The higher you go, the harder you fall”.

Who falls at the election is now the question to be answered.

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