She is trying to beat a political superstar, but Judith Collins says she is not stunned.
The new leader of New Zealand’s opposition National Party – spelled as a hard-line police minister named “Crusher Collins” – will need all his resolve to defeat Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in the 19th election.
“It’s a very difficult job and that’s why I’ve got it,” Collins, 61, said in an interview at his parliamentary office in Wellington. “I’m not too afraid.”
The National goes into the election campaign as the underdog ended the local transmission of coronovirus in New Zealand after handling an epidemic of orders, helping his Labor Party with elections. National opportunities have not been helped by the party’s scandals and internal auctions that have appointed Collins as the party’s third leader in two months.
Lebanon received 53% support in a 1News / Colmar Brunton poll published yesterday, while National received 32% support.
Collins, who has been compared to the late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, has just seven weeks to rebuild public confidence in her party and gain support with her pledge of sound economic management. Popularizing among conservatives, the question is whether she can win the 40-year-old Orderon-dominated center ground, whose brand of sympathetic leadership has garnered worldwide acclaim.
Political analyst Bryce Edwards said, “Collins is a true-blue, traditional National Party right-winger.” “In some ways it means he is more attractive because he is a strongly-minded politician and someone who seems more authentic.”
The election comes as New Zealand faces its biggest economic challenge in generations, with unemployment rising after the loss of international tourism as a major foreign exchange earner. The next government will need to create new industries and jobs, and find a way to re-secure the border, which has since closed since the epidemic.
While Ardern has won Plowdits for his crisis management, his center-left government has failed to deliver on some key policies, such as a resolution to build 100,000 new homes to alleviate the housing crisis. National, which saw eight consecutive years of growth and returned the budget to surplus before losing Labor in 2017, says it is more capable of navigating the recovery.
Collins was born on a dairy farm in the Vecato region of the North Island of New Zealand. She became a lawyer, later specialized in tax, and ran several businesses with her husband before entering Parliament in 2002.
It was as the Minister of Police to crack down on illegal street car racing and tell his “crusher” moniker that vehicles should be sent bacteria.
His political career was not free from controversy. She faced claims of support for milk products made by a company in 2014, when her husband was in government business in China. Later that year he abandoned his departments after accusations of indulging in “dirty politics” to degrade a public servant. An investigation cleared him, and he returned in late 2015 as a minister.
She unsuccessfully tried to lead the party leadership twice in 2016 and 2018, before it was the best bet to get her out of the turmoil after her colleagues’ victory this month.
Collins is compared to Thatcher, whom she credits as having pulled out of her economic crisis in the 1980s, and says she can revive New Zealand in the post-National Kovid world. The party has already released some key policies, such as NZ spending $ 31 billion ($ 20 billion) on roads and other infrastructure, and Collins says it is working on a plan to reopen the border Used to be.
New Zealand’s dependence on dairy exports and the impact on cows is a result of the ongoing debate over cows’ environment, such as the collusion of strong farmers on behalf of farmers over waterways and degradation of rivers.
“Only people who think it’s controversial don’t understand where the money comes from,” she said. Industry is the backbone of the economy, yet dairy farmers are “treated as if they were enemies of the state.”
National is on the backfoot after one of its politicians’ confidential Kovid-19 patient details were leaked, while another resigned amid accusations that he had sent pornographic images to the girls.
“It was a pair of backbenchers, most people don’t know who they are” Collins said. “It’s not like this is a minister,” he added to a dig at Aderan, which last week dismissed his workplace relations minister over an annual relationship with his former employee.
Despite recent headlines, Collins insisted that she run a clean campaign. He has a pen for one-liners and a confident, easy-going communication style, and says he is eager to debate the Prime Minister when the election campaign begins next month.
Ardern’s popularity could be an Achilles heel, she says.
“Of all the things I’ve learned in my time in politics, not a single thing has to go too far with that,” she said. “This is a huge danger for the current Prime Minister – lots of adorable people and people telling you how good you are can become very quickly, let us tell you.”
National won the largest share of the vote in the 2017 election and lost only to Ardern as she was able to win the support of smaller parties.
New Zealand’s German-style electoral system lends itself to alliance, and National will need partners to reclaim government benches.
It may rely on the smaller, Independence Act party but has ruled out working with the populist New Zealand First. It is also less likely to form a national team with the Greens, who are fully allied to Labor.
Collins did not make it easy to come to power, but says she is pushing the competition forward.
“It is always difficult to remove and replace the first government of any ilk,” she said. “I like a challenge.”
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)