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Nelson Mail - 2021-11-26

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Collins’ ‘rule by fear’ reign ends in turmoil

National News

Henry Cooke henry.cooke@stuff.co.nz

Judith Collins’ attempt to ‘‘rule by fear’’ has been called out by former politicians who were happy to see her hang up her hat. ‘‘She’s attempted to rule by fear, and that doesn’t work,’’ said former National speaker and senior minister David Carter, who was pleased Collins had gone. ‘‘Leadership is about gaining respect and admiration, you don’t do it like that.’’ Collins was yesterday ousted by the party after 499 days in the job, marking its third leadership change in two years. Her resignation was prompted by her latenight demotion of former leader Simon Bridges that angered her caucus. Shane Reti, who was the party’s deputy leader, has stepped into the role in the interim with a vote scheduled for next Tuesday to select a permanent replacement. The likely challengers for the leadership were former Air NZ boss and rookie MP Chris Luxon and former cop Mark Mitchell, Stuff had been told by sources close to the party. National MP Nicola Willis was said to be standing as Luxon’s deputy. Before Collins’ resignation was announced, National MP Simon O’Connor said she had to go. ‘‘One thing is abundantly clear to me and that is Judith Collins must resign. Her actions are just downright appalling as is the way that this has been handled,’’ O’Connor said. Collins resigned amid a caucus uproar over her shock demotion of former leader Bridges over comments he allegedly made four years ago. She announced his demotion late on Wednesday night without consulting the wider caucus of MPs, who were furious with her. Collins had planned to hold a press conference at 10am with Jacqui Dean, the MP who Bridges was alleged to have made a comment about. Instead, her 9am caucus meeting stretched on for hours, and she eventually announced she had lost the leadership early in the afternoon. ‘‘I knew when I was confided in by a female colleague regarding her allegation of serious misconduct against a senior colleague, that I would likely lose the leadership by taking the matter so seriously,’’ Collins said on Twitter. ‘‘If I hadn’t, then I felt that I wouldn’t deserve the role. ‘‘I didn’t ask for the allegation to be given to me.’’ Collins left Parliament in a hurry yesterday, telling media she felt ‘‘very good’’ and had no regrets. Bridges himself said Collins’ demotion of him was ‘‘truly desperate stuff’’, and it showed she would do ‘‘anything’’ to hold on to the leadership. He said he had sought to hold an emergency caucus meeting on Wednesday night after she announced his demotion, but this was denied. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern refused to be drawn into National’s leadership drama when speaking to media in Auckland yesterday. Collins’ exit is the latest twist in a torrid two years for the National Party, which has been slammed with instability since Bridges was rolled as leader last year. The party has not polled above 30 per cent since its horror election result, the second-worst in its 70-year history.

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