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National leaks again

Written By: - Date published: 7:33 am, October 6th, 2020 - 62 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, election 2020, Judith Collins, national, supercity, uncategorized - Tags:

This is a post I have written many times in the past three years with slight variations.  But this one, in the middle of an election campaign and suggesting considerable dissent in National’s ranks, is even more significant than most.

An internal caucus email from Maungakiekie MP Denise Lee has been leaked to Newshub.

From Jenna Lynch at Newshub:

Newshub has been leaked an email showing National MP Denise Lee criticising leader Judith Collins’ plan to review Auckland Council as a “highly problematic idea”.

Collins announced on Monday a review of Auckland Council to the surprise of her Auckland Council spokesperson Lee.

Lee described it as a “highly problematic idea” in an email to her caucus colleagues. She also panned it as “another working group” and said it would be “a nightmare”.

In the email, Lee says bypassing her altogether was “incredibly poor form and displays a shockingly bad example of poor culture”.

Collins sighed when asked if the policy had been made on the hoof, and said it had been planned for weeks, despite Lee knowing nothing about it.

“Actually Jenna, it’s been prepared for a couple of weeks,” she said.

Collins spoke about the policy during an interview with Newstalk ZB on Monday morning, and cited it as the reason why Lee was not aware of it.

“Because I was doing the radio show,” she told Newshub.

The incentive for the Lee email was Collins announcing remarkably vague policy over Auckland City.  From National’s press release:

Auckland Council is not delivering for Aucklanders, and change is overdue to achieve better performance, which National will do,” National Party Leader Judith Collins says.

“Everywhere I go in Auckland, there is frustration and dismay at the council. Its own polling shows only one-in-four Aucklanders were satisfied with its performance over the past 12 months.

National’s review will recommend options to dramatically improve the performance of Auckland Council and Council-Controlled Organisations (CCOs) such as Watercare and Auckland Transport.

Terms of reference and reviewers will be put in place within National’s first 100 days in Government. The review will be completed by September 1, 2021.

“This is a firm deadline, not a moving aspiration, as has been the practice under Labour,” Ms Collins says.

I can understand how annoyed Lee is.  After all …

This is really weird.  After all National set the super city up.  And against the recommendations of the Royal Commission gave Auckland Transport huge power over all of Auckland’s transport infrastructure.  It was originally recommended that local Councils aka local boards have jurisdiction over local roads.  Joyce and National made sure that AT had the lot.

And Collins has no idea that Auckland Council has recently gone through a significant review of Council Controlled Organisations and is implementing some reasonably radical proposals.

She could have found out.  If she had, for instance talked to her spokesperson in charge of Auckland Council issues who also used to be an Auckland Councillor she could have fashioned something semi coherent.  Or she could have talked to Desley Simpson, partner of National President Peter Goodfellow who has a very good idea of what is happening with Auckland Council.  Instead she has come out with a pile of prejudiced mess that clearly was written on the hoof.

No wonder the leaks have happened again,

Unless a miracle happens and National do reasonably well Collins is toast after the election.  Lee is part of the christian conservative faction of the party that appears to be in the ascendancy.

Update:  the leaks continue.  Surely it is time for an inquiry.  From Jessica Mutch-McKay at TV One:

A National MP has told 1 NEWS the party hasn’t had a caucus call or poll result for weeks and says there is a culture issue in the party.

The MP told 1 NEWS Judith Collins has “bullied” MP Denise Lee and hasn’t brought the caucus together.

It comes after an email leaked to Newshub showed National’s Auckland Council spokesperson Denise Lee criticising a National policy to review Auckland Council.

Lee called it a “highly problematic idea”, a “nightmare” and “another working group”, and said bypassing her was “incredibly poor form and displays a shockingly bad example of poor culture”, while another National Party member said Collins was consistently “making up policy on the hoof” and creating division.

The MP who alleges the bullying told 1 NEWS that Denise Lee is in full campaign mode and was “forcibly expressing her disappointment” over not being in the loop about the policy. The MP says decisions need to be made quickly on the campaign trail.

The MP also said releasing policy on the fly was an ongoing pattern under Collins’ leadership.

62 comments on “National leaks again ”

  1. tc 1

    Lee probably thinks she is part of the new look National so takes the opportunity presented by Collins's own lack of discipline to stick the knife in.

    Was an email necessary ? Words in ears normally enough at this level IMO so is nationals hireachy tuning out to the punch n judy show till post 17/10.

    JC's praying stunt also could have upset many of a religious persuasion based on the strength of their faith as her use of that church wouldn't sit well.

  2. George 2

    As all Christian faith based people know….the lord moves in mysterious ways and Judith just gave her a very public nudge, quite possibly in a direction she didn't quite anticipate?

    • JO 2.1

      Maybe She answered by suggesting that the devout lady might take a little care with what she was wishing for, but the media percussion section seems to have drowned out Her still small voice.

  3. Peter 3

    Lee is just a bit player, irrelevant in the Collins' plan. Dog tucker. Lackey.

    You get that in a team. You get that when you have a Leader building and harnessing a team to do what needs to be done.

    You boot the underlings in the face in front of everyone telling them they should be in the kitchen making muffins and tea for the real people.

    Judith Collins showing they have a team, they are a team and demonstrating the leadership skills people accused, sorry, credited her with having.

  4. Adrian 4

    Something other than the cute hands thing about that image of Collins "praying " has bothered me since I first saw it, then it clicked, she claims to be Anglican but I was of the opinion that Anglicans don't kneel in church. I do know that since my First Communion 65 years ago I don't think I have ever seen anyone pray with their hands together under their chin like that in a Catholic church either.

    So that little portmanteau of cynical religious symbolism is really only missing an east-facing prayer mat.

    • Bruce Ellis 4.1

      Not sure what Anglican Church you last went to, but they do kneel. However, there would be very few you would see holding their hands together like that.

      I'm still flabergasted (but shouldn't be really I suppose) at the sheer cynicism of her act in front of the media.

      • Adrian 4.1.1

        Thanks for clearing that up Bruce, I've been to weddings and funerals and don't recall kneeling. My father ostensibly an Anglican , well, he knew where the church was, I remember complaining on his very rare forays to Mums Catholic church with us about the practice of the interminable kneeling ,standing and a bit of sitting or as he described it as "Up and down like a whore's drawers on pay night ". I never got the inference until quite a bit older.

        Couldn't agree more about the cynicism and I think it may have alienated a lot more than it has persuaded.

        She is our Trump , a fool who only takes their own advice and long ( well 2 weeks anyway ) may that continue.

        • Anne 4.1.1.1

          I never got the inference until quite a bit older.

          You thought he meant she went up and down the stairs shifting a chest of drawers didn't you. Well, you were right. She did. cheeky

        • Dennis Frank 4.1.1.2

          I was made to attend an Anglican church & sunday school from mid-1950s until March 1963 when I told my parents I wasn't going any more. I can confirm that both kneeling and hands folded as JC did were the norm during that era. In fact I saw no deviation from that norm, ever! Maybe they lost the plot after that??

          • tc 4.1.1.2.1

            "were the norm during that era.." which is why it looks odd in 2020 Dennis.

            She could've courted the christian vote without this stunt however it's so ‘on brand’ for crusher which's what she's about in this campaign.

        • Stuart Munro 4.1.1.3

          I don't think she's a Trump, but not from want of trying. If she were, she'd be pulling in the fruitbats presently gravitating to Billy TK. They think she's irrelevant, not iconoclastic.

    • Georgecom 4.2

      There are actually kneeling pews in older Anglican buildings

      padded rails along base of pews for that very thing

      so its not that unusual that Pius Collins I might kneel to pay

      One difference to be aware of between Anglican’s and Catholics. Catholics cross themselves making sign of cross, anglicans make cross in front of them on the air

  5. Incognito 5

    Strong Team.

    Yeah, right!

    • Hunter Thompson II 5.1

      Most NZers thought the All Blacks were a "strong team" at the last World Cup until England stomped them like rats in a closet.

  6. Byd0nz 6

    Well, you can't have a sinking ship without leaks, and as it sinks the toxic bubbles pop to the surface. Lets hope when it hits bottom the sand will suck it down further.

  7. Dennis Frank 7

    When I heard that on the news it struck me as weird. As if to dramatise that democratic process within National is mere sham, and that their local govt spokesperson is irrelevant to policy formulation. So I suspect you could be right, and JC presumes her leader status allows her to do what she wants.

    How much factionalising is produced by such an apparent lack of political nous remains to be seen. When alternative leaders aren't noticeably present, the disaffected must play a longer game – however if the election outcome doesn't prove JC sufficiently competent, a challenger will have to be ready. That means any contenders need to get onto contingency planning for their bid immediately!

    • Incognito 7.1

      "Once things start getting under 35 per cent people start saying 'can we win?' And I know I am putting a mark up there which at some stage in the future, if I am successful this time, that people will say 'well, you set that mark.

      "Yep, let me set that mark."

      Judith Collins sets her own sacking point: 35 per cent in the polls

      Since JC is such a principled person with high moral values and personal integrity I fully expect her to stand down without the need for a challenge.

      • Dennis Frank 7.1.1

        smiley Which gets to the point of my quote here for her prayer photo. Seymour has subtracted 6/7 points from her – she'd be rating 37/38 if that Nat strategic shift hadn't happened. If no shift back tonight – not even partially – it'll look ominous.

      • Graeme Tyree 7.1.2

        Regarding the need to poll at least 35%, I see Judith Collins being hoist by her own petard, come October 17.

    • lprent 7.2

      How much factionalising is produced by such an apparent lack of political nous remains to be seen.

      So far I have never seen Judith Collins displaying any useful levels of political nous, nor any noticeable competence in her portfolios, nor apparently with her ability to formulate coherent policy. And I have been watching her for decades now.

      What she is good at is self-promotion amongst the dimwit fringe who inhabit talk back radio. The ones who think that slogans are thought out policy platforms. Dimwits like Mike Hosking and his fans.

      I'm really irritated by this particular 'policy' being made on the run. Auckland needs a review like it needs a hole in head. We've only just managed in the last few years to get over Act/National's stupid and hasty super-shitty plan.

      It took years just to merge the data systems because Rodney Hide and John Keys were apparently too thick to understand how much of project that would be.

      It also took years to get a plan about how to grow Auckland, and on the way through delayed the required infrastructure. All the while the National fuckwit MPs were stupidly sugaring the economy by pouring immigration into Auckland – while they fritterred away infrastructure money in their semi-rural electorates.

      Sure – AT need a kick up the arse on some things – but most of the infrastructure that people get wound up about is actually the responsibility of NZTA. But mostly AT just need to higher degree of transparency and scrutiny from the public and to concentrate on basics like getting parking concentrations (ie multi-story parking buildings) at transport nodes. Try finding a place to lock up a bike or to park a car station at most important nodes and it is a daily exercise in futility. Feeder buses are a good theoretical idea. But the reality is that they just add to the commute times.

      But having a reorganisation because JC wants a headline? She must be insane or desperate.

    • woodart 7.3

      dennis, would you want to take over the titanic ? better to let the wreckage sink , then pick up the flotsam and jetsam.

  8. Adrian 8

    Paora is already doing the numbers.

  9. Patricia Bremner 9

    Judith thinks if she beats people down her profile will grow. Now she is promising miracles with no mention of "Upstairs".

  10. observer 10

    Policy on the fly – Herald

    This refers to Collins' sudden promise to pass a law reclaiming the wage subsidy. The problem is that it worked. Not the proposed law (it wouldn't work at all, as everyone has pointed out). But as a line in the TV debate.

    As pointed out last week, the debates matter because what the leaders say then becomes an election promise, and then government policy if elected. Now, I don't think Collins will be in government, and nor does her party. So she can "win" with a line that sounds good, completely divorced from reality.

    It's a perfect example of the idiocy of debate commentary. Claiming a leader "wins" because of spontaneous one-liners … that cost billions of dollars. The fact-check? That comes much later, and gets far less attention.

    Expect more tonight. She has nothing to lose. But we all do.

  11. Chris 11

    Surely the view that collins was put in to finally end her pathetic desire to be PM is the correct one. You could see it on the faces of the idiot nat MPs standing behind her when she became leader. They also needed someone to give them time to groom the next key and she was the obvious choice because they had nobody else of substance so this was their opportunity to deal to her, “and maybe she can save us a few jobs to boot!” Three for the price of one. It’s all playing out now. She's wholly narcissistic so her behaviour cannot change. The nats know this because they've seen her up close for years. Some voters do too, now, but unfortunately too many still don't see it. The only question now is how many nat jobs can she destroy between now and election day.

  12. Maurice 12

    Are we being played?

    These "leaks" may be a terrible right wing plan to simply distract us from the more important things like moving forward to a living wage …….

  13. Draco T Bastard 13

    She could have found out. If she had, for instance talked to her spokesperson in charge of Auckland Council issues who also used to be an Auckland Councillor she could have fashioned something semi coherent.

    Chances are that she spoke to some high-falutin business people who were upset that they hadn't been able to buy up Auckland after National's last restructuring of Auckland City.

  14. AB 14

    Several months ago my partner responded to a Curia (Farrar) phone poll. One of the questions was whether Auckland Council should be replaced by appointed commissioners. I thought it an odd question at the time and commented on it here. Would be fascinating to know if the numbers Farrar got from that question are behind Judith's latest move.

  15. greywarshark 15

    A thought from a favourite now dead Scottish author Josephine Tey is good description of Collins et al and Trump also.

    It is the utterly destructive quality. When you say vanity, you are thinking of the kind that admires itself in mirrors and buys things to deck itself out in. But that is merely personal conceit. Real vanity is something quite different. A matter not of person but of personality. Vanity says, "I must have this because I am me." It is a frightening thing because it is incurable.

    Josephine Tey https://www.azquotes.com/author/18908-Josephine_Tey

  16. Brian Tregaskin 16

    Judith is a lightweight and will be exposed as one (if not by her own MPs! if they have started leaking )

    The snowflake has zero chance of becoming a PM –my favourite reasons

    https://thespinoff.co.nz/politics/20-07-2020/nicky-hager-five-reasons-why-judith-collins-wont-be-prime-minister/

    Its a shame as the Nats have some good people that would have done much better.

    • Wensleydale 16.1

      It's a shame these "good people" are content to be members of a party whose modus operandi over the past two decades seems to be dishonesty, chicanery, making excuses for appalling behaviour, and a distinct lack of empathy for anyone not like them.

      It's like saying, "Sure, I'm a member of the Mafia, but I'm not like those other guys. I'm a good person." If the leaks and recordings of internal National Party antics have taught us anything, it's that they're all well aware of what goes on. They may not participate in it. They may not condone it. But they know it's part and parcel of how the party operates, and they remain. I reckon that makes them complicit. Technically legal doesn't equal ethical or honourable.

      If you sincerely disavowed dirty politics and genuinely believed "there's no place for that sort of behaviour in New Zealand", you'd resign. Or jump ship. But we all know those safe seats and fat salaries are so dreadfully tempting.

  17. Incognito 17

    JC has it all under control and there’s no reason to panic. It was an emotional MP who accidentally hit the Send button and Denise Lee was “obviously wrong”. JC called it “the leader's call”, by which she meant that she makes up policy on the hoof.

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/122994165/election-2020-judith-collins-denies-fractures-in-caucus-says-mp-has-apologised-after-leak

    • Hanswurst 17.1

      The best bit is her comparing herself with Jacinda Ardern in that sort of, 'In a way, you might say, I'm actually a bit like Jesus' manner.

      • Incognito 17.1.1

        Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.

        ― Oscar Wilde

        • greywarshark 17.1.1.1

          Policy on the hoof. I wouldn't bet on that. See them run with the help of Spike Jones, probably winning by a nose, or an eyebrow even. Well-known and loved from our unsophisticated early days.

        • Patricia Bremner 17.1.1.2

          Oh yes. 1000%

  18. nzsage 18

    It may be due to my ambivalence to religion but I've always struggled to understand how right-wing ideology reconciles with many Christian values.

    • AB 18.1

      There's a whole literature on the symbiosis of Calvinism and Capitalism. The notion of an 'elect' is a common thread.

    • Gabby 18.2

      It's more about protestant values than christian ones.

    • Graeme Tyree 18.3

      Right wing ideology exists upon the fallacy that its believers are mini gods "made in the image of" the Higher Power. It stinks to high Heaven, 'wherever that is'. With apologies to HRH Charles Windsor.

  19. Peter 19

    There is an Auckland National MP Denise Lee. She was elected as member for Maungakiekie with a majority of about 2000.

    She has been an Auckland City councillor.

    Today Judith Collins has doubled down on putting the boot into Lee. Collins today has basically said that what happens in Auckland has nothing to do with Lee. It is not of her concern and she doesn't need to be talked to about Auckland issues or have issues referred to her. What Collins wants to happen in Auckland has nothing to do with Lee.

    Lee apparently should just buzz off, be a good little girl, get lots of votes to win the electorate and go back to Wellington and kowtow to the leader. Not say anything, because what she thinks doesn't matter. Judith will let her know when she's needed and tell her what to do.

    In most times in our political history that would be staggering. Given the minute by minute explosions, dissipation, explosion, dissipation modes of our world and political events the event is not significant.

    At times in some places it would see a duel at dawn. Lee is a professional politician. She will likely go with the flow, suck it up and accept being a doormat. In some places at some time anyone finding themselves in that situation would have packed their bag, saying, "I'm out of here. I will not be treated like shit."

    It would be so nice if Melissa Lee had the balls to ring party HQ today, the real HQ not the one in Collins' head, and say, "As of today you do not have a candidate in the electorate."

    In those circumstances I would vote for Melissa Lee.

    • Incognito 19.1

      Denise Lee

      • Uncle Scrim 19.1.1

        Yeah too many Lees in National. Melissa has been quiet lately though. Not unusual, what's amazed me is how few Nat MPs have featured in the mainstream media coverage (while presumably busy in their own electorates). Keeping their heads down?

        • Dennis Frank 19.1.1.1

          Now we have a couple featuring – anonymously!

          Collins has been accused by at least two of her MPs of making up policy on the spot, with one National MP telling Stuff there had been “zero” communication or polling shared by Collins with MPs for more than a month. They said party spokespeople were concerned about announcements being made without warning.

          "The strategy is whatever pops into Judith's head at the time,” the MP, who spoke to the condition of anonymity, said. https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/122994165/election-2020-judith-collins-denies-fractures-in-caucus-after-scathing-internal-email-leaked

          After Muller staffer and right-wing commentator Matthew Hooton tweeted on Tuesday that Muller had inherited a party with terrible polling and no proper campaign plan, Bennett replied this was “bulls—” and said “you don’t get to try and deflect from your utter disaster”.

          At the press conference, National economic development spokesman Todd McClay said the party wasn’t making up policy “on the hoof”, and that he had confidence in Collins.

          “I’m not making a policy on the hoof. Leaders do make decisions, that’s part of leadership. During campaigns, you know, sometimes the leader has to go out and make that announcement. And that’s the way it works,” Collin said. “I call it the leader’s call”.

        • Gabby 19.1.1.2

          No Todd Lee which, given the number of Todds and the number of Lees, is astonishing.

        • Incognito 19.1.1.3

          Yup:

          Jami-Lee
          Denise Lee
          Melissa Lee
          Brownlee

          Nat MPs are keeping their heads down because of the lack of a campaign strategy, which is odd because I thought National had been campaigning since October 2017.

    • tc 19.2

      Could they lose this seat ? 2000 doesn't seem a lot and it was a labour seat till carol Beaumont arrived and underwhelmed everyone.

  20. ScottGN 20

    Hooten and Paula Bennett are scrapping on Twitter as Hooten tries to get a head start on framing the impending disaster.

  21. Muttonbird 21

    Heather Duplicity-Allan was spitting venom at Denise Lee this afternoon. Said she didn’t deserve to be in the National Party. Her father husband, Barry Soper, just tried to laugh the whole thing off.

  22. observer 22

    I think as of today they can no longer be called leaks. Floods. Whirlpools. Dam has burst.

  23. Jackel 23

    Kiwis aren't gullible. So they won't elect some privileged woman like JC who just makes stuff up to get her own way or win an argument. Americans however…

  24. Georgecom 24

    I laughed at Collins comment in the second referenced article that ‘as leader she can makes decisions’

    yes but she won’t be leader for too long, it will be Luxon making those decisions in a few months

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