Former leader Simon Bridges confident Judith Collins can give 'underdog' National 'a path to victory'

Source: 1News

Former National Party leader Simon Bridges says he’s confident new leader Judith Collins can take the party to victory in the General Election.

Mr Bridges told 1 NEWS although “there’s no doubt we’re [National] the underdog” of the election because of the Labour Party’s popularity, Ms Collins gave the party “a path to victory”.

“New Zealanders do want a choice at this election. They don’t want just a coronation of Jacinda Ardern,” he said. 

“With Judith Collins in the leader’s seat, I think we’re going to get a real contest.”

The former National leader thought Ms Collins was voting for him in last month’s leadership battle.

Ms Bridges acknowledged the party had gone through “a tough wee time” with its leadership changes and the Covid-19 patient data leak saga, but was ready to continue holding the Government to account and provide Kiwis with new ideas to consider in the lead up to the election.

He said he had a “really good” relationship with Ms Collins as he’d worked with her in the past.

Addressing his booting as National’s leader, he said: “The past has passed. We are where we are now. I support Judith.”

Ms Collins was named National’s new leader on Tuesday after former leader Todd Muller stepped down, citing health reasons.

"We are very focused on winning," she told the media after her selection as leader.

National’s shadow cabinet reshuffle

This morning’s shuffle under National’s new leadership saw the former leader Mr Bridges rocket from 17th placing to fourth in the party. He was given the Foreign Affairs and Justice portfolios.

Mr Bridges said he “didn’t ask for anything”, but was happy with what the party leadership had given him.

He said he was “really looking forward to” the “great challenges” that the portfolios would bring. 

It was a particularly exciting time for foreign affairs, with the China-US relationship, Covid-19 and climate change on the horizon overseas, Mr Bridges said.

His stances on justice and foreign affairs wouldn’t be a surprise to people either given his law background. He said National would continue to take a a “tough on crime” and victim-centred approach to the justice system.

“There’s so much to do and so much to hold the Government to account on.” 

Diversity in the shadow cabinet

After Ms Collins’ shadow cabinet reshuffle this morning and the announcement of the resignations of former deputy leader Nikki Kaye and Amy Adams, just two women were left in National's top 10.

Mr Bridges said Ms Collins had always been “really clear it’s about merit”.

“It’s about ... making sure we have the right skills - not only for Opposition, but also for Government,” he said.

“You always want to see diversity and make sure that’s both in terms of gender and other factors as well. 

“The reality is, though, Judith has been clear this is about merit.”