Collins: 'Demand the debate' campaign isn't about replicating Brash iwi/Kiwi era

Source: 1News

Judith Collins says National’s new “demand the debate” billboard campaign isn’t just about Treaty issues, despite what an email to wealthy donors from the party’s former leader Don Brash says. 

On Sunday, National unveiled its “demand the debate” billboards, with Collins arguing Kiwis were "being left out of important decisions by the Labour Government". 

The billboards focus on a number of subjects, including what National is calling the Government’s “ute tax” and its cancellation of major infrastructure projects . Also included are a number of issues relating to Māori: Māori wards, the Māori Health Authority and the leaked independent report He Puapua. 

An email leaked to Stuff yesterday revealed Collins had asked Brash to raise $300,000 to help fund the billboards. In an email sent in May to potential donors, Brash said the billboards would address “Treaty of Waitangi issues”. 

When asked this morning why she enlisted the help of Brash, who fronted the infamous 2005 iwi/Kiwi billboards , Collins told Breakfast her party’s billboard campaign was about a wide range of topics. 

“New Zealanders are being shut out of the debate. If they ask about the He Puapua report, if they ask about some of the changes the Government has brought through, even the ute tax, all these things are coming through, they get shut down,” she said. 

Collins said He Puapua was an example of this, with the Government signalling it would consult with Māori first about the report before they create a declaration plan that will go to the wider public next year. 

Brash sent his email “months and months ago”, she added. 

Collins said the campaign was about making sure “Wellington” didn’t decide what direction the country would head in without consulting everyday Kiwis. 

It comes amid an opinion piece in the New Zealand Herald yesterday that detailed what had allegedly happened at one of National’s regional conferences in May

Simon Wilson reported that MP Andrew Bayly had botched the pronunciation of long-serving MP and senior cabinet minister Nanaia Mahuta. 

“Nanna, manna, nan, um, nanny, manny, man, oh dear, whatever," Bayly reportedly said at the conference when talking about Mahuta. He then added: "There's no media here, is there?"

“Andew Bayly - he was stumbling over the name, he got embarrassed by that,” Collins said when asked about the incident this morning.

She said Bayly wasn’t trying to make a joke about Mahuta’s name. 

“[Bayly is] one of the most straightforward people ever … he’s not nasty.”

Collins said Bayly had contacted Mahuta to explain what had happened. 

When asked what she made of Collins contacting Brash for help with fundraising, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it just proved National was running their campaign for "highly political" reasons.

She added she believed some of the issues being raised by National shouldn't be politicised. 

National’s leader says it’s about ensuring Kiwis get a voice in the country’s direction.

Collins marked one year as National’s leader today.