National's Shane Reti admits 'this is not our best day'

Anna Whyte
Source: 1News

Interim National Party leader Shane Reti has revealed more details after Judith Collins was dropped as leader, following what he described as "concerns" around a press release issued Wednesday night.

Shane Reti speaks after a National caucus meeting which saw Judith Collins ousted as leader.

“The caucus was concerned about the contents of the press release and the process by which it was issued," Reti told media following a three-hour plus meeting.

"The caucus moved a motion for a vote of no confidence in the leader and that motion was successful.”

He said the National caucus was concerned with the content of the press release.

"We're really looking for our new leadership team on Tuesday," he said.

The former deputy leader said his role was to "shepherd and guide the caucus", and had not contemplated going for the leadership position.

"This is not our best day, but we will raise our eyes to the sky," he said.

MPs Maureen Pugh and Matt Doocey stood by his side in the press conference.

It comes after a dramatic 15 hours. Late last night, Collins released a statement informing the press Simon Bridges was being demoted following a complaint around a serious misconduct allegation.

"The case relates to comments made by Bridges to a female caucus colleague at a function a number of years ago," Collins said.

That MP is Jacqui Dean and the comment was allegedly made in front of her in 2017.

"Having been made aware of the seriousness of the complaint for the first time and the ongoing distress this has caused the complainant, I was left with no option but to immediately demote Simon Bridges and relieve him of his portfolio responsibilities."

Shortly after Reti's media conference, Dean released a statement saying Bridges made remarks about five years ago that upset her at the time.

“They were not about me, but they were inappropriate and not something I wanted to hear."

She said at the time there was an apology, “but subsequently it has continued to play on my mind and with the recent reviews that have occurred in Parliament the feelings have been brought back up”.

“What matters to me is that all of us have a clear understanding of what behaviour we should expect in a modern workplace environment. Simon and I have spoken a number of times over the past few hours and he has reiterated his apology.”

Collins was due to hold the media conference at 10am, after the 9am caucus meeting.

Just after 7am today, Bridges arrived at Parliament, telling media there was “a huge amount I want to say about what happened yesterday and how wrong it was”.

“I assure you I will but I want to talk to my caucus first and be very clear with them about what I think and about what I think should happen for the National Party,” Bridges said from outside Parliament.

Bridges told media it demonstrated Collins would go to “any length to hold onto the leadership of the National Party”.

National MPs then arrived at Parliament, with Simon O’Connor saying Collins’ actions and the handling of the situation was “downright appalling”.

Collins said it was difficult due to a variety of factors.

" 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.

" If I hadn’t, then I felt that I wouldn’t deserve the role."

Collins said she did not "ask for the allegation to be given to me".

"I am proud of the support I received from Dr Shane Reti, a man of principle, and I will continue to advocate, not only for Papakura, but for those who have no voice."

She finished by saying she would not miss the gruelling media schedule.