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Collins pledges 'zero tolerance for disunity' in National

National's caucus has "listened and we are serious", says National leader Judith Collins after opening her party's annual conference. 

Judith Collins. Source: 1 NEWS

"Our party has always been strongest when we remember we are on the same team."

To be ready for election 2023, Collins said they needed to support and respect each other. 

"To show our disciple and professionalism right throughout the party. 

"You want unity, respect and professionalism," she told party members. "You want your caucus working together and backing each other. We have listened and we are serious."

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The National leader opened National’s annual conference by promising a united party.

"The caucus is absolutely adamant they will not put up with any disunity. People have seen there is a new and renewed focus," Collins said after the speech. 

When asked today about Todd Muller, Collins said, it was "very important what happens in caucus stays in caucus".

"We have zero tolerance to disunity. We expect to everyone to toe the party line."

Muller, who served as the party’s leader for 53 days last year, announced earlier this year he would be resigning at the next election. He cited health and family reasons. However, a NZ Herald article the next day revealed the Bay of Plenty MP’s resignation was more complicated.

According to the article, Muller was given an ultimatum at a caucus meeting the night before: resign or MPs would vote on whether to suspend him from caucus after it was revealed he spoke critically about the return of Harete Hipango. 

Today's message of unity also came after National's last AGM painted a different picture, with words of warning from former Prime Minister Sir John Key after numerous leaks following the election. 

At last year's November AGM, Sir John issued a stern warning for National Party leakers – "if you can’t quit your leaking, here’s a clue, quit the party".

Collins described today as "the beginning of even more hard work for us", adding she could not "wait to share our direction with you". 

"It's an exciting time to be looking to the future and we'll be answering some big questions today and tomorrow."

"We have been demanding the debate up and down the country. It is only right we have some constructive debates at our own conference."

An article on Newsroom today had criticism from a party member to put what he saw as issues not being debated at the conference, as the agenda was agreed upon months ago.