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Collins says National’s election review contains ‘nothing secret’, after internal party email sent to media

Judith Collins says there’s “nothing secret” in National’s election campaign review because it had been sent to “thousands” of party members in an email. 

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An abridged version of the party’s review of its 2020 campaign, meant for party members, was then passed on to the media. Source: Breakfast

It comes as copies of the proposals that emerged from the review ended up being passed to the media this morning after it was sent to members last night. The report contained abridged sections from the recommendations of both the campaign review and a separate review into the party’s structure and how it was governed.

The email links members to a specific page on the National party website that allows them to access the report, which is emblazoned with the words “released publicly to members”. While it’s publicly accessible with the correct web address, the page contains a piece of code that instructs search engines like Google to omit it from its search results.

The party’s review followed a gruelling 2020 campaign of leadership changes, numerous leaks and what some political analysts have described as clumsiness. The review sought to examine how the party’s candidate selection, its campaign narrative and its caucus’ performance resulted in a poor election result. 

Earlier this year, however, it emerged two versions of the election review had been created — and only MPs and senior party members were allowed to read the full report in all its detail, under lock and key. 

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National’s Liam Hehir and former Labour MP Sue Moroney joined Q+A’s political panel to discuss the issue. Source: Q+A

Speaking on Breakfast today, the National leader said the report contained a “broad range of recommendations”, one of which included “have a leader and then stick with them”.

“It’s nothing secret. It’s gone out to thousands of people,” Collins said. 

The report included a proposal to change rules of leadership bids, which could see the party’s board playing a larger role during leadership transitions. 

When asked about the recommendation, Collins said she “can’t remember exactly” what it was, and that it was up to the party’s members to decide. 

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The former prime minister had a stern warning for the National Party members at today’s AGM. Source: 1 NEWS

What’s in the report?

The report includes a number of proposals, including changes to its leadership processes and a stronger focus on diversity and Māori. National Party members were invited to consider if any changes should be made to the party’s constitution and rules.

Leadership

The report said the campaign review recommended the rules and processes of leadership bids and elections should be formalised to “ensure a consistent, fair and robust process”. 

It asked members to consider whether the National party board would have a role in managing a leadership bid process and the transition period when leadership changes do occur. 

Twelve recommendations about leadership were made, with five detailed in the report. These included calling out “bad behaviour” quickly, succession planning, formalising the “party leader process”, mentoring MPs and considering appointment processes for whips and caucus spokespeople. 

Māori and diversity 

After former leader Todd Muller’s caucus was criticised for lacking diversity and Māori representation, the report said there was “work to be done” to improve “in this space”. 

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In the National Party reshuffle, Ms Bennett dropped from being ranked at two to 13, and is the highest ranked Māori member. Source: Breakfast

Recommendations included developing a strategy for Māori seats and “embed[ding] diversity” into “National’s DNA” across its membership, caucus, candidates and board. 

It also said the party should “rebuild a diverse, representative caucus”. The party's poor 2020 election resulted in a number of ethnic MPs losing their jobs. 

Selecting candidates 

After National’s staged walkabout on Ponsonby Road for Emma Mellow’s bid for Auckland Central, and its process for selecting Mellow as its candidate for the seat, the review said the party should make its candidate pre-selection process clearer. 

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The supporters were on hand to praise Judith Collins during a walk through in the Auckland suburb of Ponsonby. Source: 1 NEWS

The recommendation came after senior party member Roger Bridge called Newstalk ZB as “Merv from Manurewa” to say he was “confused” about Nuwanthie Samarakone putting her hand up for the seat. Samarakone, at that point, had already been selected as National’s Manurewa candidate and wanted a bid in the more winnable seat formerly held by Nikki Kaye. 

Mellow and Samarakone were shortlisted potential candidates for Auckland Central after Kaye’s resignation. This broke the party’s rules, which say five people must be shortlisted, and attracted accusations of manipulation.

National Party president Peter Goodfellow denied there had been any manipulation.

The report said candidates shouldn’t be able to put in a bid to run for more than one electorate seat. 

It also recommended the party “move to proactive and professional candidate recruitment to secure top-tier talent”.