National's deputy leader Gerry Brownlee says his party has had an “absolute shocker” of a year, and despite last night’s election results, has thrown his support behind Judith Collins to remain on as the party’s leader.
The National Party secured just 26.9 per cent of the votes, with 35 seats in Parliament compared to Labour’s unprecedented 49 per cent.
Brownlee was questioned on the future of his party’s leadership this morning while on TVNZ1’s Q+A.
Brownlee said the party had “a shocking year”, and even cited the 2018 Jami-Lee Ross debacle as reasons for National’s election slump.
"Say what you like, we’ve had a shocking year, absolutely shocker, right from the start. You can't have those sorts of things happening all the time and then continue to happen during a campaign and expect that you’re going to get a staggering result.
"I think Judith was put in an awful position, she took it up and she’s done a great job."
Brownlee said he believed Collins should stay on as leader, but when asked by host Jack Tame if the caucus felt the same, he said they were “gonna find that out”.
“At the moment Judith Collins is the leader of the National party and has the support of the caucus.”
As the party’s campaign chair, Brownlee said he believed National had run a good campaign.
But Tame questioned him on that, and mentioned a conversation with a National MP he had last night.
The MP told Tame there was "no strategy, no plan" and "candidates had zero knowledge about key messages because there were none".
Brownlee said he wasn't aware of such statements, and that there was a daily digest with key messages for MPs.
"There have been people saying things at various times that reporters have brought up ... but I haven't noticed that disunity."
Last night Brownlee lost his electorate of Ilam, a seat he has held since 1996.
He said he was disappointed with the result, but "the voters have spoken".
"Congratulations to the Labour Party for a very historic win."