National was 'far too focused on ourselves', but will come back stronger - Judith Collins

Judith Collins says National was "far too focused on ourselves", leading to the sizeable election defeat during the party's AGM - but she promised National would come back stronger.

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The leader of the National Party promised that her party would come back stronger for the 2023 election. Source: 1 NEWS

"We will be back, the campaign has already started, let's get on with it," the National leader told her party members. 

She reflected on 2020 - calling it difficult economically and emotionally and that it was a difficult year for many national party supporters. 

"We didn't spend enough time talking about the things that mattered to New Zealanders. We were far too focused on ourselves." 

She said that could be seen in the 2020 election result. 

"We must and we will take the review extremely seriously."

"We will only recover by being united."

On taking over the National Party leadership, Collins said she knew it would be tough. 

"Right now victory in 2023 may seem like a big hill to climb, but it's not beyond us."

Collins listed what the party needed to do to make itself an "inspiring alternative". 

"Don't over complicate things."

"We must stay true to our values. We must give New Zealanders a reason to vote for us. We must be bold and we must be inclusive."

"We have to motivate people to change the government in 2023. People will not vote for change without a reason."

"We need to listen."

Collins said they had three years to give New Zealanders a reason to vote blue. 

"New Zealand needs a Government serious about building our nation. We will show Labour cannot deliver New Zealand the future it deserves."

"Three years will come and go very quickly and there is much work to do to come back stronger. We have done it before and we will do it again."

Former prime minister Sir John Key also spoke at the AGM issuing a stern warning for National Party leakers – “if you can’t quit your leaking, here’s a clue, quit the party”.

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

“Even if you somehow think you’re doing the party good, you’re wrong and you won’t.

“The electorate hugely punishes disunity.”

He said he knew “for sure” that National could win again.

“The public needs to hear our message, they need to hear us talking about them and their families. They don’t want to hear us talking about ourselves. They have to be assured of our competence.”

“If we underestimate Jacinda and her advisers, we will be in opposition for a very long time.”

National Party President Peter Goodfellow said Covid "almost immediately and irreversibly redefined the normal political landscape... quickly descending to a race of celebrity leadership in trying times. reason debate on contentious issues almost became treasonous". 

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The National Party president addressed the party faithful at their AGM after a resounding election defeat. Source: 1 NEWS

"We made mistakes," he said, listing repeated leadership changes, "unforced errors" and the perception there was no unity.

He said Covid-19 made it "suddenly a crime to ask legitimate questions", saying democracy gave way to temporary tyranny.

Goodfellow thanked leader Judith Collins.

"We couldn't be prouder of you. In difficult times you rose to the challenge and gave it your all to the very last day."