For Judith Collins, it wasn’t a surprise to see NZ First working alongside Labour, in fact she says that while a percentage of National supporters discussed the idea of voting for Winston Peters to secure a NZ First and National coalition, Collins says she was always of the opinion that Peters would go with Labour as he had a few times before.
“I I was told that wouldn’t happen, but it wasn’t that much of a surprise, for me. He cleverly looked like he could go either way and therefore sucked up three or four per cent of our vote.
People will believe what they want, and a lot of people believed he would help National form a government.”
The decision made, and a Labour led coalition with NZ First and Green party formed, Collins believes the decisions currently being made in parliament are hurting New Zealand “because of the uncertainty it’s created. They have close to 200 different working groups to help the government work out what its views are.
We have very strong lean from Labour and Greens for capital gains tax and decisions like the oil and gas exploration ban which NZ First has agreed with in return for support for their waka-jumping bill. What we are seeing is expediency rather than principle in decision making and I think it’s bad for NZ and it’s creating uncertainty and we are getting some really truly dopey decisions.”
Along with the decisions being made, Collins says business confidence has tanked, with New Zealand moving from second highest to second lowest for business confidence in the OECD. “We are one ahead of South Korea, which also has a socialist government. We are less confident in our business community than Turkey is and if you consider the difficulties they have with business and relationships with big trading partners like the USA and their geographical location being surrounded by a war zone, I would have thought having lower business confidence that Turkey is a problem, but our current government doesn’t see anything wrong with that.”
Collins says that hearing the Minister of Finance and the prime minister describe it as “only confidence”, makes her wonder if they have ever spent their own money on the cost of running a business. “They have never been in any business themselves and they don’t know what they are talking about and don’t understand how all decisions to go into business, to spend capital, to renovate, to get new technology and employ people are all based on confidence.”
In terms of running the country, Collins says “I’m not sure that the prime minister is well informed enough to be anything other than just really happy that she is in the job. I’ve never seen a less prepared prime minister, a less experienced government, a less experienced cabinet.”
Collins thinks Ardern should work on the details. “She can speak the speak but what we have found with her is that if leadership is making off the cuff calls, what she calls ‘Captain’s calls’, where she decides that she is going to destroy an industry over night, like the oil and gas industry and all the jobs that go with it, and people’s careers, you can call that leadership, I guess it is? But actually, I think it’s pretty poor leadership.” “We have gone down a path of quite extreme identity politics.”
In terms of governance, Collins does not agree with decisions relating to the resource management act. “I think something needs to be done where, in rural Auckland, if you try to put down a water bore, you will probably have 15 different iwi having to be consulted. Which means trying to get someone to come and have a look, then having to pay them for their time.”
“I think what most people would like to see is a country where a country where everyone has a good chance and the same opportunities.”
“When we base things on race rather than property rights or ownership, we are getting ourselves down a path of racism. I just think we have to dial the whole thing back and say, what’s really going on here, is it a property right or something based on race?”
She would like to reintroduce the concept of property rights. “If you own land you have rights. We all know if you own land you have responsibilities, but we want to say you have rights too.”
When it comes to immigration laws, Collins would also like to see changes. “Labour, NZ First and Greens are all anti the immigration rules we allowed in,” however there are situations where Collins feels things are unfair. In one case, she says a Scottish carpenter in Whanganui, with years of experience in the industry, cannot get residency, because he was not qualified in NZ. “I suggested he might like to become a drug dealer, get a false name, get a new passport, then go to prison, be connected with the Hells Angels gang, then he could probably get a permanent residency without asking for it. We did have a mild laugh about it but isn’t that crazy? Don’t we want people working?” On the other hand, she says there are criminals with connections all over the world who are getting residency.
For the next year, Collins says she would just like to continue getting on with the job at hand. “In opposition everyone has a job in holding the government to account and do the very best we can. There are many people in my constituency who don’t have the means to be able to provide for their families, are having to queue for food parcels and will never be able to afford one of the supposedly affordable KiwiBuild homes. That needs to change and ensuring the government is held to account on every promise and policy decision aimed at fixing this will be something I intend to do.”