Cole­man con­tent to let oth­ers lead

De­ci­sion leaves three-way scrap for Na­tional’s top job

The New Zealand Herald - - NEWS - Derek Cheng

Jpol­i­tics onathan Cole­man has ruled him­self out of the Na­tional Party lead­er­ship race. And the race is heat­ing up as Ju­dith Collins says that the public en­dorse­ment of Amy Adams’ can­di­dacy on Wed­nes­day de­fied the wishes of the cau­cus and re­tir­ing leader Bill English.

Cole­man’s state­ment means that Collins, Adams and Si­mon Bridges re­main the three peo­ple to have put up their hands for the lead­er­ship, while Steven Joyce and Mark Mitchell are un­de­cided.

Cole­man said yes­ter­day that the best per­son to lead the party into the 2020 elec­tion was one of the three cur­rent can­di­dates.

“I didn’t go out can­vass­ing the num­bers. In the end I looked at who would be best to lead the party, and it’s one of those three.”

He would not say which of the three he would sup­port.

Mean­while, Collins told me­dia yes­ter­day she would re­spect the wishes of the cau­cus by not hav­ing a public dis­play of sup­port from other MPs.

Yes­ter­day, Adams an­nounced her can­di­dacy with Na­tional MPs Nikki Kaye, Tim Macin­doe, Mag­gie Barry and Chris Bishop by her side.

Asked why she wouldn’t do some­thing sim­i­lar, Collins said: “I deeply re­spect the cau­cus de­ci­sion on how to play this.

“The fact is that the cau­cus agreed that we would not come out and be counted in those sorts of things un­til af­ter the vote. That was the ad­vice Ju­dith Collins of Bill English, and I’m stick­ing by it.”

Bishop, how­ever, said there was noth­ing to stop MPs en­dors­ing can­di­dates.

“It’s ob­vi­ously hap­pened in re­la­tion to Amy. There may be oth­ers who come out over the next few days or the next week to en­dorse can­di­dates.

“Just for me, I’ve made up my mind. I think Amy will make a great leader of the Na­tional Party and an out­stand­ing Prime Min­is­ter.”

Collins called on party mem­bers to let MPs know their thoughts on the lead­er­ship.

Some of the back­bench MPs should also have al­ready been pro­moted, she said.

“We have, in our new in­take and in 2014 and also 2011, some re­ally good peo­ple who feel, quite rightly, they haven’t been given a chance, and I think that in Op­po­si­tion, that’s the time to do it.

“But it should al­ways be about merit . . . It’s about who can do the job.”

Collins said her best at­tributes were that she says what she thinks, she knows how to be ef­fec­tive in Op­po­si­tion, and that she can beat Jacinda Ardern.

“I know what hap­pens with Op­po­si­tion, even the largest Op­po­si­tion in his­tory. Once you get through the win­ter and you start get­ting the Bud­get com­ing out, and a Gov­ern­ment ful­fill­ing some of its prom­ises, it is tough. And you need to be sig­nif­i­cantly tougher than in Gov­ern­ment.”

Asked whether she could have Bridges or Adams as her deputy, she said it was a mat­ter for the cau­cus.

Paula Ben­nett has said she wants to stay on as deputy leader.

Collins said the po­si­tion was up to the cau­cus, adding “it’s im­por­tant we don’t keep look­ing to the past, but we look to the fu­ture”. But she added that Ben­nett would not say she rep­re­sented the past.

Pic­ture / NZME

Jonathan Cole­man has not re­vealed who he will back as next leader.

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