New Zealand opposition leader Collins impeached by party caucus

New Zealand opposition leader Collins impeached by party caucus

Copyright 2020 Associated Press. All rights reserved

FILE – Opposition New Zealand National Party leader Judith Collins arrives at a salmon factory in Christchurch, New Zealand, Thursday, July 30, 2020. A year after she suffered a heavy election loss, conservative New Zealand opposition leader Collins was ousted on Thursday. November 25, 2021, through its electoral rally. (AP Photo/Mark Baker, File)

Wellington – A year after suffering a heavy election loss, New Zealand’s opposition bloc Judith Collins was ousted Thursday.

Collins has been in this role for a tumultuous 16 months. He has not been getting well in the polls as the leader of the National Party, even after Liberal Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s popularity has begun to wane somewhat in recent months as the coronavirus spreads in Auckland.

Rumors of a possible move against Collins have been circulating for weeks. But it ended up taking the first step on Wednesday evening by stripping former leader and potential rival Simon Bridges of his wallets.

Collins said she took the step because she first discovered that Bridges had made inappropriate comments to classmate Jackie Dean about five years ago on one occasion.

But other NDP lawmakers were unfazed by Collins’ move, noting that Bridges had apologized at the time.

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The new National Party leader will be chosen next week. Possible contenders include Bridges, former Air New Zealand CEO Christopher Luxon and former police officer Mark Mitchell. Collins plans to remain in Parliament as an MP representing the Auckland District of Papakura.

Collins said it required stamina and determination to take the lead during “the worst of times.”

“I knew when a colleague confided me in connection with her allegation of gross misconduct against a senior colleague that I would probably lose leadership by taking the matter very seriously,” Collins wrote on Twitter. “If I didn’t, I felt I wouldn’t deserve the role.”

Dean said Bridges apologized at the time but the incident “continued to cross my mind”.

Last year, Ardern won a second term with a landslide of historic proportions. Her Labor Party’s popularity has since declined, but most of the gains went to the libertarian ACT, while Collins and the National Party continued to lag in the polls.

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