Paula Bennett praises Judith Collins: 'It's great people love her'

Paula Bennett has praised her National Party colleague Judith Collins as "fantastic", after she shot ahead of Simon Bridges as preferred Prime Minister. 

The National Party deputy leader was asked on Tuesday what she makes of Ms Collins being more popular than her boss, and she replied: "It's great people love her."

"Look at how she's been holding Phil Twyford to account, the work she's doing on housing is pretty extraordinary, she's a great member of the team, and I think it's great people love her."

Ms Collins shot up to 6.2 percent in the latest Newshub-Reid Research poll, ahead of National Party leader Simon Bridges who has fallen to just 5 percent, well-behind Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on 41.8 percent. 

The National Party housing spokesperson has been critical of the Government's KiwiBuild programme, calling it a "failure" after Housing Minister Mr Twyford said he could not guarantee the scheme would deliver as may houses as promised. 

It's the first time in the poll's 12-year history that the Labour Party is more popular than National, and the blame has been pointed at Mr Bridges' lack of public support. 

Nevertheless, Mr Bridges' deputy is standing by his side. 

"Simon's our leader, [and we're] backing him 100 percent - it's going pretty well as far as we're concerned," Ms Bennett told Newshub. 

"The last one had us ahead, this one's got us slightly behind, we're still in the 40s," she said, referring to the 1 News-Colmar Brunton survey in December that had National ahead of Labour

"I know other parties in the past that would be climbing over themselves to have that kind of number," Ms Bennett added. 

"We're feeling really good, we're excited about the year ahead, we've started with a bang with our tax policies, a two-day caucus last week, we're confident in Simon as leader, and we're all feeling pretty good about it."

On Monday, Ms Bennett said on Twitter that National will "improve as the realisation of a failed KiwiBuild, higher taxes and rents under this Government continue to play out".