Judith Collins has lashed out at New Zealand First's call for a referendum on abortion as "complete rubbish".
The minor coalition partner threw a spanner in Justice Minister Andrew Little's reform plans this week, the party's caucus electing to put forward a referendum amendment to the Abortion Legislation Bill, which would take the medical procedure out of the Crimes Act.
"We'd like the public to decide this because they're more competent than these Members of Parliament," NZ First leader Winston Peters said on Thursday.
The vote, taken on Tuesday, appeared to take NZ First MP Tracey Martin by surprise - she's been working with Little on the legislation for several months, and said at no time did anyone in her party bring up the possibility of a referendum.
Collins, who voted in favour of the Bill at its first reading on Thursday night, called NZ First's last-minute bid for a public vote "just nonsense".
"Tracey Martin got done over on this," the Papakura MP told The AM Show on Friday.
"She'd been negotiating with Andrew Little, she came to a sensible solution and she goes into her caucus. Apparently somebody... stood up and said 'I want a referendum on this', and she got outvoted... They're not going to get a referendum, it's complete rubbish."
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She accused Peters and the party of "trying to play both sides of the argument".
"I grew up on a farm - don't sit on top of fences. They've often got barbed wire. Get off."
She said it's a "hard issue", but it's MPs' job to make decisions.
Labour MP Willie Jackson, appearing on The AM Show alongside Collins, said it was "ridiculous" abortion was still in the Crimes Act, and praised MPs like the Greens' Jan Logie who stood up to argue in favour of changing the law.