NZ First donation scandal: Judith Collins says 'the truth will come out'

National MP Judith Collins is uncharacteristically taking a softer line on New Zealand First's donations scandal than her leader, saying it's ultimately a matter for the Electoral Commission to investigate. 

NZ First, led by Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters, has been accused of funnelling money given to an affiliated foundation to the party, so donors don't have to be named publicly. 

The party has denied wrongdoing, but political opponents have called on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to take action. ACT leader David Seymour has suggested he might report the party to the police and called for Peters to step down, while Bridges called it possibly "the most significant electoral law breaches we've ever seen in New Zealand" - despite his own party currently being under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office for similar alleged offences.

Collins, a lawyer before entering Parliament, told The AM Show on Friday she had to be "very careful" in what she said about the allegations against NZ First.

"I think it looks like it needs to be investigated, which is where it's gone," she said. " I think the truth will come out... ultimately it's with the Electoral Commission, and they will no doubt decide whether or not it goes further... It's very easy to accuse people, but I think the facts will speak for themselves."

Labour's Willie Jackson, appearing alongside Collins on The AM Show, said she is afraid of being hit with a $30 million lawsuit. Peters' lawyer Brian Henry, a trustee of the foundation, has threatened to sue National MPs for defamation if they repeat allegations made in the House - under parliamentary privilege - in public.

"We know that the National Party has had more donations going towards them than anyone else," said Jackson. "We know there's a Serious Fraud Office investigation into National right now and I'm waiting for Jami-Lee Ross to drop a few more bombs before the election."

Ross infamously fell out with his former party in a big way in 2018, alleging Bridges was "corrupt" after ordering a large donation to be split into smaller chunks to avoid having to reveal the donor's identity. 

"We didn't get involved when National were doing the business - you didn't see our Prime Minister ask for an interrogation or anything like that," Jackson said.

"But it's been a tough week for [NZ First], no doubt about it."

Ardern told MPs to be "empathetic" towards Ross, who was suffering mental health problems at the time, and not to comment on the party's problems. 

Peters himself took to Twitter on Friday morning to cast more shade on National.

"Just remember the National Party is the only Party being investigated by the [Serious Fraud Office] for electoral donations. Don't hear media saying that do you?"

Ardern has declined to take action against Peters, saying it's a matter for the Electoral Commission and it wouldn't be right for her party to get involved.

"It would be an indictment on our democracy to have any other political party ever enquire into any other political parties."