NZ Election 2020: Judith Collins keeps door shut on Winston Peters post-election

While she says Winston Peters has always been "pleasant" to her, Judith Collins is keeping the door shut on working with New Zealand First after the election. 

Politicians across the country spent Saturday erecting hoardings in their electorates and Collins, the new National Party leader, was among them.

"We have never had so much attention in Papakura," Collins told media who gathered as she helped drill together one of the large posted signs. 

"I always knew I wouldn't be hammering in nails. I knew it would be much more sophisticated."

She's "thrilled" to be in the role of leader, which she secured after the resignation of Todd Muller on Tuesday. Muller, who rolled Simon Bridges for the job, had been leader for a little under two months when he decided staying on was untenable from a health perspective.

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - JULY 18: New National Party leader Judith Collins helps erect her election campaign hoardings in Papakura on July 18, 2020 in Auckland, New Zealand. Judith Collins elected to become new National Party leader following a party caucus meeting on Tuesday 14 July, with Gerry Brownlee elected as deputy leader, following the sudden resignation of Todd Muller due to health reasons. The 2020 New Zealand general election will be held on 19 September 2020. (Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)
Photo credit: Getty.

Saturday also happened to be the New Zealand First campaign launch, and Collins said a caucus decision made under Bridges to rule out working with Peters post the election remained. 

Asked if a Judith Collins-Winston Peters Government could work, she said "this is not likely". 

"I don't know his party is going to be there after the election," she said before saying it had been made "very plain" that National wouldn't work with NZ First due to the caucus decision.

"There is no reason that I know that we are going to change that. My view is I am just not worried about him or his party vote. I am focused on the National Party vote."

She said Peters had "always [been] pleasant to me and I am always pleasant to him. I think it is always important to have a degree of civility in politics."

On Newshub Nation on Saturday morning, Peters said he didn't think Collins was a bigger threat to New Zealand First's vote than Muller or Bridges. 

"She has got an extraordinarily difficult job. You can't be the choice of only five people a few weeks ago to be the head of a united caucus, and they are still leaking," he said.

Speaking later at his party's conference, he said on the night of the election he expected phone calls to New Zealand First "as they have every other election that I have been engaged in".

"When people start writing you off or saying 'I'll do this' like Simon Bridges said or as others have said, it is of no mind. I have heard that in the past and the first call on election night has been from them," Peters said. 

Asked about Collins reiterating the National caucus decision not to work with New Zealand First, Peters said Collins "may not be the leader she claims to be".

"It is not over to caucus on this matter. The caucus is screaming for leadership and so is the country. There is a thing called stable government and if we're it, she should be talking that way".

In recent polls, New Zealand First has been sitting below the 5 percent threshold, while National was at 30.6 percent on the latest Newshub-Reid Research poll in May, when Bridges was leader.